Beaver Island Bucket List from a Pro - Awesome Mitten
#MiAwesomePlaces · Northern Michigan

Beaver Island Bucket List from a Pro

There’s a reason I’ve been to Beaver Island every year since I was born. There’s also a reason why every time I leave I want to cry and say, “No! I refuse.”

It’s because Beaver Island is like no other place on Earth.

For those of you unfamiliar with the destination, it is a small and modest island located about 27 miles offshore from Charlevoix in the middle of Lake Michigan. The island is a meager 15 miles long and 5 miles wide with a year-round population no larger than 500.

It is accessible by a 2 ½ hour ferry ride or 20-minute plane ride. The majority of the population is located on the north end of the island in its only town of St. James. Most of island is traveled by dirt roads, and mopeds are a regular form of transportation and it has one grocery store. (No, it’s not a Meijer!) I’ll tell you all about my favorite spots on the island for this month’s Michigan Bucket List. Many Michiganders believe the only island you can visit is Mackinac Island, but don’t count out Beaver Island just yet.

Beaver Island Bucket List from a Pro - Awesome Mitten
Photo by Shalee Blackmer

Sunsets on Beaver Island

On the east side of the island is Donegal Bay, which is where I go every possible night for a sunset. I’m not joking when I say it has better sunsets than Hawaii and California…combined.

Beaver Island Attractions

Two of the most popular destinations are the Beaver Island and St. James lighthouses. One is located on the south end, the other on the north. The north lighthouse is my absolute favorite—I hug it every time I visit.

Mt. Pisgah is the highest point on the island and also an extremely-climbable sand dune. It’s conveniently located on the west side, so not only can you climb it to get a view…but climb it to watch a sunset. That means it’s adventurous and romantic!

Beaver Island Sunset -The Awesome Mitten
Photo by Jennifer Hatt

Things to Do on Beaver Island

The town’s best attractions include Daddy Frank’s, which is a killer ice cream shop, and the Beaver Island Toy Museum. The museum is exactly what it sounds like, a building half filled with antiques and half filled with toys and nic nacs for children and adults. Everything from Beanie Babies, coloring books and dolls, to jewelry, bumper stickers, and an art gallery. It was heaven as a child and it still holds the same charm as an adult.

Because the island is so secluded, crowds aren’t overwhelming—even in the summer. Leaving town, there are nothing but trails perfect for biking and exploring. One day, I would love to hike around the island. My mother did it when she was young, and now I am patiently waiting for my chance.

Accommodations range from campgrounds to hotels, each with their own unique character. The best food can be found at the Shamrock Bar & Restaurant, or at the Stoney Acre Grille & Donegal Danny’s Pub.

Pro Tips

If you’re planning a visit, remember not to forget biking equipment. Although cars can be brought over on the ferry, the best way to explore is by peddling and enjoying the outdoors. Paddleboarding and kayaking are also common adventures. The water here is so clear, you can still see that bottom when depths reach 20 feet!

Beaver Island Bucket List - The Awesome Mitten
Photo by Kent Blackmer

Beaver Island is the place to leave your stressful mind behind. Here, there are no deadlines, meeting calls, or interviews. It is always island time.

From attempting to ride my tricycle two miles to town as a child to learning to drive on the back dirt roads, my heart is always half there. If you decide to visit, I am sure you will soon understand how such a simple place can have a lasting impact. Simplicity and serenity is Beaver Island.

What are your favorite things about Beaver Island or other island destinations in Michigan?

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