Throughout Michigan, there are hundreds of architectural marvels to discover. From Victorian-era homes with ornate exterior designs and a haunting appeal to sprawling estates that were once owned by the most famous residents of the state, there are endless homes to discover that offer both history and charm.
However, none are quite as mystical and magical as the Michigan mushroom houses, which are scattered throughout Charlevoix. Best of all, you can book mushroom house tours!
About the Charlevoix Mushroom Houses
When you see the Charlevoix Michigan mushroom houses for yourself, you will feel as if you stepped into a fairy tale — maybe straight into the pages of “Lord of the Rings.”
With their stone exteriors and low roofs, the homes earn their nickname because of their mushroom-like appearance. Each one is different, which has increased interest in these amazing properties.
These custom homes look as if they literally grow out of the land that surrounds them, and that wasn’t an accident. The architect of the homes, Earl Young, chose to take a different approach to their design.
In most cases, architects will design a floor plan that suits the preferences of the client without taking into account the shape of the land. To bring their projects to life, they shift the land as necessary.
Young, however, opted to use the land as his guide, which means that each mushroom house is shaped based on the land that surrounds it, giving it the appearance of a blooming mushroom.
Many of the mushroom houses are located within walking distance of downtown Charlevoix Michigan, which has transformed them into a popular tourist attraction.
Mushroom house tours are available, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of these properties are privately-owned residences, so no interior tours are available.
While the mushroom houses have become iconic in Charlevoix, community leaders ask that guests are respectful of private property when viewing and photographing the homes.
It’s worth noting that a few of the mushroom houses in Charlevoix are available as short-term rentals. These properties are quickly becoming some of the most desirable places to stay in Charlevoix, largely because of their unique history and authentic charm.
The proximity to downtown adds to their appeal, allowing guests to enjoy an immersive experience when staying in the city.
Mushroom House Rentals in Charlevoix
- Charlevoix Mushroom Thatch House
- Re-imagined Charlevoix Michigan Mushroom House
- Upscale Earl Young Charlevoix Cottage w/ Deck
- Lake Michigan Earl Young Stone Cottage
- Inhabit A Hobbit House!
Michigan Mushroom House Tours
Given that each home designed by Charlevoix native Earl Young is completely unique, it’s not surprising that many people want to take a tour to experience the different properties for themselves. There are several types of mushroom house tours available.
Guided Vehicle Tours
The most convenient and fastest way to see many of the mushroom houses in Charlevoix Michigan is to embark on a guided vehicle tour. Many tour operators in the area offer these tours, but Mushroom House Tours is one of the most popular.
Its one-of-a-kind GEM car tours take five or six passengers on open-air rides into the city’s streets where they can stop in front of some of the most iconic Michigan mushroom houses. The tours last for about 50 minutes and run daily during the spring, summer, and fall.
While on the tour, you will visit several of the most well-known mushroom houses and learn about the dozens of homes that are located in the area. It’s an experience that combines history, architecture, and plain old fun, making it a favorite activity among families traveling in the region.
Guided Walking Tours
If you are the type of traveler who wants to stretch and experience the landscape for yourself, consider booking a guided walking tour of the Michigan mushroom houses with the Charlevoix Historical Society.
The walking tour spans a little more than 1 mile and takes about 90 minutes to complete. The path features minimal elevation, which makes it an accessible tour for people of all ages and abilities.
In addition to seeing some of the famed mushroom houses located on Park Avenue and Clinton Street, you will stop at some other iconic Charlevoix sites, such as the Charlevoix Public Library and the Channel Bridge.
For those who prefer to be on their own schedule and enjoy a bit of adventure, there is always the option of taking a self-guided tour. Maps of the mushroom houses of Charlevoix are available, and many of the houses are located within walking distance of the downtown area.
Your best bet is to create a plan in advance to see as many houses as possible, and don’t forget that these are homes — not tourist attractions. You will want to be respectful of the property, and be mindful of the fact that people live in these homes.
More to Do Near the Mushroom Houses in Charlevoix
While it’s easy to spend a couple of hours on mushroom house tours, there is so much to see and do in Charlevoix. You can easily turn this excursion into a day trip for you and your family.
As if the mushroom houses are not spectacular enough, there are many other architectural wonders to discover in Charlevoix Michigan.
In fact, there’s a castle in the heart of this community — which only adds to the fairy tale ambiance of this town that rests on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Castle Farms was built in the early years of the 20th century as a dairy farm, but today, it is open for tours and has become a popular venue for weddings and special events.
Ernest Hemingway Spots
If you are looking to continue your tour of interesting buildings in Charlevoix, then consider stopping at some of author Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spots near Walloon Lake, many of which inspired his writing.
Some places you could go on a self-guided Hemingway tour include Red Fox Inn, Horton Bay General Store, or Greensky Hill Church.
Of course, there is more to Charlevoix than the buildings in town. Many people find this city to be a recreational paradise, where they can wander along the trails or go floating on the Jordan River.
No matter how you want to spend your day, you will find that it’s easy to get lost in the beauty and charm of Charlevoix.
Where to Eat Near the Charlevoix Mushroom Houses
Charlevoix Michigan is home to a plethora of locally-owned restaurants. Consider dining at these favorite local establishments.
Smoke on the Water
Finding a good place to enjoy breakfast is never difficult, but sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between one breakfast joint and the next. Smoke on the Water, however, distinguishes itself as one of the few places where you can enjoy smoky, wood-fired flavors during your morning meal.
This downtown Charlevoix restaurant is one of the best places to fuel up before a day of mushroom house tours. Many of its breakfast items feature the house specialties — smoked brisket and smoked salmon.
Of course, if you are looking for a more traditional breakfast, you’ll find French toast, omelets, and biscuits and gravy as well. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, so you will truly be enjoying a homemade breakfast when you dine here.
That French Place
Whether you need a quick break during your tour of the mushroom houses or you are going to embark on an afternoon excursion, That French Place will please your palette. This locally owned cafe and bistro is best known for its authentic French cuisine, particularly its Breton crepes.
With a wide variety of sweet and savory crepes available, you are sure to find something that will give you the energy you need to continue enjoying your day in Charlevoix. You can top off the experience with a delicious coffee, a nourishing tea, or a slice of quiche.
Grey Gables Restaurant
In a historic property in the heart of Petoskey Michigan, Grey Gables Restaurant has been offering the best dining experience in the city since 1936. After a day of surrounding yourself in the history of the community, there is no better place to relax and enjoy a meal.
One of the things that locals and visitors love the most about this restaurant is that it offers a surprisingly extensive menu. From pizza and burgers to sushi and steak, you can literally get anything your heart desires when you spend an evening at Grey Gables in Charlevoix.
Exploring More of Charlevoix & Northern Michigan
The mushroom houses of Charlevoix are sometimes considered the city’s best-kept secret. While most visitors head to this quaint Northern Michigan town for its beautiful views and pristine beaches, there is so much more to discover here.
One day in Charlevoix is simply not enough, you are going to want to settle in and stay a little while longer. Plus, it’s close enough that you could put some Petoskey activities on your list too.