Legs Inn is easily one of the best locations to visit when you want to explore some history and enjoy exceptional food. The restaurant at this location, which is open generally from late May through September or October, offers quite a unique atmosphere.
Those visiting Legs Inn in Cross Village Michigan, get to check out what has been called “Michigan’s Most Iconic Restaurant.” What makes it so unique and interesting? A visit to Legs Inn Michigan means enjoying authentic, unique Polish cuisine in a building that was built to honor nature.
Let’s step inside to see what Legs Inn and Cross Village Michigan have to offer!
About Legs Inn Cross Village
Legs Inn is noted for its dining experience, but it is much more than that. The property stands on a bluff that overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan, creating picturesque views around every turn. In addition to this, it offers cottages for those who wish to stay for a few days to explore the region.
A few things help this location really stand out, including that it has a private, sandy beach that is far more secluded than you are likely to find in most other areas of Lake Michigan. More so, you can rent a boat here, go fishing for the day, and then return for a meal that is hard to forget.
Legs Inn’s History
Legs Inn Michigan has much to offer visitors, some of whom come from far-off destinations just to experience the restaurant. It could be the kielbasa or the scratch-made desserts. Before considering any of the food, though, it helps to know a bit about the history of this destination.
An Original Construction
The location was built in the 1920s by Stanley Smolak, whose family still owns and operates the property today. Stanley set out to find a location in the state that reminded him of Poland, from which he had immigrated.
Stanley had a unique expression of art and often made sculptures out of trees that he found growing in the area.
That’s instantly noticeable when visiting Legs Inn because the entire building — virtually inside and out — features his unique carvings. These carvings make Legs Inn one of the most unique and unusual locations in the country.
Restoration & Updates
Though it was quite special, it was a struggling bar and restaurant by the 1980s and needed revitalizing. That’s when the current owners, George Smolak and his family stepped in. George worked to restore the property and the carvings, as well as helped update the menu.
Things to Know Before Visiting
Legs Inn is not open all year. Most of the time, it opens at the end of May and closes before the first snowfall of the season. Its hours can change throughout the season as well. We recommend calling ahead for reservations.
Also, you absolutely want to stay for the sunset. The restaurant’s perch on the bluff overlooking the lake helps it to come to life. The sunset often features intense pink and yellow colors, especially during the summer and fall on clear days.
The Legs Inn Restaurant
There’s no doubt that many people come to Legs Inn for the atmosphere and fun artwork, sculptures, and strange wood carvings throughout the building. Yet, they stay (and come back for) the food.
Serving traditional Polish food, virtually everything here is housemade. The menu has grown over the years to include numerous American options, but it does a great job of keeping the food as local as possible.
One of the most popular items on the menu, for example, is the Great Lakes whitefish, which is caught locally out of Lake Michigan.
For appetizers, it’s hard to choose just one, from the Kabanosy (a meat stick of charbroiled Polish sausage) to the pierogi (made fresh with traditional fillings like seasoned beef and pork, sauerkraut and mushrooms, or potato) and Farmer’s cheese.
The lunch menu features a Polska kielbasa sandwich made on grilled marble rye bread with homemade horseradish. There’s also the vegetable nalesniki, which is a Polish crepe-like dish that’s packed full of seasoned vegetables and grilled just enough. Potato pancakes are on the menu too.
The dinner menu includes a number of traditional options, such as Taste of Poland, which features an assortment (think huge portions here) of a number of goodies — golabki (cabbage rolls), kielbasa, and pierogi.
Other options include the kotlet, which is a pork tenderloin cutlet that’s lightly breaded and sauteed before being served over a bed of lemon wine butter sauce. There’s also the bigos, which is a type of Polish hunter’s stew that includes smoked sausage, mushrooms, cabbage, and sauerkraut.
For those looking for international dishes, choose from fisherman’s catch, goulash, and blackened whitefish.
If you still have room (you may want to take some of your main dish home to save room!), dessert options include old-fashioned Polish berry szarlotka, which is a crumble cake with apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
Also, the restaurant serves carrot cake that’s super moist and topped with cream cheese and almond icing.
Lakeside Cottages Rentals at Legs Inn
If you want to enjoy Legs Inn and the surrounding area for a while, rent one of the lakeside cottages. The property owners rent several cottages from the end of May through the middle of October (typically). You will need to book your stay in advance because the cottages can fill up quickly.
Each of the five freestanding cottages has incredible views of the waterfront and lots of privacy. They are all in a private and wooded area that is located next to the beach area and the water itself. One of the nice benefits here is that the property is private, so there are no tourists to get in the way.
Every cottage has a natural pine paneled interior and tall ceilings. They have two bedrooms (with a full-size bed in each), a kitchen that’s large enough to eat in, a living room area, and a single bathroom. The cottages come with basic kitchen equipment and a grill out back to use for preparing meals.
Keep in mind though, that these are true wilderness cottages with no Wi-Fi, no air conditioning, no TVs, and no phones. Also, there is a two-night minimum stay for up to four guests per cottage. No pets are allowed on the property.
Things to Do Near Legs Inn Cross Village
For those who want to visit for a weekend or longer, there are some outstanding things to do near Legs Inn Cross Village.
Trails & Preserves
When staying here, it is easy to hike or bike through the Little Traverse Conservancy’s trails, which take you through the nature preserves along the waterfront. You can even go fishing from the Lake Michigan shoreline.
The Woollam Family Nature Preserve is located nearby. It is an excellent waterfront beach area perfect for hiking and getting your feet wet.
Tunnel of Trees
You can take a scenic drive on the Tunnel of Trees, which offers an exceptional experience throughout the year. Just follow the winding M-119 from Cross Village to Harbor Springs.
Speaking of … there’s plenty to do in Harbor Springs, including art galleries, shops, and more dining establishments. For instance, you could enjoy a round of golf at True North Golf Club in Harbor Springs, which is about 10 miles from Legs Inn.
FAQs About Legs Inn in Cross Village Michigan
Why is it called Legs Inn?
Quite the unusual name, Legs Inn is named after the inverted stove legs that are a bit hard to see until they are pointed out to you.
They are a decorative railing located along the roofline of the building. It’s quite an interesting display that looks surprisingly beautiful.
Is Legs Inn a cabin?
No, Legs Inn may look much like an old-style cabin, but it is a large building that is built out of mostly wood components and a stone exterior, creating an almost castle-like feel.
You will see varnish pretty much from the ceiling down to the floors and everything in between.
Who owns Legs Inn?
The Smolak Family owns and operates Legs Inn. The family has owned the property for numerous generations.
Get the Full Legs Inn Cross Village Experience in Northern Michigan
A visit to Legs Inn Michigan is well worth the experience, even if you do not get to do much else in the area. If you have some more time, stay in the lakeside cabins, go fishing in the lake, take a boat tour, and enjoy the sunset (and the sunrise) from the landing overlooking the water.
It may initially have a Native American feel to it because of the numerous wood carvings and teepees out front, but Legs Inn is very much a Polish restaurant that was created to be nothing short of impressively unique and charming.