Detroit Mom’s Travel Series: Manistee

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Growing up in the mitten, I hate to admit it, but I thought a great vacation was traveling to the beautiful state of Florida or the glamorous state of California–not my own home state of Michigan. But our luscious, green, and sparkling blue state is so beautiful, I can’t wait for our family to travel to our next Michigan destination.

Manistee, Michigan kind of fell on our last-minute vacation plans in 2020. You might say, I invited ourselves on my cousin-in-law’s vacation plans! We all had the best time in what was “The Year of the Pandemic.” Sometimes, the best vacations happen when they aren’t planned.

My family consists of three boys (my husband, a seven-year-old, and a 13-year-old) and myself. The other family consists of my husband’s cousin, his wife, one teenage girl, and a ten-year-old boy. In total we had a party of eight.

Here is a two-day itinerary for Manistee, Michigan. There are so many wonderful spots in this cute, historical town.

Photo by @Qualityofwifeandboys

BEFORE YOU GO

Book Your Stay | Airbnb
There are so many great options for your liking. The place where we stayed was a small condominium building called The Edgewater Condos that had two bedrooms and two bathrooms and was perfect because it also had a pull-out sofa, and we brought an air mattress. The best thing about it is that it oversees the river, and the kiddos can view the drawbridge go up and down when the big boats go through! This condo can be booked through Airbnb.

Grocery Stores | Family Fare | 1057 Manistee Hwy
It is so important to find the closest and/or your favorite grocery store when on a vacation! This is five minutes away from the downtown area and the best part is that the produce is so fresh for the all-day beach outings!

SAMPLE ITINERARY: DAY ONE

9:00-10:00 a.m. | The Outpost of Manistee | 359 River St. 
Okay . . . this isn’t just a breakfast spot, but shopping, too! Bonus for us moms! If coffee and tea is available, sign this mama up! Plus, they sell a lot of great lifestyle brands, i.e. Patagonia and The North Face.

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. | Fifth Avenue Beach | 108 Lakeshore Drive
Lake Michigan looks ahhhhmazing with the view of the Fifth Avenue Pier and Lighthouse.  This beach has everything and is close to public restrooms as well as concessions (although we love to pack food and drinks). There is a play area too!

Lunch/Dinner Spot | TJ’s Pub | 399 River St.
This hot spot is always busy because it is right in the center of the little downtown area! I would recommend calling ahead for seating or just getting carry-out. This hot spot is not just “bar food”; they serve delicious platters from Margherita Flatbread to Alfredo Mac and Cheese. Great selections for kids and a bonus for adult-beveraging!

Shopping Spot | The Ideal Kitchen | 421 River St.
Who doesn’t love shopping during vacation (my boys are on the top of that list!)? But us moms need our therapy and love to bring home new and exciting items that are different, and that no other places carry at home! They carry many big-name items as well, like Staub and Kitchen Aid.

Ice Cream Spot | Downtown Delights | 457 River St.
In 2020, the ice cream spot we used to frequent down the street was awesome. But in 2021, they closed, so this downtown treat had great reviews and is on my Manistee to-do list!

Father and son at Fifth Avenue Beach Photo by @Qualityofwifeandboys

SAMPLE ITINERARY: DAY TWO

9:00-10:00 a.m. | Goody’s Juice & Java | 343 River St. 
Where there’s Java in the name, there’s me at their front door! This spot definitely has a small-town vibe with fun gourmet coffee selections like Brazil Yellow Bourbon Coffee. Deeeelishhh!

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. | First Street Beach | 110 S. Lakeshore Dr.
Walking along Lakeshore Drive is a no-brainer! Spend a morning at the beach or the whole day. Douglas Park has so many activities such as dog parks, pavilions, picnic areas, and of course, a gorgeous pier!

Brunch, Lunch, or Fancy Dinner | The Blue Fish Kitchen | 312 River St.
When you have teens that travel with you, you have babysitters! This place was our double-date, kid-free night, adult-conversation dinner, and the service and food were on point. It looks as if their menu changes, which is a good sign for an upscale restaurant!

Shopping Spot | Maryann’s Antiques | 382 River St.
Antiquing is so much fun, especially when you are in unfamiliar territory! This place is like a museum without paying admission. You can spend hours here (as long as the kids are occupied or you’re kid-free). Old records, old dollhouses, who knows . . . you may find some sort of treasure!

Ice Cream Spot | Papa J’s Ice Cream & Eatery | 4825 Main St., Onekama
So, this spot is a bit outside of the Manistee area, but it is so much fun with a great family-friendly environment!

RESTAURANTS YOU'LL LOVE

522 Pub & Grill | 522 Ramsdell St.
Easy food for all the picky eaters in the family.

North Channel Brewing Co. | 86 Washington St.
Great for a quick drink getaway spot (if you have babysitters or older children).

ADDITIONAL SHOPS TO CHECK OUT

Happy Owl Bookshop | 358 River St.
For all booklovers, this is a unique, independent-owned business and as Detroit Moms, we love to support small businesses!

Anne’s Bookstore | 380 River St.
There is something about reading (and smelling) used books that is “oh so nostalgic!”

BONUS THINGS TO DO IN MANISTEE

  • The beaches are the best part of Manistee–plan your days around your favorite beach.
  • Visit the Farmer’s Markets, the old Vouge Theatre, and walk downtown.
  • Stroll along the Manistee Riverwalk during the sunset.

Where’s your favorite vacation spot? Check out our previous Travel Series location–Charlevoix!

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