I never had heard of Walloon Lake while growing up in Michigan. Even as an adult, all I knew was that Hemingway summered there as a boy. Until I created a Walloon Lake Bucket List, I didn’t realize what a fantastic gem this little town is. On the shores of a beautiful, spring-fed lake lies this quaint town that manages to be incredibly progressive while making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Walloon Lake, like so many Michigan villages during our recent recession, was quietly dying until a father and son who spent their summers there decided to invest in the town and redevelop it. I love how smartly they did it and how they listened to the year-round locals. A circular village green was created at the foot of the lake that has fantastic sunset views on the lake in the summer and is turned into an ice rink in the winter. I love that!
The 100+ year old marina was refurbished with shops below and a fantastic restaurant, the Barrel Back above with wonderful views of the lake. Across the street was the only existing retail business in town, but newly constructed seasonal “pop-up” shops complement the year round business next door. The zoning ordinances in most towns can’t accommodate temporary retail structures, but the village was forward-thinking and these shops have become their own destination. Tandem For Two items will be found exclusively in one of these pop-up shops this summer and I couldn’t be more excited!
Development continued, with renovating historic lakefront cottages and buildings into more retails and commercial spaces and adding a picturesque marina. Hotel Walloon just opened last year and it is a beautiful white and green historic inn that looks like it has been on the shores of the lake for a century.
I love that this town has invested itself yet retained its historic charm. My family loved spending the day here and I cannot wait to get away with my husband here for a weekend. A few years before, everyone cruised by this town on their way north to Charlevoix and Petoskey without a second glance, but now there is every reason to stop and stay awhile in the village of Walloon Lake.