Waterfront Dining Delights: 17 Must-Visit Restaurants in Northern Michigan

When you find yourself in the Great Lakes State, seeking out a picturesque waterfront restaurant can sometimes feel like searching for buried treasure. Yet, for those special occasions when only the proximity to water will suffice, Northern Michigan offers a plethora of dining options that combine stunning views with delectable cuisine.

Whether it’s Father’s Day, your partner’s birthday, or simply the desire for a memorable dining experience by the water, these 17 gems Up North are sure to satisfy your cravings.

From refined white tablecloth dining to casual vintage drive-ins, each of these restaurants offers more than just a breathtaking view. So, if you happen to be the adventurous type who might accidentally slip off the dock in your dinner attire (yes, it happens), consider yourself forewarned.

1. Fitzgerald’s Restaurant

Located in the quaint hamlet of Eagle River, Fitzgerald’s offers a blend of historic charm and culinary excellence. Situated on the shores of Lake Superior, this hidden gem serves up mouthwatering beef brisket and aged whiskey in a setting that feels like a step back in time.

2. Harbor Haus Restaurant

Nestled on the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Harbor Haus combines elegant white tablecloth dining with traditional German fare. Indulge in lobster tail or smoked jägerwurst while enjoying views of Copper Harbor and the Isle Royale ferry.

3. The Glenwood

For a dining experience that feels like a visit to a lakeside home, head to The Glenwood in Onekama. Feast on a seven-ounce filet mignon with stunning views of Portage Lake, and don’t forget to save room for one of their decadent house-made pies.

4. Rocks Landing

Situated on Crystal Lake, Rocks Landing offers a dining experience where you can almost feel the waves lapping against the shore. Sample dishes inspired by coastal flavors while taking in the scenic beauty of this lakeside paradise.

5. Blu

Boasting unparalleled views of Sleeping Bear Bay and the Manitou Islands, Blu in Glen Arbor is a culinary destination not to be missed. Under new ownership, this award-winning restaurant continues to deliver elegant dishes like Norconk asparagus with ramp hollandaise, paired with a selection of fine wines.

6. Supper at the Mill

Set within a meticulously restored 1879 grist mill, Supper at the Mill offers a dining experience unlike any other in northern Michigan. Chef Bobby Thoits crafts a menu that changes with the seasons, showcasing the best of the region’s farms and flavors.

7. The Riverside Inn

With its picturesque location on the Leland River, The Riverside Inn has been a beloved dining destination for over 120 years. Under new ownership, this historic inn continues to impress with seasonal dishes like yellowtail crudo and house-made campanelle pasta.

8. Artisan Restaurant Traverse City

While known for its special occasion dining, Artisan Restaurant in Traverse City also offers a scenic waterside patio overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. Enjoy a more casual menu featuring cheeseburgers and craft cocktails, accompanied by live DJ sets on select evenings.

9. Boathouse Restaurant

Perched on the shores of West Bay in Old Mission Peninsula, Boathouse Restaurant offers stunning views and fresh seafood in a relaxed setting. Treat yourself to a dozen oysters and a glass of Michigan wine while watching the sailboats drift by.

10. Cafe Santé

Located near Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City, Cafe Santé captures the essence of a classic French brasserie. From brunch favorites like croque-madame to dinner specialties like duck French onion soup, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

11. Stafford’s Pier Restaurant

Situated in Harbor Springs, Stafford’s Pier Restaurant offers nautical-themed dining just steps from Lake Michigan. Savor dishes like seared scallops with morel risotto while soaking in the waterfront views.

12. Barrel Back Restaurant

Located on Walloon Lake, Barrel Back Restaurant offers a unique dining experience with garage-door style windows and an open-air deck. Enjoy snacks like buffalo chicken dip while watching the sunset over the water.

13. Douglas Lake Bar & Steakhouse

Halfway between Petoskey and the Mackinac Bridge, Douglas Lake Bar & Steakhouse offers rustic charm and lakeside dining. Sample their famous wedge salad and steak au poivre while listening to live music on a summer evening.

14. Carriage House

Situated on Mackinac Island, Carriage House Restaurant offers stunning views of Lake Huron and the island’s ferry harbor. Indulge in smoked whitefish cakes and ice cream puff pastry while soaking in the island’s historic charm.

15. Hack-Ma-Tack Inn

With its rich history and scenic riverfront location, Hack-Ma-Tack Inn in Cheboygan is a must-visit dining destination. Enjoy slow-roasted prime rib and Ruinart Brut Rosé while watching boats cruise by on the Cheboygan River.

16. Les Cheneaux Culinary School

Located in Hessel, the Les Cheneaux Islands Culinary School offers a unique dining experience in a picturesque setting. Dine on dishes like lamb with corn succotash while taking in views of the nearby woods and waterways.

17. Clyde’s Drive-In

For a casual dining experience with million-dollar views, head to Clyde’s Drive-In in Sault Sainte Marie. Enjoy a ¾-pound hamburger and a chocolate shake while overlooking the St. Marys River.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply craving a memorable meal by the water, these waterfront restaurants in Northern Michigan promise an unforgettable dining experience that perfectly captures the essence of the Great Lakes region.

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