One of Michigan’s most attractive features is the amount of fresh water that surrounds its charming cities and towns. From Lake Michigan with Grand Traverse and Little Traverse Bay to all of the inland lakes, being so close to so much water truly make this state great.

Taking advantage of all the water are numerous restaurants in Northern Michigan. Enjoying the breathtaking views of different lakes while enjoying a good meal is unsurpassed. Or is it? How about taking your boat directly to a Northern Michigan favorite. Here’s our list of the ten best restaurants you can boat to in Northern Michigan.

Apache Trout Grill – Traverse City

Located on the shores of West Bay in Traverse City, Apache Trout Grill has been a favorite for locals and visitors for years. A menu boasting with different kinds of seafood from locally caught Whitefish to Atlantic Salmon, and of course Maine Lobsters. Apache also features awarding winning ribs and a full drink menu that allows you to find the perfect drink to pair with your meal.

Barrel Back – Walloon Lake Village

Along the shores of Walloon Lake, you’ll find Barrel Back. This restaurant offers a menu that everyone will appreciate with freshly smoked meats and a dining room that feels as though you are suspended over the water. Featuring seasonal outdoor seating, and year-round indoor seating, Barrel Back allows their guest to take in views from every angle of one of the most beautiful lakes in Michigan. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner their menu features eggs benedict, frittatas, pizzas, sandwiches, and full-sized dinner entrees. The impressive fully stocked bar features over a dozen Michigan craft beers.

Blue Smoke – East Jordan

In the quaint town of East Jordan, you’ll find a southern staple, smokehouse-style bbq. Blue Smoke’s philosophy, like all great bbq, is low and slow. Using 100% fruit wood to smoke their food you’ll be able to taste the difference. Their menu features the classics, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and sausage. You’ll also find southern food with a twist like blue cheese jalapeno slaw, Blue Smoke Pit Mac n’ Cheese, and chicken and waffles with a Nashville Hot butter. The main difference between Blue Smoke and most bbq places? They have a modern and contemporary interior. The next time you’re on Lake Charlevoix take your boat down to the south end and try Blue Smoke.

Boathouse – Traverse City

On Old Mission Peninsula sits the Boathouse Restaurant. With over 300 feet of frontage on Bowers Harbor, the Boathouse Restaurant is the only waterfront restaurant on Old Mission Peninsula. With breathtaking views of West Bay and heartwarming cottage décor, the Boathouse Restaurant offers fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Open strictly for dinner their upscale menu features oysters, wagyu filet, smoked elk rack, and Maine lobster tail. Their wine list features wine from the likes of Michigan, California, Italy, France, Spain and totals over 100 different bottles.

Cafe Santé – Boyne City

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Cafe Santé offers patrons old-world charm that is hard to replicate today. The food at Cafe Santé can be described as European classics with a unique and innovative twist. Items like Duck French Onion Soup, Salmon Florentine, and Sausage and Bell Pepper pizza are just a few of the many new-school spins on some old-world classics. In the summer, enjoy beautiful views of Lake Charlevoix while keeping warm from their one of a kind “fire ring.”

Dockside – Torch Lake

A summer staple on Torch Lake, Dockside features a fresh and local menu with a view. Whitefish highlights the menu, but you’ll find authentic Mexican dishes as well. Located in Bellaire, Dockside fills up their outdoor patio every day from May through October – weather permitting. If you don’t have a boat to drive, don’t worry. Dockside offers boat rentals too. Rent a pontoon from Dockside, take it out on the stunning Torch Lake, then bring it back and enjoy dinner with a stunning sunset.

Douglas Lake Bar & Steakhouse – Pellston

Known to locals as the “DLB,” the Douglas Lake Bar & Steakhouse has a rich history inside of their rustic log building overlook Douglas Lake. Two massive fieldstone fireplaces create the perfect atmosphere for dining in the spring and fall. During warmer summer months, guests can dine lakeside on their patio or screened in porch taking in views of Douglas Lake. The menu at DLB features pan-seared scallops, a variety of Great Lakes fish, and of course, steak.

Hoppies Tavern – Burt Lake

Located on the northeastern end of Burt Lake in Cheboygan, Michigan, Hoppies Tavern is a family-friendly favorite. Their menu specialties include the “best perch and whitefish around” as well as authentic Mexican. The Friday Fish Fry is a favorite among all visitors of Hoppies Tavern. When you visit Hoppies, you’ll love the food just as much you’ll love the small town charm it provides.

The Pier – Harbor Springs

In Harbor Springs, you’ll find The Pier. This waterfront restaurant is a tribute to the maritime heritage of the city of Harbor Springs and is actually built on the original pilings over the harbor. The dining room overlooks the historic yacht basin. On the menu, you’ll find an excellent collection of fresh seafood, Great Lakes fish, steaks, and a few northern Michigan classics.

Walloon Lake Inn – Walloon Lake Village

The Walloon Lake Inn is a fine dining establishment located on Walloon Lake near the village. With both indoor and outdoor options, the Walloon Lake Inn is a fine dining delight. Featuring duck confit, dry aged beef tenderloin, and over 80 different bottles of wine ranging from sparkling to red blends. The Walloon Lake Inn provides their guests with a one of a kind experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the state of Michigan.

Why Not Make a Slice of Northern Paradise a Place You Live?

If the allure of boating to your new favorite restaurant has you dreaming of living in Northern Michigan contact the areas lakefront property expert, Wally Kidd. As a long-time resident of Walloon Lake, Wally Kidd has a deep understanding and love for Northern Michigan. It’s that understanding and love that makes him the top choice for those looking to purchase a lakefront home in the area. Posted by Walter J. Kidd on


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