A Tunnel of Trees fall color tour is not complete without drinking in the views of Beaver Island and Lake Michigan from the spacious outdoor dining patio of Legs Inn in Cross Village.
“It’s the right spot,” said Peter Fitzsimons, executive director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
The restaurant, built by first-generation Polish immigrant Stanley Smolak in 1921, is a Michigan historic site still run by his family. It owes its unique architecture to Smolak’s strong relationships with area Ottawa Indians, who constructed the inn from locally gathered timber and stones.
Smolak, a self-trained artist, found inspiration in the twisted forms of trees and roots for his carvings, fixtures and furniture that adorn this transcendent space.
But Legs Inn is not just a feast for the eyes.
“The Polish food is outstanding as well,” Fitzsimons said. “They have a beer collection that is unrivaled also.”
The 20-mile Tunnel of Trees tour from Harbor Springs to Cross Village is a perfect opportunity for visitors to wind their way to the inn and several other picturesque destinations beforehand.
“Pond Hill Farm is a working family farm,” Fitzsimons said. “They also have a winery, a brewery, a country store with all their fresh produce and canned products, and a farm-to-table restaurant. It’s a very family-friendly stop.”
Next, head to St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Harbor Springs. A pathway near the church will lead you to wooden stairs to access Middle Village Park’s beach, a popular swimming spot.
Making your way north, you’ll find no shortage of other charming attractions preserved in time. The Good Hart General Store, built in 1934, features a deli, bakery, original post office and legendary pot pies.
It may come as little surprise that these enchanting views and many others near the Tunnel of Trees have not been kept secret.
“If you’re coming in for fall and the colors, try to make a midweek trip of it,” Fitzsimons said. “Weekends tend to get a little busy.”