Everyone has their favorite eatery, activity, beverage—even fudge. And you, our Experience Michigan readers, have shared your top picks in our first annual reader’s choice survey. Congratulations to Experience Michigan’s Best Of 2019!


Fudge Dreams

Mackinac Island visitors consume and carry away so much of the creamy confection that they are called Fudgies. Murdick’s Fudge started the craze in 1887, and well over a century later is rated tops this year with Experience Michigan readers.

It’s Fishy

The cold, freshwater Great Lakes of Michigan and Superior are ideal for the delicate whitefish. Readers were tied in their votes for one seasonal and one landmark restaurant. Brown Fisheries Fish House in Paradise serves the Brown Fisheries’ fresh catch of the day in a casual fish shack setting, open only in the warm weather months. The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery is an old-time saloon that features whitefish five ways; be sure to try the smoked whitefish appetizer. facebook.com/brownfisheriesfishhouse, thevierling.com

Winning Wines

Black Star Farms, founded in Suttons Bay in 1998, won worldwide recognition for its Arcturos Dry Riesling in the Best Wine of the 2018 Canberra International Riesling Challenge. The winery and vineyards are known for its harvest dinners, premium wine and cheese tastings, and luxury inn. blackstarfarms.com/winery

Brews News

Competition is stiff for the title of best beer in Michigan, rated fifth in the U.S. for the number of craft breweries, microbreweries and brew pubs. The dedicated fan base of Pigeon Hill Brewing Company of Muskegon named it the state’s top tap. pigeonhillbrew.com

Tasty Pasties

This copper miner’s all-in-one meal of meat and root vegetables wrapped in a flaky but sturdy crust is the unofficial food of the Upper Peninsula. Jean Kay’s in Marquette has been baking them “like grandma used to make” since 1975. jeankayspasties.com

Fetching Restaurant

Classically inspired contemporary cuisine is the hallmark of the Hearthstone, a West Michigan tradition since 1975. The menu features a daily from-scratch soup, and Great Lakes perch, filet mignon and a Muskegon favorite: the house-made corned beef brisket. hearthstonerestaurant.com


Perfect Park

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, in an extensive dune system five miles north of Grand Haven, is home to the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center and Dune Climb Stairway that leads to panoramic views of the dunes and three miles of Lake Michigan shore. michigandnr.com
Photo: Adam Alexander

Hit the Links

Golfers like the historic nine-hole, links-style Wawashkamo Golf Club on Mackinac Island, which retains the natural hazards designed in 1898 by Scotsman Alex Smith, and is built on the site of a battle in the War of 1812. wawashkamo.com

Hiking and Biking

Readers recognized the state’s 1,150 miles of the North Country Trail as the best for non-motorized travel. Of the 4,600-mile network of hiking trails that stretches from New York to North Dakota, Michigan’s covers the most miles. northcountrytrail.org

Amazing Attraction

Car-free Mackinac Island, located in the Straits of Mackinac between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, was rated the best getaway in Michigan for its Victorian architecture, historic fort, hiking trails, geological formations and scenic beauty. mackinacisland.org
Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Fresh Festival

There are seven stages for traditional music and dance at the Michigan Irish Music Festival, held each September in Muskegon. The culture and heritage event serves a taste of Celtic food and beverage and entertains with highland games and activities for kids. michiganirish.org
Photo: Visit Muskegon

City to Visit

Muskegon, on the Lake Michigan coast, emerged as readers’ top place to visit in our Best Of survey. The year-round destination boasts 26 miles of beaches, biking and hiking trails, historic lumber baron homes, the luge experience at the Winter Sports Complex, paddling on the Muskegon River and festivals of all kinds. visitmuskegon.org
Photo: Muskegon Winter Sports Complex

Much-Loved Museum

Readers nominated the Muskegon Museum of Art as tops for its fine art collection and many visiting exhibitions. Close runner-ups also included the Henry Ford Museum compound in Dearborn, the Detroit Institute of Arts and Historic Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.


Super Spas

Readers like that the three Boyne resorts in the northwest corner of the Mitten—Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Bay Harbor—all have luxe spas for pure pampering. For the non-spa-goer, between the three resorts there are a total 10 golf courses, two mountains for skiers, a zipline, biking trails and 33 restaurants. boynemountain.com, boynehighlands.com and innatbayharbor.com
Photo: The Spa at Boyne Mountain

Refreshing Resort

At Mission Point, on the sunrise side of Mackinac Island, the inviting Adirondack chairs on the waterfront Great Lawn are ideal for watching the passing boat traffic. The newly renovated resort offers multiple dining options, a spa and variety of activities for all ages. missionpoint.com
Photo: Caskey Photography/Shutterstock

Boutique Hotel

The last of the great Victorian era hotels in downtown Petoskey, Stafford’s Perry Hotel, has been welcoming guests since 1899. Guests love that its 75 elegant rooms are within walking distance of the historic Gaslight District’s shops and restaurants. theperryhotel.com
Photo: Stafford’s Perry Hotel.


Kath Usitalo is the author of three books, “Secret Upper Peninsula: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” “100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die” and “100 Things to Do on Mackinac Island Before You Die.”

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