As promised, here is my full "little" travel guide to Beaver Island! We're definitely not pros of the island, but just thought I'd share where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did on the island. To be honest, this wasn't my favorite Michigan excursion we've been on. There wasn't a whole lot to do on the island... which is great if you're looking to relax and take it easy! Typically we like to have fun things to do and see when we travel (especially around Michigan), so thankfully the lighthouses took up a bit of our time. But if we didn't have the lighthouses to see, I'm not sure what else we would have done other than ride bikes, or visit the little beach, or eat/drink. But! We still enjoyed our weekend, and here are the highlights of our trip!
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at the Emerald Isle Hotel. I remember booking this inn a few months back and having a 20-minute phone call with the 77-year old owner, who was the sweetest man and had a lot of good tips! The inn was totally fine for us. It wasn't anything cute, or fancy, and it was pretty outdated. But honestly, I loved that our TV had a VHS player, which we borrowed "Father of the Bride Part 2" from the hallway and watched it on the first night. We didn't have air conditioning, and it was one of the most humid weekends I could remember (hence the bun every day almost), so that was a little challenging. But, for what we needed, it ended up being a decent place to stay and very close to the local restaurants.
BEAVER ISLAND HARBOR LIGHT
On our first night, we visited the Beaver Island Harbor Light. It's a super quick (maybe 10 minute) bike ride from the little main area of town... and perfect for seeing after dinner. It's also a great place to watch the sunset. We ended up hanging out in the field surrounding the lighthouse for a while, watching the sun go down, flying the drone, and people-watching. This was my favorite lighthouse on the island (granted, there are only two!)
BEAVER ISLAND HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
This was definitely a highlight of our trip. Like I said, if we didn't have this lighthouse to bike to, I'm not sure what else we would have done on this day! But this was a great way to take up an entire day. We packed drinks, and a picnic lunch on our bikes and rode 15-miles each way to visit this lighthouse. It was pretty tiring (especially having to bike on gravel road) but it was a lot of fun and definitely an "adventure". You can always rent a car (or take your car on the island) to this lighthouse too, which is about a 20-minute drive. Much easier than biking! The tower is open to the general public, so you can just walk right into the lighthouse and climb the tower by yourself, which I loved.
After we got back from our bike adventure to the lighthouse, we cleaned up and changed, and headed down to the main area of town for dinner and a little bit more sightseeing. The main area of town is cute! Lots of bikes, a few different restaurants to check out, a bar, a few gift shops, museums, and a pretty scene of the lighthouse across the harbor. Plus, there are several historical markers to read all about the history of the island, which is really interesting.
WHERE WE ATE
Our first night, we tried Donegal Danny's Pub. Honestly not my favorite place. The food was totally fine, but the place was empty, and the service wasn't friendly at all! It was like we were bothering them by eating there. We quickly left, and headed to the main area for drinks at The Beachcomber. Definitely a local place, and a place to go if you want to chat with people visiting. On Saturday, we had lunch at Dalwhinnie Bakery (missed breakfast by 10 minutes, we were so sad!), picked up to-go subs from Harbour Market for our picnic, and ate dinner at Shamrock Pub! We finished off with ice-cream at Daddy Frank's, and then had breakfast there again the next morning, which was pretty good. It wasn't my favorite trip for food though, so I'd be interested in checking out different restaurants if we ever went back.
HOW WE GOT THERE
We took Beaver Island Boat Company (which I believe is the only boat service to Beaver Island). It departs and returns to Charlevoix, Michigan. I honestly loved the ferry ride! The boat was quite large, you could sit indoors or out, and you could bring your own beverages, which was nice. The ride each way into the middle of Lake Michigan was about 2 hours, so it's a good amount of time! They had valet parking, which made it super easy, because we didn't have to go and park our car, but boy, those tickets (round-trip, including our bikes) were expensive! Much more expensive than any other trip (Mackinac Island, etc.) so just make sure to factor those ticket prices into the cost if you're planning a trip!
I hope you guys enjoyed the little recap of Beaver Island! I know some of this is a little bit of a downer, but I just wanted to be open and honest. We really did enjoy our weekend, and were so excited to see the lighthouses, but probably wouldn't go back again. I just craved more to do, more to see, more dining options, and places to grab a yummy drink. I went into the weekend with bad headaches, and was going through a small existential crisis, and with how lonely/dark/outdated the island felt, it just wasn't an overly happy trip. But again, if you're looking for a relaxing trip with no distractions and not much to do, this might be perfect. I know so many people who love this island, and several people that go back every single year. So don't take my advice alone! :)