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10 Most Fun Things to Do in Torch Lake this Year

things to do in Torch Lake

Fabulous & Fun Things to Do in Torch Lake Michigan

If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to spend the day on Torch Lake, don’t let it pass you by. Arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Torch Lake’s magnetic power will draw you in and make you fall in love. It sure stole my heart!

Glimmering turquoise blue waters, an epic sandbar, and quaint Northern Michigan small towns are part of the pull.

Swimming in Torch Lake Alden Michigan Ballpark

For people looking to spend a day on the lake or playing nearby, this article will help you find the fun things to do in Torch Lake and nearby.

Swimming in Torch Lake Alden Michigan Ballpark

1) Paddle Your Heart Out in a Kayak or SUP or get a Boat Rental

Torch Lake clear kayak sand bar
Paddling is one of the best things to do on Torch Lake

Seriously, there’s nothing like experiencing the waters of Torch Lake firsthand in a kayak or SUP. The water is crystal clear. It’s sparkling. It’s colored just like the Caribbean.

When we did our paddle (watch our IG reel!) we used Clear Bottom Kayak Rentals to get out to the Sand Bar food truck and had a great experience.

Probably the toughest part of the whole day was figuring out parking.

The sand bar isn’t the only place to paddle Torch Lake, though. The lake is huge!

Paddle Antrim Chain of Lakes Paddler's Guide

Paddle Antrim is a non-profit organization using paddle sports to connect people to Antrim County’s waterways in order to protect those water resources.

Torch Lake launch points, paddling routes and more can be used to plan a paddling trip on the Chain of Lakes Water Trail.

Need gear?

Most places offering Torch Lake Boat Rentals also offer kayak rentals and SUP rentals, too.

Photo: Susie VanSkiver

2) Do the Torch Lake Tour – Winery & Spirits Trail

Another one of the best things to do in Torch Lake: the smile-inducing Torch Lake Tour!

This 85-mile route is Northern Michigan’s brewery, cidery, distillery, meadery, and winery tour/trail.

Townline Cider Works Tacos and Cider

Tacos and Cider at Townline Cider Works in Elk Rapids

You’ll need hours and hours – and an empty stomach – to visit all of the craft breweries and other stops on this trail.

We recommend splitting up your tour into several trips so you can fully enjoy the fresh-from-the-farm cideries, grain-to-glass distilleries, meaderies, and boutique wineries, along with the breathtaking waters of Torch Lake.

Torch Lake Tour map

Stops on the Torch Lake Tour

  1. Ethanology Distillation, Old St, 127 Ames St, Elk Rapids, MI 49629
  2. Townline Ciderworks, 11595 US-31 S, Williamsburg, MI 49690
  3. WaterFire Vineyards – Torch Lake Winery, 12180 Sutter Rd, Kewadin, MI 49648
  4. Royal Farms, Inc., 10445 US-31, Ellsworth, MI 49729
  5. Bier’s Inwood Brewery, 17959 Ferry Rd, Charlevoix, MI 49720
  6. Shooks Farm Co LLC, 5833 Shooks Rd, Central Lake, MI 49622
  7. Bee Well Mead & Cider, 116 N Bridge St, Bellaire, MI 49615
  8. Short’s Brewing Company Bellaire Pub, 121 N Bridge St, Bellaire, MI 49615
  9. Torch Lake Cellars, 5245 Clam Lake Rd, Bellaire, MI 49615
  10. Short’s Brewing Co. Pull Barn Tap Room & Production Brewery (Elk Rapids), 211 Industrial Park Drive, Elk Rapids, MI 49629

3) Visit Alden, MI & the Mill House

A stop in Alden is one of the best things to do in Torch Lake because it’s delightful and easy to visit.

Not only is this little village on Torch lake a great place to stop for a bite to eat, Alden is also a great place to launch a boat or a paddle trip.

Alden Millhouse Alden Michigan

You can’t miss The Alden Mill House.

Famous for their on-of-a-kind spice blends, you will love this kitchen store and its gardens.

The main street through Alden is lined with unique little shops and adorable white picket fences covered with bright, colorful flowers. Be sure to stop at the general store for ice cream and then walk down to the boat dock to enjoy your treats. Grab some ice cream and walk a few steps to the playground at the Village of Alden Park.

If you’re visiting via boat, they have a Safe Harbor with docks that you can use for daytime docking, so you can shop and have lunch in Alden.

And, if the community is holding a craft show or festival, you’re in luck.

Find a festival, craft show, or home-town event.

Alden keeps busy during the warmer months with a full calendar of events, as well as a restored train depot that now serves as a museum.

Alden Craft Show at the Train Depot
Alden Craft Show at the Train Depot

Alden is where you’ll find the Inn at Torch Lake, too, as well as the Torch Lake Beer Co.

stay here

The Inn at Torch Lake - Alden

Bed & Breakfast

The Inn at Torch Lake

9076 Helena, Alden, MI 49612

Tucked away in the quaint Northern Michigan village of Alden, Harvey Bartel’s Inn has stolen the hearts of travelers.

Show up here and you’re instant family. Spend time exploring nature at your doorstep or relaxing in your room. These delightful accommodations come with scrumptious breakfasts.

4) Play a Round at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort

The jaw-dropping views from Duffers Bar and Grill make grabbing a burger or playing a round at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort (627 A-Ga-Ming Dr, Kewadin, MI 49648) one of the best things to do at Torch Lake.

View of Torch Lake from A-Ga-Ming Golf Course

To get this sweet view with your tee time, be sure to book the Torch Course.

When you’re done, stop into Duffers, perched high above the lake, and have a drink on the patio. It’s the perfect vantage point!

View of Torch Lake from A-Ga-Ming Golf Course

More Golf Courses in the area:

  • Antrim Dells Golf Course, 12352 Antrim Dr. US 31, Ellsworth, MI
  • Dunmaglas Golf Club, 9031 Boyne City Rd, Charlevoix, MI
  • Elk Rapids Golf Club, 724 Ames St, Elk Rapids, MI

stay here

A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort - Kewadin


A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort

627 Agaming Drive, Kewadin, MI 49648

Vacation rentals come in 1, 2, or 3-bedroom varieties. Townhomes or condos. Stay and Play golf packages are a popular way to go. If you stay here, you’re close to Torch Lake and all of the watersports that come with it.

5) Shop, Eat & Play in Bellaire, MI

Another village, another day in Torch Lake.

Bellaire is home to about 1,000 people but in the summertime, the town swells. Serving as the Antrim county seat, the historic courthouse is fun to look at if you like old buildings.

Bellaire’s main street is lined with cute shops, ice cream stops, a movie theater, and of course, the famous Short’s Brewing Company. (Get the pizza!)

The Intermediate River (part of the Chain of Lakes) runs through downtown Bellaire and is the stunning backdrop for Stone Waters Inn.

Bellaire is also home to Shanty Creek Resort for golf, ski, and other resort year-round fun. In the winter, their tubing hill is a great draw.

Shanty Creek typically has some of the best lodging rates in the area and in the summertime, their outdoor pool hits the spot.

stay here

Spillway Lodges - Bellaire

Vacation Rental Hot Tub

Spillway Lodges

247 Portage Drive, Bellaire, MI 49615

Northern Michigan’s newest boutique resort, in the heart of Bellaire, is the perfect fusion between an Airbnb and private resort. Book your stay and let yourself in. Sweet amenities and rooms big enough for a family, you’re just steps away from Short’s Brewery in Bellaire.

Hot tubs, sauna, cold plunge, rooftop decks, fire pits, and more.

Shanty Creek Resort LakeView Hotel - Bellaire

Resort Hot Tub Pool

Shanty Creek Resort LakeView Hotel

5780 Shanty Creek Rd, Bellaire, MI 49615

This four-season resort in Northern MI is spread across a whopping 5,000 acres, with almost 400 guest rooms, suites, condos, and homes available at various price points. With golf, great skiing, alpine tubing, and snowboarding, it’s a smart place to stay if you like to be active. Indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs. Located in the historic town of Bellaire.

Stone Waters Inn - Bellaire


Stone Waters Inn

226 N Bridge S, Bellaire, MI 49615

Up North small-town charm combined with remodeled rooms add to the romance of Stone Waters Inn. The B&B is situated on a river and is also right downtown, so you can walk to the local shops and brewery (Short’s is amazing) or just lounge waterside.

This B&B is in downtown Bellaire, a cute small town Up North that happens to be really close to fantastic year-round mountain biking and downhill skiing.

6) Hang Out in Central Lake, MI

Stopping in Central Lake is one of the best things to do near Torch Lake if you like donuts, history, paddling, or spirits.

Located on Intermediate Lake, Central Lake is part of the Chain of Lakes and is another little village Northern Michigan village.

Central Lake’s Thurston Park has a sandy beach and is a great place to launch kayaks or SUPs as well as motorized boats. There is a small campground here with several waterfront sites as well!

Michigan’s Mammoth Distilling’s original tasting room is in Central Lake, too. Visit for cocktails and tours.

What makes most people line up twice a week, though, are the donuts at Brownwood Acres 2473 North East Torch Lake Drive Central Lake, MI 49622.

Stop in early on a Wednesday or Sunday morning in the summer to get your treats.

Check their FB page (and go with cash in hand) for amazing donuts.

7) Look for Petoskey Stones & Charlevoix Stones at Barnes Park

If you’re at Torch Lake, you’re close to Barnes County Park and probably close to another one of the best things to do at Torch Lake: Hunt for the state’s stone, and it’s cousin, the Charlevoix Stone.

Charlevoix Stone in Antrim County Michigan

Barnes Park has a length of rocky shoreline known for turning up these sought-after stones.

Try your luck after a storm for the best chances. 12298 Barnes Park Road
Eastport, MI 49627

Photo: Charlevoix stone at Barnes Park

Antrim Creek Natural Area Lake Michigan Petoskey Stones

Look around and you’ll likely find a Petoskey Stone, too!

8) Hike Antrim Creek NA or Bike Glacial Hills

This area in Northern Michigan is blessed with varied terrain that often leads to pay-off views. Hiking and biking are popular here for good reason, making it another one of the best things to do in Torch Lake.

With 156 acres, 2.3 miles of hiking trails, Antrim Creek, and one mile of primitive Lake Michigan shoreline, it’s hard to believe this place is off the beaten path, but it is!

Antrim Creek Natural Area Lake Michigan

Head to Antrim Creek Natural Area for a Lake Michigan treat that includes sand dunes, hiking paths, and a rocky creek.

9890 Old Dixie Hwy, Ellsworth, MI 49729

Mountain Bike Glacial Hills Bellaire MI

If you’d rather pedal, you’ll find 31.5 miles of hiking, mountain biking, fat tire biking, and winter sports trails at Glacial Hills Pathway & Natural Area‘s 765 acres. 3169 Eckhardt Rd, Bellaire, MI 49615

(Paddles & Pedals in Bellaire is a great place to rent mountain bikes.)

9) Explore Grass River Natural Area

6500 Alden Hwy Bellaire, MI 49615
(231) 533-8576

The Grass River connects Torch Lake with Lake Bellaire and is a great river for paddling, nature watching and more and is home to the Grass River Natural Area.


This nature center’s seven miles of trails & boardwalks are open year-round from dawn to dusk and will give you the chance to see otters, bears, birds and more.

Stopping here is definitely a great thing to do near Torch Lake for nature lovers.

photo: Alison Sklarczyk

Grass River Natural Area Bellaire Michigan

They offer ski rentals, snowshoe rentals, and kayak rentals as well as kayak tours, pontoon cruises, and guided river walks.

The Grass River Center building is open 10 AM – 4 PM on weekends from November through April, and every day from May through October.

10) Swim & Shop in Elk Rapids, MI

Hello Elk Rapids! This small harbor town at the end of the Chain of Lakes packs a huge punch when it comes to charm.

The small main street is filled with shops and restaurants and an old-fashioned movie theater.

Elk Rapids Michigan

Elk Rapids has a large harbor and marina, as well as a small golf course.

Down the road, you’ll find a large park with an excellent beach on Grand Traverse Bay.

For a great meal, visit Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen in Elk Rapids. There is ALWAYS a wait but it is worth it.

A dam separates Grand Traverse Bay from the Elk River. If you want to enter the Chain of Lakes here, you’ll need to do it from the Elk River.


PSA: Everything in Northern Michigan, including the Torch Lake area, is spread out and you will generally need a car to get from one place to another.

Your Move!

Let us know how you plan to spend your time in the Torch Lake area. The options are plentiful – we can’t wait to hear what you choose!

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Melody VanderWeide

INFJ. Mom of 3. Idea chaser-People believer-Inspiration seeker. Together we make GR amazing – Let’s go!

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