Manistee is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the northwestern lower peninsula of Michigan, about 65 miles south of Traverse City. Manistee offers small town charm with beautiful beaches, great fishing, and the Manistee National Forest. For vacationers Manistee has a lot to offer but it may be more notable for what it doesn't: large crowds, high prices, heavy traffic and tacky tourist traps.
Most visitors to Manistee will arrive by car from US 31 that runs north and south through town or via M-55 that ends just north of town at US 31.
For boaters there is a municipal marina with easy access from Lake Michigan.
There's also a small airport, Manistee County Blacker Airport (IATA: MBL, ICAO: KMBL, FAA LID: MBL), with scheduled nonstop flights, via PublicCharters operated by Aerodynamics, to and from the Chicago Midway International Airport on a daily basis except for Saturdays.
You can tour the historic downtown on one of the trolley buses that depart from the Manistee County Transportation Building, 180 Memorial Drive, just north of the Manistee River. The drivers offer some history of the town including the claim that Manistee had more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the U.S. in the late 1800's. The tour passes by some of the old Victorian style homes that housed the lumber barons years ago.
The Riverwalk offers a wonderful way to take in the river and downtown Manistee. It runs along the south side of the Manistee River Channel, behind the buildings on the north side of downtown Manistee, from US 31 all the way to Lake Michigan about a mile and a half altogether. If you're lucky, you'd see a 700-foot lake freighter slowly making its way through the narrow river channel on its way from Lake Michigan to Manistee Lake. You may also access many of the downtown storefronts from the Riverwalk. There are markers every tenth of a mile so you can gauge your distance, and the Riverwalk is handicap accessible.
The City Marina and Triangle has a fountain that provides an anchor to the west end of River Street and the Riverwalk. The Marina provides a beautiful view of the Manistee River Channel and and boat access to Lake Michigan.
The Manistee lighthouse taken by John Lambrechts
You can take a nice walk along the beach and walk to the tip of the lighthouse. The beach sand is very nice and on the side of the lighthouse you can usually see some nice fish since the water is so clear.
Just north of Manistee is the Michigan Audubon Society Lake Bluff Center, set upon high bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan. Here you can enjoy the wetlands, home to a variety of birds such as hawks and bald eagles. View the giant redwood tree and the colorful lilies, mums and hydrangeas.
Manistee National Forest Festival is Manistee's biggest annual event. In 2007 the dates are June 29-July 4. Enjoy a huge variety of events including a flea market, carnival, entertainment, arts and crafts fair, fireworks over Lake Michigan, and a parade on July 4.
Port City Festival is every year on the weekend after Labor Day (Sept. 8 in 2007). Enjoy the scenic Riverwalk, entertainment, food, antique car show, arts & crafts fair, historic building tours, special exhibits and more.
Victorian Sleigh Bell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend is the first weekend of December. Enjoy an old time Christmas parade and events. The parade has no motor vehicles, everything is pulled with horses. This popular event brings as many as 10,000 visitors to Manistee to experience the wonder of a Christmas gone by. The highlight of the parade is Belgian draft horses pulling 30' Christmas trees down River Street.
Shop downtown on River Street at the many boutique stores, department store, or antique stores.
The Manistee Central Business District is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District Commission reviews changes to all the buildings located in the Historic District to ensure that these treasures are maintained for generations to come.
Local eats include the Tuscan Grille for Italian food, The Glenwood north of Manistee overlooking Portage Lake and River Street Station for good pub grub.
Fast food chain restaurants in Manistee include Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and A&W.
Bungalow Inn, 1100 28th St (US 31 South), ☎ (231) 723-8000, . Full service restaurant located in Manistee on US 31 South. The Bungalow Inn has received numerous awards for their food, including Best Breakfast, Best Gourmet Burger, Best Prime Rib, Best Seafood, Best Salads, and Friendliest Service.
There are many bars in Manistee, ranging from River Street Station to neighborhood pubs such as McManigal's and Stu's. Those are just three of over ten bars in and near Manistee.