5 Reasons Why Manistee Is a Must-See

Northwest Michigan is known for its natural beauty, unspoiled coastline, and small-town charm.

Summertime in this part of the mitten state means warm, golden sand between your toes. Soothing, freshwater waves lapping at the shoreline. The gentle ripple and clang of a ship’s sail blowing in the breeze.

There are miles of Lake Michigan coastline to explore during your stay in this beautiful area— and one particular hidden gem we don’t want you to overlook.

It’s a little town called Manistee. And it’s the ideal spot for a pure, unsalted Michigan vacation.

With a delightful downtown riverwalk, a gorgeous harbor, beautiful beaches, and even a lighthouse, this self-proclaimed “Victorian Port City” has all you’ll need for a relaxing, entertaining, and memory-filled vacation.

Here are five reasons to visit must-see Manistee:

1. The Riverwalk

The Manistee Riverwalk follows the Manistee River through town. The walk winds behind the downtown businesses and ends at the beach, near the river’s opening into Lake Michigan.

Along the way, you can take the stairs and pathways up to visit the restaurants and shops in downtown Manistee. Or, stroll along and enjoy the boats gliding up and down the river.

And a bonus for the history buffs— 25 markers and plaques highlighting the history of the region.

2. The Lighthouse

Standing 39 feet tall and keeping watch over the shores of Lake Michigan, the North Pierhead Lighthouse protects and welcomes boats into the harbor.

Built-in 1869— and re-built in 1872 after a fire— it has a classic iron “catwalk” silhouette that we hear is rare in a working lighthouse. It also hosts some of the most breathtaking, Instagram-worthy sunsets in Michigan.

3. The Beaches

First Street Beach and Fifth Avenue Beach are a short stroll away from some of our more popular Manistee home rentals. With playground areas, boat launch spots, food vendors, showers, picnic areas, and even free Wifi, these beaches have everything you need for a perfect day on the lake.

Douglas Park at First Street Beach also has baseball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts, a fenced-in dog park, and a designated dog beach.

4. The Downtown

Downtown Manistee has many quaint shops, boutiques, and cafes to explore.

Check out Moving Spirits for fine wine, craft beer, artisan cheeses, and unique clothing. Take a peek inside Surroundings for candles, gifts, and fine cigars.

The Happy Owl Bookshop is the perfect spot to pick up a beach read— or for a lazy browse on a rainy day. The Outpost is a clothing shop and a full-service coffee, tea and espresso bar.

If you crave a little more speed, rent a bicycle or a moped from Boat, Scoot, and Boogie. It’s a great way to see Manistee if you’re pressed for time.

The recently restored 1930s-era Vogue Theater is the ideal spot to see the latest cinema releases. The Grand Theater seats 187, while a smaller screening room seats 45. The rebuilt lobby, lounge, and concession area combined with a state-of-the-art projection and sound system provide an amazing experience for film-goers.

The Vogue also hosts 25-cent Family Matinees every Saturday and $2 Classic Matinees every Wednesday.

5. The Food

For a small town, Manistee has a variety of impressive restaurants to explore.

Most are located along picturesque River Street, allowing you to stroll around and shop or catch a movie after dinner.

Or, even better— find some dessert!

Be sure to check out a few of these local-favorite spots while you’re in town.

The Fillmore

The Fillmore prides itself on serving locally-sourced dishes, and its seasonal menu reflects that. They aim to make everything in-house, fresh-to-order, and with local ingredients.

Try the Classic House Made Hummus with pita bread and veggies, the Bluegill Fish Tacos, or a wood-fired pizza.

Blue Fish Kitchen & Bar

This riverside restaurant features an extensive wine and craft beer list, artisan cocktails and farm-to-table fare. They serve an impressive array of Great Lakes fish that is artfully prepared by their chefs.

Blue Fish will also cook your catch. They’ll take your fresh-from-the-lake catch of the day and serve it up pan- seared or parmesan-crusted and baked to perfection.

How cool is that?

North Channel Brewing Co.

Their motto is simple— Great Food. Great Beer. Great People.

Sounds good to us!

The atmosphere is friendly and laid-back, and their beer and barbeque are outrageously delicious. The burgers are amazing, too. Try the Bacon Slaw Burger, the Animal Smokehouse with goat cheese and pork belly, or the Fried Green Tomato BLT. There are 12 taps behind the bar featuring house made beers and ciders, as well as two small batch taps for rotating special and seasonal beers. North Channel also specializes in craft cocktails and carries various wines, so there is truly something for everyone.

Wanagan Grill

Headed by Chef Brian Kissel and located on the Manistee National Golf Course, the Wanagan is home to fresh food served in a relaxed atmosphere. Try the Savory Cheesy Bread and the Lake Perch with Fresh Remoulade.

Check out CJ’s Lounge for a cold beer or a cocktail.

Bungalow Inn

A short drive from downtown, the Bungalow Inn is a warm and inviting mix of tables and cozy booths.

Watch a game at the bar, or sit in the dining room and try one of their incredible burgers. Don’t miss their Slow-Roasted Prime Rib— voted Manistee’s best!


Try your hand at some blackjack, poker, roulette, or craps. Play the slots. See a concert or comedy show. Feast at one of the many buffets. Indulge and unwind at the Nectar Spa & Salon. The casino is just the thing to add a little extra zing to your vacay.

There are so many reasons to visit Manistee. Start your day with a cup of coffee on your private balcony overlooking the river. Spend a lazy afternoon on the beach or strolling through antique stores and cafes. Watch a sherbert-colored sunset light up the sky. Dine on fresh-caught fish from the lake.

Unsalted vacation rentals like Manistee Memories, Harbor Breeze, and River Watch are a short stroll to all that Manistee has to offer.

Book your trip to must-see Manistee today.