Found at the edge of and named for the largest inland lake in Michigan, Houghton Lake is the place for boating, fishing or kayaking. It’s also the place for the duffers in the family, as it offers two championship golf courses: the Quest and Pineview Highlands. If bowling is more your thing you should definitely visit Goodyear Lanes. For a lakeside nightcap, head to the Limberlost Houghton Lake or J D’s Old Town Tavern or the family to Shaker’s Restaurant or Little Boots Country Diner. Houghton Lake vacation rental locations include snug cabins by the lake with wrap-around decks that let you dine al fresco with a view of the lake and the forests. Here are some of the best escapes near Houghton lake you should check out on your Michigan retreat.

1. Roscommon

A little over 21 miles northeast of Houghton Lake, Roscommon is home to both South Higgins and North Higgins Lake State Park. If you come in the winter, these lakes are great for ice fishing and freeze solid enough for snowmobiles. During the warm months, swim or rent a boat. Skiing is another activity Roscommon offers in the winter.

2. Harrison

The folks who planned Harrison were so clever that there’s a place that’s a ski resort in the winter and a golf course in the summer. That would be Snow Snake Ski & Golf. There’s also snow tubing and a cool zip line course at this resort. At the end of the day have a meal at the Chuck Wagon Family Restaurant & Pizzeria or Jackies Airport Restaurant.

3. West Branch

This town is tucked into the beautiful Ogemaw Hills and is crisscrossed with streams and rivers, including the Rifle River. Enjoy the many activities this recreation area offers, including cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing and swimming. Trails for your mountain bikes are also available. If you love your vino, make sure you visit the Sunrise Side Wine & Hops Trail.

4. Clare

If you’re still on the lookout for great Michigan wines then visit Kirrihill Wines in this little community. Relax in Pettit Park, which is crossed by the south branch of the Tobacco River and has facilities for picnics, fishing, and simply having fun. Buckle’s Pizza of Clare is right at the park’s edge, and Hoa Wang Chinese restaurant is close by.

5. Gladwin

A number of vacation rentals in Gladden have their own dock or tiny beach on the lake, so try to grab one. When you and the family venture from one of these cottages, visit Whitetails Live. This is where you can feed and pet the deer, and buy little tchotchkes and outdoor gear. Gladwin is replete with golf courses for the family golfers. They include the Sugar Springs Golf Course, the Gladwin Heights Golf Club, and the Lakeside Golf Course.

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6. Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant is home to a casino, and for a lot of folks, that’s reason enough to come. This casino is called the Soaring Eagle, and it’s on Soaring Eagle Boulevard. Come not just to play, but for the restaurants and entertainment. For more family-oriented enjoyments, take the kids to the Ziibiwing Center to learn the history of the Native Peoples of the area.

7. Lake City

This city on Lake Missaukee has the Missaukee Golf Club.The club caters to golfers of all skill levels, so bring the kids. For dining out head to the funky, blue-painted Food Factory and Pub or get some dessert to take back to your vacation rental at Tasty Treat.

8. Cadillac

Cadillac is the place to go in the winter because golf courses turn into ski resorts in the cold months, and if you climb up Caberfae Peaks, you’ll get a stunning view of much of the state. For shopping, visit Toy Town or Serendipity for unique gifts for friends and family or Long’s Antiques for that gift you didn’t know you needed until you saw it. Vacation rentals include cabins in the woods and some are a few steps from the Lake Cadillac.

9. Standish

This town is also associated with the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino which is found just outside the city limits. Take the kids to the The Standish Historical Depot Welcome Center where they’ll see the old-fashioned locomotive and learn some history about the area. For vittles, head to the Granton Inn, which serves pollock on Fridays and icy cold beer most days.

10. Midland

Though it’s a smallish city, Midland is rich in its support of the arts and sciences. Head to The Midland Center for the Arts for some hands-on science projects and concerts. Other places to visit are the Bradley Home Museum and Carriage House, which lets you see a little of what life was like back in the 1870s. Relax and play in the city’s good number of parks. Bike, walk, or skate over the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, which connects Midland to Clare.

11. Prudenville

A nice walk east of Houghton Lake and found on the lake itself, Prudenville has mini golf for the kids and golf at the White Deer Country Club for everybody. Vacation rentals are predictably on Lake Houghton, and some have their own dock. Places to eat include the Frog Tiki Bar with its neon palm trees. If you’re into exotic java, visit Kiss Me Specialty Coffee.

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