Known as the “Alpine Village of Michigan,” Gaylord offers small-town charm and outdoor adventures. Located in Northern Michigan, Gaylord provides easy access to some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas.
From exploring lakes and forests to unique shops and museums, Gaylord has something for everyone. Here are the top 15 things to do in Gaylord, Michigan.
1. Visit the Elk Herd at Gaylord’s City Elk Park
One of Gaylord’s claims to fame is its resident elk herd. You can view these majestic animals up close at Gaylord’s City Elk Park located off Dickerson Road. The 135-acre park is home to around 30 Roosevelt elk.
Visitors can drive through the park and may spot elk grazing in the fields or walking through the woods. The best times to see active elk are early morning and late evening.
2. Golf at Michaywé Pines Golf Course
Address: 1535 Opal Lake Rd, Gaylord, MI 49735
Michaywé Pines Golf Course is considered one of Michigan’s top golf destinations. This championship 18-hole course was designed by architect Jerry Matthews and features wooded terrain with winding fairways.
Amenities include a driving range, pro shop, clubhouse restaurant, and professional instruction. Visitors can play a round on this exceptional course with elevation changes, bent grass greens, and views of Lake Michaywé.
3. Go Skiing at Treetops Resort
Address: 3962 Wilkinson Rd, Gaylord, MI 4973
In winter, Treetops Resort offers some of the best downhill skiing in Michigan. They have 23 runs ranging from beginner to expert over three slopes: Jones Peak, Smith Peak, and Fazio Mountain.
Ski and snowboard rentals are available. The resort also features a top-rated ski school, terrain park, zip lines, and lodging. Just a few miles north of Gaylord, Treetops is a prime destination for winter recreation.
4. Hike the Historic Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Trail
For scenic hiking, head to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Trail. This peaceful wooded trail follows the Sturgeon River with lookout points over the limestone gorge.
Sections involve aluminium ladders, stairs, and bridges. Trailheads are located off Stephan Bridge Road. Sturgeon River Gorge Trail is a 1.8 mile loop that combines history, nature, and challenging terrain for a rewarding hike.
5. Go Snowmobiling on Groomed Trails
With over 300 miles of scenic trails, Gaylord is one of Michigan’s prime snowmobiling destinations. Local clubs maintain an extensive network of groomed trails that wind through pristine forests and across frozen lakes. Rentals are available in town.
Popular routes include the North Central State Trail and Trail #522 through Pigeon River Country State Forest. Gaylord provides easy access to snowy backcountry adventures via snowmobile.
6. Shop Downtown Gaylord
Downtown Gaylord along Main Street offers over 60 unique shops, boutiques and art galleries housed in historic buildings. Find antiques, gifts, clothing, toys, candy, fudge and specialty foods.
Don’t miss The Gaylord Alpine Chocolate Haus and their delectable confections. Downtown hosts many fun events year-round like the summer concert series and Alpenfest. Spend an afternoon shopping and dining in charming downtown Gaylord.
7. See Exhibits at the Otsego County Historical Museum
Address: 320 W. Main St, Gaylord, MI
Learn about the area’s history at the Otsego County Historical Museum. Their collection includes over 10,000 artifacts related to Native Americans, logging, and early settlers.
Notable exhibits feature a replicated 1840s trading post, 1924 transmitting room, and furniture display. The museum provides insights into the county’s rural heritage through an impressive array of artifacts.
8. Mountain Bike at Big Bear Trails
For thrilling mountain biking, head to Big Bear Trails within the Pigeon River Country State Forest off M-32. This extensive trail system has over 20 miles of flowing single-track loops catering to all ability levels.
Trails wind through hilly terrain, forests, and wild blueberry fields. Rentals are available in Gaylord at The House Outdoor Gear. Big Bear Trails offer diverse cross-country riding in a pristine landscape.
9. Attend the Alpenfest Celebration
Alpenfest is Gaylord’s signature summer event celebrating its Alpine roots through free family-friendly activities downtown. Highlights include parades, live entertainment, pony rides, craft vendors, food, a car show, and log rolling.
The festival takes place for four days in July. Visitors can immerse themselves in Gaylord’s vibrant community and Bavarian-style fun at this annual bash.
10. Camp at Pigeon River Country State Forest
Outdoor lovers will enjoy camping within expansive Pigeon River Country State Forest. The forest has eight campgrounds with sites for tents and RVs.
Elk Hill Campground also offers cozy cabins. Guests can hike, fish, bike, spot wildlife and more. Pigeon River Country State Forest encompasses over 100,000 acres of pure Northern Michigan wilderness perfect for a secluded camping getaway.
11. Swim at Michaywé Park & Campground
Michaywé Park & Campground has a nice public beach right on Lake Michaywé. The sandy beach provides swimming, playgrounds, volleyball, kayak rentals and concession stands.
Michaywé Campground has over 200 wooded sites for tents and RVs steps from the water. Visitors can spend all day enjoying fun in the sun at this scenic park and campground.
12. See a Show at the Gaylord Area Performing Arts Center
Catch a professional music, comedy or dance show at the Gaylord Area Performing Arts Center. Some upcoming performances include Kenny G, The Price is Right Live, and Capitol Steps Comedy.
The modern flexible theater space seats over 1,000 guests. Visit the box office or check their website to see what productions are coming up.
13. Tour Michigan Snowmobile Museum
The Michigan Snowmobile Museum celebrates the history and culture of snowmobiling. View over 75 vintage snow sleds dating back to the 1920s along with interactive exhibits and displays.
Other highlights include a 1938 handcrafted sled and informational history timeline. The museum provides an in-depth look at how snowmobiles evolved in the Great White North.
14. Relax at the SportsPlex and Aquatic Center
Address: 1250 Gornick Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735
Gaylord’s Alan J. Kaczmarski SportsPlex and Aquatic Center has exciting recreation spaces open to the public. The indoor Aquatic Center features lap pools, slides, play areas, and hot tubs.
The SportsPlex includes a full gym, indoor track, and fitness classes. Additional amenities like childcare are available. Work out and have some family fun at this top-notch athletics facility.
15. Experience Michaywé Horse Farm
Michaywé Horse Farm provides horseback riding adventures on over 100 acres of trails. They offer guided trail rides ranging from one to three hours for all experience levels along with pony rides for kids.
Visitors can explore the beautiful surrounding scenery on one of their friendly horses. Michaywé Horse Farm is a memorable way to try horseback riding in Gaylord.
I hope these ideas give you plenty of options for creating memorable experiences during your Gaylord getaway.
With year-round recreation, gorgeous scenery, museums, shops, restaurants and events, Gaylord truly offers the best of Northern Michigan’s natural beauty and small-town hospitality.