Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer
My only regret in moving to Michigan years ago is that we had no idea how many lovely lakes were available within a short ride of Battle Creek. I thought all the good lakes were up north. Boy, was I wrong! I would have loved to wake up every morning looking at a wide expanse of water and gone to sleep with a sunset over the water. Nothing beats summertime on a lake in Michigan. If you are lucky enough to live on a lake, or have friends that do, you can enjoy vacation every day. And if they own a boat of any kind, floating on a lake provides a wonderful mini-vacation.
It’s great to pack some snacks and few beverages and cast off for a cruise. The captain can’t partake of anything but the guests can certainly enjoy themselves as you motor around the lake. We usually kept the fare and the beverages on the simple side, cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine. We’ve had some wonderful times at several lakes in western Michigan with friends. One of my favorite lake holidays is the 4th of July. Throwing down an anchor in the middle of the lake at dark and watching 360 degrees fireworks show, as one neighbor tries to outdo the next, Is a memory I won’t ever forget.
If you don’t have friends with lakefront property or a boat, you can still enjoy a lakefront dining experience. While I’ve been to several lake restaurants that I’ll describe below, I only have a short list to offer.
Close to our home is Lyon Lake, a small, natural lake surrounded by homes. The lake was named after Lucius Lyon, who was among the most influential men in the process of establishing statehood. The lake is three quarters of a mile around and a nice cruising size. On the southern shore of the lake is adjacent to the Marshall Country Club, which offers a private golf course. On a recent evening, we had dinner at the club’s restaurants and enjoyed their special penne primavera with chicken. Their fish nights routinely sell out.
Another great lake is in Portage near Kalamazoo. West Lake consists of 335 acres of surface waters with depths of 12 feet. A fun and funky dining choice is the West Lake Drive-in, offering a 50s style experience with a killer view. Olive burgers, perch sandwiches, onion rings, shakes, floats and homemade root beer round out a short menu. When I really want to splurge, I order an olive burger and a vanilla milkshake, just about a perfect food pairing.
A little further away near Three Rivers, is the Fisher Lake Inn on a lake of the same name. It is a family owned establishment, offering a casual dining experience and a superb view. The prime rib with a baked potato didn’t disappoint and was enough to share. My husband ordered the walleye and enjoyed every bite. The restaurant also had a salad and soup bar. If you go for lunch the prices are even better.
One additional choice is on Paw Paw Lake, near Columa, called the Waterfront Restaurant. The menu offers Italian entrees and a variety of seafood, steaks and chicken. One the weekends you can enjoy a piano player, that adds to the supper club atmosphere. There is a nice fishing pier on this 900-acre lake. We only stopped for drinks and the view but hope to go back to check out their menu.
So grab a few hours on one of our lovely lakes, enjoy the views and a good Michigan meal.