Moose-spotting, golfing, hiking among top 10 summer activities in Gaylord

GAYLORD – The Town of Gaylord and Otsego County have been attracting visitors to enjoy Northern Michigan’s four seasons for many years.

Here is a list of attractions for visitors to explore:

1. Gaylord Elk Park

Gaylord is one of the few towns that actively maintains an elk herd and provides public viewing areas for the public to observe these animals, which are one of the largest species in the deer family. In city custody, approximately 40 elk can be seen near Elk’s Lodge, off Grandview Boulevard.

The herd is contained on 108 acres. Municipal staff feed the animals with corn, hay and sugar beets, as well as vitamins. The herd started with three elk when a local nature center closed in the late 1980s.

2. Lake Otsego State Park

Located at 7136 Old U.S. Highway 27 S., the 62-acre park is home to large oaks, maples, and pines and contains campsites near the lake. The easily accessible swimming beach and day-use area includes picnic tables, grills, a floating fishing pier, and a water volleyball court. The popular boat ramp provides access to motorized and non-motorized watercraft.

The beach at Otsego Lake State Park is becoming popular as visitors and area residents alike seek respite from the summer heat.

3. Aspen Park

Aspen Park is a year-round wonder located at 239 Commerce Blvd. The park has 100 acres of woodland, paved and unpaved trails, and tennis courts. In winter, you can take advantage of the groomed cross-country ski trails or go snowshoeing. If mountain biking is more your thing, you can do that in Aspen Park, too. Last year, a Gaylord High School student, Gage Philippy, led a community effort to build a COVID-19 memorial here.

The COVID-19 Memorial at Aspen Park in Gaylord.

4. Festival of the Alps

Held every summer, except in 2020 due to the coronavirus, this festival showcases the city’s alpine architecture and its sister city relationship with Pontresina, Switzerland.

The Alpenfest takes over Main Street in downtown Gaylord for four days in July, featuring food, a parade, rides, entertainment, and arts and crafts on display and at sale. It also serves as Gaylord’s unofficial annual homecoming weekend, with former residents returning to enjoy the festivities and reunite with family and friends.

5. Otsego County Historical Museum

Located at 320 W. Main St., the museum is operated by the Otsego County Historical Society, which was established in 1963 to bring together those interested in history, particularly the history of Otsego County. ‘Otzego.

The museum chronicles the history of Otsego County since the 1800s. Changing exhibits feature artifacts, photos, and memorabilia from the county’s history.

6. Call of the Wild Museum

There’s an Alaskan brown bear and a polar bear in Gaylord and they stand tall, posed and look a bit aggressive at the Call of the Wild Museum at 850 S. Wisconsin Ave., which has over 100 animals on display of taxidermy.

Other features include the wildlife theater, a hands-on discovery room, and a display case with antique fishing and hunting artifacts. In addition to the museum, Call of the Wild also has a gift shop and an adjacent miniature golf course and go-kart track.

7. Louis M. Groen Reserve

When he died in 2011, businessman Louis Groen left Otsego County with nearly 800 acres of virgin forest in Johannesburg at 2043 Gingell Road, now called the Louis M. Groen Reservation. The property contains Kujawa and Johannesburg Lakes, as well as reminders that it was once the home of the Johannesburg Manufacturing Company and the Echo Valley Resort.

The public can access the reserve for activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and horseback riding.

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8. Gaylord Golf Mecca

Home to 17 of the finest golf courses in Northern Michigan, Gaylord calls itself America’s premier summer golf mecca. Treetops Resort, located at 3962 Wilkinson Road, features the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed masterpiece. The signature sixth hole features a 120-foot drop and sweeping views of the Pigeon River Valley. Treetops Premier Course is the only Tom Fazio-designed course in Michigan.

9. The Gaylord Car

Over 100 years ago, a group of people from Otsego County pooled their money to form the Gaylord Motor Car Company. The company’s Gaylord car was shown at the 1911 New York Auto Show. After three years of production, the Gaylord Car Company went bankrupt in 1913. Only one Gaylord car is known and is on display to the visitor of the Gaylord area chamber of commerce. Center at 319 W. Main St.

The surviving 1911 Gaylord car is shown.

10. Otsego Resort

Founded in 1939, Otsego Resort has been a staple in Northern Michigan and is the oldest continuously operating private ski resort in America. The resort, located at 696 M-32, offers cross country skiing and 36 holes of championship golf led by the Tribute course. It also offers a variety of accommodation rooms, suites and condominiums as well as over 24,000 square feet of meeting space.

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