Bus tour operators love Charlevoix, Michigan, and can you blame them? Nestled between three lakes of crystal clear water, Charlevoix is a traveler’s dream. The charming three-block downtown is easy to navigate and offers unmatched views of the park, marina and drawbridge. Perhaps the best part of Charlevoix is its location; positioned conveniently one hour from Traverse City, Gaylord and Mackinaw, Charlevoix is an ideal hub for your tour. Nearby hotels offer gracious rooms to fit any budget, and the local restaurateurs and shop owners know how to welcome visitors with classic friendliness.
The Charlevoix area is rich in activities, including walking tours, step-on bus tours, shopping, farmers markets, festivals, beer tasting, orchard tours and much more. The crown jewel of Charlevoix is less than five minutes from its downtown – Castle Farms. Built in 1918 by Albert Loeb, president of Sears Roebuck Co., the Castle was originally designed as a working model dairy farm to showcase farm equipment available in the Sears catalog. No ordinary dairy farm would do for Mr. Loeb; he hired famed architect Arthur Heun to design a farm and summer home reminiscent of a French Renaissance chateau in Normandy, France. Local fieldstone was used to create graceful arches, soaring towers and picturesque courtyards. During its heyday, Loeb Farms, as it was known, was the largest employer in Charlevoix County.
If that’s not enough to entice the history lovers in your group, pique their interest even further with a list of bands who have played in the tumbled ruins of the former farm, including Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers, Beach Boys, Willie Nelson and Tina Turner, to name a few. How did a dairy farm become a concert venue? Castle Farms’ guides love to tell the story.
Your group will be welcomed by our Group Tour Specialist Nikki Louiselle, and shown an informative short video that chronicles the history and resurrection of Castle Farms. Divided into groups of approximately 25 people, each group will begin a narrated historical tour of the Castle interior and exterior, including a tram tour through forests and past ponds with fountains. Our microphoned guides are knowledgeable, not just in historical points but also personal stories, and they tailor each tour to the abilities and interest of the group.
Castle Farms is handicap accessible and has wheelchairs available, so no one is left out of the tours. Paved paths and extensive gardens will enchant your guests, while the 1918 museum will take them back to another era. The museum is filled with artifacts from World War I as well as an assortment of items from vintage Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs. Museum quality collections and numerous displays are showcased throughout the Castle, including antique toys, castles and royalty memorabilia from around the world.
Another fan favorite is the Outdoor Model Railroad, the largest in Michigan. Guests will marvel at the 70-plus trains and more than 2,500 feet of track. HO and G-scale trains run along historical replicas as well as up fanciful towers and through hedges and flowers. Castle Farms is also home to Norm the Dragon, a finalist in Grand Rapids’ 2012 ArtPrize.
For a special treat, add on a lunch or dinner at the Castle. From soup and sandwich to farm-style dinners, menus can be customized to your group’s likes and needs. An evening tour of the illuminated grounds followed by a delicious meal is an experience not to be forgotten.
Listed on National and State Historic Registries, Castle Farms has garnered many awards, including the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation in 2006; the President’s Award, presented by Keep Michigan Beautiful in 2008; Barn of the Year, presented by the Michigan Barn Preservation Network in 2009; and TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, each year since 2013.
Castle Farms has a rich history, and its staff is excited to share it with guests. Guided group tours are available year-round for 10 or more guests, 20 guests minimum for catered meals. Contact Nikki today to create your next sell-out tour.
Castle Farms is located at 5052 M 66 North, Charlevoix, Michigan. For more information, phone (231) 237-0884 ext. 224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.