Castle Farms – Charlevoix, Michigan
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. Seated conveniently one hour from Traverse City, Gaylord, and Mackinaw, Charlevoix is an ideal hub for a group tour.
Downtown Charlevoix offers visitors the chance to window-shop, sample ales, view art galleries, stroll along the waterfront, watch the bridge raise, and so much more. Step-on guides from the Historical Society guide buses along the local streets to view the famous Mushroom Houses.
The crown jewel of Charlevoix is less than five minutes from its downtown – Castle Farms. Built in 1918 by Albert Loeb, acting president of Sears Roebuck Co., the Castle was originally a working model dairy farm to showcase farm equipment available in the Sears catalog. Local fieldstone was used to create graceful arches, soaring towers, and picturesque courtyards reminiscent of designs from Normandy, France.
After the Great Depression, the Castle fell into disrepair. It saw a renaissance in the 60s as an artist Mecca and, believe it or not, as a rock concert venue in the late 70s to early 90s. Famous bands, including Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers, Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, and Tina Turner, all rocked the Castle.
Group tours of the property include a narrated tram tour of the exterior and a walking tour of the interior. Microphoned guides are knowledgeable in not just historical points but also personal stories and 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 enchant guests while a World War I museum will take them back to another era. Private collections and numerous displays are showcased throughout the Castle, including antique toys, castles, and royalty memorabilia from around the world. For groups wanting more, catered meals are available, ranging from lunches to farm-to-table dinners.
Another fan favorite is the outdoor Model Railroad, the largest in Michigan. Over 70 trains travel 2,500 feet of track from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting. HO and G-scale trains run along historical replicas as well as up fanciful towers and through hedges and flowers.
Experience Charlevoix, Northern Michigan’s resort town on three lakes, and while you are there, do not miss nearly 100 years of history at Castle Farms.