GAYLORD – The city of Gaylord and Otsego County has been attracting visitors to enjoy the four seasons of northern Michigan for many years.
Here is a list of attractions that visitors can 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 view these animals, which are one of the largest species within the deer family. Under the city’s care, approximately 40 elk can be seen from near Elk’s Lodge off Grandview Boulevard.
The herd extends over an area of 108 acres. City employees feed the animals corn, hay, and sugar beets, as well as vitamins. The herd began with three elk when a local nature center closed in the late 1980s.
2. Lake Otsego State Park
Located at 7136 Old US Highway 27 S., the 62-acre park is home to large oak, maple, and pine trees and has campgrounds near the lake. The swimming beach and easily accessible day use area include picnic tables and grills, a floating fishing dock and water volleyball. The popular boat launch offers access to both motorized and non-motorized watercraft.
3. Aspen Park
Aspen Park is a year-round wonderland located at 239 Commerce Blvd. The park contains 100 acres of woodland, paved and unpaved paths, and tennis courts. During the winter, you can enjoy the cross-country ski trails or set off on a pair of snowshoes. If you prefer mountain biking, you can also do it in Aspen Park. Last year, a student at Gaylord High School, Gage Philippy, led a community effort to build a COVID-19 memorial here.
Held every summer, except in 2020 due to the coronavirus, this festival showcases the city’s Alpine architecture and the sister city’s relationship with Pontresina, Switzerland.
The Alpenfest took over downtown Gaylord’s main street for four days in July, offering food, parade, rides, and entertainment, along with arts and crafts for sale. It also serves as Gaylord’s unofficial annual weekend, when former residents return to enjoy the festivities and meet with family and friends.
5. Otsego County Historical Museum
The museum is located at 320 W. Main St. It is run by the Otsego County Historical Society, founded in 1963 with the goal of bringing together people interested in history, especially the history of Otsego County.
The museum chronicles the history of Otsego County since the 19th century. Changing displays feature artifacts, photos, and memorabilia from the county’s history.
6. Call of the Wild Museum
An Alaskan brown bear and a Gaylord polar bear, standing tall, stable and looking a bit aggressive, are at the Call of the Wild Museum at 850 S. Wisconsin Ave. , which includes more than 100 stuffed animals.
Other features include a wildlife theater, a hands-on discovery room, and a window with antique hunting and fishing equipment. In addition to the museum, Call of the Wild also has a gift shop, an adjacent mini golf course, and a go-cart trail.
7. Louis M. Green Preserve
Upon his death in 2011, businessman Louis M. Gruen left Otsego County with nearly 800 acres of pristine forest in Johannesburg at 2043 Gingel Road that is now called the Louis M. Gruen Preserve. The property has Lakes Kujawa and Johannesburg, along with reminders that it was once home to the Johannesburg Manufacturing Company and the Echo Valley Resort.
The public can access the reserve for activities such as hiking, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and horseback riding.
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8. Gaylord Golf Makkah
Home to 17 of the best golf courses in northern Michigan, Gaylord calls itself America’s premiere summer mecca of golf. Located at 3962 Wilkinson Road, Treetops Resort houses The Masterpiece designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. The distinctive sixth hatch features a 120-foot vertical diameter and panoramic view of the Pigeon River Valley. The Treetops Premier Course is the only course designed by Tom Fazio in Michigan.
9. Gaylord’s car
Over 100 years ago, a group of people in Otsego County pooled their money to create the Gaylord Motor Car Company. The company’s Gaylord Car appeared at the New York Auto Show in 1911. After three years of production, the Gaylord Car Company went bankrupt in 1913. Only one Gaylord is known to exist and it is on display at the Gaylord Chamber of Commerce visitor center at 319 W. Main st.
10. Otsego Resort
Founded in 1939, Otsego Resort has been one of the most prominent landmarks in northern Michigan and is the oldest continuously operating private ski club in America. Located on the 696 M-32, the resort features ski hills and 36 championship golf holes led by Tribute Course. It also offers a variety of residence rooms, suites, and condominiums along with more than 24,000 square feet of meeting space.