For centuries, the region along the Little Traverse Bay has been home to the Odawa (Ottawa) Indians. Petoskey earned its name from Chief Ignatius Pe-to-se-ga of the Bear River Band, who founded the community.
Petoskey was first settled by Andrew Porter, a Presbyterian missionary in 1852. His missionary school helped educate the children of the Bear River Band, teaching them English. The school served the area until it was forced to close in 1871 when government funds were exhausted.
After the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad brought the railroad to town in 1873, the community grew to become a summertime destination, attracting travelers from Chicago and other far away locations. In February 1879, Petoskey was incorporated into a village, with H.0. Rose elected as the village's first president.
- St. Francis Solanus Indian Mission Church was established in 1859, the first Catholic Church built in Petoskey. It is the oldest building in Petoskey and was restored in 2008. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Tours are offered on select Sundays during the summer. The site is located on Lake Street, east of Magnus Park and close to the Little Traverse Wheelway.
- Stafford's Bay View Inn is located on US-31, a short distance from downtown Petoskey. The charming Victorian inn was built in 1886 and offers guests relaxing, romantic stays. Little Traverse Bay is is located nearby.
- Stafford's Perry Hotel offers guests elegant accommodations with spectacular views of Little Traverse Bay. Dr. Norman J. Perry built the hotel on a bluff at the edge of downtown Petoskey in 1899, four years after Petoskey became a city. The hotel has been a favorite lodging choice for visitors since its inception and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
- The Bay View Association of The United Methodist Church is a National Historic Landmark Community that was founded in 1875. Michigan Methodists founded Bay View as a religions camp, and the association grew to include a summer university that attracted thousands of visitors. Bay View now includes more than 30 public buildings, nearly 450 cottages, and two inns. The community's residence is limited to May through October. Every summer, Bay View offers music, worship, lectures and seminars that are open to the public.
- Bay View Terrace Inn was built in 1911 and is located in the historic Bay View Association section of Petoskey. The inn is supposedly haunted, and you can book a stay in one of the haunted rooms.
- St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church is a beautiful historic structure near downtown Petoskey. It took almost six years to construct the church, which was dedicated by Bishop Richter on November 26, 1908. The bricks for the church were made in Boyne City and were shipped to Petoskey by train. The church's pipe organ was installed in 1915. Masses are held regularly at the historic church.
- City Park Grill was built in 1875 and during Prohibition was known as the the Grill Cafe. Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor to the restaurant. The restaurant was known as the Park Garden Cafe for many years and was redecorated in 1963. It was renamed the City Park Grill in 1997. The restaurant is located at 432 East Lake Street.
- Jesperson's Restaurant was established in downtown Petoskey in 1903 and is well-known for home-style cooking and delicious pies. It was known as a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and his Petoskey friend Dutch Pailthorp. Jesperson's is located at 312 Howard Street.
Petoskey has a few Michigan Historical Markers
that describe places and people from the town's past. The green markers are in locations that are considered significant by the Michigan Historical Commission. Markers are located at Stafford's Bay View Inn, The Perry Hotel, Sunset Park, and Bay View Terrace Inn.
Little Traverse History Museum
Located in the former train depot for the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad at Bayfront Park, the Little Traverse History Museum
features exhibits about Ernest Hemingway, Emmet County, Victorian life, and more. The museum is open Memorial Day weekend through October.
The museum hosts Petoskey's Historic Festival at Bayfront Park in June, featuring food, music, and entertainment.
Crooked Tree Arts Center
Crooked Tree Arts Center
is located in the old United Methodist Church, which was built in 1890. The beautiful old building now hosts educational programs and art exhibits.