North of Grayling  on I-75, Gaylord was officially organized in 1875 as “Otsego,” an Indian word that means “beautiful lake.” Located at the north end of long, skinny Otsego Lake, Gaylord remains a basically rural village with a year-round population of less than 3,700. But its topography lures vacationers by the thousands.
Gaylord sits on the highest point in southern Michigan, which inspired the town to morph itself into “the Alpine Village.” Its Main Street is decorated with balconies, blossoming window boxes, even a glockenspiel on the Glen’s Market grocery store. And while more Polish and German descendants reside here than Swiss, the townspeople happily don dirndls and lederhosen each July during the annual Alpenfest .
While Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) provides bus service to Gaylord, most visitors come via car, motorcycle, or RV. Given that the town sits at the junction of I-75 and M-32, it’s easy to reach whether you’re coming from Saginaw, Charlevoix, or the U.P.