Things to do in fabulous Northern Michigan/Leelanau Peninsula:
This area is a hidden gem! There is so much to love here! Activities for every season – beaches, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, fall foliage, skiing, snow sports, etc. Plus charming fishing villages, vineyards and clean water. The locals seem to take pride in their area with beautiful flowers and kept up homes and a great outlook on life!
Glen Arbor, Michigan:
I chose to stay in Glen Arbor and travel to the rest of the towns from there. Glen Arbor is an active town with beaches, hiking and biking trails, restaurants, wineries, cherry stores (the area is known for its cherries), and shops. It also houses the resort of Homestead (where I rented a VRBO) which seems perfect for all 4 seasons, and it sits right on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Glen Arbor has the cutest coffee shop (Leelanau Coffee Roasting) with every single type of coffee that you can imagine. Bonus – it also sells local honey. If you are looking for Starbucks they will tell to turn around, leave, and go back home! 🙂
I stopped at M22 wine patio for a flight of wine made at a local vineyard in Sutton Bay. The wine is made from locally sourced grapes, apples, and cherries. It was only $10 for a flight of 5 wines – bargain.
There are no big chain stores or restaurants up here. The small boutiques are unique down to the clothes that are made and designed by the owners. It is extremely refreshing!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park!
Miles of trails, historic buildings and boats, two islands, and enormous sand dunes to please the inner child in me! I couldn’t resist running downhill like the other kids.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive:
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive was very beautiful with pull overs along the way to get out and gawk at the overlooks. However, you are not really in the thick of it unless you are walking or hiking the trails.
If you do take the scenic drive and park at one of the overlooks, you can take the Cottonwood Trail to the top of Sleeping Bear Dune. (The trail map does not show that they connect.)
Hiking the Alligator Trail (right outside Glen Arbor – 7 minutes away), I was rewarded with two jaw dropping lookouts over Lake Michigan and Lake Glen. Observant people (not my superpower) can stop to eat berries non-stop along the trail.
Kayaking in Honor, Michigan:
I did the Lower Platte River Kayak adventure from the Trading Post in Honor. It was about a 2.5 hour easy kayak through fairly shallow water for most of the trip. I was lucky enough to see a large salmon swimming in the crystal clear water!
Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City:
The corn maze at Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City was something I’ve never experienced before. It must have been completed by satellite as it was MoTown themed this year, from above, complete with musical notes, cars, guitars and singers! Typically it takes 80-90 minutes to finish the maze. It’s open from late August to October. Remember to read the maze map right from the get go or you’ll be in there for maybe forever. 🙂
The farm was magical! Barns, silos, acres and crops as far as the eye could see. The farmer graciously allowed me to pick an apple (there is a u-pick it area), and I tried a new variety…Zestar…crunchy and light and sweet – fantastic!
I have never heard of Saskatoon Berries. The bushes had already bloomed, but if you are from Canada my guess is that you know of them well.
On my drive back to Glen Arbor, I saw an Eagle soar over me, heading out of the woods. Spectacular!
Lake Michigan on the Peninsula:
Lake Michigan sunsets were colorful and brilliant. Enjoy on the many areas of lakeshore all around the peninsula. The sunsets are worth stopping whatever you are doing to enjoy the stunning beauty of colors that fade in time.
Carlson’s Fishery in Leland:
Dinner was the best yet in Carlson’s Fishery in Leland (Fishtown)! This was like stepping back in time with over a century of stories and family business on its fifth generation. The lake is known for Whitefish and Carlson’s serves it from their takeout window deliciously smoked. They also sell smoked Atlantic salmon which is just about my favorite food on earth. Sit out and dine at a picnic table, steps away, on the boat docks.
The charming Town of Petoskey was a place I stopped to eat dinner. There are several restaurants and another amazing shoreline. Off to the beach to find a Petosky rock. I tried, but not sure I accomplished the mission as it’s so easy to get side tracked hanging out and just being present while looking at the fades of blue in the water.
The small town of Northport is charming sitting at the tip of the peninsula. The small town grocery store stole my heart when I saw that they sell fresh bouquets of flowers from local families in the area. There was even a flower stand along the roadside in front of someone’s home.
Cool fact, this area is at the 45th Parallel – halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.
***Travel tip: You can take a day trip (~3 hour drive) to Mackinac Island. See my post about it here: https://quicktripadventures.com/mackinac-island/
Thank you to my traveling buddy, Amy Ferguson, for the inspiration!