Summer in Northern Michigan is beautiful, but fall brings a quiet magic to our corner of the world, with crisp breezes, vineyard harvests, and glorious fall color. One of the best ways to take in the glory of fall is to take a drive up the scenic M-22. This 116- mile highway follows the coast of Leelanau Peninsula, with lake views appearing around each turn. Check out these top spots to stop—including dining, shopping, wineries, and scenic
overlooks—during your leaf peeping tour.
1. Leelanau Trail (Cherry Bend Road): This 17-mile paved trail runs from the outskirts of Traverse City up to Suttons Bay, taking you near many of the highlights of the east coast route!
2. DeYoung Natural Area: You’ll find this Leelanau Conservancy trail just off the highway along the shoreline of Cedar Lake.
3. Mawby Vineyards and Winery: Get your sparkle on with Northern Michigan’s sparkling wine experts just three minutes from M-22.
4. Black Star Farms: This winery is also home to a romantic B&B, dining, horse stables, and special events like yoga in the vines.
5. Hop Lot Brewing Company: A popular brewery + eatery in charming Suttons Bay also offers live music and outdoor fun and games.
6. Suttons Bay Bikes: Want to get into the forest to see the fall color up close? Rent a bike and hit the trails.
7. Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center: Get to know the culture, language, and spirit of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
8. Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge: Over 350 slot machines and table games await on the casino floor, while stunning bay views beckon from the Lodge.
9. Belanger Creek Preserve: This ecological powerhouse is home to a diverse ecosystem of flora, fauna, and streams best seen along the Peshawbestown Rd. boardwalk or a guided hike.
10. Knot Just a Bar: Dine by the water or pick up casual fare to go on the next leg of your adventure.
11. Leelanau Wine Cellars: Your last winery stop on the east coast, Leelanau Wine Cellars for a quirky-meets-classic tasting. #DrinkUpNorth
Bonus Stop: Take the 201 to Northport for a stroll through town, then stop at the Leelanau State Park. The park is located at the peak of the peninsula along with the historic Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.
12. Green Bird Organic Cellars and Farms: This organic vineyard is worth a stop to see the vineyard, orchard, farm, and forest in one fell swoop.
13. Bluebird Restaurant & Tavern: This favorite Leland eatery has been around for 80 years on the banks of the Leland River.
14. Fishtown: Don’t miss Leland’s Fishtown, a throwback to life in a 1900s fishing village, where former shanties have been converted to boutiques, art galleries, and specialty food shops.
15. Verterra Winery: This 40-acre winery is located on one of the highest ridges on the Leelanau Peninsula for perfect forest views with a glass of one of their award-winning whites.
16. Whaleback Natural Area: Towering bluffs provide a stunning overlook for the Lake Michigan coastline and the forests of Leelanau County.
17. Good Harbor Vineyards: Three cheers for your final wine stop at this family-farmed vineyard known for affordable vintages.
18. Swanson Preserve: Enjoy 2,000 feet of shoreline along Little Traverse Lake along with fall color and wildlife, including river otters and marsh birds.
19. Cherry Republic: Love Northern Michigan cherries? Look no further—Cherry Republic has everything from cherry sweets to cherry pie to cherry wine. Plus, the adjacent Cherry Public House offers all-day dining options.
20. Blu: Glen Arbor’s Blu is one of the region’s top fine dining establishments, with recognition from Wine Spectator, Travel + Leisure, and the James Beard Foundation.
21. Alligator Hill: Part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Alligator Hill provides up to nine miles of hiking—with easy, intermediate, and advanced trails—as well as a lookout for fantastic views.
22. Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: If this is the only fall color tour you do, you won’t be disappointed with the unparalleled vistas of Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Check out the virtual tour here. Swing a left when you hit M-72 in Empire, and you’re only 30 minutes from downtown Traverse City.