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Day trip in Leelanau County

Famous for the scenic M-22 highway, dozens of wineries, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Leelanau County is as picturesque as you’d imagine. Get a taste of the beauty with this itinerary.

How to Get There

M-22 and M-72 can take you around and across the county, respectively.

What to Do

  • Enjoy the most important meal of the day at 45th Parallel Café for a wide array of omelets and other breakfast favorites. Coffee cup clinks to being halfway between the equator and the North Pole!
     
  • Carry on northward up M-22 to the Leelanau State Park hiking trailhead on Densmore Road where 8.5 miles of trails wait to be explored.
     
  • Only a short drive separates you from Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of Leelanau Peninsula. Climb the tower, see how lightkeepers lived, and hear a ghost story or two.
     
  • The Tribune in Northport is the perfect spot to stop for lunch. With all day breakfast and lunch, you can’t go wrong. (And be sure to treat yourself to their delicious ice cream!)
     
  • Down the coast of Lake Michigan we go to historic Fishtown in Leland. Pop in the old fishing shanties to stock up on snacks for your next stop.

Couple on the beach at Lake Michigan

  • It’s time for a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There are endless ways to enjoy the park, from hiking trails to the paved Heritage Trail (great for biking!) to popular spots like the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Choose your mode of adventure and bask in the glory of sand, water, and forest!
     
  • With two hikes under your belt, it’s finally winery time. Spend happy hour—or hours—getting to know the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail as you meander toward your next destination.
     
  • Glen Arbor is a must-visit for a stroll through downtown and a pit stop (get it?) at the original Cherry Republic. You know you want those chocolate covered cherries!
     
  • At dinnertime, sit back and enjoy the finer things in life with a meal at Blu. Panoramic views of Sleeping Bear Bay and the Manitou Islands pair perfectly with their upscale American cuisine. (Plus an award-winning wine program!)
     
  • Your Leelanau day is nearly at an end, but there’s one more place to stop: Empire Beach. See a Michigan sunset on one of National Geographic’s 21 most beautiful beaches in the world. (Several other beaches can be found in Empire if you want a more secluded spot.)

Bonus Ideas

Don’t miss the east coast” wineries on Leelanau Peninsula, like MAWBY (all sparkling, all the time!), Black Star Farms (wine + horses = perfection), and Rove Estate (the highest point in the county). Other Suttons Bay gems include Hop Lot Brewing and Tandem Ciders. And watersport enthusiasts will love exploring a county with Lake Michigan and West Grand Traverse Bay shoreline, as well as inland bodies of water like Lake Leelanau, Glen Lake, and Lime Lake.

 
 
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