The Leelanau Peninsula is one of the most underrated areas in Michigan. I would say it has got to be on everyone’s travel list and by far out shines most places in lower Michigan. It would be considered the pinky finger on your hand; representing the map of Michigan. Located off beautiful Lake Michigan, just North West of Traverse City and North of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Not many people realize that when they visit Traverse City for wine tasting, they will actually be driving some 30 min or so to the Leelanau Peninsula. It is home to around 25 wineries; all up and down the peninsula. For a whole list and touring options, click here.
It is much cheaper to stay on the peninsula rather Traverse City. I stayed in a private artists studio, located in Cedar, MI. It is located on private property in a separate studio bungalow detached from the main house. It houses two full beds and plenty of books and art to occupy yourself during down time (won’t be much!). My favorite feature is the outdoor shower located in a separate bath house. There are also rustic tent options to stay in. Hosts are amazingly nice and accommodating, retired photography teacher and her husband and two dogs. Highly recommended!
There is a ton of property to explore if you want an afternoon hike or to star gaze. I got to practice some night time photography for my first time. The wide open fields make space for some nice shots. Not too bad!
THINGS TO DO
- The obvious thing to do is some wine tasting. Follow the Leelanau Peninsula wine trail, make sure to have a DD or hire a driver.
- Take a ride along scenic highway M-22 north and stop in Northport, MI. Visit Leelanau State Park, take some photos of the lighthouse and look for stones on the beach. Keep a look out for a Petoskey or Leland Blue.
- Take a ride south on M-22 to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline. Drive through the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. There are some fantastic views to pull off and catch during this drive. Feeling adventurous? Try the 3-4 hour dune climb and hike to Lake Michigan.
- Visit Fish Town in Leland, MI. A small coastal town with many great shops and restaurants. Eat on the patio at Rick’s Cafe and enjoy a fresh “Chubby Mary” with a whole smoked fish.
- Take a day trip to South Manitou Island. The ferry is a 1.5 hour ride each way. You will have about 3 hours of free time once on the island. The lighthouse is a beautiful site and there is a ship wreck that is about an 1.5 hour hike each way. Bring lunch from the Cheese Shop (the best sandwhich I’ve had!) in Leland and eat on the island.
PlACES TO EAT
- Brunch at 9 Bean Rows – fresh cafe and dessert items.
- Lunch at Cheese Shop – The best sandwiches ever!!! Reasonably priced and can take to go for lunch on a hike
- Happy hour drinks and broasted chicken at local hot spot Fischers Happy Hour Tavern – Very low key local feel. Good food and drink for low price.
- Italian Dinner at Trattoria Funistrada – Fine dining, reservations needed months in advance for an extremely intimate experience.
- Fish and Chips dinner at the Little Traverse Inn – Laid back patio with music on Thursdays.