Kick off with a cruise up M-22 for a smooth, windows-down drive along the coiling West Bay coastline. Drink in the views all the way to Northport, where tiny galleries and antique shops are nestled near the beach. You can explore them later; for now, swing through Barb’s Bakery (112 North Mill St., 231-386-5851) for fresh coffee and a few of the shop’s infamous cinnamon twists.
Savor the last few crumbs stuck to the tips of your fingers while heading up M-201, which ends at Leelanau State Park (15310 N. Lighthouse Point Rd., 231-386-5422). For the daily state park entrance fee, you can spend the day picnicking, playing on swing sets and skipping stones from the shore – but the real attraction is the stately white-brick, red-roofed Grand Traverse Lighthouse (231-386-7195, grandtraverselighthouse.com). Out of operation since 1972, the lighthouse is now a museum featuring rooms refurbished with historical artifacts from the building’s past. Take a self-guided tour to explore the kitchen, living room and bedrooms, and then climb the narrow metal steps to the light tower for a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Michigan.
When you’ve had your fill of history, head back into Northport for art and eats. Joppich Bay Street Gallery and Studio (at Bay and Second Street, 231-386-7428) is a must see for any art enthusiast: Edee Joppich’s serene watercolors and innovative collages (flanked by jewelry, textiles and sculpture by other artists) practically pop off the walls. Then, saunter up the street to Stubb’s Sweetwater Grill (115 S. Waukazoo St., 231-386-7611). Try the Northporter sandwich – dried cherry walnut chicken salad with greens on a toasted croissant – and call your Northport experience deliciously complete.