M-22 is the famed highway that traces the outline of Leelanau County, curving along Lake Michigan, ascending farm-covered hills, and stretching through dense forests. It also travels through a host of picturesque Leelanau towns, small villages filled with unique shops and Northern Michigan restaurants. Turn up the radio and follow the county’s main artery to these idyllic hamlets.
This town showcases its Polish roots during the Polka Festival, held in July each year. But drop in anytime to browse its art gallery, quilt shop or yarn shop or pick up the perfect barbecue staples. Pleva’s Meat Market draws shoppers from all around for its award-winning cherry pecan sausage, and next door’s Cedar City Market provides the libations. Bunting’s Market offers smokehouse goodies and groceries. Wildlife watchers love Victoria Creek’s current, so slow that you can paddle the 3.5 miles to Lake Leelanau and back, listening en route to loons and watching the sunning turtles and fishing herons.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (park headquarters is located in the lakeside hamlet of Empire) was recently voted the Most Beautiful Place in America by viewers of Good Morning America. No surprise, then, that its wide sandy beaches and the coastal bluffs deliver some of the lakeshore’s most stunning views. Discover culinary delights in the Friendly Tavern, which highlights organic vegetarian delicacies and Grocer’s Daughter Chocolates, often named among the best in America.
Situated on a small strip of land between the Glen Lakes and Lake Michigan, Glen Arbor thrives as an iconic resort town. Glen Arbor is surrounded on all sides by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, providing easy access to popular spots like the Pierce Stocking Drive and Pyramid Point. Cottages perch along the turquoise blue of Glen Lake, and the town bustles with resort town fun—outdoor patios brought to life with live music, beach shop souvenirs, art galleries and the “world headquarters” of Cherry Republic, a tourist draw in itself that sells 100-plus items crafted from cherries.