Cruise Old Mission

A lovely,  languid drive along Old Mission Peninsula—the hilly green finger of land that divides the east and west sides of Grand Traverse Bay—is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. From the base of the peninsula, follow Garfield Road north, then head left on M-37, also known as Center Road. Brake for the tasting rooms of the half-dozen Old Mission wineries ( to pick up a bottle of vino for dinner, then swing by Fox Valley Gardens Farm Market (231-883-8337, for in-season fruits and veggies as well as honey, fresh cut flowers and maps of the peninsula. Cut across Wilson Road and cruise the coast, turning right on Nelson Road for a captivating detour: latticework branches intertwine overhead, shading a sun-speckled lane that skirts one of the peninsula’s many orchards. This hidden two-track will bring you back to M-37, and a left leads you to Peninsula Market (14111 Center Rd., 231-223-9500, for picnic provisions like sandwiches and cold almond cherry chicken salad.

Follow the signs to the eclectic Old Mission General Store (18250 Old Mission Rd., 231-223-4310), where shafts of sunlight illuminate a happy clutter of penny candy, coon caps, antiques, toys and more. Ask owner Jim Richards about the history of this store: the first outpost between Detroit and the Straits of Mackinac. Nab a few more goodies for your picnic, then head north to Lighthouse Park (peninsula at the very tip of the peninsula. Here’s the spot for a sweet sunset picnic: beach access, a lovely lighthouse and curling sand paths calling you to the water. Make your way to the old metal swing set nestled in the sand, take a seat and let the swing’s soft creaking fold into the sound of the evening waves.