Leelanau County is home to gorgeous vistas from every hilltop, Lake Michigan coastal towns, cherries, wineries, cocktail cruises and, of course, The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. And every square mile is filled with beauty, fun and sanctuary. Here are ten ideas to add to your list.


15.5 miles of peaceful pedaling along the Leelanau Trail takes you from Traverse City’s colorful hubbub to the village charm of Suttons Bay—or vice versa—past forests, orchards, streams, lakes and ponds. For trailheads and more info,TRAVERSETRAILS.ORG.


Feather-light cinnamon buns baked the same way for 82 years, legendary whitefish and perch, a lovely riverside dining room and a bar big enough to house most of Leland’s nightlife keep The Bluebird Restaurant a Leland icon. 231-256-9081.


Had enough sun? The Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown (between Suttons Bay and Northport) has indoor fun in spades—and slot machines (over 450 of them), craps, roulette, 3-card poker, 2-deck pitch, blackjack and the latest virtual games. Bingo, too. 231-534-8100; CASINO2WIN.COM.


Order up a cocktail, relax and follow the sun as it sinks into the Manitou Passage on a Shoreline Cruise aboard the ferry the Mishe-Mokwa: 231-256-9061; LEELANAU.COM/MANITOU/.


Leelanau County grows more cherries than any other county in the nation. In July and early August, gorge on ’em fresh until you think your belly will bust, bake cherry pie, make cherry jam, see who can spit pits the farthest. Pity the country’s cherryless counties.


Roll, run, cartwheel, somersault down the 200-foot Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. But the only way up this giant sand pile is one foot after another. 231-326-5134; NPS.GOV/SLBE/.


For a Sunday drive worthy of any day of the week, steer to the pastoral intersections of E. Kolarik and N. Setterbo Roads in northern Leelanau County to meditate on the Gothic Revival St. Wenceslaus Church, built by Bohemian settlers in 1914. If you’re so inclined, mass is Sunday at 8 a.m. year round. 231-271-3574.


Victoria Creek wends slowly through the Cedar swamp—just the pace for spotting the wildlife that play in it. Put in at the dock in the Cedar Village Park. 2.5 miles (1 1/2-hour paddle) gets you to the Leelanau Conservancy’s Cedar River Preserve that opens onto Lake Leelanau. THECONSERVANCY.COM.


Set in a circa 1920 downtown Suttons Bay building, The Bay Theatre bills itself as a small-town theater that features worldclass cinema. You won’t be disappointed. To check out what’s playing at The Bay: 231-271-3772. LEELANAU.COM/THEBAY/.

Quick Links to More Fun in Leelanau County!

  • The Leelanau Vacation Directory: Listings to lodging, galleries, restaurants and more along with an interactive map.
  • Leelanau Digital Vacation Guide: Browse beautiful pages connecting you to wine tours, great drives, historic Glen Haven, lighthouse tours, canoeing and click to hundreds of websites.
  • The Complete Restaurant Guide for Leelanau County: Just type in any Leelanau County town and browse the wonderful array of restaurant options.
  • Video: Sleeping Bear Dunes
  • Check out all the music, festivals, arts and events of all kinds happening in Leelanau County: Just pop in the name of the Leelanau County town you'd like to play in and choose amongst hundreds of things to do!
  • Plot your day in Leelanau County using this Interactive Map: Choose an activity in "I'd like to find" and choose a Leelanau town for "in a town near." Then click away!
  • Rent a cottage in Leelanau County: There are hundreds of cottages to rent in Northern Michigan. Type the town you're interested in into the Search box and plan your getaway Up North!

Photo(s) by Ron Strong