The celebrated Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, rolling land covered with forests and streams, historic lakeside towns from Frankfort to Manistee. Take a drive on M-22 and discover up north bliss, even if it’s only for a little while.
Feel even better about eating fresh and local when you buy your picnic fare from the vendors selling fruits, vegetables and homemade goods at this teaching and demonstration garden. 5885 M-115, Benzonia, 231.882.9801, growbenzie.org.
Time-travel to Mayberry at this cheery diner serving up cherries and comfort in addictive pies and home-style foods. The smiling face of Cherry Jerry has been the trademark since 1922. 211 N. Michigan Ave., Beulah, 231.882.4431, cherryhutstore.com.
Drink in the spectacular views of the crystal-clear, white-capped waters of Lake Michigan from the Frankfort Pier, where the North Breakwater Lighthouse stands sentry.
Beach Nut Surf Shop
The surf may be calling, but so are the gourmet smoothies, made here with real fruit, Moomer’s ice cream and house-made syrups. Browse a colorful collection of boards and jewelry while you sip. 1100 Main St., Frankfort, 231.357.0690, beachnutsurfshop.com.
Honor Family Market
A destination for craft-beer lovers, yes, but this family-owned market is most famous for its butcher section and hickory-smoked bacon. Take the house-made brats straight to the grill. 10625 Main St., Honor, 231.325.3360.
Northern Naturals Winery
A new tasting room lets you drink to your health with fruit wines, riesling and ciders grown from organic ingredients, including a rare ice cider. The store showcases locally made organic foods. 7220 Chief Rd., Kaleva, 231.357.9024, northernnaturalorganic.com.
Onekama’s Artesian Wells
That’s no run-of-the-mill drinking fountain at the intersection of M-22 and Portage Point Drive. The area’s artesian spring water, popular with bicyclists stopping for a water break, has attracted health-conscious vacationers since the early 1900s.
Crystal Lake Adventure Sports
Outdoor enthusiasts: Here’s a one-stop shop for playing amid the county’s extensive natural beauty. Rent bikes, kayaks, surfboards and stand-up paddleboards, even take a guided fishing or hunting trip. 214 South Benzie Blvd., Beulah, 231.882.2527, crystallakeadventuresports.com.
Northern Michigan is even prettier from above, as you’ll see on the sightseeing flights offered at Manistee’s Blacker Airport. Just $25 scores an eagle’s eye view of the county’s endless forests, curving sand beaches and aquamarine waters. 2323 Airport Road, Manistee, 231.723.4351, manisteeairport.com.