Kick-off summer with a Northern Michigan Memorial Day weekend getaway. These fun travel ideas can be enjoyed by both kids and adults—from biking, boating, golfing and more, we’ve got all the bases covered. Explore Mackinac Island, enjoy the food scene in Traverse City or unwind in Leland. Here are some ideas to help plan your Northern Michigan vacation.

Northern Michigan Memorial Day Services

Traverse City

Traverse City

1. Run or Watch the Bayshore Marathon

Whether you’re a runner or just providing moral support, the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City is a great way to get Memorial Day Weekend in Traverse City off to a running start. The races—there’s a 10K, half, and marathon—course the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula. The runs take place on Saturday, May 26. Learn more at

2. Hang at The Little Fleet

Spend a few hours eating, drinking and enjoying the company of friends and family in downtown Traverse City. The open-air bar with food trucks, beer and cocktails is located on the corner of Front and Wellington.

3. Have Another Glass

Go on an Old Mission Peninsula wine tour and you’ll enjoy more than just amazing local wines. Each winery offers stunning views of the peninsula, vineyards, or the bay. Book a bus tour so you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

More Traverse City Memorial Day activities!
Click on the free Vacation Guide cover to plan your trip. 

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Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

1. Brush Up on Your History at Fort Mackinac

This is a Mackinac Island must-do activity! Fort Mackinac was built during the American Revolution, and it was the first building to be captured in the War of 1812. Dripping with history, 14 of the original buildings are inside the fort, and you can stop by for a re-enactment or check out the many historical displays. Don’t miss the cannon firing demonstration!

2. Dine at Woods

The magic of Woods, owned by Grand Hotel, begins before you even get to the restaurant. Diners take a short horse-drawn carriage ride into the deep woods of Mackinac Island to a Tudor mansion done in the rustic charm of a Bavarian hunting lodge. As you’re taking in the exquisite scenery, enjoy before-dinner drinks at Bobby’s Bar, or try your hand at America’s oldest duckpin bowling alley.

3. Go on a Haunted History Tour

Heard rumors that Mackinac Island is haunted and want to learn more? Then this walking tour is a must. The tour was inspired by the book Haunts of Mackinac by Todd Clements. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ll still enjoy this ghostly jaunt through Mackinac. Purchase tickets to Haunts of Mackinac.

More Mackinac Island Memorial Day activities!
Click on the free Vacation Guide cover to plan your trip.

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1. Relax at Leland Lodge

Check in at Leland Lodge for a weekend stay in Leelanau County. Set amid pines in a quiet and pretty Leland neighborhood, the Lodge offers instant access to a weekend outdoors. Cyclists should know that some of America’s best road-riding terrain starts right outside the door—spin among orchards, vineyards and along lakeshores on remarkably car-free roads (even on holiday weekends). If the links are more your style, the Leland Country Club, adjacent to the lodge, can be used by non-members based on its availability.

2. Walk On The Beach

Leland is famous for its long stretches of uninterrupted beaches. While Lake Michigan may still be a little chilly for swimming over Memorial Day weekend, there is no better way to spend a few hours than to walk along its shore. Visit Van’s Beach (which has convenient parking located right at the entrance) and take off toward the Whaleback Sand Dune. Be on the lookout for Leland Blue (check out this awesome blue stone we found!).

3. Grab a Sandwich at the Cheese Shanty

Ask any Leland native where to get a good sandwich and they will unhesitatingly say “The Cheese Shop.” Ask them about their favorite menu item, and they’ll say the Northshore (now that’s a sandwich!). For over 25 years The Village Cheese Shanty, located in the middle of historic Fishtown, has been selling gourmet sandwiches, specialty food products and award-winning Leelanau County wines and beer. Open every day May through October, The Cheese Shanty is the perfect place to get lunch to go before a picnic on the beach, a hike up the Sleeping Bear Dunes or a trip to the Manitou Islands.

More Leland Memorial Day activities!
Click on the free Vacation Guide cover to plan your trip. 

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1. Improve Your Golf Swing

Belvedere Golf Club, just outside of Charlevoix, has views of Lake Michigan, a historic clubhouse and rolling hills. Save on the greens fee by teeing off after 3:30 p.m. You can still get all 18 holes in plus the added benefit of afternoon shadows and the peacefulness right before dusk. (Check out what’s new on the course this year.)

2. Visit the Earl Young Hobbit Houses

Scattered in the neighborhoods around Charlevoix are 30-some stone cottages built between 1918 and the mid-1970s by architect Earl Young. The buildings, which feature native fieldstone walls and irregular, sloping cedar-shake roofs, are affectionately referred to as the “Hobbit houses” for their quirky charm. Visit the Chamber of Commerce downtown for a self-guided walking tour map.

Take a tour of the Earl Young houses in this MyNorth video.

3. Bike the Little Traverse Wheelway

This turn-of-the-century former railway, stretching more than 26 miles along the bay between Charlevoix and Harbor Springs, now serves as one of the region’s most scenic nonmotorized trails—a haven for recreational riders. The wide, paved pathway makes it especially friendly for families with small children.

Click on the free Vacation Guide cover to plan your trip.
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Need more inspiration? Here are 10 more Northern Michigan Memorial Day weekend activities!

More Northern Michigan Vacation Ideas:

Article contributors: Lissa Edwards, Evan Perry, Kelly Brown & Carly Simpson

Cornerstone: Memorial Day

Photo(s) by Jordan Oster