Here I am, a 19-year-old Manistee native, and I’ve never explored the Leelanau Peninsula. With college coming up in the fall, I decided that needed to change promptly, and the perfect person to explore the peninsula with? My keen, all-knowing mom. Did we plan out what we were going to do? No. Did we wing it and have awesome bonding moments? Yes, yes we did. Glen Arbor, Suttons Bay, Leland, driving M22: it’s a world-class combination. Here are a few of the stops we made, great for any adventurous spirit but especially for a dynamic mother-daughter duo.
Starting our day around 10:30 a.m. in Glen Arbor, we walked the main drag to get a feel for the town. Spotting a wine tasting sign outside, the M22 store was the first to tempt my mother. When on vacation, remember, “It’s five o’clock somewhere!” For just $6, she enjoyed five generous tastings of Black Star Farms wine. The M22 Red Wine was the ultimate winner, though the resiling came in a close second. She may have enjoyed herself a little too much, as she ended up leaving the car key there leading us to a return visit much sooner than expected.
Next was a series of cute women’s apparel stores, including Flea Boutique and The Exchange (they also have locations in Suttons Bay and Traverse City). We both loved Cottonseed Apparel. The large space offered a wide assortment of unique and chic clothing. It’s a store with products you just can’t find anywhere else, making the apparel you purchase truly special.
A few blocks later and it’s already after noon. My mother and I both felt the tummy grumbles. So off we went to find sustenance, headed to the next destination and a whole new town to explore.
9 Bean Row
After trying a croissant at the Wednesday Sara Hardy Farmers Market, I knew my mom would love this place. We both have a deep love for bakeries. Yet as we were headed to the restaurant in downtown Suttons Bay, we realized there was another 9 Bean Row location! The bakery and farm is just outside of Suttons Bay, and if you are looking for baked goods, like the divine cream cheese croissant, go to the bakery. The downtown restaurant, which has delicious farm to table food, often runs out of their limited baked goods.
Plum Blossom Tea
Along with bakeries, we also share a love for coffee and tea; it must be genetics. At Plum Blossom Tea, our highest tea expectations were met. A large assortment of teas are available, including white, green, black, Wulong, and other specialty teas straight from China. All of their tea is loose as well as true leaf, meaning there are no added flavors. The cool part is that you can sample any of the teas for free. Sitting at a traditional Chinese table, you are served with authentic tea ware. The tea is heated to a specific temperature depending on the variety and presented with a small cylinder cup used simply for aromas. While the owner says this is a very casual way to serve tea, I had never had such an elaborate experience!
My favorite apparel shop was definitely Bahle’s. The store has been offering fine clothing for 141 years, since 1876! Some beautiful summer dresses were available there as well as a quality sales rack. You should stop by, even if it’s just to pet the little lama dolls; they are SO SOFT.
45th Parallel Candy World
What can I say, I have a sweet tooth. Our last stop in Suttons Bay brought us into a cute family run candy store, with a mother-daughter team managing the shop for the afternoon. Their homemade fudge is to die for. 45th Parallel uses their own cream and butter; I’m a big believer in local and homemade! They have a bunch of other stuff, including some classic candies. My mom went for the Nut Goodies, which were a staple of her Minnesota childhood.
At about 4 p.m., the winds started to shift, and we could feel the storm coming. Just two minutes into our drive to Leland, the clouds opened up and drenched everything. Then came some unusual “tink” noises among the heavy rain—it was also hailing. In August. Of course, this mother-daughter duo wasn’t going to let a little weather get in the way of a great day.
A man was sweeping water off of a roof with a broom. A two-foot deep river was running down Main Street. Everything was wet, but it didn’t stop people from coming out and buzzing around Fishtown. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore. If you love fresh fish (who doesn’t), this is the place to pick up whitefish or trout.
Two Fish Gallery
This gallery features a ton of local artists and beautiful Michigan themed art and decor. My mom and I both have earrings from ETC. Jewelry by Renate Favour, featured in the gallery, that we got at Ludington’s Arts and Crafts fair; we highly recommend. Today I picked out a pair of SolMate Socks whose vibrant colors are perfectly asymmetrical and fun. We were getting hungry
We were getting hungry again and asked for a local recommendation. The woman at the register suggested the Leland Lodge for good eats.
Leland Lodge: Bogies 19th Hole
The employee at Two Fish Gallery did us well. You could tell this restaurant was a local favorite. We shared a bowl of the whitefish chowder; it was deliciously fresh. The entrees were simple and straightforward but nonetheless satisfying. There was even live music, which always adds a nice vibe to dinner.
Hilltop Ice Cream
On our way home, we decided to stop at one of our favorite ice creams spots, a hidden gem tucked up on a hill behind Crystal Falls Mini Golf. They make their ice cream from scratch, and you know how my mom and I feel about homemade. The flavors are always changing week to week based on what’s in season. If available, the blueberry, strawberry, and black raspberry are all creamy, dreamy heaven. It was a perfectly sweet ending to our day.
It’s time to go see the sights for yourself! Grab a friend, a sibling, or, the ideal choice, your mom, and explore the Leelanau Peninsula. While impossible to see everything in one day, many adventures can be seized in a day, and you can always go back for more.