Situated at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, this picturesque, laidback village overlooking Grand Traverse Bay offers plenty of outdoor adventure, unique restaurants, funky shops and fun for the whole family. Put it all together, and you have a perfect Northport beach day.
Start Your Day: Barb’s Bakery
Get there: 112 N. Mill Street
Every Northport morning should start with a fresh-baked doughnut, strawberry cream cheese pastry or cinnamon bun (or twist!) from the beloved Barb’s Bakery. This cozy bakeshop is filled with an impressive collection of antiques to admire before devouring your sweet treats and lazing on one of the benches out front.
Tip: Barb’s does not accept credit cards, so bring cash.
Hit the Beach: Northport Beach
Get there: Bay Street, 28 miles north of Traverse City on M-22
Maps call it Bay Front Park, the Visitor Center says Northport Beach, but locals just call it THE beach! Enjoy the sun and surf at this downtown shoreline along Northport Bay. Kids can take a sailing class at the nearby Northport Youth Sailing School, dive into some beach volleyball or enjoy a family stroll along the sandy shore while soaking in the marina and bay views. To learn more about activities in the area, check out the Northport Visitor Center.
Amenities: playground, public restrooms, picnic tables, grills
Go Exploring: Tip of the Peninsula
Northport is the gateway to the tippy top of the Leelanau Peninsula, where you’ll discover the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Leelanau State Park—picture-perfect stops worth exploring if you have the time. Admission to the lighthouse ($5 for adults, $2 for children 6–12, free for kids 5 and under) includes a self-guided tour that details many of the museum’s artifacts and points of interest. Guided tours are also available for school and adult groups—reserve in advance by calling the program coordinator at 231.386.7195.
The peninsula also has something special in store for avid rock hunters. Be sure to comb the beaches at Peterson Park and Christmas Cove—both less than a 10-minute drive from downtown Northport—if you’re interested in spotting a Petoskey stone. Peterson Park, situated on a bluff 150 feet above the water, is also a perfect spot to watch the sun set below the Lake Michigan horizon.
Before heading out to your preferred waterfront destination, find a beach read at Dog Ears Books. Or, if you’re in need of a new pair of shades or a Turkish towel, poke into the ever-adorable Porcupine Cabin.
Hungering for a midday picnic on the peninsula? Stop into New Bohemian Cafe—a neighborhood coffee shop and deli offering espresso, grab-and-go sandwiches, deli salads and pastries from 9 Bean Rows Bakery.
Sip like a Local: The Mitten Brewing Co.
Get there: 112 W. Nagonaba Street
No need to brush the sand off your ankles—grab a bite (and a beer for mom and dad) at The Mitten Brewing Co. This cozy taproom offers 14 beers on tap, plenty of outdoor patio seating, and when the weather allows, guests can try tasty fare from partnering local food trucks.
Tip: Take advantage of the taproom’s menu—it has an array of satisfying snacks, like giant hot pretzels served with housemade dipping sauces and spreads like smoked whitefish and smoked salmon and capers. (And the popcorn is always free!)
Top it All Off: Ice Cream at The Tribune
Get there: 110 E. Nagonaba Street
Cool off at the end of your day with an indulgent sweet treat from The Tribune. We recommend getting a kiddie scoop in a waffle cone (or go with a large, we won’t judge). You’ll have plenty of delectable flavors to choose from, including seasonal berry, chocolate peanut butter and toasted coconut.
Tip: Inside The Tribune, you’ll also find a cozy breakfast and lunch spot—perfect for fueling up before a day at the beach. Try the stacked ham and cheese on housemade focaccia with a side of hand-cut fries.