These Northern Michigan markets in Boyne City, Harbor Springs, Traverse City and Ludington have the classic picnic provisions you crave.

Picture this: A thick sandwich chock-full of all your favorite toppings (Genoa salami, fresh guac, melty white cheddar—whatever, it’s your fantasy); a side of pasta salad packed with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta; a super chunky chocolate chip cookie; and you, relaxing on a red-and-white checkered blanket looking out at a bright-blue lake view. Yes, it’s the perfect picnic. Here’s how to achieve it.

Step 1
Stock up on picnic provisions at local markets.

Step 2
Head to the nearby park or natural area we’ve paired with each market.

Step 3
Spread out that blanket and chow down.

Local Market:
Lake Street Market, Boyne City

My two cents—order The Six Cents. Roast turkey, feta spread, cucumber, roasted tomatoes, spring mix and sprouts hang out between thick slices of wholegrain bread. Really though, any of the 30 sandwiches on the market’s menu will make you incredibly happy. Deli salads and homemade pastries (the pecan bars are famous), will round out your picnic basket.

Perfect Picnic Spot:
The Hill Nature Preserve

Two miles of trails wind through pines, hardwoods and open meadows. Views of Lake Charlevoix are found at the highest points in the preserve. Get there: The parking area is on Clute Road, about three miles from downtown Boyne City.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Local Market: 
Gurney’s Bottle Shop, Harbor Springs

Build your sandwiches however you like ‘em. Turkey, swiss, dill pickle? Cool. Salami, jalapeños and mustard? Delish. The condiment menu is on point, offering both mayo and Miracle Whip, because we all know there’s a BIG difference. While you’re in town, bop into Tom’s Mom’s Cookies just around the corner to grab a hefty chocolate chunker.

Perfect Picnic Spot:
Thorne Swift Nature Preserve

Two trail loops (1.5 miles total) lead to Lake Michigan. There’s also dune and pond observation platforms. Parking is $5 for non-township residents. Get there: Lower Shore Drive (off of M-119), about 4 miles northwest of downtown Harbor Springs.

Local Market:
Ludington Bay Brewing Company, Ludington

Okay, maybe it’s not a market, but this local brewery is offering grab-and-go Weekend Box Wraps this summer featuring a variety of wraps and salads, in addition to the classics: chips, potato salad and coleslaw. The boxes will be pre-made, though groups of 10 or more should pre-order. We recommend adding a six-pack.

Perfect Picnic Spot:
Waterfront Sculpture Park

The 5.3-acre park on Pere Marquette Lake has several picnic tables, a large playscape area and a trail with nine bronze sculptures showcasing Ludington’s history (part of the Mason County Sculpture Trail). The S.S. Badger, the last coal-fired steamship in the U.S., is docked nearby. Get there: 200 S. William St, less than .5 mile from Ludington Bay Brewing Company.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Boardman Lake Trail, Traverse City

Local Market:
Oryana, Traverse City
TC’s community co-op has a killer café with grab-and-go and handmade-to-order sandwiches, including lemon Parmesan chicken and spicy dill tofu, plus hearty salads and smoothies. Peek at the pastry case—peanut butter brownies, chocolate cherry cookies and other delights await.

Perfect Picnic Spot:
Boardman Lake Trail

The 4-mile trail passes by the Traverse Area District Library and Hull Park, where there’s lots of grassy space to spread out a blanket, or sit at a picnic table by the lake. Hull Park is only a half-mile from Oryana. Get there: The trailhead is right behind Oryana; literally walk out the door and onto the trail! 

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner