Leelanau County is home to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, rolling hills draped with cherry orchards and vineyards, historic lakeside towns and sugar-sand beaches. Take a drive on M-22 and check out these 10 can’t-miss Northern Michigan spots. Keep scrolling for six bonus things to do in Leelanau County!

Image of Leelanau Peninsula with spots to stop.

Each icon on this map represents one of the things to do below. Keep reading to start planning your Northern Michigan adventure to the Leelanau Peninsula.

  1. Grab a Delicious Breakfast at 9 Bean Rows: Have a fresh-air breakfast of croissants and coffee at 9 Bean Rows in the countryside between Lake Leelanau and Suttons Bay.
  2. Hit the Bike Trails: Take on the mountain bike trails in the 1,000-acre Palmer Woods Forest Preserve.
  3. Explore the New Kettles Trail: Get a lesson in glacier-shaped topography on the Kettles Trail, the newest trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  4. Go on a Fishing Charter Excursion: Reel in a monster lake trout or king salmon on a charter excursion out of Leland or Glen Arbor with Michigan Charter Boats.
  5. Picnic at Empire Beach: Order up gourmet sandwiches to go at Shipwreck Cafe for a picnic at nearby Empire Beach.
  6. Go Paddleboarding in Leland: Rent a paddleboard and suit up with one of the best selections of outdoor wear in the North at Harbor House in Leland.
  7. Bike to a Winery: Bike the Leelanau Trail from Suttons Bay to Shady Lane Cellars and enjoy a glass of chilled white wine.
  8. Go Farmers Market Hopping: Fill your basket at the weekly farmer’s markets in Empire, Glen Arbor, Leland, Suttons Bay and Northport.
  9. Kayak in Glen Arbor: Kayak the sandy-bottomed, shallow Crystal River in Glen Arbor.
  10. Watch the Sunset in Northport: Catch the sunset at Peterson Park located north of Northport.

6 More Things To Do on the Leelanau Peninsula

Beach Walk Forever
Roam the dreamy Lake Michigan shoreline of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; 35 miles of coast on the mainland and another 35 miles on two park-owned islands (North and South Manitou). Visit the Welcome Center in Empire to get your park pass (or buy one online), and then head out for a day of splendor. Here’s your guide to Sleeping Bear beaches

Relax at the Leland Village Green
In the center of this garden oasis in downtown Leland (206 N. Main St.) is the “Leelanau Preservers” tile wall. The tiles represent donations for land preservation made by families and individuals over the years to the Leelanau Conservancy. Each tile is handmade by artist Leif Sporck, who has a shop, Spørck Tileart, in Fishtown.

Sip Local Wine
Wine here is about a taste of the terroir—and at any of the 26 (and counting!) Leelanau County wineries, you’ll also be treated to some of America’s finest landscape views. Tasting rooms overlook gorgeous countryside and offer friendly service to tasters of all experience levels. Be sure to check out lpwines.com before your visit. 

Drive M-22
There’s no rushing a road trip on this scenic heritage route drive, which curves its way past orchards, Lake Michigan overlooks and towering dunes (plus wineries, art galleries and sunset beaches to explore!). Here are a few of our favorite spots along M-22.

Picnic at the Beach
Picnic provisions are within strolling distance of your picnic table at Suttons Bay’s Marina beach. Settle in by the playground or cross a tiny drawbridge to the quieter South Marina, where a natural area draws wild birds aplenty.

Explore Historic Fishtown
Stroll through the one-of-a-kind enclave of weathered, repurposed fishing shanties turned shops and galleries at Fishtown in Leland. Stop to pick up penny candy or savor gourmet whitefish alongside the falls gushing over the dam. 

Find this article and more in the free, digital edition of MyNorth’s 2021 Northern Michigan Vacation Guide below; or get the Vacation Guide in print each year for free when you subscribe to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, delivered to your door each month.

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