Eat and drink your way around the world with Northern Michigan foodie experts as your guides. These four culinary adventures, led by the owners of Little Traverse Inn, Left Foot Charley, Martha’s Leelanau Table and chocolatier Madeleine Vedel, will feed your soul.

What’s on your travel bucket list—a Bordeaux wine tour, Iceland’s waterfalls, distillery hopping in Scotland? Several Northern Michigan-based food and beverage experts are leading small groups on unforgettable international vacations. And there are tasty reminders in the cocktails and appetizers your trip leaders put on their menus back home. Here, a few ways savvy locals can show you the world.

European Map with Stops

British Isles with British Pub Owners

Scottish native Graeme Leask and partner Michelle Leask own Leelanau County’s Little Traverse Inn, serving dishes inspired by the Old Country; they also lead international tours through Radiant Moments with small groups. Scottish island hopping (with coastal bike tours, puffin spotting and distillery stops), visits to Irish pubs and castles, even Italy and beyond. “We love to get people back to the places we love to go, and our type of travel’s a wee bit different,” says Leask, a natural storyteller. “We allow guests to see through the eyes of locals and dive headlong into the culture.”


Wine Tours with a Winemaker

Winemaker Bryan Ulbrich and the staff of Left Foot Charley in Traverse City welcome wine club members (and others) to learn about wine while sharing new adventures. In 2022, that meant comparative tastings of Michigan and Bordeaux wines while passing castles and vineyards on a small ship cruise with Cruise Planners in France. There were private dinners and outings and a recent trip reunion that featured wines from Portugal, Left Foot Charley’s next destination (in May 2024). “By the end of it, you’re all friends,” says Kristy McClellan, the winery’s sales director.

Foodie Destinations with Chef Martha

Martha Ryan has been taking students and adults around the world for more than 20 years, to about as many countries. That her tours generally focus on culinary experiences is no accident for the owner of Martha’s Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay. Trip highlights include cooking classes, wine tastings and gourmet meals—she’s even hiked to a monastery where Carthusian monks have used mountain flowers and herbs to create Chartreuse (now a cocktail star) since the early 1700s. This year’s spring tour to Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Brussels highlights chocolate, tulips and beer; fall’s Iceland tour will showcase waterfalls and northern lights.

Photo by Lisa Baird

Photo by Lisa Baird

Photo by Lisa Baird

Photo by Lisa Baird

France with a Chocolatier—and More

Madeleine Vedel’s rich background—as a 20-year resident of France, cheesemaker and adventure guide—pays off for tour-goers who might go truffle hunting with one of her long-time friends and take a cooking class from another. The Northern Michigan chocolatier, who spends a few months back in France each year, leads trips through Cuisine Provencale focused on truffles, foie gras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, hiking, art and markets. The intimate groups share a house and participate in group-prepared meals.

Kim Schneider is a long-time travel writer specializing in Michigan adventures, food and wine. The Midwest Travel Journalist Association has named her Mark Twain Travel Writer of the Year, and she’s the author of “100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die.”

Photo(s) by Lisa Baird