The Grand Traverse Bay area abounds with possibilities. There are endless miles of beaches alongside quaint towns with unique shops and galleries, wineries and breweries galore, and an array of culinary destinations. There is certainly something for everyone. Here we have compiled 5 days of itineraries filled with activities that will delight your senses and leave you with the most memorable experiences.

Day One:

Start your tour in the village of Suttons Bay. The main street is lined with colorful store fronts where you could easily shop and spend several hours. There are beaches, galleries, antique shops, boutiques featuring clothing and accessories, as well as the historic Bay Theater dating from the 1940’s. There are 14 different dining choices in the village ranging from deli-style to sit-down featuring gourmet local fare.  The schooner Inland Seas, a schoolship fostering knowledge of the Great Lakes, is moored in the harbor.  If you are up for more we recommend visiting the nearby Leelanau Peninsula Wineries for wine tasting. Several are close to the village, including L. Mawby, Shady Lane Cellars, Ciccone Vineyard and Winery, Chateau de Leelanau, and Willow Vineyard. Close out the day with a casual meal at one of Suttons Bay’s most popular pubs, Boone’s Prime Time. They feature superb steaks, fresh seafood and great burgers in a cozy rustic atmosphere. 

Day Two:

Relax and take your time on a scenic drive north along M-22 that hugs the western shore of Grand Traverse Bay. Cherry and apple orchards dot the landscape along this sublime route to Leelanau State Park with its Grand Traverse Lighthouse. A mid-route must is a stop at Tandem Ciders just off Setterbo Rd. where you can nibble on peanuts and sample sweet and hard ciders in a quaint tasting room filled with antiques and unique art. After visiting the State Park drive back through Northport and continue your scenic drive southwest along M-22 to Leland, a picturesque 145-year-old fishing village. Be sure to visit the historical district, known as Fishtown, where you can browse in shops that were once rustic fishing shanties alongside docks reminiscent of life and commercial fishing one hundred years ago. Stop for lunch and a bowl of locally renowned seafood chowder from the Cove or pick up a sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty.  In Fishtown you can stock up on sweet treats at the Dam Candy Store where you’ll find old fashioned sweet treats along with ice cream or coffee. After a day of exploration relax for dinner back at one of the fine restaurants in Suttons Bay or in the Arcturos Dining Room at the Inn at Black Star Farms (subject to availability, please call ahead to make a reservation, 231.944.1251).  

Day Three

Plan a day of shopping and dining in downtown Traverse City. You will find more than 150 unique boutiques, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops along Front St.  Shopping highlights include Wilson Antiques, The Cherry Stop, and Ella’s Fashion and Furnishings. During the summer and early fall on Wednesday and Saturday mornings don’t miss the downtown Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market. It’s a delight to the senses! Rainy day activities in Traverse City could include a visit to the Dennos Museum on the campus of Northwest Michigan College or a first-run movie at the renovated State Theatre. For lunch try the Green House Café for fresh homemade soups and sandwiches. After lunch head a few blocks west over to the Village at Grand Traverse Commons; one of North America’s largest historic redevelopment projects. Here you will find the century-old Victorian-Italianate style buildings that were once part of the Traverse City State Hospital, and previously, the Northern Michigan Asylum. The Village is a marvel to explore. From the miles of hiking trails and expansive lawns to the shops in the Mercato, one can easily spend several hours here. Don’t miss wine tasting at Left Foot Charley followed by a Matterhorn Grill Dinner at TASTES of Black Star Farms.

Day Four

Take a leisurely drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park with its variety of touring options.  The Dune Climb is a must, as is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and you can also step back in time with a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard Museum. Dine where the locals do for lunch at the one-of-a-kind Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor. Just a walk up the road from Art’s is the original home of the Cherry Republic, a haven for all things cherry!  You can sample cherry salsa, cherry ice cream and even cherry wine. Take the scenic route back to Suttons Bay and enjoy wine tasting at any of the nearby Leelanau Peninsula wineries, Good Harbor Vineyards, Bel Lago, and Chateau Fontaine.

Day Five:

Start the day with a south-bound drive on M-22, along the bay in Traverse City, and towards the Old Mission Peninsula. Follow M-37 all the way to the top of the Peninsula, ending at the Old Mission Point Light House.  You can tour the grounds of this historic 1870’s lighthouse and see how the peninsula people lived in the adjacent turn of the century Hessler Log Cabin. Stop at the historic Old Mission General Store for a gourmet deli sandwich or pizza and a few pieces of penny candy. A visit here is like stepping back in time.  Continue south on M-37 with stops along the way at the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. There are seven wineries all situated right off of M-37. Each winery has a signature wine and they are all different in décor. With a designated driver one could easily visit all seven. A day of wine tasting will no doubt work up an appetite.  No visit to the Old Mission Peninsula would be complete without a meal at the Jolly Pumpkin featuring microbrew beers and artisan cuisine served in a uniquely historic building.

Do you have more plans on your intinerary? We’d love to hear how you spent your days in N.Michigan, please share your story and photos, cbriggs@blackstarfarms.com.