Michigan Leelanau Peninsula Traverse City: 19 Jaw-Dropping Sights, Sips and Sauvignons
Michigan Leelanau Peninsula | All Guides, Itinerary Titles and Photography by Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com
Traverse City and Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula has so many fun things to do! We had so much fun on our past trips to the Cherry Capital of the World that we outgrew our single itinerary...so we broke it up into 3 much more manageable regions!! We are sooo excited to share them with you!!
Behold... THE CHEERS Itinerary below!
We created a TOTAL OF THREE Traverse City travel guides, you can grab The Juicy and The Lush Itineraries below.
- The Cheers Itinerary (below in this guide) heads up the Leelanau Peninsula with an Emphasis on Wine Tasting, Sightseeing, Eating and Adventures. Lots of photo opportunities and fun!
- The Juicy Itinerary has an Emphasis on Exploring the Heart of Traverse City. We’ll see some iconic sites, check out farms, enjoy tours and embark on a tall ship excursion. Perfect Itinerary if you are arriving in Traverse City from the South. Lots of photo opportunities and fun!
- The Lush Itinerary has an Emphasis on Sightseeing and Wine Tasting Along the Old Mission Peninsula. Lots of photo opportunities and fun!
Feel free to substitute in different stops from other itineraries...we won’t be too offended! ;) *Most wineries open at 11:00 a.m. so we incorporated a few hours of morning activities to kick off the day!
Time Allotment: The whole day (or two)! It’s best not to have any time frames for today or tonight. Just enjoy the experience and don’t hurry! You won’t be able to go to ALL of the wineries so just pick 3 or 4 and allow time to relax at each stop!
How Late are The Tasting Rooms Open? Depending on the time of year and day of the week, most are open until 7:00 p.m. Some have live music so the hours will vary. If you are touring in the evening, be sure to check their websites for their hours of operation!
The Cheers Itinerary Map is Interactive! You Will Find...
- Overview of all recommended stops, activities and sightseeing
- Link to web pages if applicable
- Link to Google Maps for fast navigation
- Latitude and Longitude Coordinates
- Phone number to venue if applicable
*Be sure to click this link to open the Cheers Itinerary Map in Google Maps so you can see where they are as you drive!
We created this Traverse City Things to Do Interactive Map to help you find your specific stops and aid in planning your trip.
Helpful Map Tips:
- Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
- Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
- Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
- In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
- In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.
Are you ready? Let's GO! Be sure to use the map above to reference all our stops! So many Traverse City things to do!
Distances Between Stops on This Traverse City Road Trip
- Traverse City to Suttons Bay (wine trail) is approximately 17 miles (25 minutes)
- Suttons Bay to Leelanau State Park is 20 miles (32 minutes)
- Leelanau State Park to Leland is 20 miles (30 minutes)
- Leland back to Traverse City is 27 miles (38 minutes)
*Reservations and planning ahead is recommended as noted for kayaking and special dinners at Black Star Farms
Downtown Traverse City (Shopping, Kayaking, Marina)
Let's start the day by exploring downtown Traverse City!
- Time Allotment: 3-4 hours, depending on your interests!
- Restrooms: In Visitor Center and at the beach food pavilion.
- Food: All along Front Street and the beach pavilion in Clinch Park. (See map below.)
- Park in this lot: 303 E. State Street, Traverse City (see the map below)
The arrows above on the map signify parking, shops and great spots to help get you oriented to the downtown Traverse City area.
Must Sees in Downtown Traverse City:
- Rent kayaks at the beach located on Grandview Parkway. (See Map Above)
- Play in the water park near the beach and marina!
- Wander the marina located next to the beach. (See Map Above)
- Stop into the Visitors Center (See Map Above)
- Sit under a shade tree at the beach
- Grab lunch at the beach pavilion if you prefer lounging under a shade tree while watching bobbing boats.
- Wander around downtown on Front Street (See Map Above)...lots of great shops and restaurants! Don’t miss Cherry Republic, one of our must-see stops for everything cherry!
- Utilize our Traverse City interactive map
To get a taste of Traverse City, check out the marina, beach, kayaking and the downtown area where you can grab some lunch. So many Traverse City things to do!
Parking: We love parking in the garage at 303 E. State Street (circled in red in the photo below) but if there is a special event it will cost $10-$15 regardless of how long you will be there. This spot is very close to shopping and the beach. Otherwise street parking is 3 hour max.
If you brought your bikes, there are plenty of bike parking spots near the beach so now’s the time to unhitch them and go for a ride! There is also a great bike rack near the beach pavilion. We recommend bringing a bike lock.
This is the fun immersive fountain right near the beach and marina! It’s Free! Just bring your swimsuits and towels!
This is a very popular spot in the summer for locals and vacationers alike. Benches around the edge offer a dry(ish) spot for parents to watch their children play.
Rent kayaks at Paddle TC shown on the map above. Kayak down the Boardman river that parallels East Grandview Parkway for great city and water views!
Kayaking is a great family activity to get you moving. Super fun morning, afternoon or evening event! Call to see if you need reservations.
Spend a bit of time at the beach, located on Grandview Parkway. Park in the parking garage located on the map above.
Such great views, shopping, walking and beach-going to be had by all! Plus it’s all free (well, unless you buy some great stuff in the shops!)
Be sure to grab lunch on Front Street (parallels the lake as seen in the map above.)
We recommend The Dish Cafe, 108 S Union St, Traverse City, MI, for healthy food choices including salads, wraps and sandwiches. I love the BUDDHA BOWL with quinoa, almonds, kalamata olive tapenade, hummus, onion, tomato, cucumber, feta, lemon parsley vinaigrette.
Ready to move on? I think it’s wine trail time (It’s 5:00 somewhere, right?!)…. Let’s go!
Sutton's Bay Wine Trail!
Wine Trail Tips and In-The-Know:
- We recommend taking your time.
- Enjoy the sights, sounds, take photos, toast to the beauty of the region and the day.
- Have a designated driver.
- Another option if everyone in your party wants to sip wine, is to schedule a tour with the many wine tour companies in the area. They would love to drive you to your favorite spots!
- We suggest no more than 3-4 wineries per day or you won’t be able to fully enjoy the experience.
- Have your wineries already picked out before you go.
- Have their address in your phone’s navigation as many are not easy to spot.
- Wine tasting is usually not free, there is a charge from $5 and up for your choice of a certain number of samples.
- Restrooms are available in all of the wineries.
Check out our interactive wine trail map that lists all of the wineries with addresses if you want more choices.
Check Out Beautiful Shady Lane Cellars
Address: 9580 E. Shady Lane, Suttons Bay, MI
Be sure to visit Shady Lane Cellars and relax outside at their 32 foot, covered outdoor tasting pavilion complete with large furnished patio and outdoor fireplace.
They love talking about their wine and how it’s made, so be sure to ask questions about their vineyard and process! Shop their store, wander their beautiful grounds and relax.
We had such fun talking with other happy wine tasters at Shady Lane Cellars, engaging with the girls serving the tastings and just enjoying the magic of the day. This is one of our favorite Traverse City things to do!
Just in the past 5 years, Shady Lane Cellars added this stunning outdoor spot for wine tasting and enjoying the beauty of the region. In our opinion, it’s one of the most cheerful spots on the wine trail!
Want to Taste Wine in A Chicken Coop?
In 1999, Shady Lane Cellars renovated their tasting room that was once a 100-year-old fieldstone chicken coop! It’s now an elegant tasting room trimmed in copper, Douglas Fir, Italian tile, and granite.
Address: 780 N Sylt Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI.
Bluestone has a great outdoor patio and tons of high, bright windows in their tasting room.
What’s the meaning behind the name? A product of a local Iron smelting operation in the 1800’s, Leland Blue is the natural calcification of impurities that were discarded from the operation and thrown into Lake Michigan.
This beautiful blue stone can only be found walking the beaches of Leland and is a symbol of Northern Michigan.
Two K Farms
Address: 3872 S W Bay Shore Dr, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
Two K Farms Cidery and Winery’s extensive wine and extensive cider list is definitely worth checking out! Plus their fire pit is a joy to sit around while sipping a delicious hard cider!
Over thirty varieties of unique, traditional Cider apple varieties are grown at Two K Farms.
The warm days and cool nights of our region create a microclimate ideal for growing Cider-specific varieties.
Two K Farms was the first Cidery & Winery on the Leelanau Peninsula to commercially grow traditional cider varieties.
Their cider-specific apple varieties include bittersharps and bittersweets. Using these types of apples provide tannins and acidity that culinary apples cannot.
In essence, their ciders are much like white wine.
Getting Hungry? Let's Grab Lunch in Sutton's Bay!
See our recommended Sutton's Bay restaurants and things to do!
Leabo Farm- Sunflowers
Address: 204 (Race Street) near Marek Road, Suttons Bay Michigan
If you happen to be touring the Suttons Bay area during August-early September, be sure to stop by Leabo farm to see their gorgeous sunflowers and snap a few pics!
This is a working farm. They usually have bouquets of sunflowers to purchase so it’s nice to support the local farmers!
They may even have a ladder so you look out over the rolling hills of happy yellow blooms! The parking lot is gravel.
If you love Michigan sunflowers, see where to find them throughout the state!
There are several farms and events celebrating this cheerful flower!
There's even a Flower festival in Frankenmuth each August that you won't want to miss!
45 North Vineyard and Winery is a Blast!
Address: 8580 E. Horn Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI
We had an absolute blast at 45 North Vineyard and Winery. We immediately ordered the hummus tray that came with yummy bread and vegetables and poured ourselves glasses of water to pace the day.
It’s always good to eat and drink water between wine tastings! Just sayin’!
Saddle up to the bar!! How fun is this?!
45 North Vineyard also offers delicious ciders to taste and of course, buy! This one was my favorite so I bought a six pack to enjoy at home!
I have a funny story about my cider experience at 45 North Vineyard, check it out on Instagram!
On to Northport!
We absolutely love spending time in Northport Michigan. The marina and beach are so pretty and worth the visit! Also take the time to wander the downtown shops.
What is there to see? Boardwalk, coastal town, marina and downtown shopping.
Northport is a great hidden gem that we just recently discovered. We absolutely love walking along the boardwalk and looking at all the bobbing boats in the marina.
Restrooms are located between the beach and the marina.
The cherry industry that is prevalent in Northport today had just begun in 1853 on Reverend Smith's farm. Farmers began producing cherries so much within those first few years that cherries were being shipped to nearby cities for their markets. The cherry industry in Northport and Leelanau County remains one of the largest in the world.
Northport is becoming famous for being an area where the rich and famous can live quietly and secretly.
According to the Leelanau Visitors Guide: "Chef Mario Batali lives north of town at Cathead point, and comedian and actor Tim Allen routinely spends summers in Northport. Mark Spitznagel, who manages a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, owns a 150 acre ranch in Northport. He summers in Northport Point, a posh community just outside the village."(Batali's and Spitznagel's Northport home and farm, respectively, both were featured in The New York Times.)
Spectacular Cherry Farm
Address: Woolsey Lake Road and Snyder Road
WOW! If you want to see bright red cherries growing, be sure to keep an eye out while traveling to and from Leelanau State Park! We were in awe of the beauty of the rows and rows of red cherries!!
Here is a Michigan Harvest Calendar to see when our produce is in season.
NOTE: This is not a farm open to the public for picking, it’s just a beautiful sight to see from your car along the way.
Leelanau State Park and Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Address: 15310 N. Lighthouse Point Road, Northpoint, MI
Restrooms: Pit Toilets across from the gift shop
Definitely take the time to visit Leelanau State Park as you can tour the lighthouse! (but check their website to insure tours are going on). Generally the lighthouse tours are until 5:00 p.m.
The grounds are absolutely breathtaking with wonderful views of Lake Michigan.
Leelanau State Park offers 1519 acres to explore!
Take the time to wander the short trails along the water and enjoy the exquisite views from several of the benches. Oh, and skip some rocks just because it’s fun!
Just for a moment, breathe in the natural beauty of the area. At beautiful places like this, I always realize just how lucky we are to enjoy views like this in Michigan!
Leelanau State Park also offers lots of great photo ops too!
Named one of the Top Five Greatest Driving Tours in America by Rand McNally, M-22 has fantastic restaurants, picturesque scenery, shopping and more.
So, take your time and enjoy the scenic drive! (and grab a t-shirt with the famous logo!)
On to Leland!
Time Allotment: 1.5 hours + depending on your interests, shopping, lunch!!
Restrooms: Public restrooms are at the top of the hill just as you arrive at the shanties.
Parking: Free, along the streets and there is a lot near the docks.
There are several shops and restaurants along the main road, but the charm begins along the water.
- For something completely different, pop into Carlson’s, located at 205 River St, Leland, MI, for smoked Michigan whitefish or Lake Trout. Many people say this is the only place to get it!
- The Village Cheese Shanty, located at 199 W River St, Leland, MI, is a favorite of visitors! They offer over 60 different types of cheese with sandwiches and lunch offerings.
- Be sure to pop into the shanties that now house tiny boutiques and shops! Parking is free.
The Cove is a super popular Leland restaurant that is right along the water with cool views of the dam. The thatch roof “umbrellas” visible in the photo above is one of the draws of the fun restaurant. Or try the Riverside Inn for river views while dining!
As you stroll along the docks, check out the nets hanging to dry. It really adds such a cool vibe to the fishing village, don’t you think?
More Leland photos, history and information is here!
For My Traverse City Lovers!
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If you love flowers, check out our Michigan lavender and sunflower farms posts!
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