This past weekend, we ventured to a secluded cottage just north of Sutton’s Bay, MI. I always like to stay at places that have character and are unique. I try not to stay at hotel chains if I can help it. I also like to visit places when it isn’t their tourist season. There is something wonderfully haunting about little towns with hardly anyone around when you can feel winter approaching. The drive up north was just beautiful, even though most of the colorful leaves were gone. It’s amazing how the landscapes can change dramatically with each bend in the road.
On Friday night, we stopped to grab some groceries at a very nice little store in Sutton’s Bay called Hansens. We then drove through the main street of Sutton’s Bay, our first sleepy little town that seemed straight off a movie set. As we drove away from town, the darker it got. It was a little bit hard to find our wooded drive in such darkness. I had found this cottage on Airbnb (which you should try if you haven’t already) and when we walked in, it was just like the photos I had viewed online. It was stocked with everything we needed, so all we had to pack was clothing and bring some food. That evening, we ate dinner and played some of the provided boardgames and went to bed early excited to explore the next day.
On Saturday, we had planned to eat at Martha’s Table in Sutton’s Bay, but they were closed for renovations, so we just stopped at the local bakery. The menu for Martha’s Table looked right up our alley and we had heard great things about it, so I would recommend trying it out! This area of Michigan is known for it’s Wine Trail and tastings of ciders and spirits. You could easily spend a whole weekend doing the trail, as there are well over 20 to visit. We first decided to venture to historic Fishtown in Leland, just a short drive from Sutton’s Bay. I am still trying to decide which town along scenic M-22 was my favorite of all of them. They all have their own charm and make you want to go back, and at this time of year, it’s almost all locals. In Leland, we drove through the main street, ate at the Earlybird diner, explored the cove that is Fishtown, and stopped for some tastings at Verterra Winery. Next, we went to Norhern Latitudes Distillery to taste their vodka, bourbon whiskey, and limoncello. They are a new distillery (their beautiful still arrived in August from Germany) and will be creating many more spirits in the future and they have a wonderful gift shop and employees. We then went to the gorgeous winery of Black Star Farms, mostly because that is where you can also taste the famous Leelanau Raclette Cheese. After that, we knew we wanted to taste some ciders, so we went to Tandem Ciders. The Smackintosh was our ultimate favorite. Each of these stops has their own personality and own cozy setting. At this point, we were ready to put food in our stomachs! We decided to drive down to Traverse City since there were many highly rated dining options. I have to say that after being in the beauty north of Traverse City, we wished we had stayed up there and found a place for dinner. We preferred the small, cozy, sleepy towns. We had heard that the best burgers were at Bubba’s and they were fabulous and we could tell it was a popular spot as all the locals seemed to be there. We then walked along most of Front Street just checking out all of the different shops. I stopped at the Traverse City Pie Company and got an apple dumpling to enjoy back at the cottage. I hadn’t had one of those since I was little and was always seeking them out, but hadn’t had any luck until that night! Restaurants also recommended to us by local experts include: Tuscan Bistro, Soul Hole, Patisserie Amie, and Red Ginger.
On Sunday morning, we got up extra early, excited to continue driving more of M-22. We packed up our things and said goodbye to our cottage. Another cool thing about the location of the cottage is it is right across the street from where the Ottawa and Chippewa bring in their fresh fish and you can see them smoking the fish, which you can then purchase directly from them. We drove to Glen Arbor, named America’s most beautiful city by Good Morning America. This area and it’s surroundings is also home to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We took more time driving through this town, as there are many Bed & Breakfasts and we knew we would definitely be coming back to stay. We ate at Art’s Tavern- the town’s favorite gathering place since 1934! Keep in mind that most of these small town diners/taverns do not accept credit cards. We then continued on to Glen Haven, a small row of historic buildings that are uninhabited but very interesting. Once again, I loved having no one around, the chill in the air, and the eeriness of it all. Right down the road is the Dune Climb. You really could spend all day hiking the different trails, but if you only have a little bit of time, just climb the first initial dune to get a spectacular view of Glen Lake and all the surrounding scenery. It is very steep and is intimidating, so don’t try it unless you are in good physical shape. If you haven’t climbed these dunes yet, it is an experience you won’t soon forget and is also very unique. I had never done or seen anything like it before. I had always thought of dunes along the ocean, but these are seriously massive.
As you can tell, you can see and do a lot in just a weekend in this area, even with time left to take it easy, relax, and unwind. The only thing we didn’t have time to do was go to the far north tip of the peninsula to Leelanau State Park and Grand Traverse Lighthouse and to the city up that way, Northport.
Photo Blog of this trip coming this weekend!