The Leelenau Peninsula

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I read a list while back entitled “things only people from Michigan understand” my favorite one (because I had never thought twice about it before) was, everyone has a vacation spot “Up North” Everyone has a place they go to Up North, and we don’t usually ask, “where Up North?” we just accept that they’re heading North.

All growing up my Up North was always Tawas City, Michigan. It’s located on the East side of the state by Lake Huron. This time, however, Cury and I stayed in Suttons Bay located in the Leelanau Peninsula (pronounced Lee-la-naw)  Northern Michigan is usually colder than the rest of Michigan, which makes it so busy during the warmer months. We got so lucky with nice weather for this time of year. I thought I’d put together a little list of what we did and where we stayed while we were there just in case you decide to head Up North  😉

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We like to stay in a house or cabin when we travel Up North. Not only because it’s better than a hotel, but there are way more vacation house rentals than hotels anyway. We stayed here It’s a beautiful corner lot house with a large wrap around deck, and is only a block from the town and  the Bay. This house sleeps 10 and has 4 beautiful bathrooms. Everything in the house is up to date, and completely stunning. It’s a perfect house to stay at with the whole family or a group of friends with plenty of room to accommodate everyone comfortably. The house is located right in the middle of wine country, and there is a brewery located a quick bike trip around the corner. Suttons Bay is only 20 minutes up the road from Traverse City, and a 40 minute beautiful drive to Sleeping Bear Dunes. There is so much to see and do! We will definitely be returning here again and again.

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VI Grill –  we had breakfast here one morning. It’s walking distance from the house. In fact, you can see the restaurant from the house. The biscuits and Gravy are delicious as well as the pancakes. 

Union Tap & Grill –  located in Traverse City. Great food, great atmosphere, and great drinks. we were really happy with this restaurant. Consider ordering the “sex” brute Rose – it’s a light, delicious bubbly wine. 

Filling Station – order some locally brewed beers and some delicious food at this train station turned restaurant.

Harvest – Killer food that is super quick and really yummy!!!  It’s just off of Union Street in Traverse City.

9 Bean Rows – I’m so bummed we didn’t get to stop here. I’ve heard it’s incredible if you’re looking for the local flavor. Completely farm to table and I’ve heard their croissants are the best you’ll ever have.

Brew – stop in this little cafe for a coffee or a beer. Yes, they brew both! They also have herbal teas, pour over coffees, cold pressed juice, and kombucha... as I’m sure you’ve guessed from the menu, it has a hipster vibe, so don’t go if you’re in a hurry. Or if hipsters annoy you 😉

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Traverse City Farmers Market – The atmosphere is  awesome. The farmers Market is located right down town and across the street from the lake side. This goes on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 8 AM to noon. Tons of awesome vendors with lots of local goodies! They usually have some type of folk musician playing music, and all of the food is as fresh as it is delicious.

Folgarelil’s – This place has stellar sandwiches with so many Italian products that you feel transported right to the country itself.

Potter’s Bakery – If you are a donut freak stop in to their location on 8th street for a really good treat. In the fall don’t miss their cake pumpkin donut.

Oryana – Up here there is no such thing as a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. You buy local or you buy at a co-op. In fact it is the first co-op in America. This is one special place that you cannot miss especially if you want to find the best selection of local goodies!

There is also a Kilwin’s (chocolate & ice cream shop) and  Cherry Republic (which has all your cherry wants and needs) down town Traverse City 🙂

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Short’s brewing company – I know you’ve already tried all their beers, but you have to go see where it’s all created. Plus they usually have a local band performing.

Verterra Winery – Located in Leland stop in for a tasting and be sure to try their Pino Gris.

Bluestone Vineyards – their tasting room is stunning. it’s a very modern looking cabin located at the top of a hill in the middle of their vineyard. They have fire pits outside so you can stay warm as you sip, $1 tastings, and with all glass walls, you get a view from every angle. They had just released their 2015 Pino Nior Rose while we were there, and it was fantastic!

Tandem Ciders – if wine and beer aren’t your thing, theres a great… Cidery? lol I don’t know what you call a cider making place… but go check it out.

Traverse City Whiskey Company – truly an Up North feel distillery… But if you’re looking for an uncomplicated and good option for a whiskey on ice on a warm day, this is your place.

The Hop Lot – I mentioned this place above. It’s so close to the rental home we stayed in. They have tasty beers and delicious food. This place is always “hopin” 😉 really, it’s packed all the time, but totally worth facing the crowds.

Chateau De Leelanau – We love this place. Their wine is delicious, affordable, and local. Our personal favorites- Cury:Cherry Wine, me: the Rose (go figure!) We always buy a couple bottles when we come here. This time, however, we bought way more than a couple. . . They also always have 5 ciders on special, and they are all great. If they have the cherry cider when you go, don’t taste it if you don’t want to buy it.  Oh! and $1 tastings 🙂

Blackstar Farms – great atmosphere and even better wine!


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Glen Lake – One of the prettiest lakes on the peninsula. Find the beach or rent a pontoon. The water looks tropical and feels like it in July and August.

Glen Haven dunes and beach –  aka Sleeping bear dunes.

Empire Beach –  It is one gorgeous and secluded little place.

Old Mission lighthouse and state park –  While driving Center Road you eventually will hit the state park. Here you will see cars parked on the side of roads or going down dirt roads. This isn’t the prettiest, but it is very unique. Wander out along the ishtmusses connecting small overgrown peninsulas and find a secluded rock. You can disappear here for hours.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – you get to this beautiful drive by heading to the dunes. You will se signs for the drive on your way. It’s beautiful. The map they hand you is a bit overrated. They will lead you to believe there are 12 vista points, but really there are only about 4 or 5.

Leland Beach –  Just before you hit the river coming from the south turn left and nab a parking spot. Head down the path with your towel and find your spot to enjoy the view and sunset.

Leelanau Trail – if your brought your bike and the weather is just right, take the 17 mile bike paved trail from Suttons Bay to Traverse City. We didn’t get to do this, but it’s on our list to do for next time. I’ve heard the trail is a beautiful, relaxing cruise.
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Cotton seed apparel – we really didn’t do much shopping, but we did hit up this adorable boutique. They have a plethora of goodies all from local artistry to free people.

Cali’s – located in Traverse City. They have apparel and home goods. Don’t forget to check out upstairs too.

*There are a ton of great shops downtown traverse city as well as the big box stores that you will pass going from Suttons Bay to Traverse City.

Also, if you have been to Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula area and want to add anything please feel free to do so below! I am excited to hear others’ experiences and favorite places.

**This post was sponsored, but all thoughts and opinions are my own**

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