This article appears in Summer Boomers magazine.
From the shores of Lake Michigan and its impressive sand dunes to scenic Route M-22 and scrumptious cherry pie, Michigan offers an adventure for anyone’s travel tastes. Use this sample trip of about 200 miles to get a little bit of everything.
Day 1: Traverse City, Suttons Bay
A visit to Traverse City consists of history, a dynamic downtown and the best-ever cherry pie. Exploring the downtown with its shops and eateries is a must. Take a break from shopping at the Grand Traverse Pie Company, whether for lunch or to dive into what Chef Mario Batali says is the best cherry crumb pie he has ever had.
Drive the scenic Route M-37 through vineyards and cherry orchards, making a stop at the historic Mission Point Lighthouse. Along the Old Mission Peninsula, get a taste of the grape at Brys Estate: Enjoy a glass of wine and a visit to the Secret Garden at the historic 1890s homestead. The winery nurtures more than 40,000 vines.
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of the largest historic reuse developments in the United States. It was once the Traverse City State Hospital and today houses restaurants, residences and shops. Take a tour to get down in the tunnels used by nurses to go from building to building, and learn about the deep history of the area. Visit traversecity.com for hours, places to stay and eat, and more to do.
Leaving the city via Route M-22 takes travelers along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. A beautiful trip any time of year, but it shows its true colors in the fall.
Top the day off with a fish boil at Black Star Farms at Suttons Bay, an experience like none other. Watch the huge flames get things boiling. Sit down, relax and enjoy this beautiful property. At blackstarfarms.com there is information on the boil, events, winery and the inn.
Day 2: Leland, Sleeping Bear Dunes
Continuing on M-22, make it a priority to visit Fishtown Exploration, a historic operating fishing village in Leland. Walk the docks, visit the fishing shanties and see the boats that continue to troll the waters for fresh fish. For hours and more visit lelandmi.com.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a great stop on your M-22 adventure. The park offers visitors an array of interesting things to do. Climbing the 110-foot sand dune is the goal of many Michigan “thrill seekers.” If time is short and you can’t do everything, make sure to take in the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the dunes. The views are breathtaking. Visit nps.gov/SLBE for more information.
Day 3: Arcadia, Manistee, Ludington
Travel on south and make a stop at Arcadia Dunes to hike Old Baldy Trail for spectacular views and a little more exercise. The trail takes hikers 356 feet above Lake Michigan. Don’t make it your only Arcadia scenic view — also visit Inspiration Point. For details go to visitmanisteecounty.com.
Proceed onward to Manistee, have a bite of lunch at the Bluefish Kitchen and Bar, enjoy the view, then peek at the Historic Ramsdell Theater at 101 Maple St., a beautiful piece of Michigan history where actor James Earl Jones began his acting career.
Make the last stop one of Michigan’s most popular parks, Ludington State Park. With beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor recreation, the park is great for fishing, boating, swimming, camping, hiking and more. Take a hike to the 150-year-old black-and-white striped lighthouse. Climb 112 feet to the top and hear what it is like to stay in the lighthouse from the keepers. Everything you need to know can be found at visitludington.com/statepark.
Michigan, and each of these areas, has so much more to offer visitors. For information on places to stay, eat and visit on this Michigan coastal trip visit michigan.org.