Turn an average day at the beach into a road-trip style adventure by cruising nearly to the mitten's tip, where secluded Sturgeon Bay offers miles of undeveloped, uncrowded sandy shoreline.
To get there, skip the shortcuts and revel in the scenic route M-119 provides. Hold on tight as this slim little road - with no dividing lines, mind you - dips and curves through the Tunnel of Trees with Lake Michigan's blues winking between the branches. Head all the way to Good Hart, a one-horse town snuggled right up to the lakeshore. Drop in at Primitive Images (1129 N. Lake Shore Dr., 231-526-0276), a rustic home decor shop, and linger long enough to sip a fine cup of China Black Rose tea in the tearoom tucked in the back.
Follow Lakeshore Drive northward out of Good Hart, through the tiny but tantalizing Cross Village (don't worry, you'll be back for dinner) until the town gives way to rolling sand dunes peppered with evergreens and windswept grasses. Park your car at one of the small turnarounds or dirt patches along the road. Then, barefoot it over the sand to meet an incredible Sturgeon Bay vista: white-capped waves and not a speck of civilization. Nestled against the 10,000-acre Wilderness State Park (231-436-5381), Sturgeon Bay's shoreline is as natural as it gets - so respect any tape blocking off restricted areas like piping plover nesting grounds.
Drive back into Cross Village and pay a visit to Three Pines Studio (5959 W. Levering, 231-526-9447), where you can treat yourself to an art treasure crafted right here in Northern Michigan. Then, pop into Legs Inn (6425 N. Lakeshore Dr., 231-526-2281). This local landmark is a work of art in itself, built from stone, timber and driftwood, and crowned with tiny curved legs from old-fashioned stoves. Pull up to a table in the rustic dining room and order the Taste of Poland: a sampler served with a heap of side dishes and wonderful when paired with a Polish brewski.
Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in April 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.