Northern Michigan Attractions: Up North, when you build a vacation around dining, the shore and sun are naturally wrapped in the package. Tasty.
First night: Make reservations at Burdickville’s Trattoria Funistrada (20 miles from Traverse City), and order the sweet and salty spaghetti with cantaloupe cream sauce and prosciutto. The trattoria participates in local CSAs (community supported agriculture farms) and serves the bounty as it’s harvested (231.334.3900). Second night: Classic French cooking just down the street at La Bécasse, where duck confit is the signature dish, and the profiteroles will show up in your dreams for weeks (231.334.3944, restaurantlabecasse.com). Stay: Modeled after European B&Bs, the Thyme Inn is owned by Cordon Bleu–trained chef Carol Worsley, whose breakfasts include bread pudding and lemon soufflé pancakes, stuffed French omelets and local meats. Wine and hors d’oeuvres precede nightly turndown with Grocer’s Daughter truffles (from $180/night, 231.334.6920, thymeinn.com). Still not sated? Visit the Leelanau Peninsula Wine, Food & Music Festival (noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, August 13, $15 per person, leelanauchamber.com).
Driving in: Stop at the new Bella Vita, formerly Monte Bianco, in Boyne City. New owners are longtime employees and a new signature dish is pan-fried local walleye with a mozzarella crust under a roasted garlic and red bell pepper cream sauce (231.582.3341). Settle in: Eat your continental breakfast overlooking the Charlevoix drawbridge and harbor at Weathervane Terrace Inn in Charlevoix. The inn is the world’s largest Earl Young structure. (From $115.99, 231.547.9955, weathervane-chx.com.) Out the front door: Stafford’s Weathervane restaurant (not affiliated with the inn) serves up a grilled filet mignon and lobster with sherry mushrooms, chablis butter and zip sauce that is rivaled only by the view of the channel. Don’t leave without visiting Esperance gourmet food shop and cafe on the north side of Charlevoix, where the best picnic lunches are born.
Little Traverse Bay
At night: Be one of the few each evening to dine at Bay Harbor’s newest restaurant, Elevated, with only 10 tables and a sweeping view of Little Traverse Bay. Local and organic ingredients make the menu a standout. Try the ravioli with roasted eggplant, artichokes, confit garlic and heirloom tomato sauce (231.439.2282, lakeandhoward.com). In the A.M.: Another cozy crowd at the Twisted Olive Cafe in Petoskey, where the breakfast is heavenly but the crown jewel is the Twisted Olive Plate (olives, artichokes, peperoncini, red pepper, pepperoni, fresh mozz and crostini) (231.487.1230, twistedolivecafe.com). Stay: Head over to The Inn at Bay Harbor, where the South American Grille seats you fireside for small plates and drinks, and chess in front of the sunset