A favorite way to arrive in Suttons Bay? By boat.
Duck into 45th Parallel Cafe (102 W. Broadway, 231- 271-2233) for an unbeatable Suttons Bay breakfast. Owner Tim Lambdin swears his old-fashioned malted waffles are the best in the world--each bite is topped with wild blueberries, fresh walnuts and powdered sugar. Post-breakfast, head next door to 45th Parallel Candy World for homemade fudge swirled into flavors like cookies and cream (studded with whole Oreos), amaretto chocolate and Creamsicle.
Down Main Street is The Front Porch (207 St. Joseph, 231-271-6895), a foodie paradise filled with kitchen gizmos, gourmet salad dressings, salsas, spices and why-not finds like castle-shaped bundt cake pans. Gorgeous watercolors and oils await at Treeline Gallery (103 Jefferson, 231-271-5363), where much of the work on display is created by artists who draw inspiration from Northern Michigan. Looking for your own inspiration? The beach is just across the street, so nab an instant picnic at Silvertree Deli (119 St. Joesph, 231-271-2271, thesilvertreedeli.com) -- think gourmet salads and sandwiches, plus a whole pastry case filled with thick brownies, cookies and other housemade sweets. While you're waiting for your order, peruse the store's impressive selection of world-class wines, many from Leelanau vintners.
March your eats across the road and let the beaching--and feasting--commence. Splash in Suttons Bay, listen for the chirps of red-winged blackbirds in the neighboring wetlands or get a lesson in local lake ecology at nearby Inland Seas Education Center (231-271-3077, schoolship.org). When you're sufficiently sun-kissed, dust the sand off your suit and parade the fam over to Village Inn Tavern (201 St. Joseph, 231-271-3300), a 19th-century watering hole that dishes up fajitas, Black Angus burgers, steaks and seafood.
You haven't shopped Suttons Bay unless you've paid a visit to Bahle's (210 St. Josephs St., 231- 271-3841, bahles.net). The clothing store, which opened in 1876 as Bahle's Drygoods & Clothing, is one of the few businesses in Michigan established and operated by the same family for more than 100 years.