Leelanau County is home to gorgeous vistas from every hilltop, Lake Michigan coastal towns, cherries, wineries, cocktail cruises and, of course, The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. And every square mile is filled with beauty, fun and sanctuary. Here are ten ideas to add to your list.
15.5 miles of peaceful pedaling along the Leelanau Trail takes you from Traverse City’s colorful hubbub to the village charm of Suttons Bay—or vice versa—past forests, orchards, streams, lakes and ponds. For trailheads and more info,TRAVERSETRAILS.ORG.
Feather-light cinnamon buns baked the same way for 82 years, legendary whitefish and perch, a lovely riverside dining room and a bar big enough to house most of Leland’s nightlife keep The Bluebird Restaurant a Leland icon. 231-256-9081.
Had enough sun? The Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown (between Suttons Bay and Northport) has indoor fun in spades—and slot machines (over 450 of them), craps, roulette, 3-card poker, 2-deck pitch, blackjack and the latest virtual games. Bingo, too. 231-534-8100; CASINO2WIN.COM.
Order up a cocktail, relax and follow the sun as it sinks into the Manitou Passage on a Shoreline Cruise aboard the ferry the Mishe-Mokwa: 231-256-9061; LEELANAU.COM/MANITOU/.
Leelanau County grows more cherries than any other county in the nation. In July and early August, gorge on ’em fresh until you think your belly will bust, bake cherry pie, make cherry jam, see who can spit pits the farthest. Pity the country’s cherryless counties.
Roll, run, cartwheel, somersault down the 200-foot Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. But the only way up this giant sand pile is one foot
after another. 231-326-5134; NPS.GOV/SLBE/.
For a Sunday drive worthy of any day of the week, steer to the pastoral intersections of E. Kolarik and N. Setterbo Roads in northern Leelanau County to meditate on the Gothic Revival St. Wenceslaus Church, built by Bohemian settlers in 1914. If you’re so inclined, mass is Sunday at 8 a.m. year round. 231-271-3574.
Victoria Creek wends slowly through the Cedar swamp—just the pace for spotting the wildlife that play in it. Put in at the dock in the Cedar Village Park. 2.5 miles (1 1/2-hour paddle) gets you to the Leelanau Conservancy’s Cedar River Preserve that opens onto Lake Leelanau. THECONSERVANCY.COM.
Set in a circa 1920 downtown Suttons Bay building, The Bay Theatre bills itself as a small-town theater that features worldclass
cinema. You won’t be disappointed. To check out what’s playing at The Bay: 231-271-3772. LEELANAU.COM/THEBAY/.