Motor up either side of the coast-, cottage- and orchard-edged M-22 and inevitably, you’ll reach its zenith: Northport.
The 1852-founded village’s hustling harbor heydays have given way to willow tree-framed beaches, the quiet clink of sailboats moored offshore and an edge-of-the-earth world where art galleries outnumber eateries. Trust us, though—nobody here is starving.
They start each day devouring hot and sticky-sweet bear claws and coffee inside the toasty-hued confines of Barb’s Bakery (112 Mill St., 231-386-5851). Lunch is inspired daily soups, pizzas and fully loaded sandwiches by the fire at Eat Spot (215 Mill St., 231-386-7536). Dinner may be a Jack Daniel’s-soused Black Jack Burger or an elegant spread of fresh whitefish overlooking the back garden at Stubbs Sweetwater Grill (115 Waukazoo St., 231-386-7611). Dessert? At the old-fashioned Scott’s Filling Station (corner of Waukazoo and Nagonaba Streets, 231-386-7370), you’ll find 28 flavors of Moomers ice cream—served by cute boys in even cuter fuzzy cow-head helmets.
Deal hunters, discover new, used and antique books amid the long shelves and crackly red leather reading chairs at Dog Ear Books (106 Waukazoo St., 231-386-7209) and fabulously picked and priced antiques at Funky Mama’s (106 waukazoo, 231-386-7330), craft supplies at Dolls & More (102 w. nagonaba, 231-386-7303). Rock hounds will find heaven inside the log cabin-style Nature’s Gems (corner of nagonaba and mill st., 231-386-7826) and a pickin’-perfect beach at Christmas Cove (take Mill St. to Kilcherman, stay right when road forks into forest, go toward water).
A farm market full of antique varieties awaits every day at Kilcherman Farms (201 to 640 to Kilcherman Rd., 231-386-5637), and Good Neighbor Farms is open to U-pickers on weekends (9885 Engles Rd., 231-271-5679). Before the end of the day, head to the end of the peninsula, where the 1,350-acre Leelanau State Park—boasting coastal dunes, nearly nine miles of hiking trails and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (231-386-7195)—inspire with an artistry only a world at the edge can.
Homewood Cottage Association: Cozy cottages in woods, walking distance to water and town, $75+, 231-386-5831, .
Old Mill Pond Inn B&B: Sprawling 1895 cottage smack dab in town, $75+, 231-386-7341.
Sunrise Landing Motel and Resort: On water just south of town, $67+, 800-488-5762, sunriselanding.com.
Leelanau State Park: 52-site rustic campground and mini-cabins at tip of Leelanau Peninsula, $15+, 800-447-2757.