The Leelanau Peninsula is small region in the Grand Traverse Bay Area of Northern Michigan. It is the tip of the "pinky finger" on maps of Michigan, and is known for its scenic coastal beauty, small towns, and winemaking.
Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA), 3233 Cass Road, 231-941-2355, . Operates 6:10AM to 6:40PM M-F, and 8:10AM to 5:40PM on Saturday; no service on Sundays. Fixed-route service within Traverse City, and an advance-reservation curb-to-curb service in rural Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties. Fares $1.
Historic Fishtown in Leland is one of the few remaining commercial fishing complexes on the Great Lakes, made up of shanties, fish tugs and docks, dating back to around 1853. Locals are justifiably proud of it, and have been working hard to keep it preserved.
Leelanau County has two lighthouses:
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, Leelanau State Park off M-20 in Northport, 231-386-7195 or 231-922-5270, . Hours vary by season. Restored 1858 lighthouse resembling a keeper's home of the 1920s and 30s. Also has information on the South Fox Island Lighthouse. Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. Admission $2.
South Fox Island Lighthouse, South Fox Island, 231-275-6957, . Built in 1867, now obsolete and located on a privately-owned island with no currently-available public access.
Leelanau Historical Museum, 203 East Cedar Street in Leland, 231-256-7475, . Open 10AM to 4PM W-Sa (winter). Features exhibits reflecting the cultural history of the Leelanau Peninsula and its islands from the time of first human habitation.
Great Lakes Children's Museum, 13240 SW Bayshore Drive in Greilickville, 231-932-4526, . Exhibits on water, fishing, the weather, lighthouses, art and more.
Leelanau Sands Casino, 2649 NW Bay Shore Drive in Peshawbestown, 231-534-8100 or 800-922-2WIN, . Open 12PM to 2AM M-F, and 10AM to 2AM Saturday and Sunday. Card games, slot machines, bingo hall. On-site restaurant called the Double Eagle Grill, and Sand Dollar bar. Entertainment showroom with nationally recognized entertainers.
The Leelanau Peninsula has a number of lakes, two of the largest being Glen Lake, south of Glen Arbor by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and North and South Lake Leelanau, which stretch 13 miles south from Leland through the center of the county, with the town of Lake Leelanau located between the north and south branches. The lakes make for some beautiful photo opportunities, particularly the views of Glen Lake from the tall sand dunes.
Visitors may wish to embark upon a winery tour of the Leelanau Peninsula. With thirteen of them in the county, it's probably inadvisable to do all of them in one day, but you could break this trip up with relative ease. Driving the whole trip straight would only take about 2 hours, but of course you'll want to stop along the way!
Starting from Traverse City, travel about 15 minutes north on MI-22 (S West Bay Shore Drive) and take a left on Shady Lane; just past S Elm Valley Road is Shady Lane Cellars (1). Continuing north on MI-22, you'll come to Chateau de Leelanau (2) just before you reach Hilltop Road. Make a left on Hilltop to find Willow Vineyard (3) and Ciccone Vineyard (4). Continue down Hilltop until you reach the T junction with S Elm Valley Road; make a right to find L. Mawby (5). Further down Elm Valley, take a right on Revold Road to reach Black Star Farms (6). Rejoin MI-22.
Continue north past Suttons Bay until you reach Omena, and make a left on E Tatch Road to reach Leelanau Wine Cellars (7). From here, the simplest route is to continue north on MI-22 until you reach Northport, then follow MI-22 as it turns into N Manitou Trail along the western part of the peninsula. Shortly after you pass N Novotny Road, you'll see Gill's Pier Vineyard (8). Keep going through Leland until you reach Good Harbor Vineyards (9) just past N Highland Drive.
The next batch of wineries are further inland, and require a bit more navigation to find. Make a left on S Schomberg Road, then another left on E Dufek Road, and a right onto S French Road, where you'll find Chateau Fontaine (10). Take a left on E Amore Road and a right on S Lake Shore Drive, along the western edge of Lake Leelanau, where Bel Lago Winery (11) is located. Continue following S Lake Shore Drive as it turns west, away from the lake, until you reach S Good Harbor Trail and the Longview Vineyard (12). Continue through the town of Cedar and take a right on E Bellinger Road; in Maple City, turn right onto S Maple City Road until you rejoin MI-22 (Harbor Hwy). Take a left to enter the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and follow the road into Glen Arbor. Make a left on Lake Street, and look for the Cherry Republic shop and winery (13). At this point, you'll probably want to look for the nearest pharmacy (you might need some ibuprofen in the morning) and hotel (to sleep off the effects of the wine), so that you'll be all ready to tackle the Old Mission Peninsula tomorrow!
Leelanau County has two golf courses open to the public:
King's Challenge Golf Club, 4600 S Country Club Drive in Cedar, 888-228-0121, . 18 holes, par 70. Designed and built by Arnold Palmer and Palmer Design Course Company. Full-service golf shop, on-site Steak-Haus restaurant and bar. $15 - $80.
The Leelanau Club, Otto Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-2020 or 877-533-5262, . 18 championship holes, par 71. Pro shop, clubhouse, spacious practice facility. Private lessons and golf clinics. $39 - $69.
There is also the private and exclusive Leland Country Club on the Lake Leelanau shore in Leland.
Jazzfest, Marina Park in Suttons Bay, 231-271-4444, . Held one day in late July. Afternoon and evening lineup of classic jazz, plus the finest wines and food from Leelanau County. Admission $25 in advance, $35 at the gate.
Suttons Bay Art Festival, Marina Park in Suttons Bay. Held the first full weekend in August. Jurried art show. Food tent vendors.
Leland Wine Festival. Leland Marina. Wine and food vendor tent.
Lake Leelanau Walleye Festival, May. Events such as queen crowing, and fishing contests.
Tour De' Tart. Family bike ride every summer. To showcase the TART and raise funds.
M-22 Triathalon. Held in the Glen Arbor area in mid-june.
Christmas in the Village. Downtown Suttons Bay. Mid-December. Carolers, tree lighting, shopping bargins.
Cedar Polka Festival. Cedar. First week in July. Dancing. Polka Mass.
Northport Lighthouse Days. Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Northport.
Cherry Republic, 6026 S Lake Street in Glen Arbor, 800-206-6949, . Dried cherries, chocolate cherries, cherry nut mixes, cherry jams and jellies, sauces and toppings, cherry salsa, barbecue and dressings, cherry baked goods, cherry candies, cherry juice and concentrate, cherry beverages and soda pop, cherry wines, clothing, cherry bath and home accessories. Antique soda fountain, cherry bakery and light lunches including sandwiches and salads with a cherry twist.
Cedar City Market. Local, organic and world foods. Owned by Phil.edit
Plevas' Meat Market, Cedar. Family owned and ran. Products made in store. Perogi.
Foothills Cafe, 7097 S Dunns Farm Road, 231-334-7499, . Open 7AM to 3PM daily. All-day breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and burgers. Try their homemade soups. $3 - $7.50.
The Riverside Inn, 302 River Street in Leland, 231-256-9971 or 888-257-0102, . Open 5 to 9PM daily, and 10AM to 2PM on Sunday. Meat and seafood entrees with European flair. Try the Michigan ostrich. $20 - $30.
Samuel's, 111 St Joseph Street in Suttons Bay, 231-271-6222. Scratch cooking with local ingredients. Try the sautéed morel mushroom duxelles ravioli in morel cream sauce and the buffalo meatloaf.
blu, 5705 Lake Street (Glen Arbor), ☎ 231-334-2530, . Exquisite fine dining on Lake Michigan, open year-round with seasonal hours of operation.edit
Bayside Grill, The Marina in Northport, ☎ 231-883-2132. Cute outdoor grill in the parking lot of the Northport marina. Burgers, hot dogs, gyros, egg rolls,hummus, and more. Open weekdays for lunch, weather permitting.edit
There are thirteen wineries located in the Leelanau Peninsula. If that's still not enough for you, you can check out the five other wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula, north of Traverse City.
Bel Lago Winery and Vineyard, 6530 S Lake Shore Drive in Cedar, 231-228-4800, . Open 11AM to 6PM Monday through Saturday, and 12PM to 6PM on Sunday. 18 white, red, sparkling, dessert and cherry wines.
Black Star Farms, 10844 E Revold Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-4970 or 231-271-4882 ext 130, . Open 11AM to 6PM Monday through Saturday, and 12PM to 5PM on Sunday. 20 white, red, sparkling, fruit, dessert and ice wines, hard apple cider, and 7 fruit spirits. Also home to the Leelanau Cheese Company, producers of Raclette cow's-milk cheese and fromage blanc cheese spread. Wine tastings are $5 for 5 samples (plus an engraved tasting glass to keep; if you bring it with you on subsequent visits, your tastings are free), or $5 for 2 samples from their reserve list of spirits; Raclette samples are $1.
Chateau Fontaine, 2290 S French Road in Lake Leelanau, 231-256-0000, . Tasting room hours vary by season. 8 white, red and cherry wines.
Chateau de Leelanau Vineyard and Winery, 5048 SW Bayshore Drive in Suttons Bay, 231-271-8888, . 14 white, red, rose, sparkling, fruit and dessert wines.
Cherry Republic Winery, 6026 S Lake Street in Glen Arbor, 231-334-3150 or 800-206-6949, . Open 11AM to 9PM Monday through Saturday, and 12PM to 9PM on Sunday. 6 cherry wines.
Ciccone Vineyard and Winery, 10343 E Hilltop Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-5553, . Open 12PM to 5PM November through May, and 12PM to 6PM June through October. 9 wines. Yes, it's owned by that Ciccone family.
Forty-five North Vineyard and Winery, 8580 E. Horn Road in Lake Leelanau, 231-2271-1188, . Located exactly on the 45th parallel. 18 dry, semi-dry, sweet, dessert, and ice wines.
Gill's Pier Vineyard and Winery, 5620 N Manitou Trail in Northport, 231-256-7003, . 7 wines.
Good Harbor Vineyards, 34 S Manitou Trail in Lake Leelanau, 231-256-7165, . Tasting room hours vary by season. 12 white, red and specialty wines.
Good Neighbor Organic Winery, 9825 Engles Road in Northport, 231-271-5679, . Home of "Quatro Loco (tm)". 3 crafted hard ciders, and Certified Organic wines in 2009.
L. Mawby, 4519 S Elm Valley Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-3522, . Tasting room hours vary by season. 12 white and sparkling wines, one of which is named "Sex".
Leelanau Wine Cellars, 12693 E Tatch Road in Omena, 231-386-5201, . Tasting room hours vary by season. 35 red, white, port and fruit wines.
Longview Vineyard & Winery, 8697 Good Harbor Trail in Cedar, 231-228-2880, . 12 red, white and sparkling wines, including cherry mead.
Shady Lane Cellars, 9580 Shady Lane in Suttons Bay, 231-947-8865, . 11 white, rose, red, sparkling, vignole and dessert wines.
Silver Leaf Vineyard & Winery , 11061 E. Silver Leaf Farm Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-3111, . Tasting room hours: May - October Daily 12-6, November - April Sat 12-5 with special Holiday hours.
Tandem Ciders, 2055 N. Setterbo Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-0050, . Tasting room hours: June-October: Wednesday - Saturday 11-7, Sunday 12-6, November - May: Wednesday - Saturday 12-5, Sunday 12-5
Willow Vineyard, 10702 East Hilltop Road in Suttons Bay, 231-271-4810. 4 dry wines.