My mom and I have spent the last nine summers in north-west Michigan. Our tradition started informally, as a way for her to visit me while I was a cabin counselor at Interlochen, and has continued long past my camp days; back then I was much more interested in the sour candies from Cherry Republic, now I crave the wines of Old Mission Peninsula. We usually stay in Honor or Empire, we always make our way around M-22. If you’re in the Midwest and looking for a summer retreat, you can’t beat Pure Michigan’s sandy dunes, wooded and winding back roads, breweries and wineries, arts and culture. Here are a few must-sees:
Old Mission Peninsula
Take a wine tour on Old Mission Peninsula. Wanna-be sommeliers be warned: taste carefully and utilize the spit bucket. Our favorites are Black Star Farms, Bowers Harbor, and Peninsula Cellars (an old one-room schoolhouse!). Every time we’re there, we eat at Boathouse Restaurant. But I’d just as quickly recommend Jolly Pumpkin - we love their location in Ann Arbor too.
If you’re at all interested in the arts, you will adore The Land of the Stately Pines (Interlochen Arts Camp, or Interlochen Center for the Arts during the school year). The place boasts many famous alumni (Jewel, Josh Groban), and maintains lauded programs for visual arts, music, dance, film, writing, and theater. You could catch a performance by the campers, or snag some tickets for a show by a more recognizable brood (Salt N Pepa, Steve Miller Band, and OK GO have performed there in the past). Bonus points if you go to Bud’s before the concert.
You could also rent kayaks and make your way up Betsie River or out on to Green Lake near the camp. We’ve always gone with Alvina’s Canoe and Boat rental -- reliable, cheap, very friendly.
Leland, Sutton’s Bay, Northport, and Glen Arbor are my favorite stopping points along M-22. It’s an absolutely stunning road, domed by vibrant green trees and interspersed sparkling blue views of Lake Michigan. Stop in at any clothing shops, ice cream parlors, or art galleries that spark your interest. Try Tandem Ciders. Park near Good Harbor Bay and relax in the sun (Good Harbor Bay is Mom’s absolute favorite spot, and she’s gonna kill me for posting about this hidden gem publicly).
The eastern end of M-22 will spit you out in Traverse City. While you’re there, you have to go to Little Fleet -- a collection of great food trucks made even more wonderful by live music and lots of beer. There’s a ton of restaurants and breweries on Front Street, the main drag of the city. I’d avoid TC during Cherry Festival, however. Instead of being downtown during that monstrosity (it’s actually really charming and lovely, just busy), go to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons -- a former insane asylum converted into clothing shops and a bakery and restaurants.