Leelanau Peninsula: 25+ Best Things to Do, Including Leland, Northport, Empire & Glen Arbor Michigan

Leelanau Peninsula Glen Arbor Leland

About Leelanau Michigan

Where is the Leelanau Peninsula?

Leelanau County is a peninsula is located in northern Michigan. It is often referred to as the Leelanau Peninsula since the landmass is surrounded by Lake Michigan waters.

(You might also hear Michiganders call this area the Mitten’s pinkie, too.)

The southeastern part of the county is very close to Traverse City, Michigan.

If you would like to drive to the northernmost tip of the peninsula it will take you about an hour to make the 40-mile drive.

When you arrive, you’ll find yourself at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park.

Leelanau County is located in Northwest Lower Michigan

What is Leelanau County known for?

Visitors flock to the Leelanau Peninsula in the summer months but the destination is gaining popularity in the off-season, as well.

In the summer, beaches, wineries, water sports, quaint towns, hiking, agri-tourism, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are a big draw.

In the fall, color tours round out the outdoor options.

Winter sees a lot of snowfall, drawing people looking for a snowshoe and cross-country skiing adventures.

It’s a year-round romantic getaway destination, too.

The natural beauty of Leelanau’s hardwood forests, giant sand dunes, and sweeping shorelines have stolen the hearts of many.

Ways to Enjoy Leelanau in the Summer


Stop in Empire for the Beach, Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Visitor’s Center & Ice Cream

Empire, MI is a tiny village in Leelanau County. It’s surrounded by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for the most part.

Don’t skip Empire just because it’s small, though. There are delightful things waiting for you here.

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center
9922 W Front St, Empire, MI 49630

Start with a visit to the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center. This is the Sleeping Bear Dunes headquarters.

Get your park pass and learn about the dunes all in one easy stop (you’ll need a pass for any park activities you wish to do including visiting the picturesque beaches).

You’ll also be able to ask park rangers any questions you have about the National Lakeshore.

Empire Bluff Trail
Empire Bluff Trail, Honor, MI 49640

Take a short drive up a steep hill to the parking lot of Empire Bluff Trail. This 1.5-mile roundtrip hike is through hardwoods and ends with a spectacular boardwalk bluff view of Lake Michigan. Bonus points if you get here for the sunset.

Tiffany’s Cafe
10213 W Front St, Empire, MI 49630

Quaint on main street Empire, Tiffany’s cafe is a great ice cream or coffee stop.

Empire Beach Village Park
10484 Niagara Street, Empire, MI 49630

Walk from Tiffany’s or drive the few short blocks to Empire Beach, where you’ll be greeted with two water options.

Swim in Lake Michigan or South Bar Lake depending on the wind and water conditions. A waterside playground, basketball court, and picnic spots are here for public use as well.

Fire rings on the Lake Michigan beach are also available for your use.
There is a small parking fee at this beach.

leelanau peninsula in leelana county michigan
The Boardwalk at the end of Empire Bluff Trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes
leelanau peninsula in leelana county michigan
The hike to the Empire Bluff overlook is wooded
leelanau peninsula empire ice cream
Ice Cream at Tiffany’s Cafe in Empire, MI
empire beach leelanau county
Empire Beach on Lake Michigan

Kayak Crystal River

Crystal River Outfitters
6249 River Rd, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Crystal River is clear, shallow, and full of logs to navigate around. Kayaking this river is the way to go.

Trips last 2-3 hours, go about four miles, and will probably include wildlife sightings.

At one point, you’ll go through a large culvert and “shoot the tube.”

crystal river kayaking michigan leelanau county
Kayaking the Crystal River is a great way to experience Leelanau County

Treat Yourself to a Bonfire on the Beach

Several places on the Leelanau Peninsula will let you have a bonfire on the beach.

Each spot has its own rules so check those out before starting a fire.

Beaches within the Sleeping Bear Dunes permit beach bonfires on Lake Michigan’s mainland beaches between the water’s edge and the first dune. (And you cannot bring in your own firewood. It has to be purchased on site.)

The Village of Empire allows beach bonfires on the Lake Michigan portion of Empire Beach Village Park within the provided fire rings.

A request from park officials: Please do not build fires on or near vegetation and remember to extinguish your fire with water and clean up all debris before leaving. Put your fire out with water and make sure the coals are not only wet but visible to passersby. Sand can trap embers below, keeping them hot through the night and possibly injure beachgoers the following day.

beach bonfire sleeping bear dunes
Beach Fires are Allowed on Some Lake Michigan Beaches in Leelanau County

Get Out on Glen Lake by Pontoon, Jet Ski, Kayak or SUP

On the Narrows Marina
8137 S Glen Lake Rd, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Glen Lake’s waters are clear, blue, and inviting.

Little Glen and Big Glen Lake make up Glen Lake. The two sections are separated by a landbridge that locals call “the Narrows.” There is a channel that goes under the narrows that connect the two lakes.

Both parts of Glen Lake are great for boating, kayaking, and taking out a jet ski.

You can rent these fun toys at On the Narrows Marina. Calling is your best bet: (231) 334-4891.

Glen Lake Public Access
The best place to put your boat in the water is at the public Glen Lake DNR Boat Ramp launch on Day Forest Road, on the north end of Little Glen Lake. The launch is just to the west of the Narrows.

Glen Lake DNR Boat Ramp
7075 W Day Forest Rd, Empire, MI 49630

Want to swim at a Glen Lake Beach?
You can access both lakes from the Narrows Bridge if you can find parking. This is probably the best public place to swim in the lake, although a bit tricky to access.

The next two spots offer public access to Glen Lake but don’t provide optimal swimming conditions.

Glen Lake Beach Park (aka Little Glen Picnic Area)
6629 S Dune Hwy, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Glen Lake Beach Park is operated by the National Park Service and is a part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore. You will need a park pass to access this park.

This park is across the street from the famous dune climb. You won’t find a typical sandy beach here. The park is grassy with picnic tables and rustic restrooms.

You can wade into the water – it’s shallow for quite a ways out. Most people don’t find swimming here enjoyable but it is a really good place to launch a kayak or SUP if you’re comfortable carrying it to the water.

Old Settlers Park
8802-8806 S Dunns Farm Rd, Maple City, MI 49664

Old Settlers Park is on the south side of Big Glen Lake. This park has a playground, gazebo, restrooms, and a non-motorized boat launch. If you decide to jump in the lake for a swim, know that it has a rocky bottom and is quite shallow for quite a ways out.

glen lake leelanau county
Glen Lake in Leelanau County
Glen Lake Beaches and Public Access Points
Glen Lake Beaches and Public Access Points

Hike, Hike, Hike

If you like hiking, you must treat yourself to a Leelanau County visit ASAP.

Unparalleled natural beauty paired with citizens and municipalities bent on preservation have created a hiking oasis that is hard to find anywhere else in lower Michigan.

The Leelanau Conservancy is to credit for many of these preservation efforts.

The number of worthy hiking spots are too many to list here – I am going to outline some favorites and why you might want to explore these gems.

Empire Bluff Trail

Alligator Hill Trail
Stocking Rd, Empire, MI 49630

This is another top hike in the area.

Our hike to the overlook and the “easy” 3-mile loop was just enough for our 5 and 9-year-old. You can’t beat the Lake Michigan views from the top of the Alligator Hill Trails.

Leelanau State Park – Lake Michigan Trail Loop
Leelanau State Park — Hiking Trailhead, Densmore Rd, Northport, MI 4967

This is a gorgeous kid-friendly hike through the woods to a Lake Michigan beach. It’s a 2.4-mile loop of moderate difficulty. As this is in a state park, you will need a Michigan Recreation Passport or your vehicle may be ticketed.

Clay Cliffs Natural Area
4755 North Manitou Trail, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

This hike isn’t long but it’s beautiful and family-friendly. There is a 0.75 universal access loop. Portions of the trail are hilly. The trail system goes through woods and open areas. You can hike to a Lake Michigan lookout using the 1.5-mile loop if you’d like.

Whaleback Natural Area
1639 North Manitou Trail, Leland, MI 49654

We’ll summarize the Whaleback hike as short, steep, and worth it. If you’re in Leland, you’re within walking distance of the Whaleback Natural Area.

The cliff that makes up the whaleback is a local landmark. The cliff (actually a glacial moraine) looks like a beached whale from afar and has been used by Lake Michigan sailors as a reference point throughout history.

The first part of the trail crosses private property, so be sure to stay on the trail. Hike the whole loop for a 1.6-mile trek that includes Lake Michigan views.

Leelanau State Park Map
Top of Alligator Hill

Spend Time Touring Pierce Stocking Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
M-109, Empire, MI, 49630

*Sleeping Bear Dunes Park Pass Required

This 7-mile scenic driving route takes you to spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Two picnic areas are also on the route. Get a brochure at the entrance to the drive.

There are 12 designated stops – but here are the ones you have to do if you’re visiting with kids:

Stop 1: Photo op at the covered bridge. It’s just pretty!
Stop 2: Glen Lake Overlook – Your first glimpse of the vast beauty found at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Take pictures!
Stop 3: Dune Overlook.
Stop 9: Lake Michigan Overlook – Park and walk to the platform overlooking Lake Michigan. You’re treated to views of the dunes, Manitou Islands, and splendid lakeshore views. It’s not recommended that you hike down. The climb back up can take 2 hours and is very strenuous. There’s a hefty rescue fee if you hike down and get stranded.

Stop #9: Sleeping Bear Dunes Lake Michigan Overlook on Pierce Stocking Drive
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Pamphlet
Rangers Distribute Pamphlets at the Entrance to the Pierce Stocking Drive
Stop #2: Glen Lake overlook on Pierce Stocking Drive
Stop #2: Glen Lake Overlook on Pierce Stocking Drive

Pitch a Tent or Park Your RV

D.H. Day Campground
8010 W Harbor Hwy, Glen Arbor, MI 49636
>> Rustic campsites. Operated by the National Park Service. Lake Michigan Beach.

Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort
6760 W Empire Hwy M-72, Empire, MI 49630
>> RV Park & Campground has a swimming pool, modern restrooms, camp store, cabin rentals, RV rentals, laundry, LP gas, dump station, volleyball, shuffleboard, and basketball. Food truck on site.

Leelanau State Park
15310 N Lighthouse Point Rd, Northport, MI 49670
>> Rustic camping and cabins. Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula near the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Some sites are waterfront.

>> More camping spots in Leelanau County

D.H. Day Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes
D.H. Day Campground Beach
Leelanau State Park Waterfront Camping
Leelanau State Park Waterfront Camping
Leelanau State Park Camping Cabin
Leelanau State Park Camping Cabin
Indigo Bluffs RV Resort Pool
Indigo Bluffs RV Resort Pool
Indigo Bluffs RV Resort
Indigo Bluffs RV Resort Camping Area

Soak Up the Night Stars

Have you ever been in a place where it was so dark the stars seemed to pop out of the sky?

That’s what it’s like at the Sleeping Bear Dunes on a clear night. Where can you best see the stars?

One of my favorite spots is at the Dune Climb – open 24 hours a day – but any Lake Michigan beach will be wonderful, too.

You’ll be surprised at just how much the stars light up the evening! Download a stargazing app for your phone, aim at the night sky, and learn constellations with your family.

sleeping bear dunes dark sky park
The night sky is filled with stars at Sleeping Bear Dunes
stargazing sleeping bear dunes
Stargazing at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Suttons Bay for Wine Tasting Home Base

Suttons Bay MI is a great home base if you’re looking to do wine tasting on the Leelanau Peninsula.

*Bonus: On-street parking is free in Suttons Bay.

If you’re looking to sample the vineyards and wineries, the Leelanau Wine Trail offers several different routes.

If you don’t want to be in charge of driving, book a tour with Traverse City Wine and Beer Tours. They pick you up and take care of all of the details.

Shady Lane Cellars
9580 E Shady Ln, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

One winery we’re sure to stop at whenever we’re in the area is Shady Lane Cellars.

This place has created a welcoming space where everyone can find a spot to enjoy their wines. If a winery could win a “make you feel at home award” Shady Lane Cellars would scoop it up year after year.

The Bay Theatre
214 N Saint Joseph St Suttons Bay, MI 49682

This cute little town has a walkable main street with great shopping and even a small movie theater, The Bay Theatre.

Grand Traverse Bike Tours
318 N St Joseph St, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Grand Traverse Bike Tours offers a remarkable package that lets you bike a paved trail to a variety of wineries.

The package includes bike rental and helmet. PLUS, a van will come along and collect any wine that you chose to purchase, and they will deliver a catered lunch to one of your stops to enjoy along the way.

Suttons Bay Bikes
318 North St. Joseph Street, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Another shop in town rents bikes as well. This outfitter can set you up with Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) or Kayaks for use on the calm waters of Suttons Bay at Suttons Bay Beach, just a hop away from their shop.

Use their online reservation system to ensure availability for your desired timeslots.

Suttons Bay Beach
416 Front St, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Suttons Bay Beach, aka Sutton Park or South Shore Park, is sandy with playground equipment, restrooms, and easy carry-in kayak or SUP access to the water.

Suttons Bay Ciders
10530 E Hilltop Rd, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Even if you’re into wine you owe it to yourself to try Suttons Bay Ciders.

Yes, their ciders are amazing, but so is their hilltop view of West Grand Traverse Bay and the Old Mission Peninsula. Try to visit on a day where you can sit outside on their deck for the full experience. Bonus points if you visit during fall color season.

Hop Lot
658 S W Bay Shore Dr, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

For the beer lovers in your group, get yourself to Hop Lot.

Self-described as offering a wide selection of delicious beers, scrumptious food, and a one-of-a-kind microbrewery experience right on M22 in Suttons Bay MI.

Their outdoor beer garden gives Northern Michigan rustic vibes with fire pits, yard games, and at times, live music. It’s really a great place to hang.

Downtown Suttons Bay Michigan
Downtown Suttons Bay Michigan. Photo: Suttons Bay Chamber
Shady Lane Cellars
Shady Lane Cellars Suttons Bay Michigan
Shady Lane Cellars
Suttons Bay Ciders
Suttons Bay Ciders. Photo: Suttons Bay Ciders
Hop Lot – Suttons Bay Michigan

Rock Hunting

Peterson Park
10001 E Peterson Park Rd, Northport, MI 49670

Christmas Cove Park
E Christmas Cove Rd, Northport, MI 49670

Peterson Park and Christmas Cove Beach in Northport are renowned places to search for Petoskey Stones.

For best results, go after a storm has tossed the beach. Bring a bucket so you can scoop water to wet the dry stones.

Of Note: The Leland Blue Stone is a local treasure. While some may see it as just a by-product of industry, this slag-turned-stone is regularly found on the shores of Leland’s beaches and beyond and has become a symbol for the area. Jewelry, art and other uses have been found for Leland Blue Stones.

Peterson Park Leelanau Rock Hunting
Peterson Park is Great for Rock Hunting
Christmas Cove and Peterson Park Rock Hunting

Beach Bards

The Leelanau School 
One Old Homestead Road, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Mark your calendar for these special Friday evenings when the Beach Bards invites the public to share in By Heart Poetry, Stories, or Music around a community bonfire on the shore of Lake Michigan.

This over 30-year tradition is a memorable experience for people of all ages.

Friday Nights beginning at 8 pm with Children’s Hour
Friday, June 23
Friday, July 7
Friday, July 21
Friday, August 4
Admission: $1

Pro Tip: Park in any Leelanau School lot. Walk down the boardwalk and cross the Crystal River – this is where you’ll find the bonfire circle.

The Beach Bards Leelanau
The Beach Bards tell stories around the bonfire on select evenings in the summer

Ice Cream Cruise on a Tall Ship or Take a Learning Expedition

The Leelanau Peninsula is home to two Tall Ship companies, the Inland Seas Education Association and the Traverse Tall Ship Co.

The Education Association focuses on educational excursions (many are open to the public), while the Tall Ship Co. offers recreational sails for visitors.

Traverse Tall Ship Co.
13258 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684

We did the two-hour afternoon Moomers Ice Cream Cruise on the Tall Ship Manitou and enjoyed every minute of it.

Guests (kids included) helped raise the sail, concessions were offered, and ice cream was served. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The Manitou also takes guests for other specialty sails, including:
– Brunch Cruise
– Evening Sail
– Dinner & Sail
– Music Cruise

Inland Seas Education Association
100 Dame Street Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Public sails are offered on a limited basis on the Inland Seas.

Check their website for dates/times for the following and more:
– Night Sail
– Fall Color Sail
– Fishes of Lake Michigan
– Great Lakes Discovery Sail

Sailing on the Tall Ship Manitou in Traverse City
Tall Ship Manitou coming into dock just outside of Traverse City
Captain Watching Child Steer the Tall Ship Manitou
The Captain, when asked nicely, may allow guests (including kids) to steer the ship
Sailing on the Tall Ship Manitou
Managing the sails on the Tall Ship Manitou
Ice Cream Sail on the Tall Ship Manitou
Inland Seas Education Association sailing Leelanau County
Educational Sails are offered on the Inland Seas, a traditionally-rigged Tall Ship Schooner

45th Parallel

Stop for a photo with this sign on M-22, two miles north of downtown Suttons Bay.

45th Parallel Park
700-796 N West Bay Shore Dr, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

45th Parallel Park is nearby as well. It’s very rustic and offers water access.

45th parallel

Stop in Leland MI for the Beach, Shopping & Fishtown

Leland is located on Lake Michigan, a little over halfway up the Leelanau Peninsula.

It’s a bustling summertime tourist destination from June – September. Shops, restaurants, beaches, hikes, and Fishtown draw people to the area year after year.

Fishtown – Leland

Leland is probably most famous for its Historic District, otherwise known as Fishtown. Shanties filled with little shops, tugboats, and charter boats line the Leland River, as they have for years. As in the past, today Leland is still a town with deep commercial fishing roots.

Two Fish Gallery
104 River St Leland, MI 49654

Shopping in Leland is a treat.
Quaint tree-lined streets and lake breezes make it fun to pop in and out of shops manned by local proprietors. Stores here stock unique finds, making every trip one of discovery.

While we love most every shop in Leland, one has stolen our hearts: Two Fish. Time after time, they stock items that make us smile and that we can’t seem to find anywhere else.

Vans Beach
205 Cedar St, Leland, MI 49654

This sandy beach offers great views of dunes in the distance to the south and Leland Harbor to the north. You might want water shoes if you’re going to swim – the lake has a rocky bottom here. Rock hunters will be happy – you may even find a Leland Blue!

leland fishtown michigan leelanau county
Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown
leland fishtown michigan leelanau county
View from Fishtown Looking out Into the Harbor
leland historic district fishtown marker
Fishtown Historic Marker in Leland, MI
Two Fish Gallery Leland
Two Fish Gallery in Leland, MI
Path Leading to Van's Beach in Leland MI
Path Leading to Van’s Beach in Leland MI

Mountain Biking

Palmer Woods Forest Reserve
4715-5999 S Wheeler Rd, Maple City, MI 49664

The mountain bike trails at Palmer Woods Forest Reserve are intermediate level, single track flow style trails. 

The Central Ridge Loop features a challenging climb with a rewarding downhill descent featuring rollers, berms, and drops that will be a fun challenge for intermediate riders. 

Palmer Woods Mountain Bike Trail Map


Manitou Islands Day Trip or Backpacking Trip

Manitou Island Transit ferries visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes’ North and South Manitou Islands from Leland, MI every summer.

Manitou Island Transit
207 W River St, Leland, MI 49654
Call (231) 256-9061 for all ferry tickets.

South Manitou Day Trip
Ferry day trips to the island leave every day at 10 am and return to Leland at 5:30 pm. The boat ride to the island is 1.5 hours long.

Days trips run daily seven days a week June 15 through Labor day weekend.  *There is no day trip on Labor Day, September 6, 2021.
Some people bring kayaks on the ferry. There’s an extra fee for this.

You will need to pack all of your supplies – food, water, etc, as there are no stores or concessions on the island. You’ll also need a National Park Pass.

Visitors like to explore the old town that was left behind, as well as the South Manitou Lighthouse. (Daily tours offered July 12 – Aug 16, 2021).

You can also go on an island tour during your visit. Choose from the Farm & Schoolhouse Tour or the Cedar & Shipwreck Tour.
TOUR COST: Adults: $10 Kids 12 or under: $7

Ferry Rates: (Round Trip)
$42/adult – $21/kids (12 & under) – 2 and under:  free

Backpacking North Manitou Island
Ride over to North Manitou Island for a 13+ mile hiking loop. There is only one small campsite where an open fire is allowed, otherwise you’ll need to operate under backcountry rules.
fee must be paid before camping.

Camping on South Manitou Island
Camping on South Manitou Island is permitted in three locations: Bay Campground, Weather Station Campground, and Popple Campground.

Manitou Island Ferry

Relax at Farm Club

Farm Club
10051 Lake Leelanau Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684

No reservations needed, just stop in.

Farm club is a farm, brewery, restaurant, and marketplace. Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Expect farm-to-table food and drink in a great family-friendly atmosphere.

Closed on Mondays
Open Tues – Sun. noon – 10 pm

Farm Club TC

Leelanau State Park & Lighthouse

Leelanau State Park
15310 N Lighthouse Point Rd, Northport, MI 49670

Covering over 1500 acres of land, this state park features a rustic campground, lighthouse, and playground. A separate section of the park, located a fewmiles to the south, is where you’ll find hiking trails leading out to Lake Michigan.

Note: A Michgian Recreation Passport is required to enter any portion of the State Park.

Driving from Traverse City to Leelanau State Park will take you about an hour. It’s a picturesque drive but I wouldn’t make this a destination with little kids unless we were camping at the park or the kids really love lighthouses, hiking or rock hunting. While there is a neat playground on site, there really isn’t a lot for kids to do and there are places closer to civilization for hiking and rock hunting.

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse, built in 1850, is one of the oldest in Michigan. The first lighthouse constructed here was of poor quality and had to be replaced with the current structure about 10 years later.

Fun fact: If you are really into lighthouses, you can spend a week here (April – December) as a lighthouse keeper in their Keeper Program.  You’ll stay in the former assistant keeper’s quarters, greet visitors, provide historical information, and more. The cost is $150 per week per person and you’ll have to fill out an application.

For those just wanting a visit, lighthouse admission is $5/adult, $2 for kids 6-12. Ages 5 and under are free. You’ll get to walk through the restored keeper’s dwelling and climb the tower for a great view.

Camping at Leelanau State Park

All camping at Leelanau State Park is rustic. Tents and RVs are allowed. Some Camper Cabins are available. You’ll be using vault toilets for this stay.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse Northport Michigan
Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Northport Michigan
Grand Traverse Lighthouse tower Northport Michigan
Grand Traverse Lighthouse tower Northport Michigan
Leelanau State Park Map
Playground Leelanau State park Northport MI
Playground at Leelanau State Park in Northport MI
Rocky Beach Near Lighthouse at Leelanau State Park in Northport MI
Rocky Beach Near Lighthouse at Leelanau State Park in Northport MI

Pick Fruit & Flowers – And Visit the Animals

Bulldog Berries
7187 East Harrys Rd Traverse City, MI 49684

They are a U-Pick and wholesale strawberry & blueberry farm just outside of Traverse City, MI on the Leelanau Peninsula. Berry picking starts in early July. Call for updated info: (231) 360-9964

Bohemian Lavendar Farm
8181 S Shimek Rd, Maple City, MI 49664

This lavendar farm, operated by the local Shimek family, consists of thousands of lavendar plants. They run a lavendar U-Pick operation in July and August along with a small lavendar shop in their 100+ year old barn.

Stop by to have a picnic, pick lavendar, shop, or just stroll the fields.

Polish Heritage Farm
6421 E Glazier Dr Cedar, MI 49621

Polish Hertigae Farm is a small family farm in Cedar, MI on the Leelanau Peninsula.

They raise hogs, goats, chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl on their 14-acre homestead. 

Along with livestock, they tend a market garden that they use to fill their onsite market stand during the summer months.  Check with them about their farm tours – they love giving them!

The market stand is open dawn til dusk and is self serve.
Farm tours available by appointment. 231-835-2464

Omena Cut Flowers U-Pick
12401 E Freeland Rd, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Omena Cut Flowers is a U-Pick flower farm located 7 miles north of Suttons Bay on M-22 in Leelanau County. They are open dawn ’til dusk daily, May- October and offer 29 beds to pick from with over 50 varieties to choose from.

Hallstedt Homestead Cherries & U-Pick Flowers
8227 N Matheson Rd, Northport, MI 49670

Hallstedt Homestead is a first generation, locally owned orchard selling eat-off-the-tree varieties of sweet cherries on the Leelanau Peninsula.

Their flower garden produces over 100 species and varieties of annual, perennial, and biennial flowers from May through September. Customers are welcome to pick their own flowers or purchase fresh-cut bouquets at their farm stand.

Jacob’s Farm
7100 East Traverse Hwy, M-72 West, Traverse City, MI

This farm is on the county line but we’re including it in the Leelanau County list of things to do. Visitors come to this Michigan Centennial farm not only for the maze experience, but also for the You-Pick berry farm, farm market, wagon rides, pumpkin patch, and apple orchard.

U-Pick strawberries, saskatoon berries, peaches, and apples are available at Jacob’s Farm in season.


Eat Fresh-on-the-Farm Tacos

Cedar Sol Tacos
9452 S Cedar Rd, Cedar, MI 49621

Some of the tastiest tacos in the north are out in the “middle of nowhere” at the Cedar Sol Taco stand.

What makes these tacos so special is that Cedar Sol Hydro Farm is one of Michigan’s largest outdoor hydroponic farms. This growing method saves a ton of water and land and it’s what is used to grow the ingredients used to make your tacos.

Another perk at Cedar Sol? The view. They’re on a bluff overlooking Cedar Valley. Definitely make this a stop if you’re in the area.

Check their Facebook page for current taco stand hours.

cedar sol taco stand
Cedar Sol Taco Stand in Leelanau County

Make a Pit Stop at Cherry Republic

Cherry Republic | Glen Arbor
6026 A, 5109, S Lake St, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

This is Cherry Republic HQ. The mothership. The must-stop destination for anyone remotely interested in all things cherry.

This Cherry Republic destination is like a fairytale. Welcoming outdoor spaces filled with perennial gardens, paired with the cherry-inspired fare, make this a space like no other.

Stop in to sample cherry products, grab lunch or ice cream, or just lounge in their family-friendly indoor/outdoor spaces.

Cherry Republic, Glen Arbor Michigan
Outdoor Seating and Play Area at Cherry Republic
cherry republic retail area
Choosing Cherry Treats to Bring Home is a Highlight
cherry republic samples
Yummy Cherry Republic Samples

Glen Arbor, Michigan

The little town of Glen Arbor, Michigan, so sleepy in the past, is now on the map as a coveted summer vacation destination.

(It’s the home of the Cherry Republic mentioned in #21.)

Nestled between the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Glen Lake, this village swells in size in the summer. As a result, it’s one of the few places to find services and amenities in this part of the Leelanau Peninsula.

Don’t be fooled into thinking big-town thoughts here, though. There is one small, well-stocked grocery, several restaurants, lovely boutiques, art galleries, recreational outfitters, a few lodging options, and a post office. There are also a couple of small places to access Lake Michigan. This walking map is helpful.

Here are a few favorites not to miss in Glen Arbor:

Glen Arbor Township Park
The corner of State Street & S M-22, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

The big draw here: the playground and pickleball courts. The park also has tennis courts, basketball courts, outdoor workout equipment, walking path and sidewalks, grassy areas, pavilions, public restrooms, a water bottle filling station, swings, and benches.

Glen Arbor Garden
S Lake St, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Public restrooms, open May – November. Includes a kiosk with visitor info, walking maps, benches, and grassy areas.

Glen Arbor Boat Launch
The boat ramp at the end of Lake Street is for Seasonal and Commercial Boats to access Lake Michigan from Glen Arbor. $5 daily use fee is payable at the launch site.

Glen Arbor Farmer’s Market
6394 Western Ave, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Located behind the Town Hall. The market runs on Tuesdays from 9 am -1 pm, June 8 – September 14, 2021. 

Glen Arbor Township Park
Glen Arbor Township Park after the Park Updates in 2018
glen arbor township park playground
Unique Play Equipment at Glen Arbor Township Park Playground
good harbor grill glen arbor
Good Harbor Grill, Glen Arbor
boone docks restaurant glen arbor mi
Boonedocks Restaurant, Glen Arbor
Glen Arbor Boat Launch on Lake Michigan
Glen Arbor Boat Launch on Lake Michigan

Northport, Michigan

You will never accidentailly find yourself in Northport.

Located at the tip of Michigan’s “pinkie,” it takes intent to make it all the way to this village. With a population of less than 1000 people, you might be surprised that this little burg packs a punch in the summertime.

Cute shops, restaurants, and a busy harbor are what draw people to the main street. The Farmer’s Market, Music in the Park, and believe it or not – an annual Dog Parade are social highlights of the year.

This is also your last stop on the way to Leelanau State Park, so if you need gas or food, fuel up.

northport michigan leelanau county
Downtown Northport, MI
northport michigan leelanau county
Annual Northport MI Dog Parade. Photo: Northport Chamber
Harbor Northport Michigan
Northport Harbor

Let the Littles Play at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum

Great Lakes Children’s Museum
13240 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684

Hands-on, inquiry-based, educational fun for all ages. Free parking.

Capacity Limited – Reservations Recommended. Reserve tickets online ahead of time.

Great Lakes Children’s Museum

Bike the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail or Leelanau Trail

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a 21-mile, mostly paved, trail that traverses the diverse landscape of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Some sections are relatively flat, while others have steep sections. (See map for details). You need a Park Pass to use the trails and trailhead.

The Leelanau Trail is paved and runs north/south up the Leelanau Peninsula from the Grand Traverse County line up to Suttons Bay.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Lake Leelanau

Lake Leelanua is a name that belongs to both a lake and a small unicorporated community on M-204. This community is located at the “narrows” – a spot where a bridge crosses the narrowest section of the lake.

The body of water named Lake Leelanau is 21 miles long and runs north/south on the Leelanau peninsula. It empties into Lake Michigan via the Leland River on the north end.

Lake Leelanau is a fantastic lake for swimming and water sports. If it weren’t located in such close proximity to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, Lake Michigan, and the Grand Traverse Bay, it might have more name recognition. As it stands right now, it’s a bit of a sleeper hit known to locals and those who’ve visited the area before.

With that said, there are a few places on Lake Leelanau that are perfect family vacation destinations.

Nedow’s Bay (Bartholomew Park)
1221 Juniper Trail, Leland, MI 49654

This is a wonderful family beach and park, especially when the big lake is too cold or too windy.

Located in the village of Leland, this park includes a beach, lifeguard (in the past, not sure of current lifeguard status), a dock, grills, fire pit, picnic tables, and boat launch.

Fountain Point Resort
990 S Lake Leelanau Dr, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

Located on the shores of Lake Leelanau, Fountain Point is one of the oldest historic resorts in the state of Michigan, second only to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. A visit to this historic hotel and collection of cabins transports visitors to times gone by, but with the comforts of today.

A large, sandy beach, waterfront bonfires, boat rentals are just some of the amenities found here.

The resort offers hotel rooms on a nightly basis, and cottages for weekends, 5-day Sunday-Friday stays, or by the week.

Lake Leelanau RV Park
3101 S Lake Shore Dr, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

Lake Leelanau RV Park is an upscale camping resort set on the shores of Lake Leelanau with 800 feet of frontage. The beach has a large, shallow sandy swimming area.

The park rents boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and more.

At the Lodge, patrons can play pickleball, shuffleboard, and horseshoes among other things. Park acitvities, a plaground and full service camping sites round out the experience.

Map showing the location of Lake Leelanua, the Body of Water
Fountain Point Resort on Lake Leelanau
Lake Leelanau RV Park
Leelanau Peninsula Glen Arbor Leland

About The Author

2 thoughts on “Leelanau Peninsula: 25+ Best Things to Do, Including Leland, Northport, Empire & Glen Arbor Michigan”

  1. In the section covering Northport MI, a picture was as Northport harbor, when in fact it is the G. Marsten Dame Marina, an important point since it represents one of many references about the Dame family that founded Northport.

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