Northern Michigan - Seeing Glen Arbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, Petosky and Charlevoix.
Michigan is such a beautiful state to explore especially in the summer, and fall. Although my favorite season of all is summer because it is so lush and green and the lake is warm enough to swim in, fall is a close second because the colors are breath taking.
It was close to the end of summer (almost fall) of 2017 that my little family and I took some time to do some more exploration of this beautiful state we currently call home. We planned out a road trip starting in Grand Rapids and ending in the upper peninsula.
In this blog post, I'll describe some of the beautiful places we visited on this road trip. I'm writing this to commemorate the beginning of fall and to inspire you to explore Michigan this fall or maybe to think about it for next summer!
Our first stop was Glen Arbor. It is a cute town located between Sleeping Bear Bay and Glen lakes. There were so many cute shops and restaurants, truly a quaint summer/fall escape. As you would expect, we stopped at the beach and it was beautiful. The water was turquoise and looked just like the ocean with the added bonus of being unsalted. A few recommenced shopping spots are The Cottage Book Shop and Cherry Republic of Glen Arbor.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes was on the top of our list for this road trip. This national park covers 35 miles of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline. We spent a whole day here and it felt like we didn't have enough time. There was just so much to explore! I imagine that even if we spent a few days, one would still feel like we had a lot left to see.
Within the national park, there are lots of beaches, and trails. We picked an accessible one, Esch Beach. It was beautiful, had few visitors, and it had a parking lot that was only a short walk to the beach. This was a huge plus given that we had a 1 year old with us.
Tobe really enjoyed playing in the inlet stream that was on the beach. This is a unique feature on Esch Beach. The stream was warmer than the lake. This beach is a family friendly one and it is picturesque. But the amazing thing about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is that there are so many other beaches with striking views. Many of them require some hiking into but the views and privacy at these beaches is the reward for the hike. Esch beach didn't require any hiking and it was beautiful so win, win, win. I highly recommend it.
We walked the first level of the sand dunes with a baby on my hips. I thought that was pretty impressive. There was a great aerial view from the first level but nothing compared to what can be seen at the summit. I really wanted to go to the top but strollers don't do well in the sand and it is no easy task carrying a baby up dunes. If you visit the dunes, I recommend climbing all the way to the top. The views of the lake at the top is worth the climb.
A favorite among michiganders and visitors alike, Traverse City is a must see when visiting this part of Michigan. It is the main inland port of the Grand Traverse Bay. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in the Traverse City Peninsula (Old Mission Peninsula). It is a quiet and more exclusive part of town.
The drive up to our bed and breakfast was so scenic. I really enjoyed being away from the bustle of the main city. Traverse City is an area that is known for its wineries. I enjoyed views of the vineyards. We tried some local wines which were great.
We had dinner at the Peninsula Grill. The food and the service was good. There was a country store close by called Peninsula Market. It was a fun little convineice store that had all the supplies we needed to restock for the rest of our road trip. The Peninsula store also had some local baked goods and food. Staying in the Peninsula was a very relaxing portion of our trip. The following day we spent the day at the beach before heading up to Charlevoix.
Although we stopped at Charlevoix first, I would like to talk about Petosky here because it is one area of Michigan that is underrated. I didn't get any pictures of us in Petosky. Part of me wishes that I did, but its okay that I didn't. Sometimes it is okay to just enjoy and capture the memories.
Petosky is less touristy than traverse city but just as beautiful. The water is colder here because it is more northern.
We had lunch here and enjoyed an afternoon at the beach at the Petosky state park. As you would expect from Lake Michigan, the beach was pristine with turquoise waters. Every summer, I feel so lucky to live in Michigan. It almost makes up for the long winters, almost.
Picturesque is the word to describe Charlevoix. There is great shopping and food here. Of all our stops in this post, this was my favorite. In the summer, it is a bustling little town. It is a little less busy in the fall.
Lots of people come to Charlevoix to take the Ferry to Beaver Island, the largest island on Lake Michigan. There are lots of summer activities there. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to visit.
We spent an entire day in Charlevoix, soaking up the sun, watching the boats come and go from the Round Lake Channel, and doing some shopping. We had lunch at the Harwood Gold Cafe, a cute restaurant with English and Australian influences. We had meat pies that were phenomenal. We plan to visit Charlevoix many times in the future.
After a fun day in Charlevoix, we began the second part of our road trip, driving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'll tell you all about it in the second part of this exploring Michigan blog post. Thank you for reading.