One of the things I am most grateful for this uncertain time is being able to spend the summer in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan! Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful spots in the world thanks to its charming small towns, fresh Lake Michigan waters, endless wineries and restaurants and so much more, there truly is no place better, especially in the summer! I’ve shared my weekend guide and favorite spots before but wanted to break down my top 10 things to do in the summer for your next visit to Northern Michigan!
Top 10 Things To Do In Northern Michigan In Summer:
1. Visit the wineries and breweries
Northern Michigan has some of the best wineries and breweries in the country, and the views don’t hurt either! In Traverse City, you can spend an entire day touring the wineries along Old Mission Peninsula. Last summer pre-Covid, we rented a driver for the day to take us on a winery tour and I couldn’t recommend it more! Some of my favorite spots are Brys Estate (known for their frosé!), Chateau Chantal for the views, Mari Vineyards that feels like you’re in Italy, Bonobo Winery and Bowers Harbor which also has some amazing hard ciders.
Northern Michigan is also known for having some of the best breweries, like Short’s Brewing in Bellaire who make one of my favorite beers, Soft Parade. I also love TC Whiskey Co., Rare Bird Brewpub and 7 Monks Taproom in downtown Traverse City if looking for a place to meet up for drinks!
2. Hike the Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in the Glen Arbor area and known for their huge sand dunes and beaches. One of my favorite parts is Pyramid Point, which is about a twenty minute hike that brings you to the most breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. It’s why Good Morning America named it the most beautiful place in America a few years ago!
3. Take a drive along M-22
M-22 is the highway that follows the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Leelanau Peninsula, which passes through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as well as charming towns of Leland and Suttons Bay. The views are gorgeous as you follow the water and a great way to stop and see the downtowns, wineries and restaurants of so many small towns! This famous highway is also a favorite NoMi clothing brand, M22, if looking for a souvenir!
4. Have a picnic on the beach
One of the meals I miss the most when not at home is grabbing sandwiches from my favorite lunch spots! A perfect summer day for me is grabbing lunch from either Mary’s Kitchen Port (known for their famous gobbler sandwiches!) or Chef’s In and bringing it out on boat for the day! If you’re out in Leland, a sandwich from The Village Cheese Shanty, a must try!
5. Shop downtown
Northern Michigan’s towns are known for their downtowns having such a unique mix of small businesses, from clothing stores to restaurants to bookstores to art galleries. Shopping in our areas you won’t find any chain stores so I love being able to support some of my favorite small businesses while home. In downtown TC, some of my favorites include Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, Brilliant Books, BLK MKT for coffee and of course my mom’s clothing store Cherry Hill Boutique.
6. Dine at local favorites
With its abundance of farms and fresh waters, Northern Michigan has some of the best restaurants serving incredible farm to table meals. From whitefish to cherry pies to sweet corn, the best summer meals can be found here. My favorite restaurant list is long but my go-to’s when I’m home are Red Ginger for Asian fusion, Mama Lu’s for tacos and margaritas, The Little Fleet for fun food trucks and cocktails, Amical for their every changing menu and The Boathouse for a special night on the water.
For dessert, a pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company is always a win, a frosted sugar cookie from Potter’s Bakery or ice cream from the famous Moomers or my favorite soft serve spots Wares Bro’s, Bardon’s or The Dairy Lodge.
7. Go fruit and flower picking
Driving around Northern Michigan, you are constantly surrounded by fruit and flower farms so it’s a must to stop at them of course! Traverse City is known for their cherries but I also love visiting the Brys Estate Secret Garden for their fresh lavender in July, Old Mission Flowers for U-Pick bouquets, Buchan’s Blueberry Hill for blueberries and the weekly Saturday morning downtown Farmer’s Market for all of the local farmers to come together to sell the best of the local produce.
8. Get on the water
The best part of being in Northern Michigan is being on some of the most beautiful water in the world. Whether you head out to Lake Michigan or go boating on the bays closer to town, the fresh water is known for being a stunning Caribbean blue. Along with swimming, try a fun activity on the water such as paddle boarding, kayaking, boating or parasailing!
9. Golf the local courses
Northern Michigan is known for being a vacation spot all year long so for the summer, hitting the many courses is a favorite for many. While I am not the biggest golfer (trying!), growing up in the golf industry has allowed me to visit so many of the gorgeous courses and resorts in the area.
Most importantly when visiting Northern Michigan, the number one thing to do is to relax! It’s amazing how much more calm I am when home. Sleep in, have that extra glass of wine, spend your day floating on the water and have fun!