Exploring the Old Mission Peninsula on M-37

Just north of Traverse City, the Old Mission Peninsula is a narrow finger of land extending into the center of Grand Traverse Bay. It’s 22 miles long and in some places as little as a mile wide: a beautiful patchwork of orchards, vineyards, forests and villages that’s especially lovely in fall.

Highway M-37, known by locals as Center Road, shows you the best of this magical place. It’s perfect for a half-day drive that combines fall color with beautiful views, visits to wineries and fruit stands, and unforgettable meals at charming restaurants.

The first winery you’ll encounter is just past the crest of the first hill, it’s the Old Mission vineyard and tasting room of Black Star Farms, established on the site of the former Underwood farm. At the bottom of the hill, rising up on the left, is the Italian stone villa that houses Mari Vineyards, the peninsula’s newest winery.

For the next few miles the road runs along the shoreline with its ducks, docks, birds and boats, then begins to rise again. On the right you’ll see a former one-room schoolhouse. (The Peninsula once had seven of them, and five are still in use.) It’s the tasting room of Peninsula Cellars. Across the road and up the hill is the relaxed new Bonobo Winery.

Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

At the summit of the hill, there’s a scenic treat: a lovely overlook with splendid views of both arms of the Bay – a favorite place for watching sunsets, storms and other natural displays. It overlooks the sprawling vineyards of Chateau Grand Traverse, the first winery established on the Peninsula.  As the road descends the hill, continue to enjoy the scenery along with the fruit and vegetable stands that will be increasingly noticeable on both sides of the road. Stop by for some fresh apples, plums, beans, squash and other locally-grown goodies!

Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Just ahead is the village of Mapleton, one of the Peninsula’s two small towns, home to the laid-back Peninsula Grill and Bad Dog Deli, as well as a handy grocery store, the Peninsula Market, which has the only gas pump out here.

From Mapleton, the road leads north over a razor-thin bluff known as the Hog’s Back, (with wonderful views of East Bay to the right) and rises even higher to the imposing Chateau Chantal Winery Bed & Breakfast. Over the next hill you’ll find the Old Mission Tavern, a charming eatery that has its own art gallery, the Bella Galleria.

Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

One last hill takes you down past cherry orchards, vineyards and tall rows of hops with great views of Old Mission Village to the right. Here, as the highway makes a gentle turn to the east, you’ll enter Lighthouse Park, home to the picturesque Mission Point Lighthouse, built in 1870. Although it is no longer in operation, it is open for tours and is the centerpiece of an attractive park with popular beaches, historical exhibits and extensive hiking trails.

Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

What are your favorite memories of the Old Mission Peninsula? Share with us by commenting below!

Blogger Bio: Mike Norton majored in history at the University of Michigan and spent 25 years as a newspaper writer and columnist in Traverse City. For the past decade, he’s been director of media relations at Traverse City Tourism. He lives in the village of Old Mission.

No better time than Autumn in Northern Michigan’s Benzie County

Fall signals its arrival with the slow turning of leaves. Michigan’s 19 million acres of woods crescendo into vibrant crimsons, oranges and golds, finally exploding in their annual blaze of color inviting residents and travelers alike to take the open road.

If you’re looking to plan a Michigan roadtrip to view the colors, (and possibly check out a few events!) read why Benzie County in Northern Michigan is an ideal choice.

Autumn, when crowds retreat, the air is crisp and the landscape is ablaze with color, this is Benzie County, Northern Michigan Preserved®. Our pristine location offers time to reflect and experience the beauty of fall color.  Take the scenic M22 drive, which was named the “Most Scenic Autumn Drive” in the county by readers of USA Today in 2015. The beautiful drive takes you through three northern Michigan counties, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau and offers multiple opportunities for scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is breathtaking in the fall

Photo Courtesy of the Benzie County Chamber of Commerce

There are many fantastic fall events taking place during October throughout the area. Make your way to Fall Fest in Beulah/Benzonia on October 1 or Fall Fest in Frankfort and the Peak to Peak Mountain biking event on October 8.  Frankfort Beer week runs October 3-8, where you can enjoy delicious craft and seasonal brews and the Frankfort Film Festival (perfect for cinema lovers!) runs from October 20-23.  For ORV-enthusiasts, there are specific Saturday events that allow you to rev up your  ATV’s and 4×4  season long. The local-favorite Pumpkin Run takes place on October 22 and the Haunted Trail Ride (with ghosts, goblins, and more!) will take place  on October 29 at Twisted Trails Off Road Park off of M-115.

Benzie County is an ideal biking destination in the fall

Photo Courtesy of the Benzie County Chamber of Commerce

How about getting a bird’s eye view of the colors?  Every Saturday in October enjoy panoramic views of three counties at Crystal Mountain where you can ride the Crystal Clipper Quad Chairlift to the top of the mountain to enjoy the music.  Or take a tour of the most photographed lighthouse in Michigan, The Point Betsie, who’ll have lighthouse tours October 1-3 and 7-9.

The Point Betsie Light looks beautiful no matter the season

The Point Betsie Light looks beautiful no matter the season

If artisan crafts and foods peak your interest, then there’s no better place than Benzie County. Wineries, Breweries, Distilled Spirits, Artist Galleries and Farms will certainly round out your visit to our area.  So what are you waiting for? Start planning your autumn visit to see us.  Need more of an incentive?  Check out our Benzie Treasure Trove promotion that offers hundreds of dollars in freebies, discounts and gifts from area businesses, just for staying two or more consecutive nights at one of our participating lodging properties.  All the details on events, lodgings, dining, shopping and the Benzie Treasure Trove promotion can be found on our website, www.visitbenzie.com or call us at 800-882-5801.

What is your favorite memory from Benzie County? Share with us by commenting below!

End the Summer with a Splash at Shanty Creek Resorts

As the dog days of summer blend seamlessly into fall’s color season, the promises of Pure Michigan are abundant in Antrim County, home of Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire. And like all good getaways, a trip to Northern Michigan is balanced nicely when relaxation and recreation co-exist. Here you can accomplish that with boating, biking, and golf, which are plentiful and world-class. 

Read more on three ideal ways to end the summer when visiting Shanty Creek Resorts.

1. Make a splash in the lake

Famous for northern Michigan’s chain of lakes, Antrim County exemplifies Pure Michigan’s #LakeEffect with a seemingly endless set of inland lakes connected by rivers and waterways including Torch Lake, Elk Lake, Lake Bellaire, Intermediate Lake, and more. Here, a long day on the water means boating, fishing, water skiing, or simply splashing on the sandbar—so a little family fun in the sun is equally easy, always nearby, and camera-ready beautiful.

Explore the many waterways near Shanty Creek via boat or kayak

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

2. Bicyclists, rejoice!

The roads of Antrim County provide long, rolling climbs and descents while the single tracks within Glacial Hills Pathways offer 32+ miles of exquisitely designed trails. Racers can test their mettle on August 21 as FunPromotions brings its race series to town with the Glacial Hills Challenge. And for those intimidated by the terrain of Antrim County, SCR has a fleet of e-bikes available for rent (electric motor-assisted pedaling!) that make riding a bike even easier.

Take a ride on the Glacial Hills Pathway for an exhilarating biking adventure

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

3. Fore!

The four golf courses of Shanty Creek provide options for bucket list golfers and beginners alike. For aficionados, choose from the highly touted Tom Weiskopf masterpiece, Cedar River GC, or The Legend by Arnold Palmer; for beginners and families, play The Summit with its PGA 2.0 initiatives designed to Grow the Game–par three tees and big cups on every hole, plus FootGolf on the back nine. And for those looking for a little something extra, ditch the cart and play the Schuss Mtn course on a GolfBoard.

The golf scene is immaculate at Shanty Creek

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

August in Bellaire is not without its share of traditions: the 29th annual Rubber Ducky Festival takes place on Saturday, Aug 20. Then one week later, Aug 26-28, a newer tradition takes flight as Balloons Over Bellaire showcases hot air balloons taking off throughout the weekend from atop Summit Mountain, one of Shanty’s two ski areas.

Check out Balloons over Bellaire for a colorful sight

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resorts

There’s still plenty to see and do before the kids head back to school. But if you can’t fit a quick trip in now, don’t forget our majestic fall colors will be in-bloom soon.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting Shanty Creek Resorts? Share with us by commenting below!