The Grand Traverse region, known as the “Little Finger” of Michigan’s Mitt, is big on activities. Traverse City is a shopper’s dream, with boutiques, galleries, and antique and specialty stores lining the historic downtown streets. Enjoy the great outdoors on hiking trails and bike paths, and canoeing and kayaking on the Pine, Boardman and Betsie Rivers. Experienced kayakers like to explore the waters of Lake Michigan, near the enormous sand dunes of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
This area boasts many fine golf courses and two wine trails, the Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association and the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, plus acres and acres of cherry orchards.
A short drive around the peninsulas takes in the picturesque villages of Leland and its Fishtown, Suttons Bay, and several lighthouses, including Old Mission Point, the Grand Traverse light at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, and Point Betsie lighthouse at Frankfort.
Further north along the shore Petoskey, a Victorian resort town, is known for world class Boyne golf, Gaslight District shopping, “Million Dollar Sunsets,” and its association with Ernest Hemingway, who spent the summers of his youth in the area.
Neighboring Harbor Springs is the starting point of the scenic stretch of M-119 known as the “Tunnel of Trees.” Bicyclists often share the route to Cross Village and the Polish American food at Legs Inn. From there it’s a short drive to Mackinaw City and Colonial Michilimackinac, an 18th century fort at the historic Straits of Mackinac. Kids love Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and its Forest Canopy Bridge and Eagle’s Flight Zip Line.
Leave the car behind and hop a ferry to Mackinac Island for a day or overnight trip back in time. No motorized vehicles area allowed, so touring to Fort Mackinac or the state park sites is done on foot, two wheels, or under the original horsepower. Island ferries run from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula. The two peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge, a five-mile engineering marvel that spans the Straits of Mackinac where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.