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Exploring Leelenau Peninsula

DAY 3

Kurt wanted to check out the Leelanau peninsula today so that’s what we did. We started out with brunch at Patisserie Amie, a French place I found on yelp. We both had crepes and coffee which were excellent. I could have gone for champagne as well but knew we had a full day of wine tasting ahead and didn’t want to start too early.

We drove up the eastern side of M-22, stopping first at Brengman Brothers winery where we sipped some wine (our first wine tasting!!) but I’m not sure we bought anything. We ended up with two cases of wine after our trip so we bought some wine somewhere but I lost track of what from where.

Kurt wanted to stop at Black Star winery since he had tasted some wine from there at the Grand Rapids wine fest last fall that he wanted to see if he could find. I don’t think we found that particular one but I know we walked out of there with quite a few bottles.

From there we drove through Suttons Bay and up to Leelanau Cellars. They’re located right on Grand Traverse Bay tucked into their own Omena Bay. It was sparkling blue waters as far as the eye could see. Their tasting rooms by far have one of the best views – all lake and boats. You could eat here, too, but we didn’t. Bought about six bottles from here. All super yummy.

After that we cut across Leelanau peninsula and headed towards Leland, stopping to take some vista type pictures along the way. It’s seriously gorgeous out here. I love it.

Leland was quaint and just as I remembered. Bought some sandwiches from a place that was closing for the day at 5 PM. Also stopped in at Verterra Winery which is tucked down a side street in Leland. They ended up being one of my favorite wineries. I especially loved their unoaked Chardonnay. I’m not really a Chardonnay drinker but the very nice lady explained it could be that I don’t like the oak. Most Chardonnays are oaked but they had one that wasn’t and I loved it. Definitely bought some of that along with their Chaos Sparkler and Chaos Red (a super smooth easy drinking red). We’ll definitely be back!

On our way to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to watch the sunset (something we did on our honeymoon up here nine years ago), we bumped into the old abandoned Sugar Loaf Resort. Somehow Kurt thought it was the same one I found a couple years ago that was for sale for like $300K but I didn’t think it was the same one. Still took a ton of pictures and looked it up online and found that it’s still for sale for $8.7 million. It’s been vacant for 15 years. Yikes. Can’t afford that!

Made it to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive tucked into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park just at sunset. Got to watch the whole sunset this time. What a gorgeous location.

Road Trip to Elk Rapids, Petosky and Harbor Springs

DAY 2

Today we took a drive up the Lake Michigan coast to check out Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Petosky and Harbor Springs. It’s surprising that I’ve never made it up to these places (that I can remember). It was another gorgeous sunny day and part of me wondered if we should be spending the day on the beach.

First stop we made was in Elk Rapids. We drove through the small downtown to the waters edge where we stopped and took some pics of the water.

After the pics, Kurt and I had lunch outside at TJ Charlie’s – this cute little diner. I loved that the older guy sitting outside knew everyone. Everyone that passed by said “Hey Joe” and stopped to talk with him. He was sitting with a younger guy (mid 20s) and talking about the history of the town (all the inside scoop) which I found fascinating. I wish I could have pulled up a chair and talked with him. I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded.

Inside a bunch of older ladies were playing bridge. It was like walking into someone’s grandma’s house. I loved it. I wish I could have pulled up a chair and played with them, too. It looked like the kind of thing that they did every week (or even every day). Monday bridge club or something. I want to belong to something cool like that. 

Kurt drove straight through Charlevoix and Petosky up to Harbor Springs. We made one stop off at a turn off so I could take more pictures of the water. I don’t remember Charlevoix at all and took zero pictures there.

Harbor Springs was small and you could tell it dripped money but in a subtle summer cottage sort of way. Everything felt a bit down played. We drove up the bay on the road literally right on the water, taking in all the expansive super green and perfect manicured lawns rolling up to super huge houses with gorgeous views and docks jutting out into the bay. Yes – I’d love to live here.

We drove back down to Petosky and stopped so I could browse some shops. By this time it was around 5 PM and shops were starting to close. Spent some time in an art gallery type shop (which I loved) and their hardware store that had a bunch of home type stuff.

For dinner we stopped at Knot Just a Bar just outside of Petosky in this cool newer development community. They had a bunch of condos hanging off cliffs and their own little bay and marina. We sat outside again. It was a gorgeous night. The sun was just setting. Ordered another chicken cherry salad and Kurt had fried perch (his favorite). Had some beers. It was nice to just sit and relax and watch the sun dip behind the mansions on the peninsula.

The Trek to Traverse Begins

DAY 1

What really should be a six hour trip ended up taking my husband Kurt and I about 10 hours. Yes – we had a lot of stops but not enough to make up for the missing four hours.

One of the first stops we made (after a quick lunch in Michigan City, Indiana, and at Michigan’s mile marker one to grab an arm load of magazines and brochures) was in Grand Haven, Michigan. We skated through Grand Haven the last time we were driving down from Whitehall, Michigan, in August but didn’t spend any real time there. I had wanted to grab a pretzel from this crazy good bakery but they were closed. Ended up doing dinner at the Grand Haven Brew House downtown. It wasn’t anything spectacular but somewhat quick with an extensive list of beer that we didn’t try since we still had a ways to drive.

We made it as far as Ludington, Michigan, just as the sun was setting. We drove through the wind turbine generator farm–a truly gorgeous sight to see at dusk. We drove to Lake Michigan hoping to catch a glimpse of the sunset but just missed it. Took pictures anyway.