This M22 Scenic Drive Day Trip to Northport is a full day! It’s a great way to spend your first day in the area. The tour will take you along the shoreline of the entire Leelanau Peninsula on the M22 Scenic Highway. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the quaint little villages of Empire, Glen Arbor, Leland, Northport and Suttons Bay. This is an all day trip and caters towards adults because of the amount of driving time. The total loop will be approximately 100 miles of driving (no more than 20 minutes between stops) plus a 2.8 mile hike plus exploring the downtown districts of the Leelanau Peninsula. Budget at least 6 to 8 hours total depending on the length of your stops.
Start: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Start your trip by visiting the Philip A. Hart Visitors Center in Empire.
- Purchase your park pass in person or buy an Annual Pass Online Here.
- Head North on M22 then turn left at M109 toward the historic Village of Glen Haven.
- If it’s a windy day, hike the Alligator Hill Trail. This is a 2.8-mile round trip hike with a gradual incline to the lookout point.
- If it’s not a windy day hike the Sleeping Bear Point Trail. This is also a 2.8 mile hike but gets windy at the point.
Each of these hike will take a little over an hour and are moderately difficult.
- After your hike it’s a short drive to Glen Arbor.
Stop Two: Glen Arbor
- While in Glen Arbor check out Cherry Republic.
- Grab a bite to eat at Art’s Tavern or Boonedocks before hitting the road for Leland and Fishtown. Both places have outdoor seating.
- If you don’t want to take the time for a sit down lunch order a sandwich for pickup from Market 22 about 10 minutes outside Glen Arbor.
- After Lunch, take the M22 scenic drive to Leland and then Northport at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.
Stop Three: Leland
- While in Leland be sure to see Fish Town.
- There are many unique shops downtown Leland.
- If you’re feeling adventurous have a Chubby Mary at The Cove.
- If you’re really hungry get the “North Shore” sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty.
- The Cove and Village Cheese Shanty get really busy on weekends so it’s best to call ahead for reservations at The Cove or your sandwich order at the Village Cheese Shanty.
- When you’re done in Leland head north on M22 to Northport.
Stop Four: Northport
- The Village of Northport sits near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula
- While in Northport take a walk through the marina and check out the boats with the turquoise water of Lake Michigan.
- The downtown district has several eclectic shops and galleries.
- Mitten Brewing is a great spot to sit outside and have a beer if you’re not into shopping.
- Just north of Northport is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse located at the Leelanau State Park.
- The next stop is Suttons Bay.
- Head south on M22.
Stop Five: Suttons Bay
- Suttons Bay is loaded with specialty shops, galleries and unique dining experiences.
- The Traverse Area Recreational Trail (TART Trail) ends in Suttons Bay, so you can ride your bike the 30 miles or so from Traverse City all the way to Suttons Bay.
- Just south of town is the very popular Hop Lot Brewing.
- Hop Lot has food, beer, cider, wine and outdoor seating with several firepits. In the winter they have igloos that can be reserved.
End: Dinner in Traverse City
- On the way back to Sleeping Bear Resort stop for dinner at Apache Trout Grill or West End Tavern.
- Apache Trout Grill has indoor and outdoor seating along West Grand Traverse Bay. Entrees will be $25 to $30
- West End Tavern is more moderately priced and has great burgers and wood fired pizza. They have a great outdoor space overlooking the marina and Grand Traverse Bay.
- Neither restaurant takes reservations so get there early or plan on waiting for a table.