All The Reasons You’ll Fall In Love with Leelanau County Michigan

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A recent road trip found me making my way northwest towards Leland, a small town in Leelanau County (aka wine country), just west of Traverse City, Michigan.

Leelanau Pennisula drive

Driving past farm fields and forested land I eventually found myself turning onto M-22.

The road circles the peninsula and sticks close to the shore.

The drive offers up glimpses of the beautiful blue waters of Lake Michigan.

Leelanau Pennisula drive

That is a little secret about our lake up north. The colors of Lake Michigan are an amazing variety of blues from aquamarine to turquoise to dark blue.

I’ve sat by this lake a hundred times and it’s ever-changing colors never gets old.

Leelanau Pennisula

It has been a while since I’d made my way to this part of Michigan and I couldn’t have been happier to return.

This is truly a little piece of paradise with unique charm, amazing landscapes, delicious food and wine, and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Leland Lodge

I was in Leland for a small blogger retreat where our group could explore the area while learning from one another on how to grow our businesses.

It is a perfect work retreat destination.

Historic Fishtown Leland MI

Where to Play in Leland, MI {Leelanau County}

Explore Historic Fishtown

I adore historic Fishtown which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

The shanty shops, the fishing boats, drying fishing nets laid out in the sun, the dam, and watching the river meet the lake, makes it a very unique destination in the state.

Hike Pyramid Point at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes was selected as one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. by ABCs Good Morning America. This, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Michigan.

There are many places to hike, but the easiest hike with the best views is Pyramid Point. Be sure to pick up a park map at the visitors center or when you drive into the park.

The views from this hike are amazing. As far as you can see there are pretty blue waters and sand dunes.

You could honestly make a day of visiting the sand dunes, but if you are short on time definitely make a point to visit Pyramid Point. You won’t be disappointed.

Leelanau Penninsula Leland

Take A Boat Ride

During the summer head over to the Narrows Yacht Club where you can rent a pontoon or fishing boat for half or full day trips. I recommend a 1/2 day in the late afternoon so that you can enjoy the beauty of watching the sky turn to dusk.

If you’d like a sunset boat ride from Lake Michigan head over to historic Fishtown and hop aboard the Manitou Island Transit for an evening cruise that begins at 630p and goes until about 8p.

Boathouse Winery

Wine Tours

Let Grand Traverse Adventure Company be your guide and driver for a wine tour of Leelanau County. They take a leisurely pace and visit some of the best wineries in the region.

Of course, they are open to your recommendations or you can leave the winery choices in their hands.

I would recommend at stop at L. Mawby for Sex, but beyond that, you won’t go wrong with any of the stops.

In addition to the wineries, there is a brewery, hard cider house, and a distillery.

Where to Eat in Leland, MI {Leelanau County}

The Cove Leland MI Historic Fishtown

The Cove

The perfect place for lunch or dinner with a relaxed atmosphere. The Cove is located at the Leland Dam with views of Historic Fishtown and Lake Michigan.  Be sure to ask for a window seat or, if the weather is great, take a seat on the patio.

chubby mary

Famous for their Chubby Marys which is a Bloody Mary complete with a smoked whole chub fish in the cocktail. Everyone that tried one really liked it. I just can’t do the whole fish thing, but if smoked fish is your thing this is a must try.

whitefish the cove

I highly recommend ordering one of their whitefish meals. There is garlic parmesan whitefish, campfire whitefish, or whitefish and chips.

I had the garlic parmesan whitefish and it was fantastic. A couple of other friends tried the campfire whitefish and had good things to say as well.

We tried each of the desserts: cheesecake, homemade cherry pie, and key lime pie. They were all very tasty.

Mitten Brewery 2

Mitten Brewery

A Grand Rapids brewery with a location in Northport. The Mitten Brewery offers up a number of brews on tap and a few that are no longer on tap but are still available on by the bottle.

In addition to beers, there are also ciders. We tried a flight of all the beers and none were left on the table by the time we left so no complaints from the group.

Mitten Brewery 2

Beyond the beer, we indulged in the largest pretzel I’ve ever seen with a few different dipping sauces and whitefish dip with pita chips.

Leland lodge 9

Bogey’s 19th Hole

Located in Leland Lodge and overlooking the golf course and Lake Leelanau. 19th Bogey offers up some great options from burgers, sandwiches, amazing Brussel sprouts, and fish dinners.

Leland lodge 9

In addition to delicious bites, the bar has a great selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

blue boat coffee

Blue Boat Coffee

Located in downtown Leland this small coffee shop is a must for getting your caffeine fix. Offering up specialty coffees and delicious treats to pair with it. A must stop when you’re in town.

idyll farms - goats in pajamas

Unique Gifts and Treats from Leelanau County

IdyllFarms 2

Idyll Farms Creamery

Idyll Farms is a goat farm and creamery located just north of Leland. They have certified-humane alpine goats that are pasture-fed through managed intensive rotational grazing. Lots of words for saying the goats are treated really, really well 🙂

I love that this is a woman-owned, woman-led business with women taking all the lead roles on the farm.

Everything is done in-house from pastures to the creamery where they create award-winning goat cheese. After tasting a sampling of their cheese I can see why they have won so many awards in the short seven years they’ve been in business. You can pick up goat cheese at local shops to enjoy back at home.

leland girl

Leland Gal

The Leland Gal has some serious cute home decor, gift, and fashion items. Plus, one of the most amazing sleep masks I’ve had the opportunity to use. So soft on the face and keeps the light out–perfect!

Be sure to check out her earring selection. These are going to be the lightest earring you ever wear. I heard a rumor that cherry shaped earrings are due to hit the shop any day so I’m holding out for a pair of those.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVgkWdB37c/

Two Fish Gallery

They curate the most unique and fun items you won’t find anywhere else. They offer a collection of Michigan and small artists with a coastal/cottage, whimsical twist.

I brought home a cup of sunshine with a succulent in it. I’ve found that succulents are the one house plant that I can actually keep alive.

https://www.instagram.com/p/2bj5MdOq5A/

Dam Candy Store

Seriously,  Fishtown’s most favorite sweet spot. Their wide variety of candies, ice cream and chocolates are sure to bring out the kid in you!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNbczHBEbD/

Farmhouse Candle Co

Specializing in small batch soy candles with unique and pure scents.

I brought a Bergamot + Amber scented candle home and, as a rule, I stick to very plain scents (think vanilla), but this one is perfect and not overwhelming!

graceland fruit

Graceland Fruit

Honestly, you can’t visit Leelanau County and not take home some dried cherries. These are great tossed in a salad or by the handful.

The great thing, beyond delicious dried fruit, is that you can find Graceland Fruits at a store near year, including Target!!

Boathouse VIneyards

Boathouse Vineyards

Located in the heart on Leelanau County and while there are lots of wineries to visit in the area you’ll want to stop at Boathouse for their outstanding, white, rose and red wines as well as delicious cider.

Leelanau Books

Leelanau Books

Stop in and find a new favorite by a local author, browse the excellent selection of books or read by the fire. This cozy bookshop has a great selection of reads and a very knowledgeable staff.

Northern Michigan loves to read as proven by the number of bookstores in the region.

leland lodge

Where to Stay in Leelanau County – Leland Lodge

My base for the retreat was the Leland Lodge. Located a very short jaunt from Historic Fishtown. The lodge provides perfect accommodations for small group retreats with 18 rooms and three cottages.

The original lodge was built in 1909 but sadly was demolished in a fire in 1926. Thankfully, the owners quickly rebuilt and reopened in 1927 under the name The New Nicholas Hotel.

It wasn’t until 1946 that a rebrand found the name the Leland Lodge which it has been ever since.

leland lodge

Upon check-in, which is a very easy process, you’ll be offered a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. YUM!

Note that the lodge does not have an elevator and all the rooms are on the second level. It’s a very short flight of steps up and luggage assistance is provided if needed.

The lodge uses good old fashion metal keys. The hotel doors are locked at 10 p.m., but the grey fob on your room key gives you access to the west door so if you’re out partying late no worries about getting back to your room.

Leland Lodge
Flowers from my floral workshop with Sweetwater Floral–if you’re having an event in the area be sure to get your flowers from Sweetwater!

The rooms are so comfortable. Mine had a queen size bed, two Murphy beds (perfect if you’re traveling with kids), a nice sitting area and sliding door to an outside deck.

A small fridge, robes, and coffee maker are all provided in the room.

leland lodge

There is a banquet room that can be used for your small group meetings, an on-site restaurant and bar, and go-cart transportation to/from town if your group prefers not to walk.

Leland Lodge

The lodge also has beach cruiser bikes available for guests to ride around town.

leland lodge

A continental breakfast is provided each morning with fresh fruit, yogurt, muffins, and coffee.

Leland Lodge

You can enjoy your breakfast in the lounge in front of the fire while chatting with friends.

BlackStartFarms wine

In the evening your group can retire to Bogey’s 19th Hole for cocktails and dinner. If the weather is nice take advantage of the outdoor dining option.

Another Reason You Should Host Your Small Retreat at Leland Lodge in Leelanau County

 

Leland Lodge Wine Cellar

Dine in The Wine Cellar

Located within the Leland Lodge, the Wine Cellar Bar serves wine, cocktails and beer specials throughout the week and offers chef choice appetizers nightly.

Located under the Wine Cellar Bar is the Cellar where guests can enjoy a meal surrounded by wall to wall wine.

Ask about the Michigan cheese and charcuterie board with house pickled vegetables.

Are you looking for more adventures in Michigan? Make sure to check out Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth!

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