If you follow me on social media, you know I spent a great amount of my Summer in Northern Michigan in a town called Leland on Lake Leelanau. I’ve been going there for family vacations ever since I was little and my parents finally bought a place a few years ago – this was always their dream! I can honestly say this spot is one of my favorite places on Earth – lots of happy, easy-going vibes in this part of the US!
Here is my best attempt at a travel guide and as always, connect with me here or on social media with questions and comments! I hope many of you will get the chance to get up there in the near future to experience the beauty Northern Michigan has to offer.
LELAND MICHIGAN BACKGROUND
Leland is located off of M22 and sits between Lake Michigan and North Lake Leelanau. It’s the sweetest little town that honestly has not changed much in the 30 years I’ve been going there. The North Lake Leelanau is where we have always stayed and where my parents have a house. Its sandy bottom and clear water make it feel so special – almost like you’re on the Caribbean! There are sandbars all over the North Lake where you can anchor your boat and float all day long. Nothing feels more like a vacation!
The town of Leland is smaller, but has amazing Charm! Fishtown is a harbor town that sits on Lake Michigan right off the Main Street in Leland. Its filled with little shops, fishing boats, and a few restaurants. Head there for ice cream and to grab a few items from some favorite shops like the Tug Shop and Leland Gal – bring your camera for some great family pics!
WEATHER/WHAT TO WEAR
One of the best parts about this part of Michigan’s is the weather – chilly, sunny mornings and colder nights with almost zero humidity make it pretty perfect. Sweatshirts are a must around here in the morning and night! Everything is super casual, but preppy goes well here too. Lots of Lily Pulitzer and you should definitely stop in to Dune Berry to pick up some fun Lily pieces for your trip. It’s a favorite shop of mine! Bathing suits and coverups are all I wear most days out of the dock or boat – anything will fly when headed out on the town for the day.
WHERE TO EAT
The “Merc” Leland Mercantile – My fav place to stop for groceries and their “9 Bean Row” bagged lettuce.
NJ’s – another easy grocery shop in the town of Leelanau (closer to South Lake)
Carlson’s Fishery – get ALL the whitefish here in Fishtown to grill! Also great smoked whitefish for an app.
Blue Boat – is my favorite coffee shop in the town of Leland. Their iced oat milk latte is my go-to and get the Cherry Steamer for the kids – they will LOVE it!
Early Bird – if you need a hearty, delish breakfast, head to the Early Bird.
VI Grill in Suttons Bay – owned by a Cincinnati family! Great breakfast and cute town to explore after you eat.
Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown – RAVE reviews for this one! It’s always super packed, so call ahead to pick-up or go before the lunch rush! We love the Northshore sandwich from the menu on pretzel bread. Enjoy in Fishtown for the full Leland experience.
The Cove – great for Clam Chowder and their Caesar Salad! The burger is great too.
Trish’s Dishes – Love their chicken salad! Great for breakfast too!
9 Bean Row for Lettuce/Fresh Produce – Love their mixed lettuce you can get at most Markets or stop into their little
The Cove – This is probably one of my fav spots. Right on the water with outdoor views of Lake MI! You can make this an easy lunch, or a fancier dinner/parent’s night out. It’s right on the Dam in Fishtown. Get the Chubby Mary, clam chowder or any of their whitefish dinners. It’s all GOOD.
Bogey’s 19th Hole at the Leland Lodge – Favorite atmosphere on the Leland CC Golf course with the best outdoor patio.
The Bluebird – the CLASSIC. Been around since I was a kid! Must go, or get their pizza for carry out.
Dick’s Pourhouse – Great, easy bar food and good fried chicken
Hop Lot Brewing Co. – This is ALWAYS popular! Amazing BBQ food, family-friendly with corn hold and a sand mound for the kids. Fire pit for s’mores!
Boone’s – great burgers and an outdoor deck in Sutton’s Bay
Martha’s – One of the best restaurants in Sutton’s Bay. Make a reservation!
Roman Wheel – Pizza and “broasted chicken” + chicken wings
VI Grill – Large menu to make everyone happy. We love the tacos and burgers!
WHAT TO DO
Story time at Leelanau Books – Great morning activity for the kids during the summer months! They bring in characters and do face painting etc.
Strawberry or Cherry Picking – Halstead Homestead Cherries is a great option for Cherry Picking and a fun spot to visit, but there are tons of farm stands you can stop at and get your fresh cherries!
Parks and Trails – Whaleback Natural Area Trail, Clay Cliffs Natural Area have awesome views of Lake Michigan.
Manitou Islands Ferry – Head out and explore Manitou Island for the day or get adventurous and set up camp on the island and head back in the morning!
Van’s Beach or Leland Public Beach – both great beaches to explore for a day, or everyday!
Leland Yacht Club – Become a member for the year (super affordable) and rent a Sunfish for the afternoon and get out on the Lake! Send the kids to sailing school for the afternoon and take a little “me time.”
Visit ALL the Vineyards/Wineries – Some great ones are Blustone Vineyards, Verterra Winery 45 North Vineyard and Winery and we love to grab lunch at Knot Just a Bar in Omena and wine taste at Leelanau Cellars next door – stock up on their Summer Rose and Witches Brew!
Leelanau Books– such an adorable store filled with books, gifts and a whole kids section for reading and an outdoor space for crafts, story times.
Dune Berry – The best Lily Pulitzer store I’ve ever been too! Other great brands too.
Two Fish Gallery – perfect place to pick something up to remember your trip to Leland
Leland Gal – Fun colors, patterns and their infamous earrings are what this spot is all about. Great pop-ups there too!
Tug Stuff – Pick up some apparel so you can sport the Tug logo! Right in Fishtown.
NEARBY LAKE TOWNS
Suttons Bay – Easy trip from Leland and one of my other very favorite towns in northern Michigan! Great restaurants and also a cute park on the Bay that the kids love to play in every time we go up there. Don’t forget to stop for Ice Cream at Scoops!
Omena Bay/Northport – BEAUTIFUL lake and Bay! Visit the wineries in this area, great trails for running and hiking and visit Knot Just a Bar on Omena Bay for some great food!
Glenn Arbor – Great day trip to see the Sleeping Bear Dunes and grab lunch in town! One of our must-dos with kids. Visit “The Climb” and let the kids run up and down the big sand dune, and if you’re up for it keep going for view of Lake Michgan.