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Leelanau Peninsula - a land of beaches, ice cream and cherries…

June 2022

Traverse City sits along the bottom of Traverse Bay with a waterfront for all to enjoy. the bay itself is split up the middle by the Mission peninsula as if trying to maximize nearness to water. And the Leelanau is the peninsula that separates it from Lake Michigan. We had a week’s stay at the Wild Cherry Resort, right in the heart of the Leelanau. It was a quiet pleasant vale with some trails in the woods and also a driving range atop a hill that Jim found useful the day I left him with the dogs while I went to a wedding shower. He hit golf balls while the dogs hung out - no one else seemed to use it.

(The photo below, taken as I flew in from going to my niece’s shower, shows the mission peninsula)

Just about every beach we sought out had beautiful water for the dogs, amazing rocks and few people - that may change by July! Christmas Cove became a favorite for walking hunched over looking for rocks.

Good Harbor Beach, although sand not rocks, was a favorite also. I insisted on going there because the name echoes a hometown beach. When you park at this one the sign says dogs allowed to the right, but not to the left. That’s because the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore starts there. Luckily there is more than enough beach for all! It’s huge. We took my son there later and he remarked there were only 4 cars. We replied that was the most we had ever seen! Again- this was June. Results in July and August may vary! The only bad part was it was in the middle of an alewife die off so there was a strand of dead silvery fish on each beach.

Another lovely thing about the Leelanau were the lilacs. We had encountered Michigan’s love affair with lilacs in Charlevoix and here they even paraded down to the sand. All shades and delightful smell.

The peninsula is filled with small towns like Sutton Bay and Northport. Not overly touristy, more of a summer visitor vibe. I found some wedding shower gifts at a shop in Northport and we ate at an outdoor table at the VI Grill in Sutton Bay. Near Lake Leelanau we found our new favorite lunch restaurant, Fiddleheads. We ate there twice and I can attest that both omelets and sandwiches are yummy! We checked out the pottery and paintings at Good Harbor Art Gallery, run by the family of artists and picked up a Christmas ornament in the shape of the peninsula, and saw more art in Glen Arbor before checking out all things cherry at Cherry Republic, where the motto is “Life, Liberty and Pie”. Most importantly, we ate Moomers ice cream for the first time. Before we started our travels I had clipped a Food Network article on the best ice cream in each state. I haven’t been able to try any until Michigan where Moomers was the winner with “Cherries Moobilee”. Since then we have heard USA Today gave them top honors in the US and I can believe it. It is the best ice cream we’ve ever had. Bonus was the friendly lady serving it at the roadside stand that we had a great conversation with. We developed a habit of seeking it on any drive possible. In one case at a pizza restaurant in Acme (where the pizza seemed to be secondary to the ice cream) we encountered some furry friends canoeing in!

We also made our way to Leland, which reminded me a bit of Rockport Ma near where i grew up. An old fishing town, they’ve preserved the old buildings and the look for new around the stream out to the lake to better attract the tourist trade. The stump of an old tree that used to tower over the harbor impressed, we checked out a jewelers to see samples of items made from Petoskey and Charlevoix stones and Leland blue, and yes, there was a place to get Moomer’s ice cream!

We strolled the grounds of two lighthouses here - the Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, where we saw a ground squirrel and looked out where the bay meets the lake and…..

The Mission Point Lighthouse, where lilacs frame a swingset on the beach and a lovely forest path winds by an early log home fitted out as it would have been. The side has been opened and glass fitted in to better see.

One final lovely lilac pic:

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