When I was a little girl my parents consistently began taking us kids up north Michigan every summer. It started with Ludington Michigan until we drove an hour up the lake shore and realized how beautiful the Empire, Honor, Glen Arbor area is and fell in love! Every summer up there we enjoy days of good restaurants, stunning beaches, scenic walks, kayaking, and more. Most of my favorite memories occurred up here. When we finally arrive I feel myself exhale as if I’m home. When I’m up there, life feels perfect. After many years of summers up north, I’ve experienced a lot of the touristy things, and the not exactly touristy things and have figured out some favorite things of mine to do up there. I will say though that it’s so much more than this tiny list. We’ve been going there since I was in middle school and every summer there’s always something new we could discover or explore. If you drive north on M-22, it will lead you to the most magical places. This stuff is Pure Michigan. 🙂
- Arts Tavern | Glen Arbor MI
Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, or dinner – Arts is so good! I especially love their selection of fish on the menu! Eat outside to enjoy the sights and sounds (Boonedocks live music) of downtown Glen Arbor.
- Joe’s Friendly Tavern | Empire MI
Every year we eat at least one breakfast, and one dinner at Joes Friendly Tavern. The food is amazing, (including the ranch…idk if anyone else is on the search for the best ranch ever like me lol but if you are they have pretty amazing ranch) and it’s just a short walk to the beach to watch the sunset.
- BLU | Glen Arbor MI
If you’re in the mood for a place on the water with a “fancier” atmosphere and a menu with dinner dishes you struggle to pronounce, then BLU is a great option. I particularly love the views you have if you’re sitting by the windows…sleeping bear bay and the Manitou islands. <3
- Boonedocks | Glen Arbor MI
I can’t not mention the Boonedocks because it’s a classic for anyone going up north. I wouldn’t recommend eating a full meal there outside because the staff is slower and makes mores mistakes. Keep in mind you’re up north Michigan so everyone moves a little slower and is on the drug called “vacation”. I’d just order drinks and sit outside and listen to the live music after dinner.
- Riverside Canoe | Honor MI
This is right up against the Platte River and across the street from the Platte River Campgrounds. It has amazing burgers and is perfect if you’re looking for a quick bite.
- Empire Bluff Hiking Trail | Empire MI
If you want to say you went hiking without a full blown day of actually doing the physical activity, then this is perfect. It’s a 10 minute “hike” (walk) and the view is gorgeous of the sleeping bear dunes and north bar beach.
- Pyramid Point Trail | Maple City MI
This one is a classic that many people will do when they go up north. It’s a tiny two minute walk (depending on where you park) up this boardwalk to a beautifully tall dune and gorgeous 360 degree view. When you look down the dune to the beach the people look so tiny. Many newbies to this spot decide to run down the dune for fun (not realizing just how high it is) and then have to climb back up which takes forever and looks so painful.
- Pierce Stocking | Empire MI
This one is one of my favorites because there’s many different stops along the way. It’s a long drive up a winding hill and you can get out at any point in time to go down different trails. Maps guide the way with numbered trails.
- Peterson Beach | Honor MI
This beach is just off of M-22 on a dirt road (previously mentioned in my blog post here) and is beautiful. It’s pet friendly and you can have campfires on this beach. One time our family friend and us kids decided to kayak the Platte River, then kayak all the way north to this beach and it ended up being a super wavy day. I got so nauseated and the water was so choppy we ended up dragging our huge kayaks along the beach and walked. Terrible, but it’s a really funny memory we all have.
- North Bar | Empire MI
This one is a walk but it’s really pretty. You have to walk around North Bar Lake (5 minute walk) to get to the spot where it spills into lake Michigan with a small channel. The channel has two dunes on each side with a small beach in between so it’s also great for a windy day.
- Point Betsie Light House Beach | Frankfort MI
A beach we recently discovered, this one is hidden behind a lighthouse/cottage. When you initially drive up, there’s a small beach with the lighthouse directly to the north. If you climb up the concrete it’s sitting on and walk around it, you’ll find this huge beach with beautiful tree covered mountains/hills…not sure if mountains is the right word, haha but it’s pretty and very secluded.
- Platte Point Beach | Honor MI
One of the beaches we’ve been going to the longest; this one is now a very popular one among tourists which is one of the reasons we don’t go there on a Saturday. It’s really special because it’s where the Platte river empties into Lake Michigan so many people kayak or float down to the beach point. If you want to get to the point part without floating, you have to carry your stuff above your head and cross the river…lol.
- Frankfort Beach | Frankfort MI
This one is very public but very big so you have plenty of space. It has two jetties with lighthouses so – scenic walks, and it’s just a short walk into the adorable town of Frankfort.
- Cherry bowl Drive in Theatre | Honor MI
Here they always play a double feature…kid movie first then adult movie. It’s so fun to take a truck with blankets, pillows, and snacks and snuggle up. I’ve done that with friends many times.
- Black Star Farms | Traverse City MI
I wish I knew of more wineries up north but this one was stunning and I already want to go back. It’s across from Sutton’s Bay and has a B&B, vineyard, farm, winery, restaurants and more. You have not lived until you’ve sampled up north Michigan cherry wine.
- Cherry Republic | Glen Arbor & Traverse City MI
If you’re in the mood to sample endless amounts of chocolate covered cherries and buy an overpriced sweatshirt on a rainy day then this is where you should be. They also have wine…priorities.
Are there any super important or touristy favorites I missed? Comment if you have any things you think I should try next time I’m up there!