With not much on the calendar these days, Dave and I decided to book a last minute trip to Northern Michigan (or Up North as so many of you will correct me)! Dave grew up frequenting the Leelanau Peninsula area, his dad had a farm in Leland and now lives on Crystal Lake so we decided to dedicate a long weekend to visiting my father-in-law and exploring the cute lakeside towns. Last summer we stayed in Frankfort for a week and earlier this summer we spent some time in South Haven. This post is no where near a guide to this area (this post has way more info about surrounding towns!), but I wanted to share what we did and few reasons we love making the trek!
It’s sort of a haul from Chicago. Around 5.5/6 hours and probably longer if you have kids who require constant bathroom breaks. I recommend stretching your time there by a few days if you plan to make the drive! We decided to rent a house in Glen Arbor because it’s about 25 minutes from where Dave’s dad lives but also 20 minutes to get to the surrounding lake towns (Leland, Sutton’s Bay, Northport). The house we rented was called Sandy Bear and it was PERFECT. Beautiful, new, clean and a quick 100 yard walk to the beach. The house is also on a quiet street with very few cars and right off of town so everything is a quick walk/short distance away! I highly recommend if you’re traveling with family! We did not bring Webster (no dogs allowed) and instead he enjoyed a quiet weekend with my parents and without two screaming little boys.
The weather was cold! But I loved it especially since the leaves were starting to change and we could warm up in our favorite layers. Our days consisted of early mornings at the beach, walks around town, trips to the beach before lunch, afternoon naps/movies and dinner at home or somewhere in town. We really go into these trips with little to no plans; it’s better to have low expectations when you’re traveling with kids! One morning we took the boys to the Sleeping Bear Dunes which was so much fun and the boys climbed up the first two big hills like champs (with a few meltdowns in-between). We didn’t realize how expansive it was to get to the water so we turned around and ran back down and counted it as a victory.
On Saturday we drove the M-22 highway one day which takes you from town to town. We stopped to get fudge in Sutton’s Bay and pop into a few home stores, we planned on grabbing sandwiches at the Cheese Shanty in Fishtown in Leland but it was over an hour wait so we had lunch at the Bluebird instead. Then we took the scenic roads back to Glen Arbor to catch nap time for Jack. I swear just driving around up there, seeing the roadside stands, apple orchards, vineyards and cherry trees that run along the roads is just so relaxing and fun.
We were going to come home on Sunday but Dave and his dad were hoping to play a golf course up there so we extended our trip until Monday and stayed a night in the Frankfort area! We LOVED our time in Frankfort last summer (the boys look so little!) so while Dave golfed I took the boys to the beach and we spent three hours playing in the sand, eating lunch and just soaking up the sunshine. It was a really special morning with my boys. Frankfort is an adorable little town and so family friendly! The only downside is that visiting any other town along the Leelanau Peninsula is around an hour drive which never really worked for our schedules with Jack’s nap.
On our last night we stayed at Lake Bluff Preserve which my father-in-law helps to manage! The houses are made for large groups and are a little more bare bones but have everything you need and the most incredible views of Lake Michigan. They sit on a big bluff just a few miles from downtown Frankfort.
Overall we had the best time and it’s definitely worth the drive for a weekend getaway. It’s so pretty up there and there is so much to explore! One last summer vacation to say goodbye to summer 2020. We made so many family memories over the past few months and I’m so grateful that all of these experiences are enjoyed with these sweet faces.