When I say the word “home,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it your family? Or is it maybe the neighborhood you grew up in? Whatever it may be, you know you feel good when you think of your home. It’s so comforting and familiar. Well, my idea of home is a little different. I want you to hold out your right hand, palm facing up; there’s Michigan, (the lower half at least). See the tip of your pinky finger, well that’s my home. That’s Leelanau.
The Leelanau Peninsula is where I spent every summer growing up. Where my most fond memories were made. Going back up there as an adult is so surreal because although some things have changed, the best things have remained exactly the same.
The other day Jacob and I packed up the truck and left extra early for Leelanau. We knew we only had that one day to spend up there, so we had to make every minute count! The two and a half hour drive felt like it went by unexpectedly fast, but that may have just been the excitement. The town of Glen Arbor welcomed us both with warm sun kisses the second we hopped out of the truck. The first place we needed to visit was Cherry Republic, aka the place where Ally’s diet goes out the window. They offer free samples of everything they sell, and I’m not one to turn down free food 🙂 When I was a kid, I would reach my little hand in the bowl of sour cherry gummies and try to grab as many as I could before my parents would yell at me. I’ve also always enjoyed the original cherry jam. I put it on my bagels, pb&j sandwiches, and even just plain crackers. I’m pretty sure I would eat a piece of tree bark if someone put that cherry jam on it. After stuffing our bellies full of the delicious treats, Jacob and I wandered around the town. Nestled right in between the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan, this town is full of outdoor restaurants, art galleries with beautiful pieces, and fun little beach shops.
By mid afternoon we were ready to visit my next favorite city that was a bit further north of Glen Arbor. Now, if you’re from Michigan, I’m sure you’ve seen many cars that have those M22 stickers on the back windows, or even people wearing clothing that has M22 on it. For those who don’t know, M22 is the scenic highway that runs north through the Leelanau Peninsula. It’s the same road that Jacob and I took to get to Leland, one of the most charming towns I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. I hold Leland so close to my heart because, like Glen Arbor, it was the birthplace of so many amazing memories. I found my favorite food in Leland at a restaurant called The Cove years ago. I remember thinking seafood was so gross when I was a kid, but once I tried their famous seafood chowder, I fell in love. It is now one of Jacob’s favorite foods too. The Cove sits right in Fishtown where the Leland River empties into Lake Michigan. There’s so many cool little shops within Fishtown, but what we love doing is going down by the marina to see all of the different boats that dock for the day.
The Leelanau Bookstore and old fashion candy store were my favorite places to pass time as a kid. I would beg my grandma to get me a bag of jelly beans from the candy store, and I used to promise not to eat them all that day, unfortunately that promise was rarely ever kept. I would then sneak over to the bookstore and read some of my favorite books while munching on the sweet candies. To this day, whenever my grandma travels up to Leland, she brings me back my favorite jelly beans. I swear, Grandma’s are the best.
Because Jacob and I were on a time strain, we weren’t able to get to Sutton’s Bay or Northport, a few of my other favorite towns, but we did have time to stop at the cutest little school house off of M22. Fun fact, my sister actually had some of her senior pictures taken at that school house! We also had time to go up one of the seasonal dirt roads to what my family calls, the Power-line Lookout. Located at the top of a high hill, the Power-line Lookout overlooks the bay and a few other lakes that couldn’t quite fit in this photo. This is definitely something you need to see in person, however, the road is somewhat hidden and few people even know about it.
The final place Jacob and I went to during our day trip was none other than Empire Beach. After a long day of walking around different towns, we slipped off our shoes and buried our toes in the sand. This beach is where my family’s days would turn into nights as we all loved having campfires while listening to the waves crash into shore. The fact that Lake Michigan actually wasn’t freezing cold that day made me wish we got there sooner so we could have enjoyed it longer. Unfortunately though, all good things must come to an end. It was such a wonderful day getting to go and do all of my favorite things with my favorite person by my side. I only hope that someday down the road when I have kids of my own, that they love Leelanau just as much as I did growing up.
*Checking off #5 Go “Up North” on my Summer Bucket List!