36 hours? But how would you spend 36 DAYS in Leelanau?

Yoga in the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The ultimate way to slow down your visiting experience. Photo courtesy of  Sara Ianitelli

From staff reports

You may have read The New York Times late May story on how to spend 36 Hours in Traverse City and Leelanau County. Oh, but 36 hours is so painfully short! We asked our Glen Arbor Sun writers how they would spend 36 DAYS in our beautiful peninsula—with an emphasis on slowing down, breathing, observing, and reflecting on this special place. Thanks to Ross Boissoneau, Sandy Bradshaw, Rebecca Carlson, Abby Chatfield, Katie Dunn, Linda Engelhard, Tim Mulherin, and Mae Stier for the recommendations!

  • Grab a breakfast sandwich from Shipwreck Café in Empire and take it down to the beach for a breakfast picnic. Enjoy your sandwich and a coffee, and (after waiting the appropriate amount of time for your food to settle) go for a morning swim.
  • Join Jess Shelton for a yoga class at Empire Beach on Sunday mornings at 9:30. Stick around after to swim.
  • Stop by Greystone Gardens south of Empire for a stroll through their beautiful greenhouses.
  • Grocer’s Daughter affogato. I dream of this. Sit on the patio or in the butterfly garden with the kids; plenty of yard games and sand pits to keep them occupied while you sip on affogato. Take a bag of frozen cookies and pint of gelato to stash in the freezer for when you need your next fix.
  • Spend the day in Northport. For us south-Leelanau-dwellers, Northport is our vacation town. Stop for a hike at Clay Cliffs or Houdek Dunes on the way, then wander around town for lunch before heading to the state park to camp for the evening.
  • Glen Arbor Arts Center: check out the classes and lecture series they offer.
  • Glen Lake Library in Empire: truly the gem of our little town. Spend an afternoon reading in their garden, bring the kids to story hour on Thursdays, or attend one of the many events they host throughout the year.
  • Go foraging for wild berries. From strawberries, to raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, there is no shortage of fruit growing all over. We won’t give away all our spots, but we do wait all year for blackberry picking on Alligator Hill. What a dream. U-pick strawberries will be opening at Bluebird Farm in late June.
  • Take a tour de Farmers Markets. Tuesdays in Glen Arbor and Saturdays in Empire are favorites.
  • Monthly concerts at the Lively Market this summer.
  • Slow-down days in Leelanau can happen during any season. One of our favorite places during a blustery fall or winter day is on North Lake Street, overlooking the Leland Harbor parking lot. The Mishe-Mokwa transit ship and the fishing charter boats have finished operating, along with most of the Fishtown shops, but the waves are open for business.
  • The winds from Wisconsin slam water against the stone barrier that protects the harbor, creating one fountain after another spraying high into the air. We wait with anticipation for the next geyser to appear somewhere along the breakwater. And on a bonus day, kitesurfers soar above the spray to add rainbows of color to the gray sky.
  • Take a walk through any village here—Glen Arbor, Empire, Leland, Suttons Bay, Northport—and engage with the locals, whether out on the street or while browsing shops and stores. You can learn a lot about this special place by talking to the people who call it home. Midwestern charm is in abundance here.
  • Go kayaking on any of the clear, clean bodies of water that are central to Leelanau County’s well-deserved reputation as an outdoor destination. And be sure to turn off your phone. Focus on the wildlife all around you as an intentional and respectful experience. Be a part of nature—not apart from it.
  • On any splendid cottony-clouded blue sky northern Michigan summer afternoon, put your agenda aside and park yourself in a comfy chair on a dock or a deck or a backyard—or a beach—and read a preferred book for a few hours or so. Be sure to pause from time to time and look around and realize how lucky you are to be in this special place in that ephemeral moment.
  • Go fishing in a river or a creek or an inland lake—with a child. Focus on your son or daughter, niece or nephew, or grandchild’s experience. Fishing through the eyes of a child is truly magical. It will help you remember your own childhood and the simple primordial joy of catching even the smallest fish.
  • Hiking a Leelanau Conservancy trail — #1 fave Clay Cliffs
  • Rock hunt for blues and Petoskeys in Leland
  • U-pick fresh cut flowers
  • Wine tasting with a picnic at Willow or any other Leelanau winery with amazing view
  • Paddle boarding sunrise or sunset on Suttons Bay
  • Watch sunrise and sunset in Leelanau on the same day (early breakfast and late dinner on the beach), include bonfire, smores and hotdogs of course.
  • Visit one, or all, of our museums.
  • Go birding at Lighthouse West Conservancy Area and incredible Christmas Cove Beach.
  • Grab goodies at MI Market and go for a picnic at Suttons Bay Beach parks.
  • Get fresh fish from Ed & Cindi John Fish Treaty Company in Peshawbestown or Carlson’s Fishery in Fishtown Leland … grill your own dinner.
  • Indiegrow Flower Farm in Suttons Bay? It looks like the kind of place you could simply wander around and bask in the blossoms. There are two other new places that might merit consideration, the lavender farm on M-72 where it turns east again (used to be Ted Gilmer’s leather goods store) and the Elderberry Farms Estate (now serving food, too) closer to TC on M-72.
  • The real winner has to be Light of Day Biodynamic Tea Farm. Angela Macke has transformed the former sheep pasture into a tea lover’s delight. Even if you’re not a tea lover it’s so cool. Gardens, hoop houses, a retail shop, and don’t forget the tea yurt.
  • A bonfire at the end of the day where my family would catch up with each other.
  • Rock hunting at any of the local beaches.
  • Stargazing up in the orchard
  • Glen Haven experience, with the store, blacksmith shop, and maybe even the inn.
  • Grabbing a coffee and reading through back issues of the Glen Arbor Sun.

… We’ll let you pick the remaining 3 …