Fall Color Tours: Traverse City – Northport – Frankfort

Leelanau fall by Jeff Lamb

Leelanau fall, photo by Jeff Lamb

Our next stop (as designed by Travel Michigan) is the region of Northwest Lower Michigan containing Traverse City – Northport – Frankfort. I know this is the second day in a row with a photo from the Leelanau Peninsula … I guess sometimes I feel like hanging around my home. Jeff Lamb likes hanging around here too, especially in the fall, and I think he’s one of the best at capturing the roll of the hill and sweep of the sky that characterizes fall in this part of Michigan. See more in his Leelanau set (slideshow).

Old Mission, MI by Jerry TingThe tour starts at the end of the Old Mission Peninsula at the Mission Point Lighthouse. I’m not sure how you start there – airlift probably. I am sure that you’ll see great color along the winding roads of Old Mission like in this photo Old Mission, MI by Jerry Ting. In addition to being prime fruit growing regions packed with roadside stands and markets, both peninsulas feature great wine trails with about 20 wineries – learn more from the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula and the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association web sites.

Downtown Traverse City has a ton of restaurants and shops to choose from and if you like historic homes, consider wandering the tree-lined neighborhoods of the city and also the Village at the Grand Traverse Commons as there are some gorgeous trees and cool shops to be found there as well! If you want more options, check out the Traverse City CV’s color tours of the region (they also provide regular color reports). One tour they suggested is a northwest Michigan apple tour.

Assuming you’re still with us, lets head north to Leelanau County. M-22 winds along the outside of the county along Lake Michigan through the villages of Suttons Bay, Omena, Northport, Glen Arbor & Empire. From Northport, consider a short jaunt to the beautifully restored Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum at the tip of Leelanau. On the way back stop in at Kilcherman’s Antique Apple Farm (also see this article) for a huge selection of rare & tasty apples and cider. At the southern end of Leelanau County is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. With historic farms and hiking trails & overlooks offering soaring views of fall’s glory, this could be a whole weekend in and of itself. Before we leave, I better put in a plug for my Leelanau.com web site as a travel & information resource and also point you at my favorite trail: the Empire Bluff Trail. One look at a collection of photos from Empire Bluff should be all the push you need to take this short but amazing trail!
Another Autumn at the Tweedle Barn by John Clement HoweHeading south on 22 we enter Benzie County. The photo to the right (Another Autumn at the Tweedle Barn by John Clement Howe) is from the Tweddle-Treat farmstead that’s just off 22 on Norconk Rd). If it’s not to cold, head down to Otter Creek Beach (aka Esch Rd). Further down 22 we pass Crystal Lake and also the 2nd most photographed lighthouse in the world, Point Betsie. A little further south are the towns of Frankfort & Elberta that boast beautiful Lake Michigan beaches and Frankfort pier and make a perfect place to catch the sunset (or some fish). A couple other highlights along the way back to Traverse City are Gwen Frostic Prints in Benzonia and the Homestead Sugar House in Beulah.

Just so it’s clear, these fall color tour entries are produced by Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!

Don’t miss our Michigan Fall Wallpaper series and see more of Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours.

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