I’m excited to introduce to you the first stop of my “Smitten with the Mitten” travel series. I had the opportunity to visit Leland and the surrounding area with some fellow Michigan natives to showcase our beautiful state, and why we (locals) are so obsessed with what we refer to as “up north”.
This post is sponsored by Leland Lodge. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
“Are you heading up north for the weekend?”
You’ll often hear this question on repeat all summer long in Michigan. If you’re not from Michigan or have never been to a city along Northern Lake Michigan, you are truly missing out!
Before Memorial Day weekend, I had the chance to visit Leland for a blogger retreat along with seven other Michigan content creators. Leland is a small little coastal town nestled between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau, about 40 minutes north of Traverse City.
Summertime in Northern Michigan (now I’m singing KidRock) is a magical place. The Great Lakes, beaches, sand dunes, inland lakes and more… Michigan turns into a massive playground during the warmer months especially.
Where to Stay in Leland, Michigan
The Leland Lodge graciously hosted our stay and it is in the perfect location – just a quick walk down the hill and you’re downtown where you can grab coffee from Blueboat then wander on down to explore Fishtown.
There are a variety of rooms available, as well as three cottage options. It’s a great place for families as well. We saw lots of little ones wandering about with their parents.
Bogey’s 19th Hole (the restaurant in the lodge) had great food and some of the most amazing brussels sprouts I’ve ever had, seriously.
Things to do in Leland
I always love traveling to the coastal towns along Lake Michigan… Maybe because I don’t live near one and visiting is like a mini adventure. But I always love towns near the water.
Truth be told I had never been to Leland until this trip, so I felt like a tourist in my home state for a few days.
Leland Lodge has bikes for you to borrow to explore the area, which Andrea Kerbuski and I took full advantage of.
Bike rides are my favorite and the cruiser style Panana Jack bicycles obviously make for a great photo opp.
Shops to visit in Fishtown:
- Leland Gal – an adorable shop with bright colors, handmade goods, toxic-free nail polish, swimwear, towels and more.
- Dam Candy Store – a variety of candies, chocolates and ice cream. Obviously a must.
- Village Cheese Shanty – Fresh sandwiches, soups, over 75 domestic and imported cheeses, beer and wine, the Cheese Shanty has got it all. Known for their handmade pretzel bread sandwiches!
- Two Fish Gallery – A little shop with an assortment of dry goods, gifts, jewelry, michigan made goods and a variety of other trinkets!
Dine at The Cove for their famous Chubby Mary’s
Upon our arrival, we got acquainted with the famous “Chubby Mary’s”, The Cove’s take on a bloody mary, or a Cesar, if Canadian. (I gotchu, friends to North).
You may be able to tell from the picture above, but basically the Chubby Mary is a bloody mary, with a smoked fish sticking straight out of it. If you like bloody mary’s and smoked fish, this drink is for you.
Full disclosure: I do not care for bloody mary’s so I did not have the Chubby Mary – but those that did try said it was delicious.
As for the rest of the menu, you can expect some traditional Northern Michigan grub – lots of whitefish and fish dinner specials. I got the fish tacos, and they were delicious.
And the views from The Cove are wonderful!
Take a Sweetwater Floral Workshop
In the afternoon after exploring Fishtown, we headed back to Leland Lodge, where they arranged for a floral workshop!
Sweetwater Floral is a Petoskey, Mi based florist but does hundreds of weddings in Northern Michigan each year. In the off season (as well as a couple dates in the summer), Sweetwater hosts floral arrangement workshops. You can find more info here.
Kalin, the owner, stopped by the lodge and taught us her magic.
It was the perfect activity for all of us to sit down, chat amongst ourselves, enjoy some wine and learn what it takes to make the perfect floral arrangement.
BONUS: Kailin is probably one of the funniest humans I’ve met… And I would like to be her best friend.
All jokes aside, the workshop was SO fun. I honestly would have never thought to partake in a floral workshop but I really surprised myself and Kailin was such a great instructor.
And did I mention hilarious? I did, but worth another mention.
Go for a Dune Hike
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the most popular attractions here in Michigan. It is listed as one of the most beautiful places on earth.
There are tons of hikes to do in the area, but Pyramid Point is quick, easy and has gorgeous views.
Other activities in the surrounding areas
Northport – Stop at Mitten Brewing for some beer tasting and take a walk along the downtown.
Idyll Farms – If you’re in town for public tour dates in the summertime, Idyll Farms, a local goat farm and creamery offers tours to the public (July 6 and August 31). We had a private tour during the blogger retreat with a goat cheese tasting – so fun!
Sutton’s Bay – Walk downtown, get a glimpse of the blue water at the beach of Sutton’s Bay (which goes out to Grand Traverse Bay), and enjoy some coffee (or matcha) at Mundos Roasting.
Yoga in Lake Leelanau – If you’re a practicing yogi or just want to try a studio in the area, be sure to check out Yoga4 in Lake Leelanau, just a 10 minute drive from Leland.
If you want to plan a retreat or a similar event, be sure to reach out to Leland Lodge events.
Photos by Andrea Kerbuski and myself