5 Day Trips From Leland, MI

5 Day Trips From Leland, MI

Nestled in the heart of Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, Leland offers more than just picturesque landscapes and a serene lakeside ambiance. It's a gateway to an array of delightful day trips that promise to enrich your Michigan experience. Whether you're a local or a visitor, exploring these day trips from Leland, MI, is an adventure waiting to happen.

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: A Nature Lover's Paradise

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located just a short drive from Leland, is an extraordinary natural wonder that epitomizes the beauty of Michigan's landscapes. This national park spans a vast area and is celebrated for its massive sand dunes that rise to 450 feet above Lake Michigan. The dunes provide a unique and exhilarating experience, whether you're climbing them for the spectacular views or simply admiring their majesty from below.

Beyond the dunes, the park offers a variety of trails for all skill levels, winding through diverse habitats, including lush forests, clear inland lakes, and miles of beachfront. The most popular trail, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, is a must-do for visitors. This 7.4-mile loop offers stunning vistas, especially from the famed Overlook #9, where you can gaze out over the dunes and Lake Michigan.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a paradise. The area is home to an array of birds and animals, including bald eagles, piping plovers, and black bears. Bird-watching here can be particularly rewarding, especially during migration seasons.

2. Traverse City: A Culinary and Cultural Hub

About 40 minutes from Leland, Traverse City stands as a vibrant beacon of culture and gastronomy. This bustling city is renowned for its diverse culinary scene, where local ingredients take center stage. From farm-to-table restaurants to cozy cafes and artisanal bakeries, there's something to satisfy every palate. The city's reputation for cherry products, particularly during the National Cherry Festival, is unparalleled. This annual event, which attracts visitors from all over, celebrates the region's cherry-growing heritage with parades, tastings, and cherry-themed activities.
But Traverse City's appeal extends beyond its food. The city is also a hub for arts and culture. Its historic State Theatre, an elegantly restored 1920s cinema, is a center for independent and foreign films. The Dennos Museum Center offers a diverse collection of art, including one of the nation's largest exhibits of Inuit art from the Canadian Arctic.

The city's Old Town district is a charming area for a leisurely stroll, lined with boutique shops, galleries, and restaurants. For those interested in local history, a visit to the Traverse City History Center provides insight into the area's past. For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Boardman River and West Grand Traverse Bay offer opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and paddleboarding. For the more adventurous, the surrounding areas are laced with trails for hiking and biking.

3. Old Mission Peninsula: A Wine Connoisseur's Dream

The Old Mission Peninsula is a narrow stretch of land that juts into Grand Traverse Bay and is renowned for its scenic beauty and exceptional vineyards. This peninsula, easily reachable from Leland, offers a unique microclimate perfect for viticulture, thanks to the moderating effect of the surrounding waters of Lake Michigan. This has led to the creation of some of Michigan's most esteemed wineries and vineyards.

As you travel along the peninsula, you'll encounter a variety of wineries, each offering a distinct experience. From boutique family-run estates to larger, more modern facilities, each winery has its personality and approach to winemaking. Visitors can enjoy wine tastings and tours, where they can sample a range of wines, including Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and sparkling wines, all acclaimed for their quality and flavor profile unique to this region. Dining on the peninsula is another delightful experience, with many wineries offering farm-to-table restaurants that showcase the best of local produce, often paired beautifully with their wines.

The beauty of the Old Mission Peninsula is not limited to its vineyards. The drive itself is breathtaking, with views of rolling hills, orchards, and panoramic views of the bay. There are also historical landmarks to explore, such as the Mission Point Lighthouse, which sits at the very tip of the peninsula and offers a glimpse into the area's maritime history.

4. Charlevoix: A Town of Unique Architecture

About an hour and a half from Leland, Charlevoix is a destination that combines natural beauty with architectural wonder. This charming town is famous for its unique Mushroom Houses, designed by architect Earl Young. These whimsical stone houses, with their undulating roofs and organic shapes, seem like something out of a fairy tale and are a must-see for anyone visiting Charlevoix.

But there's more to Charlevoix than just these enchanting houses. The town is situated between Lake Michigan and the smaller Round Lake, offering abundant water-related activities. Visitors can enjoy beaches, boating, and fishing in the summer and ice fishing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Charlevoix’s downtown area is a vibrant mix of shops, galleries, and restaurants. The shopping here is a delight, with a variety of boutiques offering everything from local art to artisanal goods. The dining scene is equally impressive, with eateries serving fresh, locally sourced dishes reflecting the region's culinary diversity.

Charlevoix is also known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries showcasing the work of local artists. The town hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the famous Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair, which attracts artists and art lovers from all over the country.

5. Elk Rapids: A Hidden Gem

Located less than an hour's drive from Leland, MI, Elk Rapids is a delightful and often overlooked destination that provides a tranquil and picturesque day trip experience. This small town, nestled on the east shore of Grand Traverse Bay, exudes a peaceful and laid-back vibe, making it an ideal retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of busier tourist spots.

One of the most charming aspects of Elk Rapids is its beautiful marina. It's a wonderful place for a leisurely walk, to watch boats glide by, or to simply enjoy the serene water views. For those interested in water activities, the marina provides easy access to boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

The town's downtown area is a treasure trove of local culture and commerce. The streets are lined with quaint shops, offering everything from unique handmade crafts to antiques and local artisan products. These small, often family-run businesses provide a friendly and personal shopping experience, far removed from the commerciality of larger cities.

Dining in Elk Rapids is another highlight. The town boasts a variety of eateries, ranging from cozy cafes and bakeries to fine dining restaurants. Many of these establishments focus on using local ingredients, showcasing the best of what the region has to offer in terms of fresh, seasonal produce.

For nature lovers, the area around Elk Rapids offers beautiful parks and beaches. The sandy shores are perfect for a day of relaxation, swimming, or picnicking. For a more active day, there are numerous trails in and around the town for hiking and biking, offering beautiful views and a chance to explore the natural beauty of the region.

Unlock Your Dream Lifestyle in Leland: Connect with Robin Vilter Today!

As you plan your next adventure, remember that exploring these gems around Leland is not just about the destinations but also about the journey. Whether you’re looking for natural beauty, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, these day trips promise to offer something special.

And if you find yourself falling in love with the area, why not make it your home? For those considering a move to this beautiful part of Michigan, Robin Vilter is your go-to expert for all your real estate needs. With a deep understanding of the local market and a commitment to exceptional service, Robin can help you find your perfect home in or around Leland. Reach out to Robin Vilter today and take the first step toward making your Michigan dream a reality. Let your next adventure begin with a home in this charming region!

*Header image courtesy of Unsplash

Robin Vilter

Robin Vilter


About the Author

I was raised in Cincinnati but always summered on the lake in Leland. Being able to spend my summers up here was such a gift. Starting at the age of twelve we were able to drive the boat into town or to the yacht club or to a friend's house. My days were jam-packed. I would wake up and teach sailing school at the Leland Yacht Club from nine to one, then take a nap on the dock or the beach, shower, then drive into Leland in the late afternoon where I had a job as a hostess. My sisters and I did this every summer and when we had a driver's license we had more options for employment. I started teaching sailing school in Omena and working at night waiting tables at The Cove in Leland. We stashed away thousands of dollars every summer. Yes, we worked our tails off, but it really did not seem like it since we were enjoying all the beauty of Leelanau at the same time.

I attended Miami University in Ohio and chose creative writing since that was my easiest subject. I’ve not yet written a novel, but have started about five. After graduation, I bought the Riverside Inn with my mother and my sister. I later sold my shares when I realized that being a single parent and working late nights did not pair well with my mental health. It took a decade to raise my kids and go through two divorces.

I Earned My Real Estate License in 2016

By that point, I had bought and sold houses seven times over the course of twelve years. I had to be a real estate expert by then, right? The simple truth is I love real estate! Why did I even bother going to college? I felt like I should have been doing this since I was eighteen. What I love most about real estate is establishing great relationships. Each new client is a wonderful surprise. We live in such a small community, yet I get to meet new people all the time and usually, they turn out to be great friends. The other thing I love is the variety. Every house is different, every client is different, and it all comes with its own unique challenges.
I decided to separate from Coldwell Banker in 2021. Real estate boomed in 2020 and 2021. I managed a huge amount of volume pretty much by myself. Coldwell offered the power of a big brand, but I figured I could somehow make up for that. I took a big leap and joined Five Star Real Estate. The marketing group with Five Star encouraged me to build on my familiarity with the area. Many of the residents have heard of me in some way shape or form and I could build on my good reputation.
I chose Robin Vilter Group as the name of my business. We chose the robin bird as the logo for my name but also because of the symbolism. The robin is Michigan's state bird. It symbolizes hope, renewal, rebirth, new beginnings, and new projects, and is a sign of good things to come.

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