We are really lucky this year. The fall colors are lasting, and as I type, on Oct. 23, color has not quite reached peek in a Leelanau. This is rare, and I think you should take advantage of it and book your trip north. There is still time. Today I heard we are at 70% color; my eye agrees. So good news, people: still lots of fall goodness to be had. Here’s my must-do fall list for Leelanau.
I’m always influenced by my latest projects, and having just finished Project 24, a series where I painted on location at all 24 (26, by the time I finished) wineries in the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. And I just launched a project with the Leelanau Conservancy to paint their protected lands. (A side note: On the Conservancy’s website is a book you can not leave home without, “The Trails of M22: 40 of the Most Beautiful Paths along Michigan’s Most Beautiful Highway.” My copy is dog-eared and very loved after its first season.”
That being said, here’s how I’d spend a perfect day in Leelanau:
I’d get up early and head down Bohemian Road towards Bohemian Beach. About halfway down the road, you will see swamp lands on both sides of the road, where the cold mornings create some amazing fog and mist. Teamed with fall colors, it’s spectacular.
After you snap your photos, head on down to the beach for a stroll in the magical morning light. Take note of the pine trees lining the shore. They are very expressive and always bring a smile to my face.
You’ll be hungry now, and stoping at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor is how I like to start my days. It’s an experience and by no means a secret. It will be your new favorite dive that’s not really a dive at all.
Then I’d head down M22 to Clay Cliffs for a hike. The lookout point over Lake Michigan is a breath catcher, and the view over Lake Leelanau in fall is not to be missed. Enjoy! I’m excited for you just thinking about it.
Now that you’re done hiking, you’ve earned a treat: It’s time to hit a few vineyards, many of which serve small plates along with their delicious libations. I’m not biased: They are all wonderful. A few with views that will show off fall colors include L.Mawby and 45 North; both of these vistas are protected by the Leelanau Conservancy. A few others where you can sip and enjoy the fall color parade are Rove Estate, Black Star Farms and Blustone Vineyards. There are plenty more — just check a few out, and next time you’re up, a few more. They all have maps with all of the wineries listed. They are ALL worth the visit (just not in one day, ha).
The sun is setting earlier these days, but it’s no less extraordinary. Head over to Van’s Beach in Leland to watch the sunset and finish off your day with a meal to remember. You know the saying “October skies”? You’ll see why. But bundle up, it gets cold on Lake Michigan this time of year.
Dinner time? This is foodie country, so you can’t really go wrong. Since you’re in Leland, the Riverside Inn is always exceptional, but there is so much good food in Leelanau — I recommend them all!
Now, have fun editing up those amazing photos, and patting yourself on the back for throwing caution to the wind and spending the day in Pure Leelanau! Cheers!