There is nothing more magical each fall than the leaves changing from green to their brightest and most brilliant selves. While most people flock to Vermont, Connecticut and the rest of New England to see Fall at it’s best, those of us that live in Michigan are lucky enough to have some of the best fall colors right in our own backyards.
There are literally hundreds of Color Tours that you can take around our great state. Whether you’re in the tip top corner off the UP or in suburban Detroit, you’re really not to far from one of M Live’s
best color drives.
But, of course, I have a personal favorite. And that is the one that I’m going to share with you today!
Oh hey Leelanau Peninsula! Now, if you ask me, I’ll tell you there is no better color tour than taking a drive up M22. I know, I’m a die hard M22 fan, and will love it endlessly until the day I die. There is something about being on the Leelanau Peninsula that just makes me so dang happy. And as always, this color tour is by no means the absolute best number one color tour in the state, I just happen to think it is 🙂
Last weekend, my hubby, parents and I headed on a color tour up M22. You guys, it STILL wasn’t at peak color, so if you’re not doing anything this weekend, I highly suggest making the trip North. It was starting to get so pretty, I can’t even imagine how perfect it will be later this week!
The classic M22 color tour begins in Traverse City, and has you doing a loop around the Leelanau Peninsula. I personally like to start mine a little bit differently.
Where to Begin: Start your color tour in Manistee, MI. M22 literally begins here, and I love driving north the entire way. (To save some time, you can hop on 22 just past the Cherry Bowl Drive in, but you miss some great places along the way!)
What You’ll Pass: As you begin your trip North from Manistee, you’ll head through the small town of Onekama, Michigan. It’s cute and quaint, but not a must stop if you ask me. (Unless you want a slice of Pizza. Than that’s an entirely different story! The BP there sells some seriously outstanding pizza. No joke!) M22 winds up the Lake Michigan coastline, so you’ll be able to catch glimpses of the lake every once in awhile. You’ll see cute little farm stands, apple orchards, and of course, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course.
First Stop: Personally, I think your first stop should be the lookout at Arcadia Bluffs. I mean… look at this view! Yes, you have to climb a bunch of stairs to get there, but I promise, it’s totally worth it! You’ll find the lookout just past the golf course, on the right hand side of the road. Don’t worry. You won’t miss it. There’s a big parking lot and it’s always full of cars.
Second Stop: Continue on from Arcadia Bluffs until you reach Frankfort, Michigan. By far one of my favorite small towns along M22, you’ll find the the cutest downtown with a ton of great shops. There are some amazing places to eat here if you’re hungry (Dinghy’s. Enough said.) and a great farmer’s market every Saturday.
After Frankfort, we usually don’t stop until we hit the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We like to spend the majority of our time on the Peninsula, rather than getting to it. However, we’re locals, and have driven this road thousands of times. So, keep in mind that while you’re on M22, you should ALWAYS leave time to stop and smell the roses. Or the apples. Or horses. Whatever floats your boat.
Third Stop: Your next stop HAS to be The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. I mean, you can’t drive all the way up to the Peninsula and not take a detour onto Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. You have to get off of M22 to do this, but don’t worry, 109 will lead you directly back to 22 after enjoying the dunes. While you might not see a ton of color in some parts of your drive, you will see the sand dunes and beautiful views of Lake Michigan. And, of course, at a lot of the lookouts you’ll see sprinkles of fall color all around you. Best sure to bring a coat along, it’s cold on top of that dune!
Fourth Stop: After leaving Sleeping Bear, keep heading north to Glen Arbor. Now at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me just say this. I’ve said it a zillion times, but I really think this is where you need to stop and grab some lunch and stretch your legs. I love love love LOVE Glen Arbor. I love Art’s and Cherry Republic and Cottonseed and Bear Paw and well, you get the picture. You’ll love it too, if you’ve never been, and I’m positive you’ll want to spend some extra time here. But instead of showing you ANOTHER photo of Glen Arbor, here is the pretty barn right near the Dune Climb between the Dunes and Glen Haven.
Final Stop: Keep heading North a little ways longer until you get to Fishtown/Leland. Again, it’s beautiful, the shopping is great, it’s unique, and you will love it.
We personally like to end our trip in Fishtown. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love the rest of M22, or that I don’t think you should explore it. It just means that at this point, we’ve been in the car long enough, and we’re usually pretty content with everything we’ve seen. I mean… this is Trev just after getting in the car at Fishtown:
Chances are, you’ll be exhausted too. If you’re not from the area and are staying the night in Traverse City, of course you should continue on 22, because it will take you right to TC. But we like to end at Fishtown and start our return trip back down 22. This way, if there was anything we missed and wanted to stop and see/ get a picture of, we easily can.
Ugh. I’m so happy I get to live in a world where there are Octobers.
I hope you all are enjoying your Monday’s! And if your Monday was kinda lame, just keep thinking… we’re already one day closer to the weekend!