Posted by on July 21, 2011 in On Vacation - 4 Comments

Northwest Lower Michigan

It’s the top vacation destination for Detroiters, and possibly all Midwesterners, so Northwest Lower Michigan seemed the natural choice for the first post in our “On Vacation” pages. Town after lakeside tourist town, each with its own unique flavor and charm, populate this meandering stretch of Lake Michigan shore, from Frankfort in the South to Cross Village in the North. I Love Detroit Michigan can only hope to scratch the surface of this expansive area with US Navy Blue Angels at Cherry Festival, Traverse City, Michigan 2a single blog entry, as each municipality along the way is undoubtedly worthy of a post all its own, but we managed to pare it down to a handful of highlights.

Located at the base of Grand Traverse Bay and the Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City represents the urban epicenter of the region. The surrounding area generates the lion’s share of the United States’ tart cherry crop, and in the first full week of July, the city hosts its National Cherry Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, Traverse City, MichiganFestival, estimated to attract nearly half a million people every year. In addition to a butt-load of humanity, the festival also attracts the United States Navy’s incredible “Blue Angels” stunt flying team on a nearly annual basis.

Traverse City proper is also home to a decent variety of photo-worthy historical structures, including a few classic Gordon W. Lloyd designed buildings on the city’s partially redeveloped State Hospital grounds, formerly and awesomely Perry A. Hannah House, Traverse City, Michigan 1known as “The Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane”. Closer to downtown, on 6th Street, between Union and Wadsworth, there’s a 1904 Carnegie funded public library building and a pretty sweet stretch of historic homes that includes the stunning Victorian mansion of one of the town fathers, Perry Hannah, now known as Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.

In recent years, much of the surrounding area’s cherry growing land has been re-purposed for Chateau Grand Traverse Winery, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigangrape vines, thus establishing the region as a center of wine production, as well. Highly regarded vintners of the region include Leelanau Cellars, Chateau Chantal, and the makers of one of the country’s best late-harvest Rieslings, Chateau Grand Traverse.

Further north along US-31 is the town of Charlevoix, home to a handful of eclectic architectural gems created by the hands of local legend, Earl Young. Young’s designs often defy Earl Young House #1, Charlevoix, Michigandescription and I Love Detroit Michigan happily defers to this great online article about Young’s life and work. Be sure to take a spin down the main stretch of their quaint and scenic downtown that includes a great drawbridge kids love and commuters hate. You won’t find it pictured in our album, but keep in mind while parked, waiting for the bridge to close, that the Weathervane Terrace overlooking the channel is also an Earl Young design.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan 3Head west out of Traverse City on M-72 for about 25 miles and then turn either left or right on M-22 to find the crown jewels of Northwest Lower Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Check out the National Park Service’s online guide to the park here, and keep in mind that I Love Detroit Michigan recommends the foot path to Pyramid Point for hikers, and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive for motorists. We suspect you’ll think we’re overstating the case when we tell you, dear readers, that both Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan 5locations will present visitors with endless panoramic vistas of absolutely unequaled natural beauty. We’re not. We’ve been there, and we’re talking astrally projected vortexes of spiritual communion with nature, if you’re into patchouli-drenched crap like that. Hit the Dune Climb gift shop if you’re not. Ferry service from the town of Leland takes the daring to the wildest extremes of the park, North and South Manitou Islands, where backcountry campers can get both a close-up shot of the remote South Manitou Island Lighthouse and possibly eaten. ~I♥DM

About the author

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Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.

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