Sober Summer Travels 2018: Northern Michigan

Do you live in an area where they play those Pure Michigan ads voiced by Tim the Tool Man Taylor? They make Michigan sound like two parts garden of Eden, two parts Elysian Fields, and one part your grandma's kitchen where she's serving you fresh-baked cherry cobbler with that flaky crust that no one else on earth can duplicate. 

Because I work in advertising, or maybe because I live in proximity to a million Ohio State fans who view Michiganders as mortal enemies, I believed those ads were all total made-up bunk. Michigan, in my mind, was basically one giant burned-out warehouse.

That was until I took two long weekend trips to Northern Michigan (one to take my son to camp and one to bring him back six weeks later). Now I am a Pure Michigan believer.


Lake Leelanau at sunset.

Lake Leelanau at sunset.

We stayed at a dreamy little resort called Fountain Point on Lake Leelanau. We paddle-boarded, swam, fished, played tether ball, and laid around in the sun. 

I ate cherries, strawberries, and apricots purchased from self-serve farm stands in quantities I'm too embarrassed to admit to. They tasted as sweet as if they were hand crafted by Oompa Loompas.

We visited Traverse City, Leland, and Suttons Bay: sweet lakeside metropolises with cozy shops and glittering views. 

Other highlights and recommendations:

The long, arduous climb up the dune may bring some 13 year olds to their very knees.

The long, arduous climb up the dune may bring some 13 year olds to their very knees.

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes for hiking and marveling at random giant hills of sand where it seems like only forest should be

  • North Peak Brewing Co. for dinner with cheese soup that has pretzels in it

  • Lake Michigan for swimming in clear beautiful water without danger of bleeding out from shark attacks

  • Pasty consumption for feeling like a local and eating pie for lunch

As a non-drinker, I will say that the breweries, distilleries, and wineries located every ten feet might cause a bit of stress for someone trying to avoid drinks. But there's plenty to do in the spaces in between. I'm happy to report, again, that you can definitely have a wonderful time on vacation without drinking.

I am now saving up to spend $2M on a lakeside house in Pure Michigan. Pass me the ramen noodles.