First, the scenery. Drink it in from the public beach at Clinch Park, TART Trail (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) and the two-masted Manitou.
Fantastic lunch options include the tomato soup served under puff pastry at Amical and sandwiches and dessert at Grand Traverse Pie Company.
The 35-mile Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore feels a million miles from anywhere.
Traverse City has many shops and galleries, including Bella Galleria for local fine art and Gallery Fifty for an eclectic array—fun, funky and refined.
Dinner at The Cooks’ House showcases sustainable Michigan produce.
The stylish and affordable Cambria Suites offer value and location (from $119).
For summertime fun, take in a movie at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In south of town.
Hop on US-31 and wind your way up the coastline or bike the 26-mile Little Traverse Wheelway from Charlevoix through Petoskey to Harbor Springs. Each town has its own personality, so choose the one that best fits.
Family-friendly Charlevoix has an easy-to-navigate downtown and lots of beachy lakefront, plus the quirky Earl Young’s Mushroom Houses, 25 private residences that look like something out of a fairy tale.
The Gaslight Shopping District in Petoskey gives off a Victorian vibe, and special-occasion Chandler’s promises inspired seasonal fare.
Classic Harbor Springs feels like a New England shoreside town. It’s also the gateway to Michigan’s famed Tunnel of Trees byway (M-119), which leads to the legendary Legs Inn, known for its Polish dishes atop a bluff.
Charlevoix Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 367-8557; visitcharlevoix.com 
Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (231) 271-9895; leelanauchamber.com 
Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau (800) 845-2828; petoskeyarea.com 
Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 872-8377; traversecity.com 
Add a Day
Two wine trails promise incredible scenery and expertly crafted vintages. Eight wineries and four restaurants dot the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail (downloadable maps available online). Standouts include Chateau Chantal and the cozy tasting room at Black Star Farms. Three loops on the Leelanau Wine Trail wind past more than two dozen wineries, a distillery and more.
5 Great Places to Stay, Resort Style
1 Tamarack Lodge Splurge and enjoy these 29 luxury condos along East Grand Traverse Bay. Seasonal beach bonfires, movie nights and wine tastings add to the atmosphere. From $410. (877) 938-9744; tamaracklodgetc.com 
2 Crystal Mountain Active families come to ski, hike, golf and play near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The spa’s design and service stuns guests; desserts like flambéed cherries jubilee from Thistle Pub and Grille impress diners. From $169. (800) 968-7686; crystalmountain.com 
3 Grand Traverse Resort This hotel is ideal for golfers, and families will enjoy the small indoor water playground. Aerie restaurant on the 16th floor has soaring windows and some of the best food in the region. From $269. (800) 236-1577; grandtraverseresort.com 
4 The Homestead Resort This laid-back retreat next to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is perfect for quiet weekends. The view of Lake Michigan is stellar from the beautiful outdoor pool. Foodies enjoy Nonna’s, a great farm-to-table Italian restaurant. From $135. (231) 334-5000; thehomesteadresort.com 
5 Boyne Mountain Amuse yourself ziplining or playing in the massive indoor pool at Mountain Grand. A huge spa awaits at this sprawling, chalet-style four-season resort. From $108. (800) 462-6963; boyne.com 
One Big Party!
Find a stunning array of beers in the microbreweries, brewpubs and taprooms included on Traverse City’s self-guided microbrew tours. Unusual local ingredients add flair to the city’s dining scene. (231) 947-1120; traversecity.com 
The Chubby Mary A proud fishing heritage thrives in the Leelanau Peninsula town of Leland, where visitors come to The Cove to savor the secret-recipe seafood chowder (with shrimp and clams) and to try a surprisingly delicious Chubby Mary—a bloody mary garnished with a smoked chub. (231) 256-9834; thecoveleland.com