4. Traverse City, MI
Must-eat/drink: Locally grown dinner at The Cooks' House, homemade pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company
Don't leave without: Thoroughly exploring Leelanau Peninsula's many vineyards and incredible coastline, from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (one of the 25 best beaches in the whole damn country) to the charming beach towns of Empire, Northport, and Suttons Bay
Weekend highlights: Traverse City sits on the coast of a Lake Michigan bay, at the base of the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula, all of which is accessible within a 45-minute drive. Traverse City's four-block waterfront Downtown has a culinary scene that can go toe to toe with any city on the East Coast -- but with a laid-back atmosphere free of coastal pretense, and the natural beauty, beaches, and spectacular golf courses you need to take a deep breath and get away from it all. Leelanau Peninsula wine has exploded in the past decade as grape growers explore unique varietals, and no trip would be complete without visiting some of the peninsula's more than two dozen vineyards. If it's beer you're after, head off of Leelanau to Short's Brewing -- one of the most innovative craft brewers in the country and one of the top destinations for beer pilgrims -- in the town of Bellaire.
Beer lovers will be perfectly happy staying in town at 7 Monks Taproom, one of the 33 best beer bars in America, or any number of great bars like The Filling Station, Brewery Ferment, Terra Firma, Brew, and Right Brain. As for food, locally grown/sourced/caught is the name of the game, and the offerings at The Cooks' House definitely shouldn't be missed. Alliance, a vegetable-focused (but not vegetarian) small-plates place, opened up in early 2016 and has quickly put itself on the map as one of the best in town. For breakfast, lunch, and espresso, hit up the teeny-tiny Frenchies Famous and keep an eye out for Mario Batali, who called it one of his nine favorite restaurants in the world (along with The Cooks' House). If you make it up to Suttons Bay, 9 Bean Rows -- another farm-focused joint with inventive seasonal menus -- will make the journey worth your while. And of course, don't miss out on cherry pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company (Traverse City also happens to be the "Cherry Capital of the World," because cherries definitely need a capital city somewhere). -- Bison Messink, deputy editor