A teeny-tiny Traverse City for those who loathe crowds and find TC too overbuilt
Oh, Petoskey. We love you for everything you are, and also because you're not Harbor Springs. We love Sunset Park, on top of the bluffs overlooking Little Traverse Bay with the stair tower to Bayfront Park below. We love Bayfront Park, too, with the central promenade connecting the park to the downtown Gaslight District; we love the clocktower and the gazebo, and we especially love the Bayfront Park waterfall. A real waterfall! Take lots of selfies in front of it, then go have dinner and raid the wine cellar at Chandler's, a northern Michigan favorite -- or, skip dinner and have a glass of wine or cocktail at POUR Public House. When morning comes, rise with a house-roasted coffee with made-from-scratch breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Roast & Toast. Grab a corned beef sandwich at Cormack's Deli. The Crooked Tree Arts Center is also well worth a visit (there's also one in Traverse City).
A postcard-perfect Main Street USA town in the middle of wine country
The Leelanau Peninsula is a place you want to be all day, every day, all summer long, thanks to its bounty of vineyards, wineries, ciders, beers, and farm-to-table restaurants. It manages to be both rustic and sophisticated, and nowhere is that balance more apparent than in the epicenter of Leelanau, Suttons Bay. There's an (admittedly small) public beach at Marina Park, but there's also fantastic dining at places like Martha's Leelanau Table and 9 Bean Rows, plentiful cute boutiques through downtown Suttons Bay, and the entire Black Star Farms estate campus with the winery and tasting room, Heath & Vine restaurant, Leelanau Cheese Co., and a pretty terrific B&B at the Inn at Black Star Farms. There are also a number of other wineries and tasting rooms (because this is, after all, Michigan wine country), but for those who enjoy a more modern aesthetic with their wine tastings, check out Blustone Vineyards.