Michigan M-22: A Spectacular Coastal Highway

A scenic drive on Lake Michigan's northern coast

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Michigan M-22 is a gorgeous  highway running along the coast of West Michigan, one of the most beautiful in the whole country. It meanders 116 miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline where islands can be spotted in the distance and towering dunes fill the landscape Plan to stop at many small charming towns, wineries, cafes, scenic overlooks, beaches, light houses and eclectic shops.  Every spot seems picture perfect and beckons exploration. No matter what time of year, M-22 is lovely though fall, when the jewel colors of turning leaves stretch out for miles, is the most popular. But even in winter, with snow covering the landscape, there’s sledding, skiing and horseback riding. We say come no matter when as you’re sure to enjoy this magical place.

What to do? It’s so very hard to choose. But here are some of our Michigan M-22 favorites. Let us know yours.

Enjoy shopping in sophisticated Frankfort with a restored old-time theater and award winning Storm Cloud Brewing. And don’t miss the simple charm of Elberta (tucked along the bay) and lakeside cities like Empire, with organic chocolates from the Grocer’s Daughter and a huge antique mall.

Driving along Michigan M-22, you’ll pass through Leelanau, a peninsula filled with orchards and vineyards, lakes, streams and sand dunes. Make time to visit Glen ArborSleeping Bear Dunes, Leland (an old fishing village, its wharves and canneries and shacks now shops and restaurants), the gallery-filled Suttons Bay, and the eateries and shops of Northport at the top of the peninsula where chef Mario Batali has a home.

Spend the night (or week) at the wonderful Watervale Inn, a resort in Arcadia, a delightful former logging town dating to the 1890s and nestled between Little Heron Lake and Lake Michigan. And take a side trip to the Betsey River Lily Farm bursting with acres of daylilies and art near Thompsonville.

More Michigan Itineraries:

Detroit Historical … Discover Motor City’s African American stories
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for First Timers … Lighthouses, lakeshores, museums and more

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