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Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Color in Leelanau, the Sleeping Bear Dunes & Traverse City

by Andrew McFarlane

Fall color season is a great time to visit the Leelanau Peninsula. Our roadsides are lined with maple and oak and while the hillsides catch fire in late September of every year, the pace slows down and gives visitors a little more elbow room to slow down and enjoy it all. Here's a few of our favorite fall features and websites...

•Leelanau Webcams There's a few webcams that can give you a live look at the state of fall color in the region. If you turn the Cove Cam in Leland, you can see some of the color on Lake Street in Leland. Inland Seas has a webcam on Suttons Bay. You can also check in on downtown Traverse City.

•Fall Color Photos You can get some great fall color photos from the Leelanau.com photo group and also through the Leelanau blog's Fall archive. There's some nice fall backgrounds as well!

•Wine Touring The Leelanau peninsula is home to over 20 wineries, many of them off-the-beaten-path. Visit tiny tasting rooms like Chateau Fontaine in Lake Leelanau, or explore the impressive Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. Each as diverse and interesting as the award-winning wines they produce.

•Fall Surfing! You might not be aware that Leelanau boasts some excellent surfing in the Fall.
•The M-22 Color Tour explores 116 miles of scenic highway winding through the countryside of Benzie, Manistee, and Leelanau Counties.

Over at Michigan.org their fall color tour for Leelanau/Traverse City/Benzie features Leelanau:

"Land of Delight" is the English translation of the Indian wood "leelanau," and it's easy to understand the reason for so naming the Leelanau Peninsula, especially in fall. Circling the perimeter of the place many call Michigan's "little finger" is a color tour that has been popular for decades. An easy and interesting route, M-22 takes you along the shoreline through the quaint villages of Suttons Bay, Peshasbestown, Omena and Northport, with water views almost the entire way. North of Suttons Bay the sign reads: Northport 12 miles. Northport, situated near the tip of Leelanau Peninsula, overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, is a picture-perfect town, with a marina, waterfront, unique shops, galleries and restaurants.

Each port town has its own unique charm, and each is a perfect place for shopping, dining, trying your luck at the casino or just breathing the crisp fall air. Tour the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, a living museum. Along the western coast, Leland and Glen Arbor offer still more options, and spectacular autumn color can be expected in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 71,000-acre national park that includes 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Go barefoot "one last time" when you encounter the massive sand dunes and stunning sunset beaches.

According to the National Park Service, many of the best spots for viewing fall colors at Sleeping Bear are easily reached by car or by a brief hike. The park's popular Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, for instance, gives motorists a bird's-eye view of areas like Alligator Hill, where brilliant fall foliage is set off by Glen Lake's tropical shades of turquoise, jade and cobalt blue.

Get more at puremichigan.org

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