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Northern Michigan Getaway Guide

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A travel guide to Northern Michigan including dining, shopping and water recreation in Traverse City and Suttons Bay.

Northern Michigan Getaway Guide - The Lemon Bowl

If you follow me on social media or have been reading my blog for some time, you know that my passion for the state of Michigan runs deep. As much as I love traveling and exploring new cities, there is no place in the world I’d rather live than right here in #PureMichigan.

Suttons Bay Beach - The Lemon Bowl

Earlier this month I traveled 3 hours north to Suttons Bay for an intimate blogger retreat put together by two of my closest friends, Rachel and Erin. Rachel and I became friends several years ago when we hosted Taste of Michigan together and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Erin on several other blogging trips.

Sharing By The Shore Ladies - The Lemon Bowl

Similar to other retreats I’ve hosted and attended in the past, the premise of these types of get-togethers is to create a casual setting that is conducive to exchanging ideas, brainstorming, solving problems and learning from one another.

Food Photo Session Waffles and Jam - The Lemon Bowl

Food Styling by the beautiful and talented Kristen

As I touched on in my Eat Sea Retreat recap, most of us bloggers are self-employed and work alone out of our homes. We have built our businesses from the ground up, learning as we go, and making a lot of mistakes along the way.

Morning Session at the Table - The Lemon Bowl

By pooling together our knowledge and brainstorming with one another, we not only grow our own blogs but we help build up the blogging community as a whole. I am a firm believer that a rising tide lifts all boats which is why I believe in these types of retreats.

Deb and Liz - The Lemon Bowl

Of course, it’s also a special treat to finally meet the people you’ve long admired from a distance such as the incredibly talented and beautiful Deb pictured above.

Aggie in Harbor - The Lemon Bowl

The fact that this retreat took place in my own back yard was an added bonus. Before blogging full time, I was working in destination marketing promoting the state of Michigan to out of state travelers.

Liz and Aggie in Harbor - The Lemon Bowl

Needless to say, I was giddy with joy as I watched my friends from Florida, Utah, Texas and beyond dip their toes in our white sandy beaches and fresh, unsalted water for the first time. My girl Aggie who lives in Orlando immediately fell in love with the Grand Traverse Bay.

Breakfast Parfaits with Bobs - The Lemon Bowl

To make sure we had plenty of time with one another, we rented a house right in downtown Suttons Bay. Having a full kitchen to cook together and share meals was a nice change from the typical conference or blogger trip when we so rarely get to break bread in this manner.

Milk Means More Logo Square

It was even more special because one of my longest and dearest clients, Milk Means More, was the primary sponsor of our retreat. If you’re not familiar, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan represents the hundreds of dairy farmers throughout the state of Michigan that produce dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese and more. As a Michigan resident, I am very passionate about the work these farmers do and it’s an honor to work for them.

Breakfast Collage - The Lemon Bowl

A very special shout out to several of our other delicious sponsors including Door to Door Organics, Sabra, Bob’s Red Mill, Bonne Maman Jam, KitchenAid and many more. There is something so special about the rare opportunity to get in the kitchen and cook with your colleagues. None of that would have been possible without these generous sponsors whom I am lucky enough to also call clients.

Mawby Group Photo - The Lemon Bowl

If you’ve never traveled to Michigan before, you might be surprised to learn that the western half of the state (also known as the “fertile valley”) is lined with vineyards, wineries, distilleries and breweries. The growing climate in much of the area is similar to that found in France in Germany. In fact, Michigan is the 4th largest grape-growing state in the country.

Mawby Collage - The Lemon Bowl

If you love sparkling wine like champagne or prosecco, you must add Mawby winery and tasting room to your list of must-see sites in Northern Michigan. One of my favorite ways to spend a day is to follow the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail which is home to over 25 wineries all within a stones throw of one another.

Map of Northern Michigan - The Lemon Bowl

Of course, you can’t visit Suttons Bay without making a stop in Traverse City. Located just 25 minutes south, it is also the home to the Cherry Capital Airport offering direct flights from several major US hubs including Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit.

Traverse City State Theater - The Lemon Bowl

Downtown Traverse City is lined with unique shops, eateries, theaters, book stores and more. For edible souvenirs or a quick lunch, be sure to visit Cherry Republic’s newly renovated and expanded location on Front Street. Not only is it home to my favorite dark chocolate covered cherries but their cafe offers a full menu of tasty treats.

Traverse City Kayaks - The Lemon Bowl

After lunch, take advantage of Michigan’s fresh water recreation activities such as kayaking, canoeing or a private sailboat ride.

Aerie Grand Traverse Resort - The Lemon Bowl

For a unique dining experience, I highly recommend dinner and drinks at Aerie Restaurant & Lounge located on the 16th floor of the Tower at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. They were so gracious to host us on the final evening of our retreat and it was the perfect atmosphere for our last night together.

Mawby Kristin Liz Aggie - The Lemon Bowl

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination, a romantic escape for two or a fun girls’ getaway, you won’t regret adding Northern Michigan to your travel bucket list.

Sail Boat Northern Michigan - The Lemon BOwl

Don’t forget fall and winter – the foliage tours in October are breathtaking and the skiing in January is pristine. No matter what time of year, there is no place more magical than Pure Michigan.

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

40 Comments

  1. I was totally blown away by Michigan, which I did not expect to be. SUCH a gorgeous place, and I can’t wait to go back one day to explore even more. It was a highlight to hang out with you, though, and to get to know you better. You are amazing! :)

  2. I have to admit that I have been following along with your photos on Instagram, and I am pleasantly surprised by just how beautiful Michigan is! It is not at all what I would expect it to be. Oh, and if you ever need another food blogger to invite to a Michigan retreat, I am definitely your girl! ;) I would love to visit and explore those vineyards.

  3. I pretty much want to move to Michigan during the summer! Amazing time of year .. and growing up in the midwest (in both WI and IL) I think that Michigan is the best of the Lake Michigan dwellers! Gorgeous! Great recap girl, it was so fun hanging out again! Can’t wait to see you in October!

  4. What a fun recap! Suttons Bay is one of my favorite places in Michigan- it is incredibly beautiful! I love your gorgeous pictures! What a great representation of our awesome state!

  5. The Traverse City area has been on my radar for awhile now, ever since my family stayed on Mackinac Island a few summers ago. It is definitely on my road trip bucket list – and to coordinate our visit with the cherry harvest. Some day. Hopefully soon!

  6. I kind of regret not jumping in a kayak for a ride on the water while I was there! I guess I’ll have to come back for that ;)
    Beautiful recap of a beautiful part of our country! I can understand the pride you have of where you live, it’s a gem! Miss you!

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