As anyone who truly knows the great state of Michigan can tell you, it is not a state defined simply by hubs like Lansing and Detroit. For the most part, a good portion of this state’s particular character comes from its quieter corners – in particular, from the little towns that sit upon the shoreline of the great and beautiful Lake Michigan, seating among natural splendour and offering up the opportunity to vanish for a little while among the sort of breathtaking beauty and off-the-beaten-path charm that you’ll only find in small-town Michigan.
And if, by any chance you’re planning a walk on that side of the world, then you’re going to want to make sure one of your stops is Suttons Bay. Nestled on the shore of a cosy Lake Michigan inlet, this quiet little village, with its population of less than 700, offers the sort of quiet lakeside getaway that the frantic nature of modern living makes so many of us yearn for.
Best Things To Do
And to enhance your Suttons Bay experience, we’ve gathered below just seven things you simply have to do while you’re there.
1. Black Star Winery
Odds are that one of the main things that first brought you to northern Michigan was word of its wine industry – of the many fine vintages grown and fermented under that warm Michigan sun.
Well, it’s at places like the Black Star Winery where you’ll get the opportunity to sample some of those fine Michigan vintages right at the source – all while enjoying the view of 160 sprawling acres of lush, sun-soaked vineyard.
2. Suttons Bay Ciders
Let it never be said, however, that the drink-related wonders of northern Michigan stop with wines. The sun and soil are also ideal for the growing of grains and fruit; and as a result, the region is also the source of some truly delectable brews and spirits.
To keep up that whole small-town vibe, we’d personally recommend Suttons Bay Ciders, a brewery that’ll give you the opportunity to partake in some fresh samples of the region’s fine apple cider, whilst taking in a view that has been voted the best in the region.
3. Grand Traverse Bike Tours
Now, obviously, we’re talking about Michigan here; and no Michigan trip is complete without a lengthy outdoor excursion to take in the region’s natural wonders.
Headquartered on Suttons Bay’s St Joseph Street, the Grand Traverse Bike Tours are, well, just that: guided tours (or, if you prefer, self-guided tours) around the gorgeous Grand Traverse region, on bikes, with an emphasis on the wineries and vineyards that dot the lush bay area.
After all, a car trip is all well and good; but when you’re talking about a place as ruggedly beautiful and alive as the northern Michigan wilderness, there really is no way to experience it than with the breeze on your skin, the wind through your hair, and the scents of the region in your nostrils.
4. Suttons Bay Art Festival
Most folks with an affinity for traveling will agree that, when you visit a new place, you simply have to dedicate some time to take in the local artistic and cultural scene. Even if you’re not generally big on art, you really can’t say that you’ve experienced a community properly without taking in its artistic side.
Luckily, Suttons Bay offers up an annual art festival to completely immerse yourself in the local art scene with the yearly art festival. Taking place in the open air of the town’s Marina Park, this event gathers together over 100 local artists, whose gorgeous work in everything from painting and prints to glass and ceramic will offer you a breathtaking glimpse into the wonders of this small-town art scene.
5. Inland Seas Education Association
Suttons Bay is, of course, perched on the shore of Lake Michigan, one of the United States’ most breathtaking natural landmarks. And like so many other natural wonders, humankind’s impact upon it has not always been a positive one.
Thus, the non-profit Inland Seas Education Association is dedicated to offering students the opportunity to take to the waters of Lake Michigan themselves, and learn first-hand about this remarkable freshwater ecosystem, and what can be done to protect it.
But it’s certainly not just students who are catered to. The Association also offers a number of options for the lake-loving visitor – from wine-tasting sails to adult-orientated educational trips, the Association offers you the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the beauty and wonders of this remarkable freshwater expanse.
6. Eyaawing Museum & Cultural Centre
Really, your immersion in the historical and cultural wonders of Suttons Bay, and of the region in general, just isn’t complete without a visit to the Eyaawing Museum, perched on the rim of the lake on West Bay Shore Drive. Dedicated to the history and culture of the Grand Traverse Band of Anishinaabek throughout the region. Though small, the establishment showcases historical artifacts and artworks demonstrating the culture and daily lives of the Native American peoples that once made the region their home.
7. The Bay Theatre
And to really round out your cultural experience, we would be remiss to end the list without making mention of the Bay Theatre, located along St Joseph Street.
There’s just something about seeing a movie in a small theatre. Something about those cosy seating arrangements, that warm smell of popcorn and cider hanging in the air, that sense of familiarity with everyone who works there, that lends that extra sense of warmth and satisfaction to your cinematic experience. It’s something you just can’t get in those glossy, impersonal big-city movie theatres.
But odds are that, if you didn’t grow up in a small town, you simply don’t understand the unique charm of this particular experience. And before you leave Suttons Bay, you owe it to yourself to catch one of the indie or foreign films screened at the Bay Theatre. It’ll completely turn around your understanding of what a cinematic experience should be.