Experience the Beautiful M-22 Scenic Drive in Northwest Michigan
It's by far one of the most beautiful drives in America, and it's right here in northwest Michigan. This 116-mile stretch of road...M-22...winds through the scenic countryside of Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau counties. Though very pretty in spring and summer, the fall season is when you really must take this drive along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Along the way you can visit wineries, art galleries, and experience small-town friendliness.
The southern-most section of M-22 starts in Manistee County off US-31. Manistee is a charming Victorian port city, best known for the historic Ramsdell Theater, the 1.5 mile Riverwalk, gorgeous beaches and golf courses, and a popular gaming casino. Two of Manistee's biggest festivals are the Forest Festival over July 4th and Old Christmas Weekend in early December. Follow M-22 up through the villages of Onekama and Bear Lake until you reach Arcadia, home of Arcadia Daze in July and Arcadia Hills Golf Course.
Continuing north up M-22 you'll arrive in Benzie County and the towns Frankfort and Elberta. Visit the clean beaches along Lake Michigan, try your hand at fishing, stop at Elberta's Waterfront Park, or visit the Point Betsie Lighthouse, one of the most famous lights along the lakeshore. Follow the 22-mile Betsie Valley Trail from Frankfort through Elberta, Beulah and Thompsonville...excellent for hiking and biking. As you're enjoying your color tour, be sure to stop in Benzie County for their Fall Festival in October.
Your scenic trip along M-22 will bring you into Leelanau County and the small village of Empire, headquarters for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, named the most beautiful place in the United States by the viewers of Good Morning America. Fall is an excellent time to visit this National Park...you'll still be able to take in its magnificence, but without all the crowds. It's a place you must visit to appreciate how history and nature come together to form spectacular sand dunes. Both Empire and Glen Haven give you a glimpse into the past with their numerous museums...and you'll enjoy the quaint shops and variety of restaurants. Continue along M-22 up through the Leelanau Peninsula past Leland, Northport, and Suttons Bay...until you reach the end in Traverse City. Known as the "Cherry Capital of the World," Traverse City is one of America's Top 10 beach towns. Championship Golf Courses, world-class spas, pristine beaches and exquisite food make this the perfect ending to your M-22 fall color tour.