If you haven't experienced fall in Northern Michigan, what are you waiting for?! This truly is one of the most magical times of the year when the air is crisp, the colors begin to pop, and the summer crowds begin to fade away. We hopped in the car and drove four hours north to The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor at the end of October which was perfectly timed for peak leaf peeping. From multiple dining options, secluded beach access, and 500 acres to explore, The Homestead has something to offer in all four seasons in the heart of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
Disclaimer - Our two-night stay was sponsored by The Homestead. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
about the resort
There is so much to love about The Homestead but first let's start with the location. The resort is nestled in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, just a few miles from downtown Glen Arbor, and only a short 30-minute drive from Traverse City and Leland. This allows you to explore the best of Northern Michigan even if you're only visiting for a short weekend. The Homestead is located on close to 500 acres which gives you that private resort feel and also provides access to many beautiful trails for walking or biking around the property.
You can choose from a variety of lodging options including hotel rooms, suites, villas and homes. We stayed at The Inn which had a cozy, historic feel and overlooked Lake Michigan which was perfect for enjoying the breathtaking sunsets on the porch or while walking along the mile long beach. And one of the many benefits to fall travel is fewer crowds which meant most nights we had the beach completely to ourselves.
Depending on what season you visit, The Homestead also offers skiing, swimming, tennis, kayak rentals, and so much more! You can also relax and unwind at Spa Amira with a full menu of facial, body care, and massage services with panoramic views from the Sleeping Bear Dunes to the Manitou Islands.
dine in The Village
The Village is home to multiple dining options - each with their own unique style and menu with something that is sure to please everyone in your group. Our first night we had dinner at Whiskers which offers a laid back experience with outdoor dining tables, fire pits, and a wood fire grill. We were blessed with beautiful fall weather all weekend long and it was so fun being able to enjoy the outdoor space. The Philly cheesesteak was our favorite paired with their signature smoked wings.
Next door you'll find Cavanaugh's which offers a little bit of everything and is part grocery store, part restaurant. You can enjoy a pay by the pound breakfast buffet or order coffee and pastries to get your morning started on the go. They also offer pizza made right before your eyes and several other a la carte options for lunch. Want to enjoy a relaxing evening in your room? Choose a bottle of wine from their extensive beverage selection.
Our favorite dining experience of the weekend was at the signature Nonna's Ristorante. Open during the winter season, this cozy and intimate restaurant serves up classically-inspired contemporary Italian cuisine. I had the brown butter gnocchi and savored every bite (but of course saved room for dessert!) Pair your meal with a cocktail from the full bar or choose from their boutique wine selection. Nonna's is open Friday-Sunday and reservations are encouraged.
Golf at Manitou Passage
If you're looking for a unique way to take in the fall colors, head to the links at Manitou Passage Golf Club. This Arnold Palmer course is truly stunning with wide open meadows, dense hardwood and pine forests, dramatic elevation changes, and water hazards. The eighth hole was chosen by Palmer as one of his best Par 5’s and you'll have to play it to see why. The course is also well suited for all skill levels including beginners like myself all the way to the most skilled golfers. We had an early morning tee time on Saturday and it was such a peaceful way to start our day. We played on the last weekend of the season and the colors were at their peak which made our round that much more memorable.
Discover Sleeping Bear Dunes
The beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located just outside your door when you stay at The Homestead. In fact, two great trails are within walking distance of the resort: the Bay View Trail (located across the street from Cavanaugh's) and the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail which spans 22 miles from Empire to north of Glen Arbor and is great for biking. Others trails are just a short drive away. You’ll need a park pass for many of them which you can purchase as part of a lodging package or at any of the ranger’s station.
One of my favorite short, yet rewarding hikes is Pyramid Point. It's a 1.2 mile out and back trail that leads to stunning views atop the dunes overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. You'll pass through a beech and maple forest before climbing a short section of sand dune. This hike is great for all skill levels with only moderate elevation gain and can be completed in around 30 minutes.
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is another amazing way to see the landscape and learn more about the history of the dunes and how they formed over time. The 7.8 mile loop drive features multiple areas where you can get out and enjoy the views and the numbered stops coordinate with the educational map. The covered bridge and stops 9 and 10 can't be missed!
Explore the Area
Downtown Glen Arbor is located just a few minutes from The Homestead and is one of the most adorable towns to spend the afternoon wandering around the shops, wine tasting at M22, or my personal favorite - visiting the original Cherry Republic. There is so much to see and do here with tons of outdoor seating (and they are pet friendly!). Enjoy lunch with a full menu of cherry-inspired dishes, set the record for pit spitting, take home your favorite cherry products from the market, or enjoy a complimentary wine or soda tasting.
Wine tasting in Traverse City is just a short, 30 minute drive through the beautiful back roads of northern Michigan (which can also double as a leaf peeping experience). We made a stop at Rove Estate which is perfect for the fall as it sits at the highest point of Leelanau County offering a stunning backdrop for fall photos and memorable sunsets. Try a guided tasting or grab a glass of your favorite and head to the patio to sip and savor the views.
Located next door to Rove Estate is Gallagher's Farm Market which is home to all the fall fun including cider and donuts, farm animals, hay bale maze, and a pumpkin patch. This is a great stop for all ages and we loved getting our donut fix in. Across the street is Jacob's Farm which offer u-pick orchards, food trucks, cocktails from Mammoth Distillery, and a 10-acre corn maze!
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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