The world’s largest freshwater lake system doesn’t just create ideal conditions for northern vineyards. It’s also home to a recreational paradise for every interest and ability.
“Michigan is an amazing place [with] the amount of natural area preserved and available for recreation,” says Cristin Hosmer, winemaker at the 1855 Project. “You can swim at some of the most pristine beaches all day and eat at some of the best farm-to-table restaurants featuring local wines at night.”
Here are some of Michigan’s wine and beer pros’ favorite spots to hike, bike, paddle and boat.
Getting out on the Great Lakes
“What makes us special for nationwide visitors? The Third Coast, of course,” says Jay Briggs, winemaker at 45 North Vineyard and Winery. He’s referring to the 1,638 miles of shoreline that are accessible across the state and bring the beach to the Midwest.
“The Great Lakes are a true marvel,” says Briggs. “Each one is unique and offers so many possibilities. Boating, fishing, swimming, sailing, kiting [and] surfing—yes, you can surf a couple of the lakes.”
Hosmer enjoys slipping onto a paddleboard at a peaceful Old Mission Peninsula beach she’s not ready to name yet. Meanwhile, brewers from Right Brain Brewery and winemakers from Left Foot Charley winery board the Tall Ship Manitou for tastings on the water.
Michigan’s Best Hiking
Michigan has more than 13,000 miles of designated trails, but the northwest’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore stands out. “It’s miles of dune lakeshore with stunning views, 100 miles of hiking trails, a bike trail, hunting, fishing, camping [and] birding… it’s a must-see when you’re in the area,” says Briggs.
Hosmer agrees. “Sleeping Bear Dunes boasts the most amazing hikes to picture-perfect vistas and sandy beaches.” For the park’s backcountry, she recommends South Manitou Island.
Adam McBride, owner and winemaker of Hickory Creek Winery, is an avid hiker and trekker with experience in the Andes in South America, the Canadian Rockies, the Caucasus in Europe and the Cascades in North America. Closer to home, he enjoys backcountry camping and section hiking along Michigan’s segment of the national North Country Trail.