Places Series: Northern Michigan

April 29, 2015

My family has had a place in northern Michigan for generations, so I was raised on the beauty and stunning simplicity of the area. Many school friends and families had places up there, and to this day it is often a reunion of St. Louisans anytime I can sneak a visit to the cabin. For anyone who has not visited, and even for those of us that vacation there often, the opportunities for spectacular photography are only a Petoskey stone’s throw away!

I can gush about a myriad of places to grab a camera and visit “up north” but for this article I am going to keep you on one road…M22. The “Route 66” equivalent in my home state, M22 (Michigan State Highway 22) takes you on a winding tour of all that makes Michigan one of the most beautiful locales in America…and one of the most photogenic. This iconic highway hugs the coastline of Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor all the way to Mackinac, but for this trip we’re going to look at just the very northern sights and best spots for photographs.

This amazing dune is nestled between Lake Michigan and the Glen Lakes just outside Glen Arbor. Climb the dune (can we all say waterproof camera?) or take the drive to the top of the dunes for some of the most magnificent views of the lakes…no matter where you turn there are stunning photographs waiting for you. Make sure to find the lighthouse and museum located less than a mile north.

An historic marina for fishing vessels. And one of the best whitefish restaurants in the nation! Enough said.

The Michigan coast boasts the most extraordinary lighthouses outside of New England. In addition to the Glen Arbor lighthouse, the NorthPort lighthouse is not to be missed, located north of Leland via one of the most natural areas of M22.

Enjoy the drive through these cities as you head north through some of the best grape, cherry, and apple growing land in the country. As you arrive in each city be sure to stop and enjoy the local flavor. Traverse City shares not one but two amazing bays often full of sailboats! Petoskey and Charlevoix have wonderfully historic sections of town built by the barons of Detroit and Chicago as summer homes away from the city heat. Harbor Springs is known for its marina and private peninsula homes, however there are artists aplenty in this area and my favorite glassworks is located in the heart of the ‘downtown’ district.

Ok, the drive over this bridge gives me the willies…there is only mesh between you and Lake Michigan. Yikes! Then the fact that this is one of the highest bridges in the country, and, well, there ya go. It has that height in order to allow the shipping traffic to run unobstructed beneath. I still get the willies. I would much prefer to take photos from the stunning view at the base of this mammoth bridge. You have access to the beaches next to the bridge that allow some spectacular angles as well as views of both the bridge and Mackinac Island itself. As for the Island, it can only be visited by hydroplane boats because there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. "Must photograph" locations on this island include the Grand Hotel (where “Somewhere in Time” was filmed, and where my parents spent their anniversary for more than 30 yrs), Fort Michilimackinac (say it five times fast!), National Forest, The Downtown District (full of beautifully maintained homes and businesses), and the Marina…this is one of the most amazing places for all types of photographers…nature, people, architecture, macro, beaches!

So when you've shot everything you can find, eaten all the fudge and cherry products you can stomach come see us and we’ll print out those awesome pics and you can try and stump me with where you shot which picture!