Up North in the Land of Delight

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Ask anyone from the state of Michigan what “Up North” means to them. For most Michiganders, especially those from the lower portions of “the mitten” (the state of Michigan is shaped like a hand wearing a mitten), Up North is a special place. It is an undefined geographical portion of the state where dreams are held and memories are made: dreams of sandy beaches and spectacular sunsets; and memories of bonfires and family vacations.

One of the more popular spots Up North is Leelanau Peninsula, and it’s also one of my favorites. My family and I recently spent a long weekend in nearby Traverse City and used it as a base for exploring Leelanau and other parts of the region.

We spent the better part of a day visiting Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Built in 1852, this lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is located in present-day Leelanau State Park at the very tip of Leelanau Peninsula, which separates Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. Visitors can go into the lighthouse for a self-guided tour and have the option of participating in a scavenger hunt. It is an interactive and entertaining history lesson as guests search the various rooms for particular items. The living quarters look much the same as they did a century ago when the lighthouse was occupied by its keeper and his family. If you are into antiques, anything from kitchen utensils to furniture, you will love looking around the inside of the lighthouse. I had a blast imagining what it might have been like to live there so many years ago.

The tour and the hunt culminate in a climb up to the top of the lighthouse and the stunning view of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. Just be warned: the climb up the ladder to the top may not be suitable for claustrophobes or young children. It is a short but steep ladder positioned in a small opening so an adult carrying a child up is really not an option. Lucia, who is four years old, managed just fine. She bragged about how “brave” she was, going up and down the ladder twice! Try to be brave and make the climb up yourself; you will be rewarded with a gorgeous vista.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

The view at the top

Definitely take some time to walk around the lighthouse grounds, as well. There are a few paths that lead directly to the lakefront where there are several rock-pile formations. No one really knows how or when they first appeared but they are neat to see. Since the lighthouse is part of a state park, stay a while. Hike some of the 8.5 miles of trails, or even make the park your base; there are fifty-five rustic campsites and two mini-cabins to choose from.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Rock piles

It doesn’t get much more “Up North” than Leelanau Peninsula. Spend a few minutes and you’ll see why Native Americans gave it the name Leelanau – translation, “land of delight”.

15500 N Lighthouse Point Rd, Northport, MI 49670. Admission to the lighthouse museum is $4 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-18; children age 5 and under are free. Not included is the daily entrance fee to Leelanau State Park which is $8 for non-Michigan residents.

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26 Responses to Up North in the Land of Delight

  1. Pola (Jetting Around) October 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Michigan is one of my favorite states, but I’m mostly familiar with its SW part (wineries!). One of these days I need to do a road trip up north and see it for myself. Traverse City and the surrounding area sounds like a great place to start – I love lighthouses!

    P.S. After meeting Lucia, I am not surprised she managed the climb. She’s fearless!! 🙂
    Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted…Photo(s) of the Week: Calle la Ronda in QuitoMy Profile

    • Francesca October 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you for saying that about Lucia. She really is fearless and I love her sense of adventure.

      If you like the wineries, then you definitely have to head Up North! The wines up there are 1000x better than those in SW Michigan and I’ll be writing about them soon.

  2. Romy October 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Oh, I love lighthouses! But this looks totally different to those in Germany, but very charming.
    Romy recently posted…Postcard of the Week: Delhi #pcotwMy Profile

    • Francesca October 26, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Lighthouses, no matter where, are quite charming – would you agree?

  3. Kiera @EasyTravelMom October 25, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    We loved Traverse City and that part of Michigan. It’s so beautiful and the beaches are perfect for families! Love the lighthouse!
    Kiera @EasyTravelMom recently posted…My Favorite Fall Foliage PhotosMy Profile

    • Francesca October 26, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      That area is SO beautiful! You were in Traverse City not long before we got there but it was like the tale of two trips: you had hot, beach weather, and we had cool, we-didn’t-even-put-on-our-bathing-suits-once weather 🙂 But we still loved it and had a great time!

  4. Raul (@ilivetotravel) October 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    That Lucia is already a tried-and-tested traveler! I keep reading about “up north” in Michigan and I really need to make plans to get there some day soon.
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted…Out, Up, and Down in Chile’s ValparaísoMy Profile

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Yes you do, Raul!

  5. Asanka October 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I was one time in the USA and i was in michigan. It was great. Very kind people 🙂

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      I’m sure the people of Michigan will love what you said about them. I’m also impressed that Michigan was on the itinerary for your one and only trip to the USA!

  6. @mrsoaroundworld October 27, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    I need to go to Michigan one day. Between you and Ted I have seen so much of what looks like a beautiful part of the world!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted…The Luxury Travel Blog Network – October 2013 EditionMy Profile

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      It really is beautiful. And it’s a special place to many of us here in the Midwest. I do my part to promote it to others around the world as much as I can.

  7. lola dimarco October 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    There’s always a narrow, claustrophobic climb before a gorgeous view isn’t there? Beautiful! And the idea of a scavenger hunt is a very cute way to learn!
    lola dimarco recently posted…Hotel Le Germain, #Montreal – by @JETSETextra @TheWrldWanderer & @loladimarcoMy Profile

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

      OMG yes! Ha ha, just like the climb up to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Anxiety-inducing! I agree, the scavenger hunt is a great way to learn about the lighthouse and all that’s inside. It really makes you stop and take a good look at things instead of trying to rush through.

  8. Erin at The World Wanderer October 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    Okay, sad but true, I have never been to Michigan. Eek! It’s terrible, but this is making me want to visit. Beautiful view and I love the rock piles.
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted…Map Nails.My Profile

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      You need to plan a little Midwest visit. Come to Chicago and we’ll road trip up to Michigan!

  9. Mary Anne October 28, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I’ve only been to Michigan once. It was in January and very cold and icy. I think it’s time for a summer trip.

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Michigan is glorious in summer but I love it just as much in winter! There is so much to do if you like spending time outdoors.

  10. Traveling Ted October 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Interesting name for the peninsula. The place where I disembarked for Isle Royale is called the Keweenaw Peninsula. Must mean “land of something else other than delight.” I take that back, it means portage.

    Anyway, love this area of Michigan. I never knew how cool it was on the upper mitten until I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes last year.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…Remembering Lou Reed and Velvet Underground in ParisMy Profile

    • Francesca October 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Oh, Ted… again, you crack me up. I’ve been to Keweenaw, too. That’s another spectacular spot in Michigan!

  11. Lance | Trips By Lance November 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Since talking to Traverse City at TBEX it’s high on my radar. I’m hoping to make a visit next summer. The “heat” of summer in northern Michigan is probably like spring in Memphis.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted…My Manly Bucket List to Support #Movember and #ManlyMomentsMy Profile

    • Francesca December 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      I hope you make it to TC next summer, Lance! It can get HOT there, too, but there’s that whole big Great Lake to jump in to cool off 🙂

  12. Mike Norton November 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    What a lovely article. It’s so good to know that you enjoyed your time here in TC! But I’m getting a little nostalgic for summer, looking at your photos. Now it’s a bit on the stark side here in the North. Winter is coming…
    And I hope you guys come back again soon, too!
    Stay well!

    • Francesca December 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      Thanks, Mike! By now, TC is probably covered in a blanket of snow, no? I’m sure it’s lovely, and we would like to come back during winter to participate in some snow sports.

  13. Fishing Fun in Dubai May 2, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    What a nice place, look like a lovely spot to explore!!!

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