Lake Michigan Coastal Tour / M-22 Scenic Drive
Throughout the year visitors and locals alike flock to Michigan’s west coast to experience some of the most picturesque landscape that Mother Nature has to offer. In the fall, vibrant colors and farm markets line the road of this scenic highway. Manistee County is the gateway to the Scenic Michigan Highway M-22. Begin your journey in Manistee County and drive north along Lake Michigan. Traffic will slow down and you will quickly realize you and your fellow travelers are all on this road to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and the beautiful landscape that surrounds you.
Points of Interest
Anticipated Tour Time (hours)
Total Distance (miles)
HOW TO TAKE THE TAKE THIS SELF-GUIDED TOURExplore by our recommended tour route - or - Explore on your own
Explore with our recommended route map
Explore the Best Scenic Autumn Drive in the USA as voted by USA Today Readers in 2015. This one-of-a-kind scenic drive takes you along the Lake Michigan shoreline through the beautiful rolling landscape of Northern Michigan. Download our recommended route map and explore all of the top destinations along the way.
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Explore on your own
Don’t have time to explore the entire M-22 scenic drive? Browse through our top points of interest and make the decision for yourself on which segment to explore. You may use the map below, and browse the additional information outlined. Happy trails!
Expanded Self-Guided Tour Information for each point of interest – Note: The numbers correspond with the points outlined in the downloadable .pdf located above.
Depart Manistee: As you leave Manistee and hook up with the M-22/US-31 junction at the Little River Casino Resort, you will be met with undulating terrain and rolling farmland.
(1) Douglas Valley: Just a short drive off of both M-22 and US-31, Douglas Valley is a great spot to sip wine & hard cider as well as shop over 100 Michigan made speciality products. Douglas Valley is just off Schoedel Rd.
(2) The Art Deck: As you drive along M-22 you will quickly come upon Miller Road. If you are in the mood for outdoor art, we recommend checking out Camp Tosebo and the Art Deck. Local artists feature works outdoors on this elaborate collection of exterior decks within the woods. It is a great spot that is worth the 30 minute detour to stop and enjoy art!
The Village of Onekama (3) is a mere 10 miles from the beginning of M-22 but is one of the highlights of the trip. Known as the “Two Lake Town,” Onekama is home to Portage Lake and beautiful Lake Michigan access along the west coast. Here you will find quaint shopping and dining options along with great waterfront parks throughout the village and along Portage Point Drive on your way to Lake Michigan Access (5) Be sure to stop at the Artesian Well (4) on Portage Point Drive and fill up your water bottles! The well’s water is some of the most pure in the region! As you continue north from Onekama, you will come upon the farmers markets and the rolling farmlands will soon turn to forested tunnels as you approach the sleepy village of Arcadia.
(6) Pierport Well – Old Facefull: If you enjoyed the Artesian Well in Onekama, you may consider stopping by “Old Facefull” in Pierport, Michigan. This small village is comprised of only a few farm houses, but has a great Lake Michigan access point at the end of 13 Mile Road.
As you swing down the sweeping hills of M-22 you will quickly come up on the sleepy village of Arcadia. Home to a great museum, boating and the world famous Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course (7). To take in the serenity of the fall colors in Manistee County, you must plan to make a stop at Inspiration Point (The Arcadia Overlook) (8). This is one of the highest points in the area where you can climb the 120 steps to the top of the look-out platform and enjoy the majestic beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline as you look south across the heart of Manistee County.
The Arcadia Dunes (9) (part of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy) is a beautiful nature area along the shores of Lake Michigan. Here you will find a trail network that has a handicap accessible boardwalk to a beautiful scenic overlook. The northern trail segments will take you to the Old Baldy dune. A beautiful landscape without all of the hustle and bustle associated with Sleeping Bear Dunes.
When you are nearly 10 minutes from Frankfort, you will drive through a chute of trees and see Elberta (10) and Frankfort (11) in the distance, flanked by the burnt oranges and reds against the aqua water of Lake Michigan. As you venture “into the valley” stop in both Elberta and Frankfort. There are great opportunities to grab lunch, take in some shopping and see the historic Frankfort lighthouse at the waterfront park. If you have time, be sure to drive down Forest and Leelanau Avenues and enjoy the vibrantly restored Victorian homes that adorn these streets. Many are painted in vibrant colors with lush landscaping and wrap-around porches.
(11) Point Betsie Lighthouse: Considered one of the most famous and oldest standing landmarks in all of Benzie County, the Point Betsie Lighthouse marks the southern nautical entrance to the Manitou Passage. It was built in 1858 and may be toured on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day to Columbus Day in the early afternoons.
Miles of sandy beaches, bluffs that tower 450’ above Lake Michigan, lush forests and crystal clear inland lakes await you on this stretch of your Michigan Fall Color Tour! If you feel like stretching your legs, feel free to get out and enjoy the hiking trails of Old Indian Trail (13), Platte Plains (14) or the Empire Bluff Trail (15). All explore the deep hardwoods of the National Lakeshore ending on the shores of Lake Michigan on the rolling sands of the dunes. Each trail hike can take 1.0-1.5 hours.
Quaint shops, small cafes and outdoor activities are contained within and surround the Village of Empire! Here you will also find information on the entire National Lakeshore at the Visitors Center/Park Headquarters East of Empire.
After taking in the Scenic Drive and Dune Climb (be sure you take Hwy 109 – to visit the climb and Glen Haven) you will approach the Historic Village of Glen Haven. Here you can visit the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum (18) as well as many beautifully restored century-old buildings. Next to the Museum you will also find a trail (The Dunes Trail) which gives you another opportunity to hike the Lakeshore. As you arrive in Glen Arbor, you will find yourself in a bustling little village that thrives throughout the year. Rent bikes, scooters, or just walk around the village and visit destination places like the M-22 shop, Cherry Republic and much more! When in Glen Arbor (depending on when you exactly arrive) we recommend taking in an early dinner at any of the great restaurants, or make your way north to Leland and the Famous Fishtown, USA.
Famous for the multiple overlooks across the vibrant treetops to Lake Michigan, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive should not be considered a mere detour (16) , but a main stop on your trip! Be sure to stop at the overlook platform! It provides picturesque views up and down the lakeshore and you will be able to spot the rolling fall colors of the South Manitou Island on a clear, sunny fall day. As you leave the scenic drive, a few miles north you will come across the Dune Climb (17). This is again a great spot to stop and enjoy the fall color and clear waters of Glen Lake in the distance. Note: All areas of the park require a vehicle pass ($10).
As you depart Glen Arbor, you will be met with an opportunity to take a trek into the woods to Pyramid Point (20) just off of Port Oneida Road. Here you will take the walking path through the hardwoods and pop out high atop the bluff with pictuesque views of the Manitou Islands and Good Harbor Bay. A must stop if you have the time and want to experience superb fall color and a Lake Michigan Sunset. Keep in mind, if you do stop, add about 90 minutes to your arrival in Leland. Some shops will be closed before making your way north.
Once you arrive in Leland, you will find excellent shopping, dining and local attractions as well as Historic Fishtown (21). Fishtown celebrates Northern Michigan’s commercial fishing heritage and is alive and well in this small community. Fishtown is one of the last remaining commercial fishing villages in the State of Michigan and is not integrated with clothing boutiques, art galleries and specialty food shops.
As you leave Leland and travel across the peninsula to Northport, you will swing south along Grand Traverse Bay until arriving in Suttons Bay. This is yet another great spot for shopping and dining. As you continue south, you will make your way into Traverse City where you can hook up with US-31 South back into Manistee, Michigan.
More Manistee County Self-Guided Tours