Michigan's Low-Key Coast
Traverse City, Michigan, at the base of the Leelanau Peninsula, has long had the feel of a small coastal New England town dropped on the shore of Lake Michigan. But in recent years, an abundance of agriculture has given rise to a farm-to-table foodie culture. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, built inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital, has a year-round farmers market; two former Brooklyn restaurateurs have turned the parking lot of their bar, the Little Fleet, into a battalion of food trucks. No wonder Mario Batali is a seasonal resident. Plus, full-timer Michael Moore runs a world-class film festival. "The Traverse City scene is classy without being snotty or hipstery," says Sue Kurta, a local cheesemaker. Still, the real attraction sits outside city limits: The peninsula boasts miles of stellar beaches. Sleeping Bear Dunes is home to 450-foot-high walls of sand for climbing and lounging. "It's extraordinarily beautiful," says Kurta. "A little magic spot."