Tear yourself away, head back on M22, and soon vineyards and wineries begin appearing, arrows pointing off M22 to cideries and tasting rooms. First up, just down a driveway behind an old barn, is Nathaniel Rose Wine, where Rose himself is sourcing grapes locally and from across the state to compose small-batch wines, with a special focus on r. Then comes the 45th Parallel, a particular thrill in the crossing of it that never quite goes away, followed soon after by quaint Suttons Bay with its historic Bay Theatre, Bahle’s—one of the oldest retailers in Michigan, going strong for 143 years—boutiques, a marina, beach and an assortment of casual eateries.
Then, that blue, that unique up-north-water blue of Grand Traverse Bay, comes to fill your view. If it takes a moment to tear yourself away, you should do so just as it slips from sight, where Hop Lot Brewing Co. appears instead. On the inside, blondes and browns, ambers, Scotch ales and stouts line the taps; but outside its Up-North living writ large: multiple fire pits line a casual beer garden and the thump of cornhole bags keep time to the music.
Hop Lot makes a pretty darn happy ending to an M22 voyage. But maybe even more fitting would be to take the highway to trail’s end, almost to Traverse City. As M22 dips and curves, try to spy the tall ship Manitou cruising the bay. In Greilickville, there’s just one more treat: specifically, Wares Bros Frosty Treat on West Bay. Do the drive-through as the locals do, rolling up on their after-work commute, then head down M22 to West End Beach. After a day filled to the brim with scenery, curiosities and snacks—there’s still room for ice cream and a sunset.