Simply one of northern Michigan’s most picturesque drives, the M-22 highway gives visitors a taste of the tree-lined beauty and lovely lakeshores from the comfort of their vehicles. Whether you enjoy investigating small towns or just cruising for the views, M-22 is a unique destination in itself. It’s also an eye-pleasing route for those looking to experience the splendor of northern Michigan’s fall colors.
Just where is this legendary highway? As part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, M-22 begins three miles north of Manistee and generally snakes along the Lake Michigan coastline through Frankfort, continuing up to Northport in the Leelanau Peninsula and back down toward Suttons Bay and Traverse City.
Several beaches make perfect travel breaks along the highway. A few favorites include Arcadia Beach & Bluff, Crystal Lake, Empire, Glen Arbor, Leland and others that dot the peninsula shoreline. Frankfort is a great destination town for those who want to spend a whole day on the beach.
M-22’s popularity has been promoted through a local kiteboarding business called Broneah. Michigan State University graduates Matt and Keegan Myers started the business in 2003. Not too surprisingly, some amazing sites for kiteboarding were discovered along M-22. The brothers were so enthralled by the beauty and sense of adventure inspired by this stretch of Michigan highway that they later turned M-22 into a logo and started a business selling clothing, hats and accessories that say “M-22” and “Love Michigan.” (The “v” in Love is the lower mitten tipped to the side).
“While finding spots to go kiteboarding, we would always be on M-22,” explains Keegan. “People have a lot of pride in this region. With the clothing line, we’ve heard stories time and again of random connections made by people worldwide who know where M-22 is in Michigan.” If you’re headed for Traverse City this summer, include M-22 in your travel plans.
June 13: Check out the M22 Challenge – an annual run, bike, paddle event at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.
Photos courtesy of Jess Farran & Beth Price Photography