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Suttons Bay MI: Ultimate Guide

downtown suttons bay

Explore Suttons Bay, MI: Leelanau Peninsula Beach Town

Have we got the perfect northern Michigan beach town for you: Suttons Bay, MI!

Do you love pristinely-perfect waterfronts and charming downtown shopping and dining areas? How about sugar-sand beaches set on Lake Michigan peninsula that give the area a real get-away-from-it-all feel?

If the answer is yes, you’ll want to follow scenic M-22 along the Grand Traverse Bay to the Leelanau Peninsula to the vibrant village of Suttons Bay, Michigan.

Delightful little Suttons Bay is hands down one of our favorite spots to visit, and it no matter the season, there’s always something fun to do here. Winter, spring, summer or fall, you’ll find fun and relaxation in this pretty spot.

Read on to discover why we love Suttons Bay and are sure that you will, too.

suttons bay

Visit Suttons Bay

While Traverse City is a great northern Michigan beach vacation destination, did you know if you travel a little over 20 minutes north, you’ll end up in a quaint beach town village called Suttons Bay?

Located on the shores of Traverse City’s West Bay, Suttons Bay offers two gorgeous public beaches, two grand marinas, unique specialty shops, year-round activities and many downtown restaurants offering local flare and the freshest ingredients.

In addition to exploring the downtown, the gorgeous setting on the bay and surrounding area provides a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities year around.

From swimming and splashing along the shores to hiking and biking along the numerous hiking trails, you’re sure to find something fun to do in Suttons Bay, MI.

guide to traverse city beaches

Explore Traverse City

Being close enough to Traverse City also has its many perks if you follow Traverse City tourism.

From numerous brewing companies, wine trails/tours to the National Cherry Festival in July, your trip card can be as fun-filled as you’d like when you visit.

While Traverse City’s busy Front Street is filled with shops and restaurants, too, downtown Suttons Bay is like shopping a carefully-curated spot just for you.

It’s the same for the outdoor activities.

The trails around the area, like those found in the Belanger Creek Preserve, are near-perfect spots to explore.

We think Suttons Bay is a very special place, and we think you will, too.

suttons bay

Visit Suttons Bay in Leelanau County

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a relaxing weekend, or an outdoorsy adventure, Suttons Bay is the perfect destination for you.

Located just 30 miles north of the panoramic Sleeping Bear Dunes, Suttons Bay is a truly unique spot.

It has all the charm and quaintness of that “Up North” appeal, showcasing many local businesses, art studios, remarkable restaurants, pristine lodging, and wineries.

downtown suttons bay
Photo by Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

West Traverse Bay Views

All of this is offered with the sensational view of the eastern side of Suttons Bay and the Leelanau Peninsula shoreline.

Perfectly positioned at the 45th Parallel, Suttons Bay is in close proximity to several other spectacular Northern Michigan’s waterfront towns, including Elk Rapids, Glen Arbor, Frankfort, Empire, Northport, Omena, Lake Leelanau, and Leland.

What is it that is so enchanting about this tiny destination? We’ll chalk it up (in part) to the grandeur of the beautiful Lake Michigan.

suttons bay michigan

About Suttons Bay

Suttons Bay, MI, just 15 miles out of the greater Grand Traverse Area, is a Lake Michigan beach town at its best.

The village of Suttons Bay is surrounded by friendly faces, a variety of small-town merchants, local artists, and a vast variety of breathtaking vineyards. In addition to the pleasing downtown attributes, you’ll find a helpful visitor center and trip ideas from the Suttons Bay Chamber of Commerce.

One of the most positive aspects to visiting tourists is the list of endless enjoyable activities offered in Leelanau County.

Year-round, Suttons Bay offers hiking/ biking trails, art festivals, the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail)Trail, kids activities, snowshoeing, kayaking, boating, sampling Michigan wines, shopping, touring Inland Seas Education Association, and basking along impressive sandy beaches, all located within walking distance from the downtown village.

downtown suttons bay mi
Photo by Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

Suttons Bay is Known For…

Endless Nature Trails and Parks – Wine trails aren’t the only trails in Suttons, Bay, MI. Nature trails abound in the area offering hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and picnic areas for family and friends.

Fun Family-Friendly Beaches – Crystal clear waters line the family-friendly beaches in Suttons Bay, MI. Whether it’s sunbathing, Petoskey stone hunting, or splashing in the pristine waters, Suttons Bay beaches offer the perfect venue to relax the day away.

Fresh Farmers Markets – Shop for fresh local produce all summer in Suttons Bay, MI. The lush rolling hills in the corners of northern Michigan are a perfect climate for growing fruits and vagaratbles. You’ll find many farm-to-table restaurants in the area, as well as eateries that source their ingredients locally.

Popular Wedding Venues – Suttons Bay, MI is the perfect destination for weddings. Scenic vineyards, vintage barns, and local farms set the stage for a romantic up north wedding.

Scenic Boat Tours – What better way to see the lovely landscape of Northern Michigan than from the water? Enjoy scenic boat cruises on a sailboat, jet ski, paddleboard, or local cruise boat in Suttons Bay, MI.

wineries on leelanau peninsula
Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

Suttons Bay Wineries and Breweries

We’re sure you’ve heard of northern Michigan’s amazing wines, but did you know that Suttons Bay is home to around 30 wineries?

Located on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, these vineyards in Northern Michigan display gorgeous views, welcoming tasting rooms, and award-winning wines.

Add to that some of the most amazing views in the entire state of Michigan and, well…you get the picture.

You’ll also find one-of-a-kind craft breweries and cider houses.

In the middle of the TART Trail and hiking trails on the Leelanau Peninsula, beer and cider houses offer a refreshing break for thirsty tourists. Hop Lot Brewing Co. and Suttons Bay Ciders are located here.

suttons bay wineries

Suttons Bay Weather

Suttons Bay, MI shares the typical Michigan weather- hot in the summer and frigid in the winter.

It offers the beauty of the four seasons and many activities to go along with them. It’s very pleasant in the autumn months, when tourists flock to Northern Michigan to witness the vibrancy of the fantastic fall color tours.

June, July, and August are the most seasonable months, with July traditionally being the hottest with an average high temperature of 79 degrees, making it a cooler Michigan destination. In the winter, Suttons Bay offers a January average low of 17 degrees and can accumulate up to 103 inches of snow.

suttons bay

Suttons Bay Beaches

Suttons Bay beaches along Grand Traverse Bay provide a chance to splash in the clear, clean waters of Lake Michigan.

The water here is a bit shallow and warms quickly under the sun in the summer months; making it great for swimming.

You’ll also find great beaches in the nearby Glen Arbor, Elk Rapids, Lake Leelanau and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

suttons bay

Marina Park Beach

Picnic tables, park benches, grills, swings, playground equipment, and lots of sandy beach area or green grass, ADA with a Mobi Mat to allow access for all

Sutton Park

Pavilion with grills, picnic tables, playground equipment, restrooms, and a great sandy beach

ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Beaches

Suttons Bay offers excellent accessibility to the Lake Michigan Shore at Marina Park Beach with a Mobi-Mat that leads to the shore of West Bay.

Downtown Suttons Bay, MI

You’ll want to spend at least a day wandering the cheery downtown Suttons Bay; the scenic M-22 highway cuts right through the center of town.

The downtown village of Suttons Bay, MI houses quaint retail shops – an eclectic mix of gift shops, book stores and boutiques along with an art gallery or two. From upscale boutiques to thrift-store deals, you’ll find things that are sweetly suited to your shopping needs.

There are many great places to eat in downtown Suttons Bay, too. You’ll also find a mix of cafe and restaurants ranging from farm-to-table gourmet to pubs; you won’t go wrong with any choice here.

suttons bay
Photo by Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

Things To Do in Suttons Bay, MI

The parks and marinas in Suttons Bay, MI are perfectly positioned in the heart of the downtown village.

It’s walking distance to the many up north restaurants, boutique shopping, or to simply sample yummy treats of locally made fudge or ice cream.

If you enjoy hitting the bike trails, Suttons Bay, MI has the most adventurous and fun-filled opportunities for the bike enthusiasts.

Don’t miss these nature trails and parks:

Stites Natural Area- rolling terrain and ridgeline trails.

Bahle Park– sledding hills, hiking trails, and cross-country skiing.

Coal Dock Park– located on the south side of the marina. Offers fishing pier, picnic tables, footbridge, wetlands, and nature walking path.

North Park– boat launch, pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms. Pavilion able to be reserved for family gatherings.

Waterwheel Park- located one block up St. Mary’s St. from the downtown village. Offers picnic tables and a running stream to the waterwheel. Great tourist location for photo opportunities. Activities enjoyed here include tennis, basketball, or pickleball.

Where to Stay in Suttons Bay, MI

There’s a wide range of accomodations in Suttons Bay and the surrounding area, including both hotels, motels, inn and private rentals. Here are a few favorites for you to consider:

Fountain Point Resort
990 S Lake Leelanau Dr, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653

Historic Fountain Point Resort on the shores of Lake Leelanau is a family summer resort with a mix of private cottages and hotel rooms. It’s a perfect spot for a weekend getaway of family reunion or event. You can swim, boat, fish in the clear waters of Lake Leelanau or simply kick back and relax on the expansive grounds. There’s a bonfire pit for roasting marshmallows, and golf courses nearby, too.

Leelanau Country Cottage
Suttons Bay, MI

This charming two-bedroom cottage is the perfect mix of knotty pine and modern furnishings. You’ll find a nice kitchen, a furnished patio and fire pit and roomy loft for extra sleeping space. The grounds are pretty, too, with room to take in the natural beauty of the Suttons Bay area.

Cozy Suttons Bay Cottage with Shared Dock and Fire Pit
Suttons Bay, MI

If you’re looking for something cozy, put this one-bed, one-bath cottage with a dock on shores of Suttons Bay your list. If you need additional sleeping space, there’s a daybed in the living area with a pull-out. It’s clean and comfortable, and is a great location for exploring the area.

You Might Also Consider:

  • The Inn at Black Star Farms
  • The Vineyard Inn
  • The Korner Kottage
  • Treeloft 22
  • Suite 22
  • Northern Dream Bed and Breakfast
  • M22 Inn
  • Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge
marthas leelanau table in suttons bay
Photo by Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

Dining in Suttons Bay, MI

  • Bayside Coffee and Tea
  • Boone’s Prime Time Pub
  • Chimoski Bakery
  • 45th Parallel Cafe and Candy World
  • Hansen’s Foods
  • Martha’s Leelanau Table
  • MI Market
  • Mundo’s
  • Murdick’s Fudge Shoppe
  • North Country Grill and Pub
  • Streetside Grill
  • The VI Grill
  • Wren
  • Hop Lot Brewing
  • 9 Bean Rows Bakery and Farm Market
  • Hearth and Vine Cafe at Black Star Farms
  • Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge

You Might Also Be

Why Visit Suttons Bay? Quotes From the Locals…

“Suttons Bay is a colorful, quiet haven/ harbor where visitors can find a variety of eateries that serve farm food in season. Unique shops feature something for everyone and the family-friendly waterfront park/ bathing beach is sandy and safe. Several B and B’s in the village and nearby countryside offer first rate accommodations.”

~Ann Hoopfer- former resident of Suttons Bay, MI

“Suttons Bay is a small coastal village that offers so much more- A place to raise a family and a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle. It’s a place where time will stand still if you let it. From its small businesses, artists, and people to its natural beauty, Suttons Bay and the Leelanau Peninsula will be your home away from home.”

~Jared Pontius- Owner/ Proprietor of Korner Kottage

“Suttons Bay is a little village full of fresh air, clean water, good food, and fun for everyone. I think we have more smiles here than anywhere else in the world, although they are difficult to see now. Vineyards, Cider Houses, foodie culture, and outdoor activities of every sort are all within view of our wonderful freshwater in Suttons Bay.”

~Tina Marie Greene- Owner/ Proprietor of Bay Books

“Suttons Bay is a charming little town with very friendly people, lots of history and a vibrant economy. There are several art galleries, a jeweler, a theater district, parks, a waterfront, many great places to eat, a wonderful grocery store and a wine shoppe. It is close to Traverse City, but not too close. It is, in a sense, the welcoming point to all the towns and attractions in Leelanau County.”

~Martha Ryan- Owner/ Proprietor of Martha’s Leelanau Table

“I have always called Suttons Bay the gateway to Leelanau County. It’s the real ‘Cherry Capital’ of Northern Michigan. It’s the best little small town with a movie theater, bookstore, and the best shops in Leelanau County.”

~Beau Webb- Owner/ Proprietor of MI Market

“As a business owner, my perspective of Suttons Bay is it’s the kind of place after a snowstorm, and you’re dreading the shoveling, but when you arrive at work, you find that your neighbor already finished the job.”

~Linda Garshaw- Owner/ Proprietor of The Happy Woman Store

“Suttons Bay is a charming bayside Village in the heart of Leelanau, known for its incredible natural beauty and abundant outdoor recreation.

While it’s ideally centered for all of your County excursions, it is also just minutes away from the nation’s Cherry Capital, Traverse City, where additional attractions abound. However, there is more than enough here to make this quaint Village your sole destination. Suttons Bay boasts Old World charm combined with new world fun.

Our world class marina and beach will have you playing in sand and surf on our sapphire shores, or maybe sailing, kite surfing, water skiing, cruising on an Inland Seas education excursion or just soaking up some sun. The paved Leelanau TART trail originates here in the Village and is an excellent bike or hiking trail.

No suburbia branded hotels here, but you will find quaint bed and breakfast with very friendly people, or excellent luxurious vacation homes, many right on the water.

Shopping and dining are extraordinary with chef-owned restaurants, bistros, pubs, outdoor beer gardens, terrace dining, art galleries, a weekly farmers market and numerous farm stands, the classic Bay Theatre, coffee shops (with real baristas!), and upscale shopping.

And if Lady Luck calls when a late-night blackjack yen strikes, this is also the home of the Leelanau Sands Casino. Make the Village your springboard to explore and savor all of this, along with Leelanau’s 30+ wineries, cider houses and craft distillers, and much much more.”

~Jerome Smith- resident of Suttons Bay

About the Author-
Lisa Baird is a high school teacher for Grand Rapids Public Schools, with a Master’s Degree from GVSU in Reading/ Language Arts; as well as a travel writer/ photographer. She enjoys reading books (teacher nerd) and considers herself an amateur wine connoisseur. She is the owner of Memories Captured by Lisa Baird, a photography business focusing on family sessions, newborns, senior pics, family portraits, weddings and more. She also owns and operates Capturing Michigan. Lisa’s work has been featured in Michigan Blue magazine,Leelanau Enterprise, Glen Arbor Sun, and the Traverse City Record Eagle among other places.