Northport, Michigan



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Places: Northport, Michigan

We were in Northport during August 2007. The town appeared to be feeling the effects of the recent economic slowdown more severely than other towns we visited during the summer, with noticeably more vacant stores and buildings. Maybe that's because of the isolated location up towards the end of the peninsula.

Hopefully that changes for the better because Northport is the kind of town we'd really like to see prosper. It didn't have that overtly touristy feel to it like, say, Mackinaw City. Instead, it seemed much more like a typical small town that just happens to be on the shores of beautiful Grand Traverse Bay.

The Northport Municipal Marina (again staffed by great folks) is located by a nice park and beach. The lakefrong area appears to be a focal point for local residents during the summer.

There are still a small number of businesses that make this a nice stop - Scott's service station (which, appropriately enough, is on the site of an old blacksmith shop) has a coffee shop area with free wi-fi. There is an ice cream shop (The Galley), a bakery (Barb's) and a good grocery story (Tom's) that let's you borrow carts to carry groceries to the marina.

We rode our bicycles up to Grand Traverse Light, which is on the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula about ten miles north of Northport. That's a very pleasant ride that takes you along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, then through rolling country hillsides.

There's some really unique architecture in Northport. Many of the buildings and related structures use detailed stone ornamentation. A really good example is the Woolsey Memorial Airport, located several miles north of town. We wrote a blog entry about the area's stone architecture. Northport also provides a pamphlet with a map that can be used as a walking architectural tour of the town. The town is small enough that the tour can be completed in well under two hours.

After staying in Northport for several days, we made our way down Grand Traverse Bay to Traverse City. Along the way, we passed Bellow's Island (also known as Gull Island). It is definitely not the tranquil, peaceful image of an island that typically comes to mind. It's stark and foreboding even on a beautiful sunny day. It's teeming with cormorants which are black and look, from a distance, like vultures. We couldn't get too close because the island is surrounded by a nasty shoal. In fact, the Northport Harbormaster raised us on the VHF radio to warn us about that when he saw us heading in the general direction of the island. That was pretty conscientious of him.


Blog entries from 2007:

South Manitou to Northport
Northport, Michigan
Bike Ride to Grand Traverse Light
Rockin' in Northport
Northport to Traverse City

NOAA Online Charts:



General Info:

Wikipedia entry
Chamber of Commerce


Thumbs up:

The marina staff is great, and the location (park, beach, shopping) can't be beat.

You'd never believe how crowded Barb's Bakery gets in the morning. The cinnamon twists are incredible! But we got our ice cream at The Galley after biking up the peninsula.

The walking architectural tour was extremely interesting, but we had to flee from the watch goat (behind a fence, but he bleated so loud the owner came outside to ensure all was well). While on the tour, we saw the hanging bicycles in the trees at the Old Mill Pond Inn.  We also saw the "Leelanau bumper sticker car" that we'd seen previously in Leland.