Michigan weekend road trip: Scenic M-22 and beyond

The Frankfort Pier (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

M-22 offers breathtaking views along Lake Michigan's coast.

The 116-mile long highway stretches from Manistee to Traverse City. It passes by several smaller lakes and natural areas, and cuts through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

MORE: A brief journey through the UP

The route is great for a cruise, especially as the leaves begin to change, and it has plenty of places to stop to get a drink, some food, shop or take in nature.

Lake Michigan along M-22 (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

Point Betsie Lighthouse

The historic Pointe Betsie Lighthouse in Benzie County was completed in 1858. It has been referred to as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country.

Tour the lighthouse, where you can go in the tower and look out onto Lake Michigan, visit the gift shop or check out the view from outside.

The 2019 tour schedule runs through Oct. 27. Tickets are $5 for people 13 and older and $2 for children 6-12. Children younger than 6 are free.

Tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.

The Point Betsie Lighthouse (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

The 7.4 mile long Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive winds through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

It includes 12 stops where drivers can get out and hike, picnic or just take in the view.

The Scenic Drive requires a National Parks pass to access it.

Dune Climb

Just off of M-22, on M-109 about 5 miles north of Empire, is the Dune Climb.

The dunes provide a view of Glen Lake from the top. A more challenging hike takes you through the dunes and to Lake Michigan.

Glen Haven

During the summer months, visit Glen Haven for a trip through the past.

Glen Haven is a historic village that is open to the public in the summer. (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

The village, which is several miles north of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, has a general store, a boathouse museum and a blacksmith shop where demonstrations are held.

All of these places are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Natural areas

There are a number of natural areas to visit along M-22, including the Betsie Dunes Nature Preserve, Peterson Beach Sleeping Bear Recreation Area, Green Point Dunes and C.S. Mott Nature Preserve.

Outside the Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

Other stops

Stop for food or visit shops in one or several of the many cities along M-22, including Arcadia, Frankfort, Empire, Glen Arbor, Leland and Traverse City.

A mural in downtown Traverse City. (Amber Ainsworth/WDIV)

There's also an abundance of local drink options.

Numerous wineries and vineyards dot the Leelanau Peninsula.

If craft beer is your thing, The Mitten Brewing Co. and Stormcloud Brewing Co. are on the route, while Traverse City has multiple breweries, including North Peak Brewing Co. and Right Brain Brewery.