Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (2023)

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (1)

Ultimate Guide to the M22 Michigan Scenic Drive

If you’re familiar with Michigan at all, you’ve heard about M22 Scenic Drive in Michigan – better known as M22.

It’s the most famous road in Michigan because of its popularity as the best scenic drive in
the entire Midwest. On M22, you’ll see Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Lake Michigan,and other natural wonders that are the essence of “Pure Michigan.”

Although M22 is technically a highway there is minimal traffic and plenty of scenery, so it feels
more like a hidden treasure than a true highway.

Think of it as a sightseeing tour instead of a roadway because that’s really what it is. If you’re doing the Lake Michigan circle tour, this part of the lower peninsula will give you a perfect Michigan “up north experience.”

Check out our driving and vacation guide to Michigan’s M22 to find out all there is to see on this 116-mile stretch of iconic highway and build your own self-guided tour. You can use the M22 Highway Guide and Map at the bottom of this page to help plan your M22 road trip!

PRO-TIP: M-22 is one of the prettiest driving tours in northwest Michigan, and it comes alive with stunning fall colors in autumn. It’s a popular spot for Michigan fall colors tours, much like the famed “Tunnel of Trees.” If you’re looking for the perfect fall color tour or scenic autumn drive in Michigan’s lower peninsula, use our Guide to Fall in Traverse City or read 6 Spots For a Perfect Northern Michigan Fall Road Trip.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (2)

Start Here on Your M22 Michigan Scenic Drive

M22 Michigan in Manistee County

Your journey begins in the heart of charming Manistee, where you’ll find a charming downtown shopping area with art galleries, an old-fashioned theater, and fun boutiques.

If you prefer to stay in the less populated and more natural areas, then Manistee still has plenty for you. Lighthouse Park is stunning (featuring the famous North Pierhead Lighthouse), Magoon Creek Park, and hiking trails throughout all of these beautiful sites. Our Guide to Manistee will tell you everything you
need to know for this part of your trip.

M22 Michigan in Onekama

Just up M22 past Manistee is Onekama, or the “Two Lake Town” which hosts Portage Lake and
a nice stretch of Lake Michigan as well as Portage Point Woods Preserve.

If you’re planning an overnight stay before traveling along the rest of M22, I recommend Portage Point Resort. This gorgeous hotel is very similar to the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (also featured in
the movie Somewhere in Time) as it has the same old-timey, charming vibe.

Onekama is a favorite town on M22, because of access to Onekama Lake and Lake Michigan, both perfect spots for swimming and boating.

Before leaving Manistee County, you’ll reach Arcadia and the Arcadia Dunes which have some
truly breathtaking views of Lake Michigan as well as incredible hiking trails. Also known as
Inspiration Point scenic overlook, this is a perfect spot to get out and practice your photography skills, since it’s hard to take a bad photo of such beautiful sites.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (3)

M22 Michigan in Benzie County

Once you cross the county line into Benzie County, you’ll find yourself between two lakes:
Lower Herring Lake and Upper Herring Lake. Take a moment to hop out of the car and walk
around the Upper Herring Lake Nature Preserve before going to the Green Point Dunes for
more views of Lake Michigan.

(Video) Peak Fall Colors On Michigan's Most Scenic Highway: M-22 4K.

The next stop on this scenic drive is the town of Elberta, and the picturesque Elberta Bluffs.
Here, you can walk along Elberta Beach before finding yourself in some very high-quality tourist shops. “Huff’s Crystal Art” and “Crystal Gardens” will have all kinds of keepsakes and pieces of art to take home with you.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (4)

Frankfort

Charming Frankfort, MI is one of Michigan’s top travel destinations. You’ll find cute gift and T-Shirt shops, boutiques and cafes along the main street. It’s the Frankfort beach that will really grab your attention: be sure and head to this beach in the evening for one of the best sunsets in Michigan.

After these stops, M22 curves up and around Crystal Lake and the famous Point Betsie Lighthouse, a great place for rock hunting for Petoskey Stones.

At this point, you’ve reached the beginning of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and we suggest starting out on the Old Indian Trail as your introduction to the lakeshore. The Old Indian Trail is about a 2.5-mile loop that will take you through a towering Beech and Maple Forest before leading to you sweeping Lake Michigan views.

PRO-TIP: You’ll pass Riverside Canoe trips offers amazing canoe, kayak, and tubing trips down the Platte River. The best part of the trip is when the river meets Lake Michigan at Platte Point…it’s a spectacular scene of pure Michigan natural beauty.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (5)

Leelanau County

Empire

The vast majority of Sleeping Bear Dunes is in Leelanau County, starting with Empire. Of all of the places I’ve been in Michigan, Empire takes my breath away every time. You’ll never get used to the views from the dunes or the crystal-clear water of Lake Michigan in Empire, especially on Empire Bluff Trail. Be sure to stop for some more pictures at the Empire Bluff Scenic Lookout before traipsing around the trails and beaches in the area.

If you find yourself in need of some shopping, the downtown area of Empire is very charming and has plenty of shops to choose from before making it to Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake.

This is the site for the very famous, very strenuous, M22 Challenge. It’s a run, bike, and paddle race that will truly test your endurance. Remember how hard it is to run on sand? How about trying it on a huge sand dune? The athletes who participate in this race are ambitious, to say the least, and it’s definitely on
my bucket list to try it one year.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (6)

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

The famous Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is here, in Empire. The 7.5-mile trail loop winds through a hardwood forest, with 12 amazingly picturesque stops along the way. You’ll find breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, North Bar Lake, as well as the famous Lake Michigan Overlook. You can pick up the Pierce Stocking Drive as you head north along M-22, watch for the old Maple Lane Resort for the turn-off towards Pierce Stocking. Use our map at the bottom of the page for more information.

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Glen Arbor and Glen Haven

Even though you could easily spend an entire day in the Empire and Glen Arbor area, don’t
forget that you’re only halfway through M22 at this point and there is still plenty to see and do.

Next on the road after Glen Arbor is Pyramid Point, which was my very first hike in Michigan
and I’ve done it in every season (yep, even in the middle of winter) and it’s gorgeous every
time. I actually have a secret beach saved to my Maps app so I can always find it, and I’ve never
seen more than about 10 people there at a time. Try to find it for yourself so you, too, can have a
secret beach spot in northern Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Point is here, too, just down the road from historic Glen Haven, a restored port village with an amazing beach on Sleeping Bear Bay. Hike the 2.5 trail loop for some amazing views of the Manitou islands.

The Crystal River flows from Glen Lake to Lake Michigan through some pristine natural settings. It’s peaceful canoe, kayak, or tube trip, and one to add to your Michigan bucket list.

(Video) Michigan's "Tunnel of Trees" Scenic Drive 4K.

PRO-TIP: There are a few famous landmarks in Glen Arbor, like the Cherry Republic and Art’s Tavern, home of the popular Art’s Burger. There are some great places to eat here, but you need to plan well to make sure you get a table. Use our Guide to the Best Places to Eat in Glen Arbor for more detailed info.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (8)

Leelanau Peninsula

Once you reach Leland (also known as “Fishtown”), you’ll be sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau. Leelanau County might be the most picturesque county in Michigan, especially because of this specific area.

The Leelanau Peninsula is a great place to spend the day exploring and adventuring. The Clay Cliffs Natural Area and the surrounding beaches are beautiful. Although M22 doesn’t go north of Northport, it is worth it to take a short detour to the tip of the peninsula and Leelanau State Park where you can visit the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

Now at the tail end of M22, you’ll find yourself passing Omena Bay and Peshawbestown
before reaching Suttons Bay. In this stretch of highway, there are plenty of vineyards andwineries to visit, and of course, scenic stops.

Suttons Bay is a great place to stop for lunch and some fun in the sun before reaching the end of M22 and the cherry capital of the world. The popular Hop Lot Brewery, one of Michigan’s top craft breweries, is located in Suttons Bay, Don’t miss it.

The Finish Line: The End of M22 Michigan Highway

You’ve made it to the end, which means you’ve found yourself in Traverse City. Read our
comprehensive Guide to Traverse City so you can experience everything there is to see and do
in Traverse City (and trust me, there is plenty to do). Make sure you stop at the shops on Front
Street so you can get your own M22 sweatshirt now that you’ve officially seen the entirety of
this beautiful section of the mitten.

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (9)

Best Places to Stay Along the M-22 Michigan Scenic Highway

Lodging can be tricky here; there are not many places to stay and those fill up fast. You’ll want to plan your visit carefully because chances are very good that you’re going to want to spend some time exploring the area. Here are some of our favorite places to stay in the area.

Manistee

The Manistee Inn and Marina
378 River Street, Manistee, MI 49660

Located on the Manistee Riverwalk, there’s more to like than just the perfect location of the Manistee Inn and Marina. Just a short walk to the beautiful Lake Michigan beach, this is a very clean and comfortable spot. The beds are very comfy, and they serve breakfast as well. You’ll love being so close to all of the cure shops, boutiques, and eateries along the Riverwalk.

Manistee Beachfront Condo
Manistee MI

If you’re traveling with a family or group, this three-bedroom beachfront condo in Manistee is ideal. Just steps from the beach this clean and airy condo is very comfortable. There’s a balcony here too to catch the beautiful Lake Michigan sunsets and a really nice shared pool on the property, too.

Frankfort

Chimney Corners
1602 Crystal Drive, Frankfort, MI 49635

Chimney Corners Resort is tucked away on the shores of beautiful Crystal Lake. With a restaurant, bar, shared lounge, and tennis courts, it’s the kind of place you’ll want to come back to year after year. You’ll find a mix of rooms, cottages, and apartments some with full kitchens.

Hotel Frankfort
231 Main Street, Frankfort, MI 49635

Just a one-minute walk from the beach, the historic Hotel Frankfort is located right in downtown Frankfort, close to all the shops and eateries, including Stormcloud Brewing. You’ll find a mix of standard rooms and suites, some with balconies. It’s exceptionally clean, and the beds are comfy, too.

Empire

M22 Inn Empire
8720 South Dorsey Road, Empire, MI 49630

The M22 Inn is exceptionally clean and comfortable, and a perfect location for exploring the dunes and downtown Empire.

Empire Lakeshore Inn
11626 Sunset Drive, Empire, MI 49630

The Empire Lakeshore Inn is a favorite of mine: it’s exceptionally clean and cozy. Located in downtown, it’s just an eight-minute walk to beautiful Empire Beach.

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Glen Arbor

Step-Free Condo on Glen Lake
Glen Arbor, MI

This step-free condo on Glen Lake puts you right in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes, but in a relaxing space so you can really take in the natural beauty of the area. Located right on the water you’ll find a kitchen and living room with a DVR and games, too.

Sylvan Inn
6680 W. Western Ave, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

The Sylvan Inn Bed and Breakfast is peaceful, clean and comfortable, with a wide front porch for sitting and taking in your pure Michigan surroundings.

Leland/ Lake Leelanau

East Leland Cottage
Lake Leelanau, 49653-9708

This clean and cozy one-bedroom East Leland cottage is a perfect location for exploring both Leland and the Leelanau Peninsula. It’s roomy: you’ll find a kitchen, living room with a pool table and extra bunk beds, too. Just a short walk to Lake Leelanau, you’ll also find a little deck area for relaxing, too.

Northport

Northport Cottage
Northport, MI

Just steps away from Lake Michigan, this lovely lakefront cottage in Northport is roomy and clean. You’ll find 3 bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, too. There’s also a washer and dryer on premises if you’re staying for more than a couple of days which makes it nice.

Suttons Bay

Bayview Cottage
Suttons Bay, MI

We love this cozy Bayview cottage located close to downtown Suttons Bay. It’s a really clean and neat spot with a nice deck to relax on after you’ve explored the area. You’ll find two comfortable bedrooms as well as a kitchen and living area.

M22 Michigan Frequently Asked Questions

Where Does the M22 Michigan Highway Start?

One of the most scenic Michigan highways, the M22 road starts just north of Manistee off highway 31. It follows along the shore of Lake Michigan through Frankfort, Empire, Glen Arbor, and Leland. It continues up and around the Leelanau Peninsula, through Northport and Suttons Bay along Grand Traverse Bay until it ends in Traverse City near Grand Traverse County.

Why is M22 So Popular?

The M22 Michigan highway is so popular because driving M22 will take you through some of the prettiest Michigan beach towns and picturesque natural areas. M22 takes you right through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and along the Leelanau Peninsula before ending in Traverse City. It’s not just popular in the summer and fall, winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing bring many visitors to the area.

How Long is the M22 Michigan Scenic Drive?

The beautiful M22 Michigan Scenic Highway runs 116 miles.

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Map of Things to See and Places to Stay Along M22 Michigan

Ultimate Guide to M22 Michigan Highway Scenic Drive (MAP +Places to Stay) (11)

More Things to Do Near M22 Michigan Scenic Highway

More Michigan Travel Spots To Explore

About the Author-

Casey Johanson is a senior at Grand Valley State University and is passionate about writing and reading. An avid traveler around Michigan, Casey enjoys gardening and running. Her favorite places are typically the hidden beaches and secret scenic overlooks throughout Michigan that most people don’t know about. She loves trying to find places that people haven’t been before and loves writing about those places even more.

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tulip time

FAQs

What is the most scenic route in Michigan? ›

M-22 Circle Tours

This gem of the Leelanau Peninsula is one of Michigan's most famous scenic routes and has been around for over 100 years. M-22 stretches along miles and miles of Lake Michigan coastline, starting from Manistee County, it goes up and around the Leelanau Peninsula before ending in Traverse City.

How long does it take to drive around the entire state of Michigan? ›

Olson's Michigan map spanned 2,098-miles and 43 sites all over the state – both Lower and Upper peninsulas included. He claims the entire trip should take about 40 hours on the road.

Where does M-22 Start in Michigan? ›

The iconic M-22 Highway begins in Manistee, Michigan and heads north all the way through Manistee County. With historic landmarks, stunning white sand beaches and a downtown buzzing with development, Manistee is the perfect launch point for the M-22 journey.

How long is the drive around Leelanau Peninsula? ›

It is 116.7 miles (187.8 km) long and follows the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Leelanau Peninsula, making up a portion of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour.

What is Lake Michigan's famous scenic drive? ›

Michigan's Scenic Route 31 travels along the Lake Michigan shore through northern forests, parks and charming resort towns with Victorian houses. The pastoral settings along two-lane US 31 feature inland lakes, farmland and vineyards, and the fall foliage makes leaf-peeping a delight.

How long does it take to drive around the Lower Peninsula of Michigan? ›

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is roughly 1,100 miles long and would take 14.5 hours with no stops.

How long does it take to do the Michigan Circle Tour? ›

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is roughly 1,100 miles long and would take around 17 hours (averaging 65 mph) with no stops.

What is the Michigan loop? ›

Have you heard of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour? It's exactly what the name implies, it's a full 1,250 mile loop around Lake Michigan and it's said to be one of the most scenic routes in the United States. It takes you through two time zones, and 4 states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Is there a scenic drive along Lake Michigan? ›

Explore M-22 Scenic Drive with our recommended route map

This one-of-a-kind scenic drive takes you along the Lake Michigan shoreline through the beautiful rolling landscape of Northern Michigan.

How long is the M22 scenic drive? ›

How Long is the M22 Michigan Scenic Drive? The beautiful M22 Michigan Scenic Highway runs 116 miles.

Why is M22 so popular? ›

The M22 lifestyle is marked by the simplicity and appreciation for natural wonders such as bays, beaches and bonfires, dunes and vineyards, cottages, friends and family everywhere. M22 is the feeling you get when you realize there is no other place you would rather be.

Where is M22 with the tunnel of trees? ›

When it comes to scenic drives in northern Michigan, the 116-mile M22 is at the top of the list. It was voted America's Best Scenic Autumn Drives by USA Today in 2015. It is truly splendid in the fall, with the changing colors and the cool weather that makes you want to get cozy and […]

Is there a scenic drive along Lake Michigan? ›

Explore M-22 Scenic Drive with our recommended route map

This one-of-a-kind scenic drive takes you along the Lake Michigan shoreline through the beautiful rolling landscape of Northern Michigan.

Is Michigan Scenic? ›

Michigan has some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the nation. The Great Lakes state is renowned for its hardwood forests, rippling dunes, scenic vineyards, lush orchards, freshwater lakes, and rolling hills. Take a trip down these breathtaking routes and bask in the wonder of the serenity of nature.

How long is Red Arrow Highway in Michigan? ›

Red Arrow Highway extends for approximately 21 miles between New Buffalo and St. Joseph. This gorgeous route takes drivers along the stunning coast of Lake Michigan and provides loads of natural wonder to appreciate in any season, though it's especially beautiful during the fall and summer months.

Why does Michigan have so many lighthouses? ›

Since the Great Lakes are so large, the shorelines are a lot like ocean coasts and pose a danger for ships. Michigan lighthouses line these waterfronts to guide them through rivers and into harbors. You would probably be surprised to learn how many lighthouses are in Michigan — there are 129 lighthouses in Michigan!

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