Few summer destinations in America grab hold of a visitor as tightly as the upper reaches of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, aka “the mitten.” And could there be a more fitting vehicle for exploring this Midwestern gem than one of the Wolverine State’s other jewels—the Cadillac Escalade?
There are countless spots to take in an incredible view of Lake Michigan, and I start with one of the most iconic: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its federal preservation in 2020. It’s drizzling this morning, so rather than walk I embark on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, enjoying various lookout points on the seven-mile loop. As the skies clear, I make a quick hop south to the village of Empire, which is home to the stunning Empire Bluff Trail. The route is less than two miles out and back, but it soars to 450 feet above the lake’s surface, making it a perfect place to snap photos of the surrounding beech-maple forest, striking sand dunes, and aquamarine water.
All that sightseeing has me famished. Fortunately, there’s a divine new seasonally driven dining spot just 30 minutes away, on the outskirts of the “Cherry Capital of the World,” Traverse City. Farm Club is a year-old establishment that grows its produce on-site, bringing the actual table to the farm. After enjoying the Ploughman’s Platter (with local sausage, cheese, and smoked trout) and rapini cavatelli, I’m off to wash the meal down with some local wine. The multi- faceted Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay has not only a posh, equestrian estate–style inn but a sustainable vineyard and wine cave, and I opt for a tasting flight that includes an award-winning dry riesling, unoaked chardonnay, and smooth pinot blanc. I’m sure to use the spittoon, since I’m driving, but I roll away with a mixed case of whites in the back of the Escalade.
I loop back through Traverse City to pick up U.S. Route 31, which slices between Grand Traverse Bay to the west and Torch Lake—its waters as turquoise as the Caribbean—to the east. Less than an hour later I reach Petoskey, an old Hemingway haunt on Little Traverse Bay. (The author set many of his stories in the Michigan woods, and his family still has a cottage on nearby Walloon Lake.) After a stop downtown for souvenirs—a candle from indie bookstore McLean & Eakin and cherry-peach salsa from American Spoon—I double back to Vintage Chophouse & Wine Bar at the Inn at Bay Harbor for dinner: Great Lakes walleye in lemon-caper beurre blanc and a salad with fig vinaigrette, dried cherries, and goat cheese.
Summers up here offer no shortage of daylight, but it’s finally starting to get dusky, so I head to my landing place for the night, Stafford’s Perry Hotel. Built atop a high bluff in 1899, it’s the last of the Gilded Age luxury retreats that once graced this stretch of lakeshore, and the balcony off my room is an ideal spot to enjoy one of Petoskey’s famed “million-dollar sunsets.” I’m not sure I can put a price on the spellbinding colors, but they’re pretty enough that I can’t help but wonder if Hemingway ever thought about writing The Sun Also Sets instead.
2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury
The fifth-generation, fully redesigned Escalade makes things easy on drivers, with three separate dash displays and the revamped Super Cruise, a hands-free driver-assistance system that has been enabled on more than 200,000 miles of U.S. roadway and makes changing lanes both automatic and worry-free. Need room for all those Michigan cherry preserves? The second- and third-row seats yield 121 cubic feet of cargo space when they’re folded down. The Escalade’s independent rear suspension helps it handle winding lakeshore roads, and its 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine ensures you’ll make it to that next scenic overlook before the sun fades from the sky.
From $76,195, cadillac.com