Leland is one of those rare villages which really is different than all of the others.  For those who enjoy history, Leland’s Historical District (known as Fishtown) is a “must see”; but even in addition to Fishtown, the village is both unique and beautiful.


The entire village of Leland encompasses only a few blocks plus a number of businesses down M-22 within four blocks of the main shopping area.  Many of the businesses are in turn-of-the-{ previous }century buildings, others are interspersed with them.  The dining is upscale in most cases, and the retail establishments include numerous art galleries, specialty shops, jewelry, and clothiers.  During the summer months, most retail businesses remain open until 9:00 in the evening, every day of the week.


The Leland River winds one mile from Lake Leelanau into Lake Michigan past an historic boathouse, the Riverside Inn, and historical homes.  As the Leland dam prevents boat traffic from one lake to the other, a boat launch is provided on both sides of the dam.


Leland is a great “walking around” town!  All of the businesses are within walking distance for most individuals, and visitors will experience numerous flower expositions and mini-gardens along the way.  The Village Green, one of three public parks near the village center, includes a spectacular rose garden on one corner, and flowers throughout.  There is also a public beach on each lake.


And of course, there is Fishtown.  Fishtown began in the 1800s.  The buildings in Fishtown were first used as the equipment sheds for the old-time fisherman.  Beginning in the 1960s, it slowly transformed into one of the most unique shopping areas and Charter Boat dockages to be found anywhere.  Most of the buildings are repaired versions of the originals, and the place looks similar to what it has since the 1850s.  These grey, weather-beaten buildings along the Carp River, are one of the largest attractions of Leelanau County and of the Traverse City region.


After a long northern Michigan winter, spring in Leland is welcomed with open arms.  The streets are cleaned, the beaches are picked up, and business owners begin to prepare to welcome our many seasonal residents and guests.  Summer is busy, with both Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau becoming warm enough for water sports of all kinds.  The Leland Marina holds over seventy boats before rafting, and is designated a “Federal Harbor of Refuge”.


Autumn in Leelanau County is as legendary as the charm and unique shopping and dining experiences of Leland.  The air is often warm, the fall colors mixed with the blue of the water is truly memorable.

Fall colors begin to appear in early September with a peak during the middle of October (weather conditions can vary this schedule).  Even more exciting is that fall color near the coast changes a week or two after inland locations for some of the same reasons that fruit trees thrive throughout the area.  After colors are past their peak at locations further inland, the Lake Michigan coast fall colors are still at the height of beauty.  An additional attraction during the fall in Leland is found at the Leland dam.  Salmon which have not remembered which river they were spawned in, try to jump the Leland dam offering spectators a great show.


While visiting Leelanau county, visitors will enjoy farmland, woodlands and water vistas almost entirely free from stoplights, billboards, strip malls, and fast-food restaurants.  Visitors enjoy an abundance of scenic beauty, great photo opportunities, numerous hiking trails, relaxing villages, water, dunes, forests, historic farms, and a unique shopping experience!  Visit peaceful, hospitable Leelanau County; the “Up North” you hope to see.


For most of the year, Leland’s “Fishtown” is the stepping stone to the historic beauty of North and South Manitou Islands.  Launch your boat through the Leland Marina, or hop on the Manitou Island Transit from the west end of Fishtown for a leisurely ride.  Once at the island, stroll to the South Manitou Island Lighthouse, a virgin cedar forest, or to the Francisco Morizan shipwreck.  Take a tour aboard open tour trucks to the antique farming area, or stay and camp overnight.  While camping, visitors have time to hike to the dunes.  During the Summer months, Manitou Island Transit offers a sunset cocktail cruise most evenings.  Transportation is also available for deer hunters wanting to experience the hunt on North Manitou Island.  Call (231) 256-9061 for details regarding island trips or evening cocktail cruises.


Around the end of October, many businesses will begin to close in the Fishtown area; but still walk through as the historic beauty and serenity still exists...and you may even find a few stores still open.  Throughout the rest of town, most stores will maintain hours through the end of the year, and a few will remain open all year long!  Most, will meet with you by appointment, at any time of the year.


A Leland Grand Tour


Whether a local resident, a part-of-the-year resident, a seasonal visitor, a temporary guest, or a day-tripper, Leland offers numerous attractions and activities for young and old; and the beauty of the area and the history of Fishtown is unsurpassed anywhere in Michigan.  Below is our listing of things to do in and around Leland.  If you know of more, please email us.


· Dining and adult beverages can be enjoyed at The Cove, the Bluebird or the Bluebird Bar, Leland Lodge, or at Riverside Inn.  Serving early, but without adult beverages include the Early Bird, Trish’s Dishes, and Sisson’s Main Street Specialties.  The Village Cheese Shanty also opens early and offers adult beverages to go.

· Those dining or enjoying a drink can sit on an outdoor deck or patio at The Cove, the Riverside Inn, the Leland Lodge, and next to the Bluebird Restaurant.

· Benches and/or picnic tables are available throughout Fishtown, the Marina Park, “DNR Park” on the river next to the Bluebird, and in the Village Green.

· Leland area wine tasting is available at Good Harbor Vineyard just three miles south of town, at Verterra in downtown Leland and at Gill’s Pier Winery, a few miles to the north.  A “spirits” tasting room can be found in Leland’s Harbor Square.

· Leland shopping includes a number of stores that are “around the corner” or “down an alley”.  In addition, side rooms, little corners, and the occasional outdoor porch or garden area can be found.  One of these outdoor garden areas is next to the “Art of Roxane” jewelry {and more} store on Lake Street / Leland Harbor Square.  Others are behind Main Street Gallery, at Two Fish Gallery and behind Tampico.

· The sidewalks are not “rolled up” after Labor Day.  Almost all stores are open through the end of October, many remain open through the end of the year, and a few are open to serve customers all year long.

· Picnic locations include the Leland Harbor, a grassy area between the Bluebird Restaurant and the Riverside Inn (also featuring a boat launch to the Leland River with access to Lake Leelanau), the beach (cross the river to the south, turn west at Van’s Garage, and drive a block and a half to the small parking area), and the Village Green (just north of the Post Office).  Pick up picnic supplies at Sisson’s Main Street Specialties, Trish’s Dishes, the Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown or from Leland Mercantile (most restaurants also offer food “to go” as well.  Rick’s Café has a great cherry chicken wrap, and the Bluebird has some great sandwiches “to go”...of course, most will also set you up with salmon or other great entrees, “to go”.).  Smoked salmon or smoked chub from Carlson’s Fishery is also an option.

· Have some ice cream at the Dam Candy Store in Fishtown, Hullabaloo on Pearl Street or at the Harbor House on Main street, get fudge at Murdick's, River & Main, or at the Dam Candy Store, or find candy of many types at River & Main or at the Dam Candy Store.  The caramel corn at Murdick’s is truly impressive.

· Stroll the Leland Marina and Fishtown.

· For those arriving by boat, the marina is dredged almost every year.

· After checking out the gray and green fish tugs docked in the Fishtown channel (these boats are still used on a regular basis), stop into Carlson’s Fishery.  Fish does not come any fresher than at Carlson’s.  While you are walking through, the cement block “smokers” are still used many times per week to smoke the fish.

· Stroll South of town just a few blocks to Main Street Gallery, Becky Thatcher Jewelry, Trish’s Dishes, and more.

· While on the South side of the river, visit the Leelanau Historical Museum on Cedar street, just one block east of M-22 behind the Leland Cultural Center and next to the Leland Library.

· Wireless Internet is available at the Leland Library.

· Most Leland business owners and employees park outside of the village center so as to leave the parking spaces available for our village visitors.

· Public restrooms are available at the entrance to Leland Harbor.  Restrooms can also be found at the Library / Historical Museum building, Van’s Garage, and at The Cove.



The Leland Experience    Copyright 2014    Established 1997    Rick Lahmann, Editor

Leland Michigan Calendar



Leland Wine & Food Festival; always the second Saturday in June, noon to 6:00.


Leland Heritage Celebration; always the third Saturday in September.


Leland Fall Frenzy; always the forth Saturday in October.



Find more information about Leland and for additional calendar dates, please visit:  Leland Michigan Chamber of Commerce.


The Leland Experience; Leland, Michigan