Beautifully situated on the eastern side of the Leelanau Peninsula, on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay, Northport is close to Traverse City (28 miles), but a world away. The all new harbor with more than 100 slips plus a shopper’s dock is of the most extensive on the Great Lakes. The village is built upon terraces, and the surrounding farming country is excellent. Less than three miles distant to the west is the shore of Lake Michigan. Northport is a great walking around town; you can even drive a golf cart. New restaurants have opened; a boutique bowling alley and a new 9-hole public golf course have just opened too. This small town has an indoor pool, a fitness center, a performing arts center, tennis, youth sailing school and more.
Here near land’s end are kind and generous people with undaunted courage inspired by natures’ beauty. This is a strong community with a will to live and a shared vision of civic responsibility. This is a place where the arts, health and education thrive.
Where to Meet Locals?
At Barb’s Bakery every morning. At the Farmers Market every Friday morning and at Music in the Park, every Friday night in the summer. At the fly-in and pancake breakfast at Woolsey Airport. At the Mill Pond opening day of trout season. At the Leelanau Uncaged Street Festival and at the annual Winter Carnival at Braman Hill.
About the School District
Northport Public School is a K-12 small school with a big heart, located in the village. The district covers 45 square miles, serving Northern Leelanau County. The Leelanau Children’s Center, an award winning early childhood education program is located just uphill from the public school. The Northport Promise offers all students, no matter what their family’s financial ability, a chance to attend one of Michigan’s fine public colleges, universities, or technical schools. For more details visit Northport Public Schools online.
Omena is now on the National Register of Historic Places! This historic community of Omena began in 1852 and lies midway along Leelanau County’s eastern shore on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, midway between the villages of Sutton’s Bay and Northport. Omena is 25 miles north of Traverse City. More than 100 years ago this description of Omena was written in a tourist book. It is as true today as it was then:
“Omena, The Beautiful…here nature has bestowed her most lavish gifts of loveliness and beauty upon woodland and waters; She has molded the rolling hills, clad them in the most enticing forests, and washed the foothills with the sparkling crystal waters of Omena Bay, where storms seldom disturb it, and the tiny little pleasure boats can ride in safety. There are no marshes or stagnant water to be found here, objects can be plainly seen where the water is from twenty to thirty feet in depth. The pure and bracing atmosphere has a magic and beneficial effect upon the people so unfortunate as to be afflicted with malaria or hay fever. The summer tourists begin to flock here from every quarter of the United States and many have become so fascinated with the loveliness of the place that they have built beautiful homes.” Beauty Spots in Leelanau, 1901 Souvenir. (Referenced in Vintage Views of Leelanau County by Byron & Wilson)
The turquoise color of the water and friendly civic minded people who continually dig into their personal resources to conserve and protect the places they love and cherish.
Where to Meet Locals?
At the post office just after you pick up your morning paper at the country store. At a museum event, or playing team trivia at Knot Just a’ Bar.
In 1849, Rev. George Smith moved his Indian mission by schooner from the Kalamazoo Valley to the tip of Leelanau Peninsula, founding the first multi-cultural settlement in Leelanau along the sheltered harbor now known as Northport. Three years later, Rev. Peter Dougherty brought his Old Mission faithful across Grand Traverse Bay to his new mission in Omena. The infant ports on the western edge of the American frontier became two of the most beautiful and historic towns on the upper Great Lakes.
By the Civil War, Northport had blossomed into the largest settlement in Northern Michigan, a position it held when tourists began to flock to the region in the late 19th to town and the 110 room Northport Beach Hotel opened for business. Cherry orchards graced the surrounding hillsides and the packing plant shipped the fruit around the world. Anglers supported the Great Lakes first sport fishing fleet, and dozens of captains for hire trolled the nearby waters of northern Grand Traverse Bay for lake trout.
For a time, being at the end of the road caused Northport’s shine to fade, but today the word is out that the historic town is actively reinventing and reinvesting its way back to being one of Leelanau’s premier destinations. Look for the ambitious, community orientated projects that are opening in the “Port” today.