Standing sentinel along Michigan’s extraordinary 3,200 miles of fresh water coastline, Michigan’s more than 120 lighthouses not only guide vessels safely through the majestic Great Lakes, they also offer a glimpse into our state’s unique and storied nautical history. As you put together your road trip itinerary this season, be sure to include stops at some of these stunning structures. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of must-see Michigan lighthouses near each of our six Cherry Republic retail locations. Stop by along the way to say hello and stock up on cherry snacks. Your roadtrip will be both memorable and delicious!
If you’re starting your Michigan lighthouse trek on the state’s southwest shoreline, you won’t want to miss what has been described as Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse. Big Red, named for its striking red facade, has stood watch over Holland’s harbor for nearly 100 years. This three-story stately sentinel can be viewed from Holland State Park by walking along the boardwalk (which is also wheelchair accessible) to the North Pier. Feeling adventurous? Nearby Mt. Pisgah features a steep staircase along its dune where you can climb 157 ft above sea level to grab a bird’s eye view of this ruby-red beauty.
After your adventure at Big Red, your first Cherry Republic stop will be at our Holland retail store. Opened in 2017, the light and bright cherry decor of our West Michigan store says “welkom” to everyone who visits. Sample seemingly endless cherry products like cherry salsa and dark chocolate covered cherries, and be sure to stock up on cherry snacks for the road. On your way out of town, stop by Windmill Island Gardens and be treated to America’s only operating Dutch windmill.
Frankfort & Glen Arbor
From Holland, meander 150 miles up Michigan’s west coast along U.S. 31 North, and you’ll find yourself in the town of Frankfort. Spend some time shopping in their charming downtown before stopping by the Point Betsie Lighthouse on your way north along the scenic M-22 highway. Having operated continuously for nearly 165 years, Point Betsie is a favorite subject for painters thanks to its stately beauty and stunning location on the shores of Lake Michigan.
As you cruise along M-22 on your way toward your next stop in Northport, be sure to stop at Cherry Republic’s beautiful campus in Glen Arbor. Plan to grab lunch at the Cherry Public House, where you’ll be treated to chef-inspired sandwiches, salads, burgers and more. Eat in the pub, or enjoy an al fresco meal on the front patio or in the beer garden, where you can sip a pint of craft beer. Save some time for a bit of wine tasting at The Winery, and treat the kids to some homemade cherry ice cream served out of our new outdoor ice cream shoppe. Don’t forget to pop into The Great Hall, where you can sample more of Cherry Republic’s 200+ specialty food items.
Northport & Traverse City
Located nine miles north of the village of Northport at the very tip of Michigan’s pinky finger is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Built in 1858, this landmark has a long and storied past. According to local folklore, some believe that the lighthouse is still haunted by the friendly ghost of Captain Peter Nelson, a former Danish sea captain who served as the lighthouse keeper from 1874 to 1890. Take a self-guided tour, including a climb to the top of the lighthouse’s tower, where you will be treated to spectacular views of Lake Michigan.
When you leave Northport, head south on M-22 through the picturesque villages of Omena and Suttons Bay, and you’ll come to Traverse City, known as The Cherry Capital of the World. Cherry Republic’s flagship store on Front Street is the retailer’s largest location and a ‘must-stop’ spot for visitors from all over the world each year. After shopping, head over to Clinch Park for some time in the sun or a quick dip in West Grand Traverse Bay, play some beach volleyball, or catch a movie at the historic State Theatre or the Bijou By The Bay.
Heading north out of Traverse City, US 31 North winds through some of the most beautiful countryside and quaint towns in Michigan, eventually taking you to a place aptly referred to as Charlevoix the Beautiful. Here you’ll discover the iconic red South Pier Lighthouse perched on the Pine River Channel, which connects Lake Michigan to Round Lake. While in Charlevoix, don’t miss the famous quirky and fascinating Earl Young Mushroom Houses.
After immersing yourself into the architecture of the Mushroom Houses, head to 221 Bridge Street and say hello to the Cherry Ambassadors at Cherry Republic’s Charlevoix retail store. Right about now would be a great time to pick out some cherry goodies for friends and family back home. Cherry Republic offers free gift-boxing (including bits of Northern Michigan nature and an illustrated gift card), and you can ship your gifts right from the store!
While Northern Michigan boasts some of the prettiest lighthouses in the country, a drive downstate offers plenty for lighthouse lovers to experience, as well. The Saginaw River Lighthouse is a prime example. While this historic lighthouse now sits on private land, boaters and fishermen can be treated to its beauty from the Saginaw River.
Less than 30 minutes southeast of Saginaw is Frankenmuth, home to Cherry Republic’s retail store located in the Frankenmuth River Place Shops. This charming shopping area, with 40 shops and attractions, reflects the heritage of this town known as Little Bavaria and is a favorite stopping point for bus tour groups. Many visitors also make their way to the famous Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland while in Frankenmuth.
From Frankenmuth, head south toward the Motor City and set your GPS for Grosse Île. Named by French explorers in 1679, Grosse Île translates to “Big Island” and is the largest island on the Detroit River. The island’s North Range Lighthouse features an octagonal white tower sided with horizontal wood clapboards. Now empty, the tower once housed an eight-sided lantern room. Like the Saginaw River Lighthouse, the Grosse Ile structure is situated on what is now private land, but tours can be arranged through the the Grosse Isle Historical Society.
Once you’ve finished your lighthouse tour, there’s no better city to end up in than Ann Arbor. About an hour east of Detroit, this hip town is home to the University of Michigan and teeming with students and visitors from around the world. From music concerts and art fairs to Big Ten athletics, Ann Arbor has something for everyone. And its shopping and dining district is not to be missed. That includes Cherry Republic’s Ann Arbor retail store at 223 S. Main Street, where you can sample cherry goodies, taste cherry wine, and pick out the perfect gifts to remember your epic Michigan road trip.