It’s time! Pack some Cherry Republic snacks and get ready for your self-guided tour to see the Northern Michigan cherry blossoms. Surrounded by Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan, the cherry blossoms are bursting with soft, white petals. We know that the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are beautiful year round, but in our eyes cherry blossom season is the most beautiful of them all!
May is Michigan Wine Month. While you are out exploring the beautiful orchards, stop by our Glen Arbor Winery and have yourself a glass of cherry wine.
Where can I see Michigan cherry blossoms?
MLive and the Michigan Tourism Bureau took the time and put together some of the best routes in Northwest Michigan to run you through some of the prettiest areas with breathtaking views.
1. M-37 up Old Mission Peninsula: On your drive out of Traverse City make sure to stop by our store, and grab some cherry snacks and sodas to see the rolling vineyards intersect with orchards full of cherry blossoms and the deep blue water of Grand Traverse Bay.
2. M-22 North out of Traverse City: M-22 takes you out right along the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay and past the orchards and farms of the Leelanau Peninsula.
3. County Road 633: Perhaps more scenic than the north-south route between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, County Road 663 takes you through the heart of Leelanau county’s fruit-growing country as you head towards Northport. You will even have the chance to see the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.
4. M-204 West of Suttons Bay: This drive will take you across Leelanau County to Lake Leelanau and when the road meets M-22, head south to Glen Arbor to visit Cherry Republic’s Glen Arbor campus! You can visit our Great Hall, grab a glass of wine at our winery, or even eat some lunch at The Cherry Public House.
5. County Road 645: Wind your way south off M-203 on the west side of Lake Leelanau and visit our friends at Bel Lago Winery!
6. U.S. 131 East of Traverse City: Travel along the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay to Elk Rapids and beyond into the heart of Antrim County.
How long will the cherry blossoms last?
The blossoms on the trees last on average four to five days during peak cherry blossom season. But because different parts of the region bloom at different times, it’s a safe bet you can see blossoms for one to two weeks on average! Stay up to date on the progress of the cherry blossoms through the MSU Tart Cherry Webcam.
According to our friend Amy over at Bel Lago, she says “Sweet cherry trees bloom before tart cherry trees. Across northern Michigan, cherry bloom can be approximately a three week period but can vary widely between years depending upon temperature.”
Amy states, “It is the sweet cherry and tart cherry trees that are blooming in Michigan. There are many varieties of sweet cherry, but for tart cherries, the main variety is Montmorency.”
What makes Northern Michigan such an ideal place to grow cherries?
Feast and Field talked to our friends at Hallstedt Farm about embracing agritourism in the Cherry Capital of the world. Below is what they had to say about why Northern Michigan is the “perfect place for cherries.”
The peninsulas on either side of Traverse City offer three main elements that allow for prime cherry tree cultivation.
The first factor is Lake Michigan, which functions as a sort of temperature moderator for nearby crops. As water temperatures fluctuate throughout the year, they also have a drastic impact on inland climate. For instance, the lake slows temperature warm-ups during the spring, which helps delay cherry blooms. This delay is crucial. It helps prevent situations where cold overnight temperatures or other remnants of winter weather damage the vulnerable blossoms.
The lake also helps ensure that temperatures don’t get too hot in the summertime. If it does, it can scorch cherry crops. If it becomes too cold in the autumn, it can damage trees with early frosts.
The second factor is the soil, which is dry, light and sandy. Sandy dirt, which can deliver water to the cherry trees but still drains much more quickly than heavier soils. This keeps the roots from getting saturated.
The third and final factor is topography. The rolling hills of northern Michigan’s two peninsulas keep the cold air closer to sea level. This allows for warmer temperatures at higher elevations.
If you have a chance to travel to Grand Traverse or Leelanau counties to see the cherry blossoms in bloom, make sure to stop by our Traverse City store or Glen Arbor campus and say hello!