You’ve maybe seen it in summer, dotted with sailboats, or from your reverie as you pictured a young Ernest Hemingway splashing with rod in hand near Horton Bay. But tour Lake Charlevoix in fall — with art as your theme — and your experience is enhanced greatly by the conversations with artists as you browse the sculptures, paintings, pottery and glasswork inspired by the scenery along the route. You can also combine gallery tours with backroads fall color drives. Here are some of the best.
Circle Lake Charlevoix for art: Take a Lake Charlevoix Circle tour (35 miles around), and you get the adventure of the unexpected beauty around each curve combined with some of the state’s most visit-worthy galleries. There’s North Seas Gallery in Charlevoix with its Dutch masters and other elegant works, the whimsical wood carvings and works of 200 other Michigan artists at Freshwater Art Gallery in Boyne City and the surprises of Yellow Dog Gallery’s artist Glen McCune, an artist and wildlife rehabilitator who sculpts or draws (using bronze, wood, stone and paper) what captures his attention.
Arts and Eats, SW Michigan: Arts and Eats, Oct. 20 and 21, travels rural areas of southwest Michigan with a chance to connect with 32 artists — boat builders, knife carvers, potters, fiber and metal artists, barn quilt makers, painters and more (arts
andeats.org). The art is found at the end of farms’ roads (you’re also invited to visit) with heritage pigs, llamas, ripe tomatoes and bright orange pumpkins. And don’t forget the trip’s third leg: the chance to enjoy the farm bounty at one of more than a dozen farm-to-table stops like Four Roses Cafe in Plainwell, the Root Coffee House, Café and Bakery in Fennville, or Battle Creek’s Territorial Brewing Company.
M22 Art2Art, Leelanau: In the northwest part of the state, the popular Suttons Bay Art Festival (suttonsbayartfestival.org), held each August is expanding to a fall event featuring four simultaneous art fairs, each focused around a medium connected by one of the state’s most scenic fall color routes. The M22 Art2Art tour is being held on a weekend (Oct. 5-7) that generally coincides with peak color — offering the chance to expand the touring experience (and shop) for furniture (Northport), fiber art (Leland), paintings (Glen Arbor) and pottery (Suttons Bay).
Cracked Pot Studio Tour, Lansing: Pottery is the theme of the Cracked Pot Studio Tour (crackedpotstudiotour.com), Sept. 22 and 23, a once-a-year chance to visit nearly a dozen art studios around the Lansing area, with guest artists also showcased in each, as well as the chance to watch demos and even participate in some hands-on fun.
Public Art Tour, Detroit: Among the many themed tours offered by Wheelhouse Detroit, none are more fascinating than the artist-led Public Art Tour that you’ll take on two wheels. The 12-mile ride starts at the Detroit Riverfront and takes in Eastern Market’s murals, the Heidelberg Project’s funky fun, the College for Creative Studies’ Sculpture Garden, the Guardian Building’s art deco grandeur and more. The three-hour tour runs $35-$45 with bike rental and is offered Sept. 16 and Oct. 14. For more information, visit wheelhousedetroit.com/tours.
Kim Schneider is an award-winning travel writer based in Leelanau County. She shares her travel-savvy in every issue of BLUE.