Go on a self-guided tasting tour of Old Mission Peninsula, a skinny 22-mile peninsula just north of the city. Start out with a handcrafted beer tasting ($5 for five tastes) at Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, where you should try the spicy, Belgian-style Oro de Calabaza (available year-round) and the seasonal, amber-colored Fuego del Otono. Next, visit the area’s newest winery, Hawthorne Vineyards, to taste some of their local varietals before driving up the road for a tasting at Two Lads Winery, which features a sleek tasting room ($5 for a six-wine tasting) overlooking East Grand Traverse Bay and arguably the best wines in the area. Finish up with a sunset winery tour at Chateau Chantal, one of the oldest wineries in the area, where you can have a seven-course wine pairing dinner ($70; available Friday evenings through the end of October).
Explore lush farmland and wineries on Leelanau Peninsula, where Mario Batali owns a summer home. Watch cheesemakers at work, and then sample their products at Leelanau Cheese, the creamery at Black Star Farms that produces raclette and French-style fromage blanc. Next, sit amidst the vines at L. Mawby and taste their sparkling wines (with tongue-in-cheek names like Sex, Fizz, and Detroit). The first two tastes are free, and for $5, you’ll get two more with a tasting of local cheese or pate. Then taste the boozy byproduct of Michigan apples at Tandem Ciders, where they serve eleven varieties of artisan beverages ranging from the easy-sipping Early Day to the more potent Pomona, a mixture of apple brandy and sweet apple cider.
Pick up the best produce from surrounding farms without leaving the city at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market, held every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until noon (through the end of October). Located across from Clinch Park between Cass and Union Streets, the weekly lineup includes more than 100 vendors hawking produce, meats, baked goods, eggs, jams, honeys, crafts, and more. Wake up early if you’re planning to stop by, as the market tends to be packed by 9 a.m.