Fishtown: Where Popeye Would Vacation In Michigan

When you think of Maine, you might think of the fisherman bringing their catches into a small village—an image that could be perfect for a jigsaw puzzle. Michigan has one of those very same places that is much closer than the Eastern Seaboard. Located in Leland in the Leelanau Pensinula, Fishtown makes for some great pictures and a summer stroll.

Many people do not know about this northwestern port, but it has been around since the early 1900s. It is still in use today as a hub for ferrying passengers, fishing charters, or shopping. A distinct aroma will occasionally hit your nose on the boardwalk that reminds of you of the sea, even though there is no salt in the water. The bridge on Main Street is basically the boundary for fishtown. From there, the water cascades over the dam, past the shanties, and into Lake Michigan. On the southern side of the river is the Falling Waters Lodge which can be slightly more pricey than a Holiday Inn but it is a cozy little place. Book far ahead of time to secure a reservation. Also, Van's Beach is on the south side on Cedar St. If you look up Fishtown on Google Maps, the address is for the beach. The beach is where I park and then walk a short distance to the town. Also, It is a place to swim and is accessible to the lodge.

On the north side of the river is the shops. The restaurants in the area can be quite pricey for the preppy clientele. It's a village where you sample everything. The grocery store on Main Street is a good area to get a soda pop, snacks, and such.  It was Monday and it was exceptionally busy.  When I asked the cashier if it was always this hectic, she responded that it was crazy in July but that I should return in February for a less stressful shopping experience. The Village Cheese Shanty always seemed busy and the candy store is an easy way to get some sweets for dessert. The dark-chocolate malted milk balls were my favorite. There are also a few stores with Michigan-themed objects or clothing. A Carlson Fishery post will be separate from this post. The public bathrooms are easily accessible across the lane from the shops if need be. The boardwalk is part of the charm of the town. There are no railings so this may be a good time to incorporate child leashes into your child rearing (I joke). The charter boats line the dock and are available for trips. The water is a clear turquoise that reveals small minnows hanging around the docks. 

It's part of Michigan's fishing history and industry as well as a fun time with family. If you visit the dunes, it's basically twenty miles away through a few small tourist towns. If you are interested in more information on the history and the shops, visit the preservation society website here.  You will find websites to the businesses and charters as well.  Fishtown is a great day-trip that will be “boat-loads” of fun. 


  1. I've never been to fishtown. It looks so beautiful! The child leash suggestions was great!! :) ~ Jamie


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