American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Exploring the Cherry Republic
Key West has the Conch Republic, California wine lovers have the Barefoot Republic, and fashionistas have the Banana Republic. In Glen Arbor, Michigan, you’ll find the Cherry Republic (6026 S. Lake St., 231/334-6340 or 800/206-6949), where an entrance sign reads, “Declare all bananas.”
Founded two decades ago by Glen Arbor resident Bob Sutherland – who, at the time, hoped to reenergize Michigan’s cherry industry – the Cherry Republic gradually grew into the family-friendly destination it is today. Situated within the world’s largest tart cherry-growing region, between the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Leelanau Peninsula, the Cherry Republic world headquarters in downtown Glen Arbor comprises a spacious retail store, a winery, and a restaurant – all of which are open all year long.
A couple weeks ago, my husband and I paid a visit to the Cherry Republic after exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes. Within Glen Arbor’s charming shopping district, we encountered the Republic's lovely grounds, which include several shady trees and English-style gardens that are usually bursting with vibrant wildflowers, rare poppies, and graceful butterflies.
After meeting the owner – who apparently spends a lot of time at his beloved creation – we headed to The Great Hall of the Republic (9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), a retail store that contains over 150 gourmet cherry products, made from locally grown Michigan cherries. The best part about visiting the store is, of course, the opportunity to sample the merchandise. On that day, we happily tasted everything from cherry chipotle salsa and white chocolate cherry peanut butter to a hiker’s mix that contains raw pumpkin seeds, roasted peanuts and Brazil nuts, dark chocolate chunks, and dried cherries, cranberries, and apricots.
When we’d nibbled everything available, we followed the garden path from the store to The Cherry Republic Winery (11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–7 p.m. Sun.), also called the Stomp House, the only tasting room in Leelanau County that’s open to all ages. While children are welcome to sip non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling cherry juice and Boomchuggalugga cherry soda pop, adults are invited to taste a rotating selection of cherry wines. During our visit, I especially enjoyed the cherry white wine (refreshing on a warm summer’s day), the cherry spiced wine (ideal for a cold winter’s night), and the unusual sangria (a pleasant blend of pineapple, lime, lemon, and cherries). Even the tasting room offers free vittles, like cherry hummus and dark chocolate cherry-covered nuts.
Still not sick of cherries, we crossed the garden and headed into The Cherry Republic Bakery & Café (9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily), a cozy, country-style eatery that offers free wireless Internet access, houses northern Michigan’s only Cherry Pie Abacus, and serves all manner of cherry-enhanced dishes and baked goods. Although we opted to skip the cherry melt brownies, cherry scones, cherry cream cheese coffee cake, and cherry Boomchunka cookies (the Republic’s initial product), we enjoyed our lunch nonetheless. In fact, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to punctuate our visit to the Cherry Republic: cherry ginger ale with a generously portioned chicken salad, garnished with – you guessed it – plump dried cherries!
Though I can’t speak for my husband, I thoroughly relished our visit to the Cherry Republic – and look forward to our return. It’s a fun, friendly way to spend an hour or two – and a perfect way to celebrate a successful dune climb at the nearby national lakeshore. If only I’d had a chance to challenge someone in the cherry pit-spitting arena. Well, maybe next time.
Travelers will also find Cherry Republic retail stores (or “embassies”) in Traverse City (150 E. Front St., 231/932-9205, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) and Charlevoix (411 Bridge St., 231/437-3600, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily), but I’d recommend visiting the one that started it all.
Just as a reminder, I’m always open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions – or burning questions – please comment below or contact me at laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.