This Lower Peninsula town embraces its natural wonders, reveling in fine wine, locally sourced food and breathtaking scenery.Traverse City is a Northern Michigan paradise, especially this time of year, when millions of cherry trees begin to bloom. Known for its booming wine industry and cool-climate varietals, the area houses nearly 30 wineries as well as the otherworldly Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with its miles of sublime shoreline. There’s more than one way to enjoy a quick trip to this delightful town, but here are a few of our favorite stops.
DO Nestled between the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas at the end of the Grand Traverse Bay’s west arm, Traverse City is a haven for hikers, golfers and nature lovers. Drive to Lighthouse Park at the tip of Old Mission. There you’ll find the Mission Point Lighthouse at the 45th Parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, and well-manicured marked hiking trails. If it’s golf you crave, Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club is one of the country’s most beautiful public courses. As a bonus, guests are treated to a live bagpipe performance one hour before dusk on Friday and Saturday evenings during peak season.
DRINK You won’t be disappointed in Traverse City’s Wine Country, as Northern Michigan’s fertile soil produces fresh white wines with crisp fruit flavors — Riesling and Gewurztraminer, particularly — as well as light reds, including Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Black Star Farms is known for its selection of sparkling wines, like the sweet but slightly acidic Bubbly Nouveau. Try ice wine, a dessert spirit made from frozen grapes, at Chateau Chantal, a bed-and-breakfast with tastings and tours in the cellar. If you prefer a pint, Right Brain Brewery, a brewpub in the Warehouse District, has a full, constantly changing menu of wacky ales and stouts. Please your palate with the menu’s lone constant: Will Power Pale Ale, known for having a lot of crop hop flavor.
EAT The farm-to-table movement sweeping Traverse City means that many restaurants emphasize fresh ingredients and inventive cuisine. The Cooks’ House serves artisanal dishes that combine locally sourced game with whatever’s in season, be it kabocha squash or cauliflower. Trattoria Stella is another eat-local gem, with an ever-changing menu from pigfoot to pizza. And you can’t leave town without stopping at the original Grand Traverse Pie Company, known for its delectable selection of fruit, cream, pumpkin and pecan pies with locally made preserves.
SHOP Downtown’s Front Street abuts the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay, so you don’t have to choose between spending your afternoon swimming at the beach or shopping for charming local trinkets. With more than 150 indie shops, many of which are adorned in Victorian style, there’s something for everyone. Visit Ella’s for vintage clothes and So Many Books So Little Time for used tomes. If cooking’s your bag, pick up some exotic olive oils at Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars or any reincarnation of cherry you can imagine at Cherry Republic. And Green Island has an array of environmentally friendly products to help you care for your home, your baby and your body.
STAY Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is the largest hotel in the area, with hotel rooms as well as two- and three-bedroom condominiums. Amenities include a pool, a spa, a golf course, tennis courts and access to two nearby casinos. It’s kid-friendly, too, with an indoor water park and children’s programs on Saturday nights so you can hit the town.
If You GoMission Point Lighthouse
At the end of M-37
Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club
14710 Northwood Highway, Arcadia
Black Star Farms
10844 E. Revold Road, Suttons Bay
15900 Rue de Vin
Right Brain Brewery
221 Garland St.
The Cooks’ House
115 Wellington St.
1200 W. 11th St.
Grand Traverse Pie Company
525 W. Front St.
209 E. Front St.
So Many Books So Little Time
140 E. Front St.
Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars
141 E. Front St.
154 E. Front St.
116 S. Union St.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd., Acme