Why We Love Traverse City, Michigan

Jul 18, 2018 | All Blog Posts, Our Travel Adventures

The first time we visited Traverse City we came for the wine but we have kept coming back for the fun! There is so much to do here in the summer (which is the only time of the year we have been here so far). From the Traverse City Cherry Festival, the Traverse City Film Festival, the TART and Leelanau bike trails, lake activities in Traverse Bay, the wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and all of your other normal tourist activities. This is our third time visiting the area and we always find something new to do.
Every time we visit we stay at Traverse City State Park. We have camped in our tent the first two times and the third time has been with our new rig. Check out our blog post about parking the rig if you are looking for a laugh.
The first time we came we stumbled in during the cherry festival – what fun it was to taste everything cherry flavored! The second time we researched a bit better and learned we were coming during the film festival. Fortunately we researched early and scored tickets to two different films! This time we are too late for the cherry fest and too early for the film fest but that is fine with us because there was still plenty to do!
I (Michelle) wasn’t feeling too good at the beginning of the week, I was thoroughly exhausted from our son’s wedding festivities that were the week before. But that’s ok because we meandered around the state park, walked across the street to the beach, and walked two-tenths of a mile to play mini golf at Pirates Cove Adventure Golf (where you can also zip-line, climb the challenge course, ride go-carts, and play bumper boats). We visited a few wineries on Old Mission Peninsula. We have a few favorites on Old Mission including Chateau Grand Traverse and Brys Estate Vineyard. But seriously, they have wine for every palette.
After I was feeling better we decided it was time to get some real exercise in; what you will learn about us is that we are very active. We love to walk, hike, and bike anywhere! It was Saturday morning and the farmers market was going on in downtown Traverse City so we decided to lace up our shoes and head out. It’s 4 miles just to get downtown and we love a day that involves a long walk for exercise and fun things to see and do when we get there. We ended up walking 10 miles on Saturday! We could have spent the entire day there between the farmers market, downtown shops, food trucks, wine/spirits tasting, and the beach.
On Sunday we were itching to bike because it had been two weeks since we had gotten any real cycling in. From our campground Suttons Bay on the Leelanau peninsula is 21 miles. The Leelanau trail is 17 miles so you are on the TART trail for the 4 miles. We weren’t too confident in our abilities to ride there and back because we haven’t been biking a lot lately and it was going to be a hot day. Therefore, we opted to use their bike-n-ride program. We parked our truck at a bus stop, rode 17 miles to Suttons Bay, wandered around, and when we were ready to leave we put our bikes on the bus and we rode back to our truck. This made for a gorgeous day of riding and enjoying the quaint little town of Suttons Bay!
One of the new activities we have learned about on this trip is that you can “Kabrew” – don’t know what that is? Neither did we! It’s kayaking from brewery to brewery! Check out The River Outfitters to see more about this activity. Of course you can always do a bike and wine tour – check out Grand Traverse Bike Tours for information. The last time we were here we did our own bike and wine tour on the Old Mission Peninsula. Unfortunately it was about 90 degrees that day so we only hit 3 wineries and we drank a lot more water than wine. But it is still an amazing day when you are biking on Old Mission Peninsula because you spend most of the day with the water on in view.
If you want to just play in the water, there are many water activities on Traverse Bay. However, be mindful of your expectations. This is Michigan. This water is a part of Lake Michigan. It is not Florida. The water will be chilly and sometimes downright cold even when the air temperature is 90 degrees. On Monday, we rented jet skis and parasailed from TC Watersports. We have kayaked in the past and you can rent a boat, go out on a sailboat cruise, rent a stand up paddleboard, or just hang out on their beautiful Michigan beaches. The water is so clean and clear. It will certainly cool you off on a hot summer day!
I would be remise if I didn’t mention one more place we love to visit when we are here and that is the Grand Traverse Village. On the grounds of this “village,” you can hike, bike, shop, visit the arboretum, taste wine, get a great meal, or are you ready for this? You can take a guided historic tour of as this village used to be the Traverse City State Hospital. Check out their website for cool photos of the old hospital! One more thing, before you leave leave the village, go to Left Foot Charley and enjoy a glass of Reisling. Left Foot Charley has great wine, good stories, and a very cool building!
When you go to Traverse City, you can use this as your hub to visit so many other cool places. For example, Sleeping Dunes National Lakeshore is a short 40 minute drive west. You can head north to the quant towns of Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs. We are heading to Petoskey to camp for a few days. So until next time Traverse City – we love this town! Have you done something else in the area? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!