Traverse City, A Two-Day Tour

Known for its natural beauty, wines, food, music, and art, Traverse City has so much to offer, it makes our eads spin. Here's our "Don't Miss" list for first timers.

Published: 8/01/2016

Known for its natural beauty, wines, food, music, and art, Traverse City has so much to offer, it makes our eads spin. Here's our "Don't Miss" list for first timers.

Day 1

Start your tour just northwest of Traverse City proper at The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 64-mile stretch along the shore of Lake Michigan. Named the Most Beautiful Spot in America in 2011 by viewers of Good Morning America, this stunning national park holds many treasures. Enjoy a walk or swim, or discover the Glen Haven “ghost port.” The Philip A. Hart Visitor’s Center, located on the edge of the Village of Empire, has many fascinating displays, and there are rangers and volunteers available to answer questions. From this national treasure, head northeast along Highway M-22, one of the region’s prettiest drives. You’ll pass through scenic villages, orchards, and vineyards. The Leelanau Peninsula is home to 26 wineries with more on the way. Stop in the tasting rooms to say “hello” and sample the crisp, aromatic cool-climate varietals. The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail is divided into three mini-trails, each offering a variety of wineries with unique tasting experiences. Thanks to the region’s range of microclimates, you’ll find an exciting range of wines, from Riesling to Chardonnay to Cabernet Franc. After your day on the road, a tempting range of dinner options awaits in Traverse City (home to more than 150 restaurants)! Whether your taste buds lead you to a bustling downtown bistro or a restaurant overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, you’re in for a gastronomic treat. You’ll see why Bon Appetit named Traverse One of America’s Top Foodie Towns.

Day 2

Downtown Traverse City is exceptionally pedestrian friendly. The streets are lined with beautifully restored historic buildings and Victorian homes and everything is close together, so take a stroll after breakfast. Explore the city’s gorgeous Clinch Park and the paved TART trail along the shore of West Grand Traverse Bay. Stop into the Traverse City Visitor Center for information and take in the exhibits. Rent a bike and head just west to The Grand Traverse Commons. This serene 480-acre wooded park, once a mental asylum, is now a popular gathering place. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons holds many unique shops restaurants, galleries, and tasting rooms. After a morning of exploration, head north up M-37 along The Old Mission Peninsula. Home to the area’s second wine trail and offers plenty of breathtaking views. Near the tip, you’ll find the charming village of Old Mission, and the Mission Point Lighthouse, built in 1870. On your return, take Peninsula Drive, and hug the shoreline southward from Bowers Harbor. At the peninsula’s base, the main campus of Northwestern Michigan College is home to the family-friendly Dennos Museum Center and one of the world’s largest collections of work by Inuit artists of the Canadian Arctic. Back in town, you’re faced with one more decision: where to have dinner. With 150-plus choices, this may not be easy, but you really can’t go wrong. To learn more, visit

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2016 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.