Traverse City - Our Essential Guide

Wine, food, culture, and the great outdoors…beautiful Traverse City is filled with possibilities! Short on time? Here’s our short list.

Published: 1/18/2017

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located just west and north of Traverse City proper, is a 64-mile stretch of beaches, coves, islands, and hills hugging Lake Michigan. In 2011 viewers of “Good Morning America” named it Most Beautiful Place in America. Treat yourself to the scenic 7.4-mile self guided tour along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Free interpretive guides are available at the entrance of the drive. Enjoy a walk or swim, or wander through the Glen Haven “ghost port.”

Long a major fruit producer, The Leelanau Peninsula is the region’s most active wine-producing area, 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. Follow M- 22, one of the region’s prettiest drives, or pick up a map of The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, which points the way along three mini trails, each offering a variety of wineries with unique tasting experiences. You’ll find an impressive range of internationally acclaimed wines including Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.

Just 18 miles long and less than a mile wide, The Old Mission Peninsula is ideally suited for wine touring. Around nearly every bend there’s another breathtaking view. Near the tip you’ll find the charming village of Old Mission and the Mission Point Lighthouse, built in 1870. There are nine unique wineries on Old Mission Peninsula offering a range of award-winning wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot—even Sparkling wines.

Downtown Traverse City is exceptionally pedestrian-friendly. The streets are lined with an impressive number of historic buildings and Victorian homes that have been thoughtfully restored. You can explore quite a bit by foot. Start with a walking tour to get the lay of the land. The Traverse City Visitor Center at the corner of Grandview Parkway and Union Street has a great deal of information on the area and interesting exhibits. Visit the city’s gorgeous Clinch Park and follow the paved TART trail along the West Grand Traverse Bay. Rather pedal? It’s easy to rent a bicycle. Downtown Traverse City is a mecca for inventive and diverse cuisine, boutiques, and culture— it even has its own orchestra. But the great outdoors is ever present too. The Boardman River runs through town and, of course, there’s the stunning Grand Traverse Bay.

Not far from downtown, just west of Division Street, lies Traverse City’s most surprising attraction. Set in a serene 480-acre wooded park that once served as an asylum, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons has become a popular gathering place. Its campus of castle-like buildings has been transformed to hold many intriguing shops, restaurants, galleries, and tasting rooms where you can sample local wines and craft beers. During much of the year the underground “Mercato” is home to a vibrant farmers’ market. What’s more, just south of the Commons you’ll find the 25-acre Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park.

If time permits, visit some of the cool little neighborhoods such as Slabtown, and enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a raved-about bistro. Traverse City is home to more than 150 restaurants. You’ll see why Bon Appetit named Traverse City One of America’s Top Foodie Towns.

Getting to Traverse City is easy with many flights arriving daily at the Cherry Capital Airport (TVC).

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As seen in the issue Spring 2017 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.