Where to stay, eat and play in beautiful Traverse City! Northern Michigan's stunning lakes, scenic wineries, and great hiking make it the perfect long weekend destination.
We drove to Traverse City after a wildly eventful turn of events where I got in a car accident, broke my arm, and consequently had to cancel our honeymoon to Costa Rica. What a doozy!
We wanted to enjoy a little getaway somewhere pretty and relaxing without having to get on a plane. While northern Michigan isn't the tropics, it is truly is a magical place. Crystal clear turquoise lakes, beautiful green trees, and so much to do! It's the perfect place to disconnect and spend time outdoors.
The people are friendly and down to earth, and the vibe is chill and casual. It actually reminded me a lot of our time in Bar Harbor, Maine!
We spent time mostly in Lake Leelanau, Sutton's Bay, Glen Arbor, and downtown Traverse City areas. The good news is that wherever you drive, there will be ample opportunities to explore! Wondering what to do in Traverse City? I've got answers!
If you drive from Ohio, we loved stopping for a sandwich at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, which is right on the way. Delish!
Where to stay
We had the most lovely stay at Snowbird Inn, a charming bed and breakfast in Leland that sweet Alice has been running for 30 years. The grounds are just so beautiful and serene.
We loved playing Scrabble together in the absence of TV and drinking coffee on the front porch, but the homemade breakfast spreads were most definitely the highlight! Eating breakfast around the big table with other guests and swapping stories was so special.
It's also in a great location, just a short scenic drive away from breweries, shops, restaurants and more. You feel comfortable and cozy here, like you're staying with family versus a corporate hotel or Air BnB. We look forward to staying at Snowbird again soon!
Where to eat
Farm Club: Lovely fresh, simple food and drinks sourced hyper-locally, AKA right from the farm on site! Truly a stunning setting overlooking the farm with a sprawling outdoor area. I felt like I was in Napa. We went twice because this was so our vibe! You can't go wrong with anything on the menu.
Trattoria Stella: We weren't able to get in, but this upscale Italian spot downtown has been awarded best and most romantic restaurant in Michigan!
Village Cheese Shanty: Located in Fishtown, here you'll find shockingly good (and huge) cold sandwiches served on pretzel buns in a paper bag. Don't forget the pickle!
Pleasanton Bakery: Situated in downtown traverse city, they have the best salted chocolate chip cookies! They specialize in wood brick-fired pizza and bread.
Wren: We couldn't get a reservation, but I heard amazing things about this rustic bistro and Alice recommended it as well. If you're looking for more fine dining in Sutton's Bay, give it a try (and book in advance).
Where to play
Sleeping Bear Dune: Head to this majestic National Park and fall in love with Michigan's dune and lake views! We drove through and enjoyed stopping at all the different outlooks. We could not get over the views! You'll find plenty of great hiking trails here, too.
Good Harbor Bay Beach: Enjoy the beautiful blue water and sand in your toes! We were so impressed with how clean this beach was. It would be incredible to swim there in the summer.
Fishtown. A short drive from snowbird, Fishtown is one of the last working fishing districts in the Great Lakes. Today, most of the fishing shanties are local businesses who've transformed them into shops or restaurants.
It's a cute area to stroll around, grab a paper bag sandwich at Cheese Shanty, and check out the cute shops. Grab a coffee at Blue Boat if you fancy!
After lunch, take a walk around Van's Beach, which is beautiful and just a walk down the road.
Green Bird Organic Cellars: A gorgeous 15-acre winery with organically grown wines and ciders. Walk through the vines, say hi to the chickens, and simply relax!
Hop Lot Brewery Co: This is an amazing outdoor setting smack dab in the forest. Go in the evening and play corn hole, grab a burrito bowl, or sit back and just enjoy the trees. Super family friendly, too!
Chateau Chantel Winery: We heard wonderful things about this scenic winery on the peninsula!
It's on our agenda for next time. Make a reservation before you go.
Village at the Grand Traverse Commons: This former hospital for mentally ill patients has been transformed into a shopping, dining, and living area. It feels pretty spooky at first until you learn how wonderful the founder of the hospital was and how much he prioritized beauty and environment for the patients when he built it.
Take a tour to learn the history, grab tacos at Spanglish, and end with a wine flight at Left Foot Charley.
Any northern Michigan fans out there? Leave a comment with your favorite spots!