Traverse City quite simply has it all: a beautiful location, thriving city life and activities ranging from walking along the Sleeping Bear Dunes, tasting some of the best wines the country has to offer or enjoying a swim in the bay. Best of all, there’s something to fit any budget here. Pack up the car, hit the road and get ready to enjoy the bay in every way.
Traverse City is located approximately 248 miles north of Detroit. The easiest route is to take I-75 north for 160 miles to Business I-75, Exit 254, the Grayling exit. Coming into town, take a left at M-72 and head west for 24 miles to the intersection of M-66. Turn right on M-66/M-72 and travel for two miles through the town of Kalkaska. At the junction of M-72, turn left and continue on until you reach Traverse City, approximately 17 miles later.
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What To Do
Traverse City Wine Country
Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas
The Traverse area has become one of the fastest growing wine regions in the nation, producing some of the best vintages the U.S. has to offer. With 32 wineries on the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas, surrounding Traverse Bay, it is a wine lover’s paradise. Most vineyards here offer tasting rooms, dining and drinking options, and wine experts who can guide you through the experience.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
9922 Front St.
Empire, MI 49630
Price: $10 week-long national fee area pass
While in Traverse City, you are only a few miles from what has been called one of the most beautiful places in America, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Enjoy Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a museum at the old Sleeping Bear Point Life-Saving Station, and miles of beaches and hiking trails that range from a walk in the woods to a traverse of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The 35-mile-long lake shore is home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which climb 400 feet above Lake Michigan. The visitors center in Empire offers information on the region, its geology, maps of the area and displays that help you understand how this wondrous placed came to be. Nearby those willing to put out the effort may reach the top of the Dune Climb and, from 240 feet up, take in a view of the Lake Michigan to the west and the beauty of the forests and inland lakes to the east.
Where to Eat
428 E. Front St.
Traverse City, MI 49686
For a casual meal, the place to go is Bubba’s in downtown Traverse City. From breakfast to dinner, the restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere, huge selection and very reasonable prices. It features 14 types of burgers on the menu, Tex-Mex favorites and delicious beverages for any age. Daily specials range from surf and turf to a half-pound burger and a beer for $4. It is the place locals and visitors go to relax and scarf a scrumptious, cheap meal.
Where to Stay
Traverse Bay Inn
2300 N. US 31
Traverse City, MI 49646
Price: from $130
Located just across the street from the beach on the bay, the Traverse Bay Inn offers accommodations for families and couples alike. Its two-room suites sleep up to five, offering reasonable rates for the whole family. Each of the rooms boasts a small kitchen area with appliances. For those visiting the area in the off season, rates are even more reasonable. The Inn is located along the Traverse Area Recreational Trail, a non-motorized pathway that runs from Acme to Suttons Bay. Borrow one of the motel’s bikes to take a tour of this gorgeous area at your own pace.
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Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd.
Acme, MI 49610
Prices: from $239
The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is the premier resort in the Traverse City area. With 600 rooms, restaurants, lounges, a health club, indoor and outdoor pools and a tennis center, there is plenty to do. It is also home of The Bear, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the Gary Player-designed Wolverine course. Its four-star accommodations range from single rooms to three-bedroom condominiums perfect for an entire family.
Where to Party
Union Street Station
117 S. Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
Union Street Station exemplifies the Traverse City bar scene with live entertainment ranging from local jams to visits from Kid Rock. Open mic nights make spice up the nightly music scene as well. The cover charge is modest at $5 on Fridays and Saturdays and also on some special evenings when the club takes part in charity fundraisers.
For more information, a great source is the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.traversecity.com.
Award winning freelance writer and photographer Lawrence DiVizio is based in Southeast Michigan and works to convey in words and images the world around us. His work can be found at Examiner.com.