Spend a morning at the farmer’s market in northern Michigan and you’ll see how lucky we are to live in Michigan. But the farmer’s market certainly isn’t just for farmers anymore. It’s a gathering place. It’s where locals and visitors meet the growers and makers.
Did you know…
Michigan agriculture is leading the nation in many ways. Here are a few fun facts about how we rank:
- Fourth in the country as a net exporter of hops
- Third in the nation for the number of farmers markets (300+)
- Second most agriculturally diverse state in the Country, next to California
- First in the Country for the production of blueberries, tart cherries, dry black-beans, picking cucumbers and squash
Picked and Processed
- Upward of 1 billion pounds of sugar is produced annually in Michigan
- Thanks to our local farmers, we are the nation’s leading producer of potatoes for potato chip processing
Buy Michigan Made
The best part about farmer’s markets is the opportunity to buy local. Whether we’re talking fruits or vegetables, beer or wine, soaps or lotions, salt or sugar, buying locally-produced goods supports the area economy.
National Lighthouse Day dates back to 1789. On August 7th many moons ago, Congress approved an act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys, and public piers. It was not until 200 years later, in 1989 that this important Act received it’s own day of recognition. Happy National Lighthouse Day! Celebrate today and visit a lighthouse that’s not far away.
Old Mission Point Lighthouse
Located on 45th parallel the Old Mission Point Lighthouse is a popular park and playground along the shore. Pack a picnic and spend the day. There are beautiful hiking trails surrounding the lighthouse. It’s also a museum open for tours, and in search of volunteer keepers to serve as tour guides.
Directions: take M-37 to the end of Old Mission peninsula, approx. 22 miles from Front St. in Traverse City.
Point Betsie Lighthouse
The oldest operating light in Michigan —and perhaps the most photographed— Point Betsie is a must-see on a visit to Benzie County. It’s a great spot to hunt for fossils like Petoskey stones and Charlevoix stones. The lighthouse is open for tours in the summer Thursday – Sunday.
Directions: take M-22 to Pt. Betsie Rd, 4 miles north of the blinking light in Frankfort.
South Manitou Island Lighthouse
Guiding ships safely through the Manitou Passage, the South Manitou Island Lighthouse is an important beacon in Lake Michigan. It’s part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with tours that take you to the top for an incredible panoramic view of National Lakeshore.
Directions: South Manitou Island may be reached by ferry from Leland. The lighthouse is located 0.6 miles from the ranger station and dock
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum
At the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula you’ll find the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. For a glimpse into our maritime history take the tour, or better yet, ask about their guest lightkeeper program. The lighthouse and museum are open May through October, and weekends in November.
Admission: Adults $5, Children 6-12yrs $2, under 5yrs are free
Directions: 9 miles north of Northport inside Leelanau State Park (entry fee charged)
Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse
The Frankfort Lighthouse marks the entrance to the Betsie Bay, a popular port for fishermen and sailors. You’ll find kids jumping from the pier in the summer, surfers riding the waves well into the fall, and the most storm watching along the north and south piers when the wind is high. Plus it’s a spectacular spot to watch the sun say goodnight to Lake Michigan.
Directions: Take M-22 past the blinking light to Main St, then west through downtown to Frankfort beach
We Love Our Lighthouses
The importance of lighthouses is hard to ignore. Especially when you consider the fact that at one time, the beacon of light could be seen across almost all of America’s shoreline!
Have you visited any northern Michigan lighthouses? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.
For more information on lighthouses in the area, and get directions right from your phone, download our mobile app. You’ll find them listed under the Attractions section. The Traverse Traveler app is a handy way to navigate through the Traverse area and discover must-see destinations like these.
See you on the beach!
It’s time for the annual Traverse City Film Festival. It’s a great chance to discover new movies, attend fun events and enjoy the hospitality of our city. We thought we’d share a few tips on how to be a traveler — not a tourist — during the film festival.
Film Festival Tips for Travelers
- Take advantage of the free festival shuttle provided by BATA. The Bayline will bring you into town from your hotel. And look for details about their festival loop traveling between film venues. The buses are all ADA accessible, air conditioned and have wifi.
- Travelers know it pays to be flexible. If you didn’t get tickets to a movie, try the standby line. You just might get in, even if you don’t get to sit with your friends.
- Not all the movies are shown at The State and The Bijou. Make sure you know where your movie is playing before you get in line.
- Speaking of lines, bring a little patience. Don’t be that tourist who thinks lines are for other people.
- As long as you’re here to binge watch, why not be a traveler and venture out to our surrounding communities and take in a movie at The Garden in Frankfort, the Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay or check out northern Michigan’s only drive-in movie theater at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor.
- The outdoor movies in the Open Space are not to be missed. They’re free, they’re family-friendly and there’s usually something for everyone. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and arrive before dusk to claim your spot on the lawn. Here’s the Open Space lineup for this year:
Tuesday | Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Wednesday | 9 to 5
Thursday | The Greatest Showman
Friday | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Saturday | Black Panther
Sunday | Coco
- The Traverse City Film Festival is the perfect excuse to spend the day downtown. Try a new restaurant, grab a drink with some friends, or do a little wine tasting. Our Dining Guide can be a helpful resource if you’re looking to try something new. It’s fun to be a traveler for the day, even if you’re a local.
Check out this year’s TCFF promotional video below:
We hope you use our tips to be a traveler during the Traverse City Film Festival. Enjoy the shows!
Is a vacation or staycation in Traverse City on your mind this spring? The kids have been cooped up at home long enough. Spring Break is a popular time for the locals to get-away, which means it’s a little less crowded on the streets and in the hotels. So here’s my list of 9 things to do with kids on a Traverse City staycation. Watch the videos for more details on each destination!
Breakfast at Round’s
If you’re traveling for vacation odds are nobody has to cook. So, I think it’s fitting that a staycation includes going out for breakfast. If you’re an early-riser check out Round’s, a true local hang-out, where the raspberry french toast is out of this world. Look for their menu in our Dining Guide.
Free Movies at The State
The State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay have a once-annual free movie fest, which lines up with Traverse City’s spring break. That means free movie tickets, and lots of family-friendly films all week! If your break doesn’t match ours don’t despair! These arthouse volunteer-run theaters offer great kids programs including $.25 kids matinees EVERY Saturday. And you can’t beat the popcorn and candy prices either.
Bounce it Out at Busy Bodies
Sometimes you just need a place to let the kids run, skip and bounce out that energy they’ve been storing all winter. Busy Bodies Bounce Town is the solution. With wristband access you can spend an hour, go grab a bite to eat and come back later that day to wear them out before the car ride home.
Hike through the Art Park
The Michigan Legacy Art Park is a hidden gem, and worth a drive to Crystal Mountain in Benzie County. Discover larger than life sculptures tucked between the trees along a beautiful hiking trail. These permanent art installations are impressive any time of year. March and April can still be snowy in the woods, so wear your boots, or rent a pair of snowshoes.
Eat Lunch at Scalawags
Scalawags Fish & Chips in downtown Traverse City is the perfect lunch spot for the whole family. The restaurant is decorated tip to tail in fishing-themed memorabilia and artwork. The fish is incredibly fresh and prepared right after you order. Tell the kids to watch for Spongebob as he pops up every time the front door opens.
Bowling and Laser Tag at Lucky Jacks
If you’re entertaining teens or tweens and the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ve got just the place for you. Lucky Jacks has indoor fun for the whole family. From bowling and laser tag, to arcade games, bumper cars and did I mention they have a full restaurant and bar? Yep, this spot checks a lot of boxes for some good old fashioned family fun.
Explore History at The Village
One of the nation’s largest historical renovations is taking place just off the beaten path in Traverse City. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a former state asylum with stunning 19th century architecture, and a fascinating history. Sign-up for a guided historic tour of the buildings, or spend your time hiking the trails all around Traverse City’s central park. Ask for the path to the hippy tree for an instagrammable discovery.
Play at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum
Traverse City is blessed to be surrounded by water. As Michiganders we want to ensure the importance of the Great Lakes is not lost on our youngest adventurers. Kids can explore our watery resources in hands-on exhibits, playscapes and activities at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum.
Discover Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is always on our list of things to do with kids. On a sunny day the views of Lake Michigan are blue and beautiful no matter the season. Hiking the dunes or riding a bike along the Heritage trail are great springtime adventures. Start at the Visitors Center in Empire and ask about the Jr Ranger program for some activities that will entertain and educate the youngest visitors.
So when it’s too warm for snowmen, but too cold for swimming, there are still plenty of things to do with kids of all ages in Traverse City. If you live here, it’s a good reminder to get out and enjoy the reasons why. If you’re traveling to Traverse City…welcome! The trees might be leafless, and the pot holes large, but activities abound for you and your traveling band.
Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this week to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City community.
This year we have once again teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring three free events to the Traverse City community.
April 21: Free Film at The State Theatre | 6 pm
All community members are invited to a free screening of the brand new 2015 documentary, How to Dance in Ohio at the State Theatre. This film has been well received on the film festival circut and will make its debut at The State for our event. The documentary follows a group of teens with autism who spend 12 weeks preparing for a typical teenage rite of passage: a spring formal. Learn how these students tackle the social skills needed to ask someone on a date, invite them to dance and explore the complex world of social dynamics. More information about the film here.
April 24: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks | 4-7 pm
Families of children with autism are invited to join us for a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will Light up the Lanes in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event. This is an open house event with no reservations required.
April 25: Sensory-friendly Film at The Bijou | 10:30 am
Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing at The Bijou in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Children of all ages will enjoy Rio2, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.
Supporting Autism in our Community
Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of building awareness about autism, and fundraising to support children with autism in our local schools. In the last three years we have raised over $27,000 and purchased 52 iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City area public schools and T.B.A.I.S.D. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and donors. If you would like more information about donating or supporting students with autism in our schools please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A holiday weekend is the perfect time to enjoy one of northern Michigan’s favorite outdoor activities: ice fishing. And it’s not just locals who are itchin’ to go fishin’. Visitors come from miles around to catch their limit on our frozen lakes.
Here are a few tips from a local for the casual weekender who wants to give ice fishing a try —from advice on equipment, to safety and a fish finder for area lakes. These tips won’t guarantee a prosperous catch, but they’ll set you up for a fun, safe angling adventure on Michigan’s frozen playgrounds.
Licensed to Catch
The first thing every angler needs is a license. And the MDNR offers several options.
- You can now buy an e-license online anytime at mdnr-elicense.com.
- There are three licensing options: one-day license, season license and a new 72-hour all species license. The last option is great for the weekender as it’s available to residents and non-residents for $30.
- Fish for free on one of Michigan’s free fishing weekends. Mark you calendars for February 14-15, 2015 for this winter’s free weekend.
Here’s a list of the basic equipment and supplies you’d need for an afternoon out on the ice. And like most sports and hobbies, there are the necessities, and then there are thousands of variations, and upgrades that can expand the options, and empty your wallet. These are the nuts and bolts. You take it where you want to from here.
- Valid Michigan fishing license, see above. Children under 17 can fish for free;
- Ice Auger or spud, depending on the depth of the ice. More than four inches of ice and you’ll probably want an auger;
- Sled to pull your gear, depending on how much you have;
- Portable shanty, foldable chair or bucket to sit on;
- Tip-ups or ice fishing rods;
- Bait: for tip-ups use minnows like golden shiners or blues. For rods use wax worms or artificial bait like jigs and spoons.
Tip: Don’t forget to keep the receipt from the bait shop if you buy live bait, like minnows. Live bait must be certified to prevent the spread of disease. DNRE officers may ask for proof of purchase.
- Safe ice is thick ice. Four inches is recommended for safely fishing on Michigan’s inland lakes. If you’re heading out with a snowmobile or ATV, err on the side of caution and wait for 5″-6″ of ice.
- Watch for holes, cracks and open ice. Freshly abandoned ice fishing holes are a quick way to twist an ankle or worse. Anglers often leave branches or markers in their abandoned ice holes as a warning, so keep your eyes open.
- Bring emergency gear. Safety spikes are a great solution, and can be worn around the neck. They look like a short jump-rope with handles on the end, each equipped with a spike. If you fell in the ice you could use the picks to pull you out. A lifejacket and some rope are a good back-up plan.
- Don’t fish alone. It’s not as much fun anyway, so bring a buddy.
Tip: If you’re unsure about the safety of lake ice, get some advice from the bait shop or a local. Many small inland lakes are not ideal for ice fishing because they’re spring fed. The way the ice forms can also determine whether it’s strong enough to support additional weight. So if you don’t see any tracks, or evidence of activity on the surface, don’t venture out, especially alone.
There are dozen of lakes in northwestern Michigan that could be great for fishing. And certain species thrive in specific lakes. Here’s a short guide to some of the most popular species, and where you can find them.
- If your fishing for pike check out Portage Lake in Onekema and Green Lake in Interlochen;
- For smelt try Crystal Lake in Benzie county, and Green Lake;
- For perch Crystal Lake and Glen Lake near Glen Arbor;
- For walleye visit Long Lake in Traverse City, and Lake Leelanau on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Tip: Know your limit, and stay within it. The DNRE limits the catch on each species, and limits vary. Check out the MDNR website for all the details.
Onto every vacation a little rain may fall. But don’t let bad weather ruin your trip to Traverse City. You just need to give your plans a little flip. Today we’re going to explore three indoor attractions that offer activities for everyone in your family. We’ll turn those rainy frowns upside-down!
Family Fun at Lucky Jack’s
When mother nature throws a wet blanket on your outdoor family fun, head to Lucky Jack’s, where blue skies are not required. Inside these doors you’ll find 50,000 square feet of boredom busting fun! Locally owned for over 50 years Lucky Jack’s is the largest bowling center in the region. With bumper rails and ball guides kids of all ages can stay out of the gutter and score a strike.
Need to burn off some excess energy? Suit ’em up for a challenging game of laser tag. Or test your skills in the arcade. Keep track of all your activities and points with the Fun Card, then cash in, for the loot of your choice.
Lucky Jack’s knows how to keep kids and parents happy. Did I mention they have a full bar, and some of the best pizza in town? That’s why they’re known as Traverse City’s FUN Destination.
Take Aim at Shooter’s Range
Let’s face it, the little kids aren’t the only ones pouting when plans get cancelled due to weather. When it’s too rough to fish, or to wet to golf, the temperature’s always perfect at Shooters Indoor Gun & Archery Range.
Northern Michigan is a hunter’s paradise. And this place, is where they come to hone their skills. Shooter’s 8 lane firearm range allows shoppers to try before you buy. They even offer lessons if you’re new to the sport – like me.
If archery is more your style take aim at one of 15 life-size targets in their 3-D course. Or step inside the technoHUNT simulator where you can stalk a whitetail deer or an animal on safari. From guns to ammo to bows and arrows Shooters can outfit any Michigan sportsman —or woman. So visit Shooters. Where they aim…to please.
Shop in Comfort at Cherryland Antique Mall
Update: The Cherryland Antique Mall is now closed. However antiquing in the area is still a great rainy day option.
On a sunny day you’ll find our downtown streets are filled with shoppers. So what’s a girl to do when she’s dying to buy something new, and window shopping is out of the question? How about searching for something new to you.
The Cherryland Antique Mall is filled with treasures of times gone by. It’s a far cry from the hot dusty flea markets and auctions my parents used to drag me to. Here you can browse to your hearts content, in air-conditioned comfort. I can spend hours strolling through these isles. Booth by booth you’ll find a wide variety of antiques, furniture, vintage jewelry, memorabilia and collectables.
Why not pick up a unique souvenir from your trip up north… one with a little history attached. The knowledgeable dealers at the Cherryland Antique Mall will help you find just what you’re looking for.
So when your plans are cancelled because the forecast is wet, remember these rainy day ideas for a Traverse City vacation you’ll never forget. Download the Traverse Traveler app for directions to these — and many more — rainy day attractions.
An Up North summer begins and ends on a holiday. That’s 59 days to soak up the sun. So I put together a list of 59 ways to squeeze in every last drop of Pure Michigan fun. This year, let’s all Be a Traveler in Traverse City. On your mark… get set… go!
- Hunt for petoskey stones. Point Betsie is a good stony beach with miles of shoreline for walking. Not sure what you’re looking for? Pick up a rock hunting guide from Korner Gem. Kevin’s an expert!
- Watch a movie under the stars. Get a bucket of popcorn with real butter and experience a time warp at the Cherry Bowl Drive-in in Honor. Or check out the Bike-in TC movies in F&M park, and the week-long Traverse City Film Festival with free flicks at the Open Space in August.
- Sip a cold drink under the warm sun. I love to look out over the marina from the deck at Harbor 22, or better yet… cocktails on a boat, in the harbor will do just fine.
- Read a paperback on the beach. Ok, so this one makes my list every summer for nothing more than pure selfish relaxation. I’m usually giggling at Stephanie Plum in the latest Janet Evanovich book, but if you’re looking for a new read I’d suggest a stop by Brilliant Books in Traverse City.
- Buy a flight at a local brewery. Our little town is one of the beeriest cities in the U.S. You’ll find a dozen craft breweries in Traverse City and new ones popping up in small towns, like Stormcloud in Frankfort. So grab a flight and drink local.
- Bike the T.A.R.T. trail or Benzie trail. Follow this stretch of the T.A.R.T. that runs along Boardman Lake behind the Traverse Area District Library and look for the planetary signs. It’s great fun for the kids.
- Celebrate our independence with fireworks. We park and walk for miles to Lake Michigan beach in Frankfort with a bag of licorice, glow necklaces and dig our pit in the sand to watch a spectacular show every July 4th.
- Reel in a king salmon. Forget the worm, up North, the early bird gets the fish! The best bite is at dawn and dusk, but the thrill of the catch is worth it. On a good day you’ll bring home dinner. On a bad day it was a still a nice boat ride that followed the colors of the sun.
- Fill a basket with fresh picked fruit straight from the orchard. Stop at a U-Pick farm for a hands-on experience or pull up to a roadside stand and select from nature’s best.
- Count satellites and ponder the stars. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore holds ‘Star Parties’ several times each summer where you can explore the night sky through powerful telescopes. Or kick back next to a campfire and watch for meteors.
- Try a new restaurant. Our region is blessed with fantastic local eateries. Try one that’s new —or at least new to you— this summer. On my list: The Franklin on Front and Cass in downtown Traverse City and Tucker’s in Northport.
- Walk barefoot along our freshwater coast. Take some time to feel the sand between your toes on a beach walk. You’ll find busy beaches along the shores of West Bay, Frankfort and Empire, or seek solitude at the end of a quiet road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
- People watch at a festival. From the National Cherry Festival to the Northwestern Michigan Fair to the Traverse City Film Festival there’s entertainment to be found in the crowd. You may catch a glimpse of celebrity locals including Michael Moore, Carter Oosterhouse and Mario Batali.
- Buy art from a local artist. Local art makes a unique souvenir from your trip up north. Check out Michigan Artists Gallery in Suttons Bay, Gallery 50 at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and Art and Soul in downtown TC.
- Drink the fruits of our land. The wineries are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Grand Traverse region. But as a local, I’m proud to say I love them too. Take a trip on Old Mission or Leelanau county and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Before you go, check out my tips for wine-tasting in Northern Michigan.
- Jump off a dock. Swing from a rope, dive in a pool, take flight over a body of water and land with a splash. That’s summer lovin’ at its watery best.
- Marvel at a Museum. From unexpected treasures at the Music House Museum, to fine art at the Dennos to hands-on fun at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, there’s indoor fun to be had in Traverse City too.
- Run down the dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must-visit every summer. From the dune climb that overlooks Big and Little Glen, to the quieter spots in the National Park, find your spot to run with the wind in your hair and legs out of control.
- Eat dessert from a cone. Is there a more perfect summer food than ice cream? We make regular trips to Moomer’s for homemade deliciousness complete with farm views. But if you want to feel like a local order the Cosmo cone from the Dairy Lodge.
- Roast s’mores over an open flame. My secret for a perfect s’more: buy the giant marshmellos, roast until gooey, remove skewer and slip two squares of chocolate inside the marshmello. Squeeze between two grahams and enjoy. This will be the most delicious mess you eat all summer.
- Float down the Platte. Whether you like to bob on a tube, cruise in a kayak or navigate with a canoe, a trip down the Platte from Riverside Canoes is the best way to enjoy the river. Plan to spend some time at the mouth swimming in the warm current as it empties into Lake Michigan.
- Dinner at the Manitou. After spending my high school and college years as a waitress here I can’t let a summer go by without a trip to the Manitou Restaurant on M-22 near Crystal Lake. No skimping either. Start with the skinny dippers and finish with blueberry raspberry pie.
- Climb a lighthouse tower. Nothing beats the view from the top of a lighthouse in Michigan. We’re lucky to have several you can climb including the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. Did you know you can see four islands from their tower?
- Ride the new Heritage Trail. Bikers will want to check out the brand new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that runs from the Dune Climb south to Empire. It’s a beautiful new addition to the park.
- Dine al fresco. I do a lot of grab-n-go dining as I’m on the road. But in the summer I try to slow down for a meal al fresco. Check out the seating at Morsels along the Boardman River for a coffee or snack. Or grab a bite from the food trucks that park at The Little Fleet.
- Buy fresh fruit from a roadside stand. Cruise up M-37 on Old Mission Peninsula and you’ll find lovely roadside stands all summer selling cherries, peaches, apricots and flowers. Some are washed and ready to eat.
- Play golf. This region is surrounded by world class golf courses so grab a tee time. My favorite course has waterfalls, pirates and a zipline that traverses over the go-carts. Yep, I’ll be working on my hole-in-one at Pirates Cove.
- Take the boat to South Manitou Island. If you want to experience true north, the way it was before settlements took hold, then take the Manitou Transit from Leland and visit South Manitou Island. Climb the lighthouse, walk the beach and look for shipwrecks off the coast.
- Shop around M-22. Some of my favorite summer shops are scattered among coastal towns along M-22. I always sneek up to Suttons Bay to visit The Happy Woman, and At Home, Haystacks has my favorite skirts, and check Wildflowers in Glen Arbor for great garden gifts and fun jewelry.
- Photograph a sunset at Point Betsie Lighthouse. The most photographed lighthouse in the state, Point Betsie is an iconic subject for so many reasons. Catch the light at sunset, with waves crashing along the sandy shore… it’s a moment worth capturing on film.
- Pick blueberries. It could be strawberries, or cherries, but every year I say I’m going to pick blueberries from one of the farms on Old Mission or in Benzie County but I never make it! This is going to be the year.
- Visit the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Along Grace Rd between Benzonia and Frankfort you’ll find the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Bring the kids to pet the animals, and bring your wallet to buy some of the amazing clothing and gifts they make on-site.
- Drink from Mineral Springs. I don’t know if this makes you a tourist or a traveler. But every year my family drinks from the Mineral Springs in downtown Frankfort. Drink for tradition, drink for good health, but hold your nose. I still don’t like the smell.
- Learn about our legends and lore. Our native American heritage fills this region with legends, artifacts and traditions. Spend a day at the History Center, or Eyaawing museum near Suttons Bay to learn about our native cultures, and the people who built these communities.
- Find a secluded beach. Most days I’m happy if I can squeeze my towel in between beach goers from all different states, and watch families enjoying the shoreline. But somedays I seek a quiet place to walk and think. Find a happy stretch along the shore and relax.
- Set sail on Grand Traverse Bay. Kids will love to help hoist the sails aboard the Traverse Tall Ship Manitou that cruises daily on the bay. Looking for dancing and cocktails? Check out the Nauti-cat. And if a romantic sunset is what you seek, set sail aboard Scout.
- Take a behind-the-scenes tour. Whether you’re a foodie, a history lover or wine geek there’s a tour to be had if you ask. Sign-up online for a tour at the Grand Traverse Distillery or take an historic tour of the old state hospital grounds at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
- Listen to a concert at Interlochen Center for the Arts. We are so blessed to have a world renowned school for the arts in our woodland backyard. Once you’ve listened to an Interlochen concert at Kresge with the summer breeze on your shoulders and music in the air, you’ll make sure this is on your list every year.
- Catch up with old friends. From backyard BBQs to campfires to a night on the town summertime is my favorite time to schedule time with old friends. Each year I meet my college roommates for at least one weekend of out-of-town fun.
- Make new friends. When you sit down at the bar for a cup of coffee, or are waiting in line at a popular restaurant, strike up a conversation with the person next you. More often than not I’m amazed by our connections and what a small world this really is.
- Tour a local art fair. From craft fairs to fine art juried shows, there’s an artfair somewhere nearly every weekend in the summer. I never miss the Frankfort art fair in August, but not just for the art. I’m in love with the chicken dinners they cook in the park. Best Chicken EVER!
- Boat party at the sandbar. The party crowd heads to Torch Lake where the sandbar is legendary. But the locals? We hang at Power Island when the beaches get crowded. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Hitch a ride from Bowers Harbor over to Power Island on the new transit and you’ll find pop-up parties all summer long.
- Get soaked to the skin in the warm summer rain. Surprise your kids, and perhaps yourself, when you throw logic and reason out the window and dance in the rain. No umbrella, no shoes, just pure spontaneous fun. I promise this will bring a smile to your face on a rainy day.
- Pick a bouquet of wildflowers. Baby’s Breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild Thistle, there are dozens of lovely wildflowers growing along the roadside. Pick up a field guide to help identify flowers, rocks and animals found in northern Michigan. Just be sure you don’t pick anything protected.
- Watch a ball game. Traverse City has the Beach Bums to quench our thirst for America’s pastime. Their beautiful stadium just outside downtown Traverse City is fun for the whole family. And every game finishes with fireworks.
- Visit Fishtown. Browse the quaint shops that line the century-old fishing wharf, pick up some smoked whitefish from Carlson’s, have a Chubby Mary overlooking the falls or grab a pretzel bread sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty. A day in Leland’s fishtown is a summer must-do.
- Tell stories around a campfire. Beach bonfires, campground fires surrounded by tents, patio hearths with potbelly stoves, pick your poison and enjoy one of summer’s iconic experiences. I like mine on the shores of a lake telling stories of summers past.
- Shop the farmers market. We are blessed to live in an agricultural paradise. And that’s never more apparent than on a trip to the farmer’s market. Every town has them.
- Eat cherries everyday! Well, maybe not that often. But when you live in cherry country why not enjoy it? Benjamin Twiggs has everything Cherry so you can shop to your heart’s content. And if you just want a sweet cherry treat: stop by Reflect Bistro inside the Cambria Suites for a cherry bread pudding that’s to die for!
- Party in the street. Wrap up the week with an evening at Friday Night Live in downtown Traverse City. Buy a balloon, enjoy live music, have your face painted. A perfect place to be a kid again…or bring one.
- Savor a simple homebaked snack. The smell of warm bread or cookies coming out of the oven is delicious any time of year. If I walk into Pleasanton Bakery I’m walking out with their Parmesan Olive bread and one of the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever tasted. So much yum!
- Get out on the water. Hop on a boat or a jet ski and ride out to where the deep water lives, clear and blue green as far as the eyes can see…and dive in! That is pure Michigan bliss.
- Eat your fill of fresh sweet corn. Nobody beats Hall’s farm on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City. For a fabulous summer salad try this corn and blueberry salad. It’s great served like a salsa with tortilla chips too. My secret potluck party weapon.
- Photograph the everyday moments. It’s not the parties and holidays that spark nostalgia but the details of summer memories past. Capture the special places, people and things in your life. You’ll thank me later.
- Play a sport on the lawn. Badmitten, croquet, bocce or new favorites like ring toss and bean bag games make fun family competitions a must-do for summer. For an entertaining contest try shooting ping-pong balls off of golf tees with rubber bands.
- Spend a hot day at a cool pool. My kids love the outdoor pool at Waters Edge at Crystal Mountain and can’t wait to try their new ropes course that lies above. Or you could stay and play at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, an indoor waterpark resort.
- Explore The Village. Wander the old state hospital grounds inside the Grand Traverse Commons, also known as The Village. Sip wine or cider at Left Foot Charley, pick up some Michigan gear at High Five Threads, or walk the trails that wind all around Traverse City’s version of Central Park.
- Watch a movie at an historic theater. Our community is lucky to have several renovated theaters back in action. The State Theatre in Traverse City, The Garden in Frankfort and the Bijou by the Bay (formerly the Con Foster Museum). Restored classic theatres where the movies are great, and so are the prices.
- Eat, drink and shop local. Summer is the absolute best time to enjoy the bounty of northern Michigan and support the businesses that thrive on the extra traffic. So eat at a local hotspot, drink our wines and beers, and buy something that will forever remind you of this summer. The summer you spent enjoying EVERY DAY in this beautiful land of ours.
I’m Brandy from Traverse Traveler, and this is my list. I hope you’ll find something on it to add yours. If you have a favorite that I’ve forgotten, please add it in the comments. I love to discover new ways to enjoy this community. Happy Summer everyone!
Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this April to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in our community.
This year we have teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring four free events to the Traverse City community.
April 4: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks | 4-7 pm
To kick-off Autism Awareness month we’re inviting families of children with autism to a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will “Light it up Blue” in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event.
April 14: Film and panel discussion at Bijou by the Bay | 6 pm
All community members are invited to a free screening of the 2009 documentary, The Horse Boy at the Bijou by the Bay theater. This hit on the film festival circuit chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel to Mongolia hoping to find a nomadic shaman to heal their five-year-old son’s autism. A moderated panel discussion will follow the movie, offering the community a place to ask questions, dispel myths and learn about how autism affects people in the Grand Traverse area.
April 16: ARN monthly speaker | 6:30 pm
Karin Chandler, founder of Life Solutions for Autism, will speak on developing a childs skills to enable independence at the regular ARN monthly parent support group meeting. Advocating for and Empowering Children with Autism will be presented at Munson Medical Center room 11 (lower level).
April 27: Sensory-friendly film at The State | 10 am
Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing of one of Thomas the Tank Engines feature-length adventures. Children of all ages will enjoy Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.
Donating to iPads for Autism
Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of raising funds to help children with autism in our local schools. In the last two years we have raised over $25,000 and purchased 47 iPads for TCAPS students with autism as a partner in education. This year we will continue to raise money for ipads through voluntary donations collected at all events.
In addition, we’re thrilled to announce all four Traverse City area Walgreens stores will collect donations for iPads for autism throughout the month of April.
What will you do on New Year’s Eve?
If you’re like me New Year’s Eve sneaks up on you after a long holiday of feasts, friends and family. Sometimes we have a plan, and sometimes we’re making it up as we go along. So for all you last minute planners out there here are a few ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve up north.
The CherryT Ball Drop
If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to be a part of huge crowds chanting a countdown to ring in the new year, then this option is for you (in a much smaller scale of course). Downtown Traverse City is bustling on New Year’s Eve during the CherryT Ball Drop. No that’s not a spelling error. The CherryT stands for Chartity ball, as the event is a fundraiser by design. The entrance fee is a $3 cash donation or 3 canned goods, with proceeds benefiting the Goodwill Food Pantry.
For all the details about this year’s CherryT Ball Drop visit their website.
Looking for a family-friendly way to count down to 2014? How about glow bowling, music, pizza and enough arcade games to keep the kids busy for hours. You’ll find it all at Lucky Jacks from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve. If whipping your friends at laser tag or on the pool table sounds better than freezing outside, why let the kids have all the fun? Show up later for the adult party. It lasts from 9pm – 1am.
Hoping to celebrate outdoors, but not interested in the big ball drop crowds? How about donning your skis for a torchlit parade followed by fireworks? That’s what’s in store at Crystal Mountain Resort this year. There’s an ultimate family pirate party the kids will enjoy, or join the Slopeside party for dinner and dancing along with a champagne toast. Party cover varies. Lift ticket or season pass required to participate in the torchlit parade.
Shimmers on the Bay inside the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort has two times the fun this year. They’ve got two bands: Soul Celebration & Twice Shy, along with DJ Shawny D as the host. Rock in the New Year with party favors, an old-fashioned balloon drop, champagne toast and lots of dancing fun. $15 cover
If you’re a fan of Billy Strings & Don Julin you’ll want to be at InsideOut Gallery for the Swingin’ Stringin’ New Year’s Eve. For a $10 admission you can enjoy the sounds of the True Falsettos and legendary aforementioned duo who will take you clappin’ and toe tappin’ into 2014. There’s a full bar available at the Outre Lounge, or step out for a craft beer and a bite next door at the Workshop Brewing Company.
I know it’s challenging to find the time to scour the stores hunting for the perfect gift. So each year I sneak out to our local retailers in search of eye catching items for someone special on your list. I hope these suggestions will get the holiday spirit flowing. Each item includes a price (or price range) and the northern Michigan store where it can be purchased. I encourage you to shop local and help boost the economy in our own backyard. (more…)
Take a Roadtrip this Fall along the M-22 Scenic Drive
Living in the heart of the M-22 corridor I’ve seen it through all seasons. Each has something amazing to offer, but none more varied and beautiful than autumn in Northern Michigan.
In case you’ve never planned an M-22 Roadtrip I’ve put together a list of some of the fun, food and activities to experience along the scenic drive. Named one of the top five greatest driving tours in America by Rand McNally, M-22 has something to offer everyone. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Here’s my list of 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip. (more…)