Don’t waste a moment of your Up North summer
The 97 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day will fly by before we know it. So I decided to start early and make a list. A list of 50 ways to love my summer. These are some of my favorite ways to enjoy Traverse City and the surrounding area at it’s peak season.
1. Get a barrel of popcorn drizzled in real butter, stretch out on a lawn chair and watch a drive-in movie at the Cherry Bowl in Honor.
2. Enjoy a heaping scoop ice cream at Moomers, while watching the cows graze at sunset. Preferably Chocolate Cookie Monster in a chocolate dipped waffle cone to be exact. But Cherries Moobilee is good too.
3. Attend a student performance at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Collage is a great way to see it all, but I love the high school musicals.
4. Watch the marine traffic come and go while you sip a cocktail on the deck at Scott’s Harbor Grill. Cloaked in a cool breeze at sunset, or enjoying the sun on your shoulders at lunchtime, Scott’s deck is my favorite.
5. Savor a simple homebaked snack. Pick-up a loaf of Pleasanton Bakery‘s parmesan olive bread and savor it in bite-sized pieces torn from the warm loaf. It’s great plain, but I like mine dipped in Fustini’s olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
6. 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.
7. Discover amazing artists as you tour a local art fair. 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!
8. Visit a vineyard and sip the fruits of Old Mission or Leelanau peninsula on a wine tour. On Old Mission I like to start at 2 Lads Winery and work my way back. On Leelanau you better make two trips!
9. 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.
10. Cast a line on the Boardman River for trout or reel in a Lake Michigan salmon on a charter fishing trip. Try Hammerhead in Frankfort or Outta Line in Traverse City.
11. Walk the shores of Lake Michigan and search for petoskey stones and Leland blue stone.
12. 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!
13. Eat your fill of fresh sweet corn. Nobody beats Hall’s farm on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City.
14. Ride the train at the old Clinch Park zoo. Let the whistle fill your ears as you absorb the smiles of young and old around you.
15. Visit a lighthouse for an historic trip back in time. Point Betsie near Frankfort is the most photographed, but I’m looking forward to a trip back to South Manitou Island. That is, if I can brave the spiral stairs again.
16. Love fudge–watch it made, cooked in copper and turned on a cold marble slab, at Murdick’s Fudge Shoppe. Peanut butter, you’re calling my name.
17. Take a behind-the-scenes tour. Whether you’re a foodie, a vodka lover or wine geek there’s a tour to be had if you ask. Learn Great Foods will organize one or stop in Grand Traverse Distillery or Bel Lago Winery and they’ll show you the sites.
18. Spend a day at the beach wireless and free, with a book and your favorite beverage.
19. Eat cherries everyday! OK, maybe not everyday, but come on this is cherry country people. Check out The Cherry Stop for dozens of ways to quench your cherry cravings.
20. Make a day trip drive along M-22 from Elberta to Northport and back to Traverse City. Stop to eat, shop and take photos along the way.
21. Grab an early bird dinner at The Manitou Restaurant. No skimping. Start with the skinny dippers and finish with blueberry raspberry pie.
22. Watch the sunset sink below the horizon from a beach towel on the sand.
23. Park and walk a mile to the beach for spectacular Fourth of July fireworks. Come early to dig a pit in the sand for reclined viewing, or bring a cozy chair.
24. Spend a day at the festival. Which one? Readers choice. There’s Cherry Festival, Film Festival, Jazz Festival and a Microbrew and Music Festival, you can’t go wrong.
25. Climb the Sleeping Bear Dunes and run down as fast as your feet can carry you. If you’re not scraping sand from your scalp before bed then you didn’t have enough fun.
26. Dine al fresco on a downtown street and people watch. Umbrella tables at Hanna are popular. If you prefer a water view check out Apache Trout Grill or Knot Just a Bar.
27. Dance in the rain like nobody’s watching – preferably with a child. They’ll wonder what’s got into you.
28. Photograph the everyday special places, people and things in your life. It’s not the parties and holidays that spark nostalgia but the details of summer memories past.
29. Build a bonfire on the beach and make s’mores. Eat until your fingers are sticky, the chocolate is gone and only broken graham crackers remain.
30. 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.
31. Thump your paddle like Hiawatha on the floor of a Riverside canoe as you navigate the Platte River. When you make it to the mouth spend an hour playing in the current.
32. Make par on a golf course. Mine will have to be mini golf at Pirates Cove, but if you’re up to the challenge of the real deal try Mistwood in Lake Ann. Or help celebrate 25 years at The Bear at the Grand Traverse Resort.
33. Spend a hot day at a cool pool. My kids love the outdoor waterpark at Crystal Mountain. Or you could ride a slide at Fun Country or Pirates Cove.
34. Try a new restaurant – either new to you or new to town. Check out Soul Hole in downtown Traverse City or Mission Table on Old Mission Peninsula.
35. Shop the farmer’s markets, snack from your purchase as you move vendor to vendor in support of local agriculture.
36. Drink riesling. OK, it’s my favorite and I suppose you could choose another wine. But before you decide, try a flight at Uncorked and I know you’ll walk away with one you like. Or just buy the t-shirt at Left Foot Charley and support the riesling movement in theory.
37. Explore the old state hospital grounds inside the Grand Traverse Commons, also known as The Village. Sip wine at Tastes of Black Star Farms, Have an Underground Cheescake on a stick and end up at Stellas for dinner.
38. Watch a movie at The State Theatre in Traverse City or The Garden in Frankfort. Restored classic theatres where the movies are great, and so are the prices.
39. Eat a boom chunka cookie on the patio at Cherry Republic on a trip to Glen Arbor. Stop by Art’s Tavern for a delicious burger. Discover the beautiful jewelry at Becky Thatcher Designs. And for a real treat, dinner at Blu. The best fine dining around.
40. Drink where the locals drink. Grab at pint at Right Brain Brewery among their mug-toting members. Perhaps something with an unusual ingredient like basil or wasabi.
41. Walk the pier to the Frankfort lighthouse, preferably on a foggy evening when the light streams out in rays, or early morning when the anglers are casting and waiting for the bite to begin.
42. Take a slow boat ride along the shore. Get a new perspective of the cottages along the lakeshore. Sailboat, paddleboat or pontoon, whatever works. No boat? How about a ride on the Tall Ship or the Nauticat in Traverse City or a Dunes Cruise in Frankfort.
43. Walk and shop your way through Fishtown in Leland. Pick up some smoked whitefish at Carlsons Fish Market or a pretzel bread sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty. And for dinner, don’t miss The Bluebird–with my favorite pea & peanut salad.
44. Spend a rainy day at the bowling alley. Wilderness Crossings is the perfect place to entertain the kiddos when the sun is hiding. Bowling, glow golf, arcades and a restaurant for mom and dad.
45. Swim in a river. Let the current pull you along as you try to keep you bottom off the bottom. Relax and drift as the water sweeps your cares away.
46. Bike or walk a beautiful trail. Check out the TART trail in Traverse City or the Betsie Valley Trail that winds from Elberta all the way to Crystal Mountain.
47. Vintage treasures are waiting. Shop for flea market finds or antiques. From the Cherryland Antique Mall and Red Dresser in Traverse City to the Emporium in Beulah, your shabby chic find awaits.
48. Leave footprints in the sand. Take off your shoes and feel the grainy wet sand massage your toes with every step.
49. Read a book on the beach. I look forward to the new Janet Evanovich novel every summer. Need a good local read? Try The Bookstore in Frankfort, Brilliant Books in Suttons Bay or Horizon Books in Traverse City.
50. Take a nap. Lie in a hammock until you drift off with the breeze, stretch out on a beach towel or nod off in an adorondack chair. Rest and relax. It’s summer.