59 Ways to Love Summer in Traverse City

Summer, Traverse City, Cherry

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!

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  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. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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?
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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!
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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!
  50. 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.
  51. 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!
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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!

A Front Desk Perspective on Summer Tourism

Hotels Report a Super Summer. Will it be a Fabulous Fall?sunset in Michigan

What better gage for summer tourism than the comments of staff at area hotels? I spend much of my time in and out of their lobbies refreshing our Mealtickets displays. This provides a great opportunity to chat with hotel staff about their impressions of the industry, the effectiveness of the Pure Michigan campaign, and their expectations for the upcoming fall season. I thought I’d share what they had to say about the state of Traverse City’s summer tourism.


Whether it’s Weather, or Not

Everyone agrees this summer was one of the warmest and most beautiful summers in recent memory. For some local resorts, it’s the best summer they’ve seen in 10 years, and they haven’t been in business that long. But what effect does the weather have on their occupancy rates? A dramatic effect.

Overall, resorts large and small saw record breaking numbers this summer, and most attribute it to the weather. The summer sun draws visitors to enjoy our beaches and outdoor activities, in part as a retreat from the brutal heat of the larger inland cities.

Rich Maxwell Jr., owner of the Restwood Motel in Traverse City agrees.

"We had one of the best July and August room sales in the last 20 years. We had a modest increase for July and a huge increase for August, (of coarse last August was one of our worst ever). Everyone wants to know WHY well in my humble opinion it was the weather. I think the economy is as bad or worse than last year, but the travelers just wanted to get away from the heat in the big city’s."

What About the Pure Michigan Campaign?

Many of Michigan’s tourism-based organizations have been supportive of the continued funding of Travel Michigan’s Pure Michigan Campaign including the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association, The Grand Traverse Area Hotel Motel Association and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. After missing fall and winter ad promotions due to lack of funding the campaign received $20 Million just in time for the summer media buys. My question for local hotel managers was, "did it help?"

According to Nick Trahair, general manager at the AmericInn in Traverse City, it did.

"The summer was a record year. Pure Michigan had a lot to do with driving out of state traffic into our hotel. We saw many more out of state plates compared to years past. We also had a lot of people talk about the area – not knowing what Michigan truly offered as many think of Michigan to be “Detroit” and not everything else it had. Many people who were here this summer talked about returning and our fall bookings are ahead of pace from history."

And he’s not alone. Most hotel managers and staff I spoke with agreed that the Pure Michigan campaign does drive visitors from out of town into our part of the state. Jonathan Pack, general manager at the Cherry Tree Inn, and president of the GTAHMA looks at it this way,

"It’s hard to say the good numbers are from the Pure Michigan ads because we have had such fantastic weather. My honest opinion is that without the Pure Michigan ads, we would be much worse because we wouldn’t see those increases in the markets outside of Detroit."

What’s interesting about this summer, more than year’s past, are reports from hotels entertaining so many first-time visitors. Some attribute this to the success of the campaign shedding a beautiful light on our region. Others gave credit to family and friends who recommended the Traverse City region as their favorite place to visit. Whether it’s word-of-mouth or advertising dollars at work everyone was glad for the boost in business.


Other Factors Affecting Summer Tourism

While the weather and advertising play a huge role in the number of rooms filled on a summer night, there are a few other interesting factors that came into play this season. Some were short term, and others could reflect a growning trend.

On the short term I was rather surprised to discover we may have inadvertently benefited from the tragedy in the Gulf. While oil spewed with seemingly no end into the waters of the Gulf Coast, visitors who typically spent some of their summer on oceanfront beaches opted for our freshwater coastlines instead. A few properties we work with began receiving calls early this summer looking for condo openings for long stays and cited the spill as their reason for traveling north instead of south this year. While they were pleased to accommodate new visitors, everyone feels for the gulf coast areas who are suffering a business loss from that tragic event, and wishes them a strong and quick recovery.


Forecasting Beyond the Weather

Forecasting is a necessary component of hotel management. And just like the weather it requires a strategic approach, but predictions are often inacurate. Hotels use forecasting to determine expected occupancy rates for the coming season. They translate this information into statistics to plan advertising campaigns, target discounts and to determine staffing.

The surprising trend, which I’ve heard about for the last couple seasons, is that visitors are making their travel plans at the last minute rather than weeks or months in advance. This makes forecasting much more difficult.

Mike Hall, general manager of the Days Inn in Traverse City explains,

"We really saw a shorter period of time from reservations made to actual arrival. Traverse City has historically been an area where advance reservations are the norm. However, this year, especially, we have seen 20-30 room reservations per night on Thursday and Friday nights for Saturday arrival. This has put our forecasting, such as it is, out the window."


What’s the Outlook for Fall?

As Labor Day represents the unofficial end of summer we turn our heads to fall. Apparently we also turned our backs to the cool winds that have been blowing in low temps to make it feel like October. Which illustrates the point quite well. Fall is all about the weather. If it’s a beautiful indian summer hotels expect to continue to see solid bookings. Many speculate on an early turning of the leaves and thus an early push for fall visitors. But let’s face it, no one knows what’s coming around the corner as far as the weather is concerned.

What the hotels are is optimistic.

"Many people who were here this summer talked about returning and our fall bookings are ahead of pace from history. We expect to continue strong like we have the rest of the year and finish with one of the best years on the books," said Nick Trahair.


And in case you’re wondering, Mealtickets & Unusal Ideas displays will be there at the front desk waiting for them to arrive.

"Travelers are asking a lot of questions these days – looking for family friendly places to see, do and eat. If we can put something in their hand with information – we have found more interest. When we tell them about someplace and can only show a location on the map – they immediately go back asking questions about what is in front of them," Trahair added.


So I’ll continue my rounds refilling displays, talking to the hotel staff and providing visitors with great ways to enjoy their trip to Traverse City. Cards in hand.


By |2010-09-09T10:08:30+00:00September 9th, 2010|Mealtickets News, Traverse City|0 Comments

50 Ways to Love Your Summer

Mealtickets hometown highlights graphic

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.

By |2010-06-23T11:07:40+00:00June 23rd, 2010|Hometown Highlights, Traverse City|0 Comments

My Up-North Summer To-Do List

Every year summer seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. In an effort make sure I enjoy it I’ve learned a helpful trick. Start out the season with a summer "Must-Do" list. Mine is usually a combination of favorite activities and things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t made time for. There’s something to be said for writng things down that makes you more apt to do it.

So I’ll share with you a few from my 2009 Summer Must-Do checklist:



Five Needles at Michigan Legacy Art Park1. Enjoy a Day at the Park – I’ve never been on a walk through the Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain Resort, so this is the year. I can’t wait to see the larger than life-size sculptures, like Five Fingers, scattered throughout the park.



2. Learn a New Trick – It’s important to keep learning. So this summer I thought I might take a watercolor class. There are great day classes or seminars at the Crystal Lake Arts Center. Or maybe I’ll try to improve my photography skills with the digital photography workshop at Interlochen. There’s something out there for everyone if you know where to look.



fresh michigan cherries3. Pick Fresh Fruit – When I was a kid we picked cherries, strawberries and raspberries to eat, freeze and make jam. I think my kids are ready to continue the tradition. My favorite was always picking cherries. But since that usually requires a ladder, perhaps we’ll go for blueberries this year. With all the U-pick farms in the area it shouldn’t be hard to decide.



4. A Quiet Day at the Beach – Sometimes the best activity is inactivity. Toes in the sand, book in hand, and all by myself. That sounds like a perfectly relaxing way to enjoy a sunny afternoon.



Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre popcorn5. Eat a Barrel of Popcorn – …on a lawn chair, in front of the car, at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In. I’ll try to share, but I’m not promising. With real melted butter poured on top of the fresh kernels, it’s hard to resist this movie-lover’s treat.



6. Sip and Savor – I’ve been looking forward to an evening sipping a glass of Riesling and one of the small plate appetizers at Left Foot Charley in The Village. Sitting outside watching visitors come and go – ahhh, this is the life.



dinner at LuLu's in Bellaire7. Try a New Restaurant – Summer is a great time to try new things. And since I love food, one of my favorite adventures is to discover a new restaurant. Whether it’s new to the area, or just new to me, it’s always a treat. Last summer we enjoyed Blu in Glen Arbor, and this winter LuLu’s in Bellaire. Who knows where this summer will lead.



8. Shop the Farmers Market – Almost every town in Northern Michigan has a farmer’s market. From the Sara Hardy market in Downtown Traverse City, to The Village, you can’t beat the fresh foods, handmade products and beautiful plants available each week.



Point Betsie Lighthouse image9. Climb the Lighthouse – I’ve been to the beach at Point Betsie Lighthouse dozens of times, but I’ve never been inside. This summer I want to climb to the top of the light and check out the view. It’s amazing that after 150 years, boats still depend on the light to guide them safely through the Manitou passage.



10. Experience a Silent Movie – I’ve seen movies at the drive-in, the State Theatre and even at the City Opera House, but I’ve yet to experience an authentic silent film at the Music House Museum. Watching Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin with live accompaniment on the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ is a truly unique opportunity.


Now that I’ve shared some of my Up North Michigan summer must-do list, what about you? Take a few minutes and compile your own list of new places to visit, favorite activiites to share, and adventures to experience. Already have a list? Join our discussion on Facebook and share your summer ideas! Let’s make this season a memorable one.