Full of lush greens and surrounded by beautiful fresh water, there is no place like Traverse City. This city is home to the annual National Cherry Festival, which attracts over 500,000 visitors annually. Not only do they grow great cherries, but the surrounding countryside grows enough grapes to be considered one of the biggest centers of wine production in the Midwest. If I haven’t convinced you to visit Traverse City for a weekend yet, they are also known for their freshwater beaches, vineyards, and downhill Skiing areas. In 2009, Traverse City was named the #2 small town to visit in the United States by TripAdvisor. Continue reading to learn more about everything there is to do on a weekend trip to Traverse City, Michigan.
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One of the most prominent things that Traverse City is known for is their vineyards. If you are taking a weekend trip to Traverse City, you should definitely make time for wine tasting. There are two peninsulas that the wineries are located on: Old Mission Peninsula and Leelenau Peninsula. Old Mission Peninsula is a long, skinny peninsula with orchards, vineyards, and high-end homes. Leelanau Peninsula, on the other hand, is more rural with corn fields, cherries, and vineyards tucked into the country roads. Most wineries in Traverse City are family run operations and you will often see the owner having multiple jobs in the day-to-day operation of the winery. Check out some of my favorite wineries below:
Chateau Chantel opened its doors in 1993 as a Bed & Breakfast, winery, and vineyard estates. This winery is located on a beautiful 65-acre estate on Old Mission Peninsula. This Winery has an amazing outdoor terrace area where you can sip their michigan wines and look out at the East and West Grand Traverse Bays, Power Island, and rolling vineyards. This winery focuses on Michigan Wines – specifically Reisling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.
Bowers Harbor has been in the business for over 29 years and was initially a horse farm. It now holds over 20 acres of vinifera vines. The owners and their family all live on the estate and meticulously care for the property. Bowers Harbor focuses on wines that represent the Old Mission Peninsula as it was designated an American Viticultural area in 1987. The wines they grow and produce include Reisling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you are looking for a tour that takes you to multiple wineries on Old Mission Peninsula (and not have to worry about having a D.D.), this tour is for you! Other than stopping at the two vineyards above (Bowers Harbor and Chateau Chantel), it also takes you to two of my other favorite vineyards on the peninsula. These are Brys Estate and Bonobo Winery. This tour has a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor and has over 700 reviews.
Where to Eat & Drink
Traverse City has an incredible lineup of food and drink options. There are so many great restaurants that you wouldn’t even begin to be able to try them all during one weekend in Traverse City. However, below are a few of my “tried and true” recommendations for you.
The Little Fleet is located on Front Street and is a fixed collection of food trucks, a bar, and outdoor seating. They often have live music to listen to while you eat. This is a very popular place that often has a line to get into, so I would recommend going at a non-busy time.
Although I have not been there myself, I have heard people rave about Bubba’s Burgers.
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Traverse City. It has a great menu and both indoor and outdoor seating options.
If you are looking for more of an “upscale” restaurant, this is for you. This restaurant is one of the most well-known restaurants in Traverse City, and often times has a very long wait. I have tried to go to this restaurant multiple times, but the wait has exceeded 2 hours both times. If you can make a reservation or go to this restaurant when it isn’t packed with people, I would highly recommend!
Pleasanton is a brick-oven bakery and is a hidden gem in Traverse City. I would recommend getting there as soon as they open. If you wait until the afternoon, they are going to be sold out of their most popular items. I always make a stop here at this bakery on the way home and pick up some baked goods for myself and my family. They also offer wood-fired pizza, but I have not tried it yet.
This is one of my favorite ice cream shops in all of Michigan. They carry vegan, dairy-free, and sugar free ice cream as well as their normal variety. It is located in the heart of downtown, so parking can be a bit difficult during busy times. However, it is definitely worth checking out if you are craving some dessert after a busy day of wine tasting or relaxing by the beach.
Where to Stay
There are many amazing places to stay near Traverse City and on both the Old Mission and Leelenau Peninsulas. It is important to book your stay as early as you can, because many places fill up very quickly from May-October.
Check out some other hotels and places to stay near Traverse City HERE.
What to Wear
Summertime in Northern Michigan is absolutely beautiful. The best time to go to Traverse City is between May and September for beautiful weather. If you don’t mind the cold, I would think about checking out Traverse City for a weekend during an “off” month (November-April). The wineries are less crowded and you may even be able to have conversations with the owners while sipping on their fresh wine.
Here are some staples that I would recommend taking with you on a weekend in Traverse City:
After a full day of touring wineries you may want to spend some time doing other activities. Don’t worry, Traverse City has plenty of other things to do. Many people enjoy spending time and relaxing at one of their beautiful beaches. However, if you like to stay active there are a few tours that I would highly recommend checking out.