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Traverse City – Spring Weekend Things To Do

This post is sponsored by Traverse City Tourism and Park Place Hotel. In exchange for an honest review of my experiences in Traverse City  I was provided complimentary stay at the Park Place Hotel. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own. 

Scroll to the bottom for updated info on visiting Traverse City in 2020!

Last week Nate and I dashed “up north” for an amazing little babymoon in Traverse City, Michigan. We had been meaning to do this trip for some time and the stars aligned (aka work schedule and Grandma’s availability to babysit) for it to happen this spring.

We were actually talking about taking a family vacation, but then decided it was more fun to sleep in, eat meals without cutting up small food and saying “sit down” a million times, be free from dealing with other people’s poop, and have the flexibility to go wherever our little hearts would take us. So a kid-free Traverse City vacation it was!

Traverse City canal

Before I get into the details on where we stayed, what we ate and the activities we did, here are some great reasons to visit Traverse City in no particular order:

Reasons to Visit Traverse City

  1. Nature, nature, nature. Oh my word, it was so beautiful! The drive north from Grand Rapids was pretty too, but those views from around the bay with the vineyards and cherry trees were truly breathtaking.
  2. Fine wine. From almost anywhere in the Traverse City area you can throw a stick and hit a winery. They are everywhere. And it is glorious! Along with the plethora of wineries there were also local breweries and distilleries for liquor and hard cider.wine traverse city
  3. Go north! Heading north in the summer just makes sense. Traverse City has perfect get-outside temperatures all summer long and fall is seriously, amazing in Michigan. So the next months are really a prime time to travel to Traverse City, but if you are into all the winter things (snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice biking, skiing, etc.) then winter would be fun too. (The only winter sport I’m interested in is Netflixing #canIgetanamen)
  4. Stuff to do! I think that most people are either “relaxers” on vacation or “doers”, Traverse City has room for both, but if you are a doer you will not get bored! Besides the wineries there is shopping downtown (SO many cute shops!), hiking, kayaking, the sand dunes are close, beaches, an awesome bike trail, TART, lighthouse tours, cute movie theaters, and all those wineries. For more information on all the fun to be had in Traverse City be sure to check out the Traverse City Tourism website!

hiking in traverse city

Okay, now onto the specifics of where we stayed, ate, and what we did!

Where we stayed:

The Park Place Hotel invited us to stay right in the heart of downtown Traverse City.

Park Place Hotel TCWe loved that we were just steps away from shopping, restaurants and super-close to the bay as well! The Park Place Hotel opened in 1930 and has a rich history in the area. The lobby area had thick woodwork and a beautiful old check in desk and stained glass features–just imagine all the stories those walls could tell! The hotel also has two restaurants inside and helpful and accommodating staff. Our room was the perfect retreat (daily naps happen on vacation!) and we got to admire a view of downtown and the bay out of our window!

Downtown Traverse City

Where we ate:

This could probably be the longest section of the whole post because the food was phenomenal in Traverse City and we did our best to taste a wide variety of it, as to give you a fair review (it’s hard being a blogger)! Thankfully, we have a local friend who gave us an amazing list of recommended places! Shoutout to Trinet! We didn’t get through  all the recommendations, but all the more reason to return soon!

(Italicized indicates it was recommended, but we didn’t go this time.)

Breakfast Spots: 

  • The Omelette Shoppe – Just around the corner from the hotel. Neither Nate or I are big omelette eaters, but I’m glad we didn’t let that stop us! Nate had a breakfast burrito (huge! fresh! amazing!) and I had a berry french toast that was to die for.
  • Morsels – We didn’t have breakfast here, but I did get a delicious coconut milk cappuccino with honey that was spot-on!

morsels traverse city

  • Frenchies
  • Patisserie Amie

Lunch:

  • Village Cheese Shanty (in Leland, MI) – We took a scenic drive around the Leelanau peninsula and found this little gem. Nate dubbed it “the best sandwich of his life”. The sandwiches are served on homemade pretzel bread (that isn’t too pretzel-y) and the cheese was perfect. We topped it off with specialty sodas.  cheese shanty
  • Bubba’s  – On our second day we had Bubba’s for lunch since we heard their burgers were awesome! And they were! I had the “hay stack” (Bacon, Swiss, Mushrooms, Haystack Onions, Roasted Garlic Aioli) and it was really incredible! The food was great, but, unfortunately, the service here left a lot to be desired.
  • Mary’s Kitchen Port
  • Green Cafe
  • Mamma Lu’s
  • Blue Tractor 
  • Firefly

Dinner:

  • Pangea’s Pizza Pub – We were exploring downtown on our first night and were starving so we decided to go “off-list” and check out Pangeas! The pizza was good and we like the wide variety of toppings available. They also served popcorn as an appetizer which was fun! I got the supreme pizza and Nate created his own.
  • Red Mesa Grill – Mexican food is always a must for us, so we decided to try Red Mesa Grill. Great service, really good Mexican (fajitas were delicious!), and a wide variety of margaritas and tequila! You could order a tequila flight here which I never heard of before, but if you are really into tequila….pretty cool.
  • The Electric Cheetah (in Grand Rapids) – We stopped here on our way through Grand Rapids and even though they were experiencing some power outage problems while we stopped our server was so accommodating and the food was top notch! We also both enjoyed some delicious specialty root beer, which is one of their “things”.
  • Georgina’s (Latin/Asian)
  • Filling Station (artisan pizza)
  • Amical (Italian) – I have serious regrets about missing this place.
  • Trattoria Stella (very pricey, but incredible Italian)
  • Jolly Pumpkin (pretty drive through wine country & wide menu variety)

Sweet Treats:

  • Moomer’s Ice Cream – “Get Moomers ice cream!” was the refrain we heard over and over when we told people we were going to Traverse City. We are swayed by peer pressure so we tried 3 varieties with friends and were smitten with them all. Definite “must” while in TC!
  • Milk & Honey – Strolled by this shop and Nate was in the mood for ice cream. It smelled like heaven and he did a cookie dough flavor in a waffle cone….divine. ice cream traverse
  • Peace Love & Little Donuts – Kind of a on a whim stop when we weren’t that hungry, but all the darling little doughnuts called our names! They had every topping imaginable, but Nate and I both agreed we liked the simple frosted or sugar ones the best. (Also, local Kalamazoo friends they are opening one of these in Portage soon! Ahh!)
  • Sugarkissed

Traverse City is a foodie town for sure! We were not disappointed on the culinary front!

[tweetthis]So many delicious #foodie options in #TraverseCity! See @katemoving’s picks for awesome eats! [/tweetthis]

What We Did:

I seriously wish this list could have been longer because my heart is broken that we didn’t kayak or bike on this trip. But due to Nate’s back flaring up and you know that whole pregnant thing we decided it would be best to pass on those activities this time. They are at the top of the list for next time around!

Day 1: We arrived to Traverse City and browsed through some of the downtown shops. I especially enjoyed the local independent bookstore, but truly Nate and I are both suckers for touristy shops. After dinner we went to Bijou on the Bay, a local movie theater (that used to be a zoo!) and watched The Guardians of the Galaxy 2! The theater was so cute and is staffed by volunteers!downtown traverse city 1

Day 2: After breakfast we decided to drive up the Leelanau peninsula and check out some wineries and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on our first day. The drive was gorgeous: lake views, cherry blossoms, wineries, rolling hills. We stopped at Leelanau Cellars for our first wine tasting and the location was perfect, right looking out on the water. The service was super-friendly and knowledgable as well.

Leelanau cellars

We continued on to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and toured the lighthouse and grounds. After that we just kind of took off across the peninsula, stopped at a smaller winery, Green Bird Cellars, pulled over for a hike, and checked out the Fishery area of Leland. That we could just meander and go without worrying about naps or schedules was seriously amazing. Spontaneity doesn’t usually work out well with small children.

cherry blossomsWhen we got back to Traverse City we strolled through downtown and did a little window shopping. We ate lunch so late that we skipped dinner and met up with our friends who live nearby for a game night!

Day 3: Threatening storm clouds made us wary, so we decided to drive up the other side of the Grand Traverse Bay on Old Mission Peninsula. This drive was seriously the most gorgeous ever! It’s been called the most scenic drive in Michigan. Truly breathtaking.

vineyard traverse city

We went to the Old Mission Lighthouse and did a short hike there as well. We also stopped at a random antique store and drove around some of the historic mission places. But really it was all about the scenery.

We came back downtown and ate lunch at Bubba’s and then went to check out The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. This shopping and eating area is in the converted basement of the Northern Michigan Asylum. The whole grounds was beautiful and is a residential/office space. The history of the hospital was fascinating!  The historic tours were all sold out while we were there, but we enjoyed shopping around the basement and reading about the space.

grand bay tc

After that we returned to the hotel and I decided to walk along the bay on the beginning of the TART trail. It was supposed to rain all day, but the skies cleared and the sun shone and it was glorious! Sometimes God just really shows off in nature!

TC

We circled back to some other downtown shops after walking and then went out for dinner and had an early last night in Traverse City.

Day 4: We left bright and early (sorta) and drove south. We stopped in Hudsonville (outside of Grand RApids because I really wanted to go to The Found Cottage. After drooling over all the cute home decor stuff we headed home!

babymoon

We loved our Traverse City vacation and will certainly be back for more adventures!

Whether you’re into active or relaxed vacations… Traverse City, Michigan is the perfect getaway!

Traverse City Vacation 2020 Update

  1. Here’s a link to Traverse City Tourism reopening page, which has the latest information on what’s open and regulations for masks/social distancing/etc.
  2. Expect some changes at wineries and on the TC wine trail and breweries have some changes too.
  3.  Sleeping Bear Dunes is a great place for some socially distanced fun as well!
  4. Downtown TC has also closed off two blocks of Front Street between Park and Union as pedestrian only to help restaurants spread out and retailers too! This should run through the end of August. You can find a list of outdoor dining in Traverse City here! 

Have you been to Traverse City? What is your favorite getaway spot? 

Things to do in traverse city

Traverse city michigan things to do

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