What I would do if I was visiting Traverse City!
Desirae here, your local born and raised tour guide. You might recognize me in my steampunk costume carrying a lantern as I walk the streets of downtown Traverse City doing my ghost tours.
So the question was asked by one of my guests. What would I do if I was visiting Traverse City for the weekend? Well here is my answer with links. I hope this is helpful!
I would park at the Sarah Hardy Parking Garage on East Front Street. Walk east on Front Street until I come across a place called Bubbas. I would walk in and eat anything on that menu because I LOVE a really good burger. You can't go wrong eating here!
On my way back toward my car, I would stop in on Front Street at the Coin Slot and play some 80's type arcade games and enjoy a nice adult-friendly beverage (beer, cider, wine and more!). Fun!
On a side note: I know this is a touristy-type thing, but I would suggest taking a picture on the northside of the building where a wonderful artist painted beautiful wings on the side of the building so everyone can enjoy being an angel!
After that I would take a stroll downtown, maybe making a reservation for this ghost tour I hear is pretty good;) A great way to get a feel for Traverse City and enjoy an entertaining night too!
Toward the end of the evening, I would stop in at Milk & Honey and get some delicious ice cream.
Go grab breakfast at the Green House Cafe right on Front Street across from the City Opera House. I am very fond of their Hash bash or Eggs Neptune...mmm crab cakes.
After breakfast, it's time to do some local shopping. I like visiting the Bookie Joint on Union Street. For affordable and comfortable stylish Michigan and Traverse City clothing, I would stop in at Momentums Outfitters (yes I buy their fleeces ALL THE TIME!!) or Mr. Bill's Shirt Company (great for souvenirs), both in downtown T.C.
Next, It's time do do some walking before lunch. There is a small parking lot right off of W. Grandview Parkway, you can google West End Beach parking and the map will bring it up. The parking lot is right on the bay! Great view. Now get out of that car, stop at the public restrooms and you can hike West or East. I recommend going East toward the Open Space and the Duncan L. Clinch Marina. The views are going to be on point, especially if you walk out on the long pier that stretches in the bay. (This is my favorite walk in all of GT County, I wake up at the crack of dawn, take my walk in Traverse City, and watch that beautiful sunrise over Old Mission Peninsula and Downtown Traverse City! Give it a try Sunday morning!!)
If your walk to the Clinch Park hasn't quite worked up an appetite, rent kayaks at Paddle TC and check out kayaking on the Bay. Local heads up though, keep an eye on the weather. Severe weather can take many by surprise on a nice day coming over the Leelanau Peninsula.
Now it's time for lunch!
So many places to choose from in TC that will NEVER disappoint, but if you want to know where I go, that would be Paesano's Pizza. But don't stop on the ground floor, go up! Up to the outdoor seating on the roof. Pizza and a view of the Bay, it doesn't get much better.
Now after lunch, time for a movie to let that pizza settle and get my favorite snack in downtown TC, at the State or Bijou Theatre. The State and Bijou Theatres are restored, historic buildings right in the heart of downtown Traverse City. And they are both haunted, but you can find out more on the Historical Ghost Lantern Tour that I do. The Bijou by the Bay was formerly a museum, and is located at was once the site of a zoo and what is now known as Clinch Park! Oh and my favorite snack, would be these cinnamon dried apple slices made right here in Traverse City. Yummy!
For those that would like to stay active, I would recommend a swim at the Clinch Park Beach (it has seasonal lifeguards). My favorite swim spots are a little warmer than the bay, choose any of the State of Michigan parks off of an interior lake and you cannot go wrong. :)
Saturday afternoon/night, I would suggest driving out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. There is a reason why it was voted the #1 National Park in the United States. Yes, there is a cost for a park pass, but I love hiking up the Bear Dunes and then continuing to head west to see the most spectacular sunset that Michigan can provide. There are so many trails, I sometimes make a whole day of visiting this area.
Mornings on Sunday have me visiting Potters for a chocolate on chocolate donut. The best and most delicious in T.C. right there on 8th street!
Next, I usually bowl. I love bowling. My favorite spot is Lucky Jacks. I grew up going to this bowling alley. Perfect if you have kids and need an activity out of the rain so I am going to put this on my weekend in T.C. It has an arcade, laser tag, laser maze, bumper cars, and bowling with some pretty good pizza if I do say so myself.
Now if bowling isn't your thing, I would recommend hopping on one of the fun, engaging tours Traverse City can offer, I would suggest mine of course, but if you are nautical inclined, you can get the feeling of being swept back into the 1800s, sailing a wooden schooner sailing vessel that is ship-shape with streamline lines called the Madeline.
Lunch in Traverse City will have you going to a local haunt. The oldest continuous operating restaurant in Michigan and it is found off of Randolph Street in the Slabtown District, Sleders. Don't forget to plant a sloppy kiss on Randolph the Moose. I love the loaded potatoes with cheese and bacon, yum, but their Friday Fish Fry usually has a full restaurant of fish fry enthusiasts so plan to come early!
Now, before you depart from you Traverse City experience, a lazy Sunday afternoon is needed. Relax by inner tubing or canoeing down the Boardman River. Obviously, I have family and friends that pick me up and drop me off. But you can use a tour company like Kayak Brewery Tour or you can use a rental company that will drop off and pick you up in the greater Boardman River area.
Dinner time on a Sunday afternoon, usually has me BBQ-ing with my family at home, but if we do go out, we love Boones Long Lake Inn. The surf. The Turf..uhm the BIG steaks! Yum. Something for everyone and this a standby for a Sunday Dinner with my family, so I know your family will love it too. It's a little bit of a drive out on the westside of Traverse City, but oh so worth it!
Ice-cream for dessert, will be a little bit of a drive out to Moomers, but you are already on the westside of town so pull up Moomers in the Google Maps and get going to the most creamy, handmade ice cream Northern Michigan can produce. Do it! Drive to Moomers, you will NOT regret it.
Now that I am done writing, I am kind of sad that my weekend is over, but then again there is always next weekend!!
If you need any tips for visiting Traverse City, give me an email. I would love to help you plan your visit to Traverse City, Michigan!
Tour Guide and Owner of Haunted Traverse Tours.