Traverse City, MI Travel Guide

Traverse City in a whole new way.

My parents favorite place in the world is Traverse City. They make their way up there as much as they can even if it’s just for the day. Their enthusiasm has instilled a love for this charming town in me as well. I was so excited to do a couple’s weekend away with our friends Kherington and Josh. It was great to see Traverse City through new eyes. We stayed in a new place, tried some different wineries, and discovered some new restaurants. A special thanks to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa + Traverse City Tourism for facilitating this dreamy weekend with some of my faves.


WHERE TO STAY

We had the pleasure of staying at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. For all of the times that I have been to Traverse City, I have never stayed here. It was a de-light. Amenities galore from a Dylan’s Candy Bar to a full service spa. But no candy in the world could beat the view from our room. 11 floors up gave us the most beautiful view of the bay. I remember whenever we would head to Traverse as a family my dad’s first question was “what is their view of the bay like.” My first thought when we walked into our room was this would get the dad stamp of approval. PS-beds are a big deal and this one was top 5 for me in terms of hotels/resorts that I have stayed in. I know I can’t be the only one concerned with this aspect of a room so thought I would pass that along…

TIP: This is the perfect spot to stay if you would like to be outside of the downtown scene but close enough to access it. It was a short 5-10 minute ride to most of the main local hot spots but tucked away on a scenic golf course which made it feel like even more of a getaway.


WHERE TO EAT

This list could probably be the entire blog post TBH. There are so many yummy foodie spots in Traverse City! I was excited to try some new eateries and of course, stop in at some of the ‘musts’.

Aerie Restaurant & Lounge: This was one of the lovely amenities I was talking about since it was IN our resort. You take the glass elevator 16 floors up to this dreamy, modern spot. Glass, allll the glass…we thought the view from the 11th floor was stunning so the panoramic views while we dined were my favorite part. You could do everything from a full on dinner to a scrumptious dessert and cocktail here. My suggestion? The charcuterie board which hosted some local cheeses, breads, and honey. Per our sweet server’s suggestion, we also stopped in on Sunday morning for brunch and I officially added it to my brunch list in T.C.

Bourbons 72: Was so glad that our contact at Grand Traverse Resort suggested this spot for dinner. It’s inside the Turtle Creek Casino so I probably wouldn’t have thought to go here. Everything from start to finish was delicious including the New York Strip that I got. Living up to their name, they have 72 different bourbons along with other wine and cocktail selections. Don’t let the size of the property intimidate you if you just want to grab dinner vs. casino it up...you can valet for free!

Don’s Drive-In: This sentimental spot will always be special to me. No matter where else we ate while in town, we would always do a meal or a milkshake stop at this retro diner. They serve your food in a paper car…what’s not to like? It’s diner food at its best and worth a stop if you are looking for a fun atmosphere and some 50’s grooviness.

The Little Fleet: Food truck central with everything you could think of from tacos to delicious BBQ. Love the vibe of this space and it’s 100% one of the most photo/Insta-worthy spots in town.

Mama Lu’s: If you have taco brain this would be my suggestion. Be prepared to wait a bit if you go around peak dining hours, but it’s totally worth it. Steak tacos? Yes. Street corn? Yes. Guac? Uhhh, yes.

• Wineries: While the wineries are mainly focused on some of the best sips in Northern Michigan, many of them also have delicious food. Charcuterie boards are popular as they pair well with wine and they were worth the drive up the peninsula. My fave was at Mari which included your normal cheese board fare but also some fun surprises like cherry tomatoes and various peppers.

TIP: From delicious bakeries to unique food trucks, Traverse City always has something good cooking. Make sure you reserve at least 1 day where you don’t do full meals anywhere. Cheese board here, bakery item there=win.


WHAT TO DO

Much like restaurant options, I love trying new activities while I’m in town while enjoying some old favorites. This trip was the perfect mix of both.

NEW FUN
• V1 Golf Simulator: Again with the amenities. This simulator is located right on the Grand Traverse Resort property. It was a blast smacking some golf balls at a screen (slash I was confused as to how it was working but I will leave that to the pros). It was great chatting with the guys that are revamping this space who are both participants and coaches in the world of golf. Even if golf isn’t your ‘thing’, I think you would find this enjoyable. From the simulator itself to the garage doors that opened up so you could hammer one outside, it was a party.

• Traverse City mural: Oh hello photo opp! If you’re looking for a good spot for a photo, go find this mural! It’s also on the side of Kilwins if you’re in the mood for some ice cream afterwards.

OLD FAVES
• Wine Tour: This is the most when in Rome statement you could say when you’re up in Traverse City. We of course made our way to a few different wineries to do some tastings. While the activity wasn’t new, we did stop in at a couple I had never been including Mari (#charcuterie) and Bower’s Harbor (#bbqsauce). Old friends that never disappoint included 2 Lads (#lateharvestriesling) and Bonobos (#myalltimefave).

Warehouse MRKT: Always one of my favorite stops when I’m in town. Grab a latte from Blk/Market to enjoy while you stroll and you’re good to go. Wood and Cloth is my favorite little shop in this market but I did discover Darling Botanical this time around which was such a fun shopping experience.

Downtown Shopping: Of course had to spend an afternoon strolling the downtown area checking out the shops. We grabbed some books at the bookstore, found some great shoes at Sincerely Betty, and sampled some popcorn. Make sure that you make some time for Front Street while you’re in town.

• Take a Dip(ish): I say ish because it was a little cold during our visit but I couldn’t help but dip my toes into the water. There’s something about the teal water that runs alongside of you as you drive into town that is so inviting. Cold or not, after the 9 months of winter we just had, it felt amazing to touch fresh water.

TIP: Before heading to T.C., make a list of the activities that you would like to do. While the city isn’t that large, it is long so you could end up driving from one end to the other if you don’t map out your fun. Take a few minutes to have a light order put together but of course leave room for wherever the road takes you (as in if you see the cute antique shop, you stop).


WHAT TO WEAR

Since we live in Michigan, I packed everything from sweaters to shorts for Doug and myself. It ended up being a bit chillier than I thought so I was glad that we had the warm weather pieces along. For Dougie I stuck with mostly jeans and comfortable shirt/sweater combos. For the nicer dinners, he suited up with a simple crew under his suit coat. For me, I stuck to joggers, jeans, and easy tops. My trench coat was the perfect addition to any outfit to take the edge off the chilly days.

TIP: Wear comfortable footwear if you are planning to check out some wineries. While there is great parking at all of them, it’s often a lot of standing/walking. You don’t want to be that friend who is limping along because the sky high heels looked good with your outfit.


I can’t thank Grand Traverse Resort and Traverse City Tourism enough. Special shout outs to Jillian (Grand Traverse) and Coryn (Traverse City Tourism) for all of their coordination and generosity. You both represent the heart of your city well. It’s been a long winter here in Michigan and a weekend in one of the most beautiful places on earth was a much needed breath of fresh air.

Make sure to check out Kherington’s travel guide as well before heading to Traverse. Summed up all of the fun in this video…have you been to Traverse? What are your favorite spots?

Sincerely,
Ashley


*I partnered with the teams at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and Traverse City Tourism for this post. All thoughts and content are my own.