Traverse City Michigan! – Shhhh… Don’t Tell Anyone

Traverse City Michigan isn’t for everyone.  You won’t enjoy your time there unless you enjoy cycling.  Or kayaking, canoeing or boating and fishing.  Or beaches, and miles of pathways and incredible sunsets.  Or craft beer, wineries and fantastic restaurants.  Or art and shopping in a perfectly groomed, but compact and quaint downtown core.  Yes, there is plenty to do in and around Traverse City, Michigan!

Photo by Becky Mathews

The author enjoying the crystal blue waters in the West Bay of Traverse City Michigan.

I stumbled upon this tourist city of only 14,000 in June of 2014 when I had a few days available to play somewhere.  My Canadian home is an easy 5 hour drive away.  I brought a guitar, mountain bike and an appreciation for hoppy IPA.  Accommodation at the time of the year was cheap and plentiful.  Beaches were largely empty as the waters were still cold.  As an avid cyclist I was blown away by the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trails – paved bikeways and by the mountain bike trails of the Vasa Pathway on State Forest land.

photo by Dennis Kalichuk

Dennis Kalichuk on the VASA Pathway.

I returned to TC in July of 2015, this time with my partner and kayaks along with bikes.  No sophomore jinx here.  Was just as, or more impressed than the first visit.  Although one should note that in the prime tourism months of July and August, accommodation will be much more scarce and pricier than at other times of the year.  We split our week up among 3 different bed and breakfast homes (all fantastic), partly out of necessity and in part to vary our experience and location.


Strolling the waterfront by the Duncan L. Clinch marina.

The water was warm and blue and clear in the West and East Traverse Bays where we wasted no time getting the kayaks into.  We cycled the long paved recreation trail all the way to Sutton’s Bay where we enjoyed lunch and local craft brews on a sunny patio before heading back to TC.  We worked up a sweat and appetite on the sandy hills in the VASA Pathway mountain bike area.


Coincidentally we were in Traverse during their annual film festival (  Hot tip – pick the right film event and you’ll be hanging with the likes of Michael Moore, (a local).  We managed to squeeze in part of a perfect summer evening watching a free outdoor movie on an incredible large screen with the beautiful bay as a backdrop.


Take a drive on the 22 mile long Old Mission Peninsula that splits the East and West Traverse City Bays and discover a good selection of wineries and restaurants and impressive vistas.  One of the largest area events is the annual Cherry Festival.  You’ll find cherries incorporated into a lot of local dishes and beverages.  We enjoyed a memorable cherry wine on a large balcony of an Old Mission winery overlooking their vineyard.

Becky Mathews photo

Traverse City and area is also receiving a lot of attention riding the wave of popularity of craft beer.  Without counting, you’ll find a dozen or so local craft brew establishments that incorporate great eats and enough unique styles and flavours of beer to require several lengthy stays to sample them all!

Becky Mathews photo

And if you feel like exploring a bit – emphasis on a bit – further, you’ll find enchanting places like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Torch Lake (keep an eye out for Michael Moore, Kid Rock, Bruce Willis, Madonna and Tim Allen).

Author Dennis Kalichuk paddling Torch River.

Author Dennis Kalichuk paddling Torch River.

Just one of the views you'll find at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Just one of the views you’ll find at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Ready for adventure in Traverse City, Michigan.

Ready for adventure in Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City – yep, not for everyone.  So don’t go there.  And don’t tell anyone.  Shhhhhhh.

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