Traverse City


light houseIn July 2012 Diane and I took a trip to Traverse City Michigan with day trips all emanating from Traverse City.  We took the scenic route up the east side of Lake Michigan along route 31 and stayed along the Lake Michigan shoreline as much as possible.  Traverse City was a useful hub for us taking day trips up both peninsulas bordering the city, Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park and a day trip to Petoskey.


general storeThe time we were there coincided with the Traverse City Cherry Festival. Cherries have a historical legacy in upper Michigan for the locals, as the sandy soil and moderate climate are ideal for growing cherries.  The festival provided extra entertainment and the bars and restaurants around the city were lively and the general atmosphere was festive. Grand Traverse Bay surrounds the smaller of the two peninsulas and keeps the air temperature cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.


Originally the biggest crop on the peninsulas was cherry although over the years the wineries with their grapes began to be the most productive and prized crop.  It appeared that the growing of wine grapes has outstripped the cherry, as most of the Peninsula is covered with vineyards.  Middle-aged residents remember when the peninsulas were covered in cherry trees.  One local we spoke with said the fragrance and beauty of the blossoming cherry trees was like a fairy tale wonderland.  You could see a trip back to her youth in her eyes.


boatThe Old Mission Light House is located on the far end of the smaller of the two peninsulas; built in 1870 it is now on Michigan’s state register of historical places.  The Light House is on the 45th parallel and is halfway between the North Pole and Equator.  The drive is a pleasant site seeing forty-minute two-lane drive to the end of the peninsula, a site not to be missed.  We saw a sign indicating antiques and took a short side road to an old barn transformed into an antique shop.  A genuine mom and pop establishment and while we did not buy anything we found the conversation about how the peninsula had changed over the last forty years engaging.


fishtownThe larger of the two peninsulas houses the towns of Glen Harbor, Leland and Northport along with a half dozen small communities.  Glen Harbor and Northport are small idyllic communities more akin to a pastoral life.  Leland on the other hand has something for the commercial/tourist to see in the Leland Historical District (Fishtown). 


PintaThe Leland Historical District first saw commercial industry in the latter half of the nineteenth century with lumbering and iron smelting.  With the introduction of primitive gas powered oak boats around 1900 the area began to thrive and reached its peak from about 1900 to 1930.  The old icehouses and fishing shacks are still there along with modern restaurants.  The package presents a nice tourist attraction where you can spend a few hours taking in the ambiance of long ago.  Rick’s café provided a spot for lunch and a few beers under an umbrella and next to the wharf.  The setting was very nice and great spot to take in the local ambiance.


The next stop was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that belongs to the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Seniors can buy a $10.00 lifetime pass to all the U.S. Government Parks, and it includes entry of all the folks in the senior’s automobile.  The park has camping, hiking and historical tours along with high dune views of Lake Michigan.  We found it a nice spot to take pictures especially from the top of the dunes.


petoskeyThe area abounds with nautical history and our next stop was at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse established in 1852.  The Lighthouse is completely restored and was worth the time to see it especially since there are some old artifacts indoor that were special to see.  Old antique furnishings, restored rescue boats, and rescue equipment along with interior furnishings, old cooking stoves, record players, etc. 

The next day had us taking the coastal Michigan route 31 from Traverse City to Petoskey through the town of Charlevoix.  Charlevoix is a harbor town, very scenic, and looked like a nice place to stop for refreshment or lunch.  We didn’t have the time to stop. 


Petoskey had many amenities and choices to spend taking pictures, and having lunch at the Perry Hotel was a special treat.  Our first stop was the marina where by chance we saw historical replicas of the Niña & Pinta.  We took the tour and spoke with crew members who were making a world tour and got a close up look at the two replica sailing ships, the Niña and the Pinta.  Being a history buff I found the conversations to be enlightening with facts I never knew. 

Columbus traveled with three ships the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria.  The Santa Maria was a Nao, a type of cargo vessel.  The Niña and Pinta were caravels and were used by explorers during the Age of Discovery.  Columbus actually had a map by an earlier explorer showing the new world.


perry hotelThe next stop was at the Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey where we had lunch.  The Perry Hotel is the nicest in Petoskey and lunch al fresco was a real treat.  The photographs don’t show the ambiance of the dining area or the feeling and views that were present.  To view the slideshow of our trip click here