A Week in Traverse City, MI

A Week in Traverse City, Michigan

A friend of mine invited me and Brian to stay in their family’s lake house in Traverse City. I’ve heard a lot about that city and the lake house in question so I immediately jumped on the chance to visit. It ended up being a group friends-cation with two couples (me and Brian, and Dave and Andrea) and a few friends of Dave’s from his hometown of Chicago who drove up. It was an awesome trip and I came home super relaxed and eager to go back! I decided to write a travel diary post focusing on all the things we did.

Getting There

I took a Southwest Flight to the Grand Rapids airport and rented a car from there to drive to Traverse City. TC does have an airport but flights were pretty expensive so we decided this option would be the most budget-friendly for us. Turns out having a rental car was quite useful! My friend Dave invited a few other people to come up to stay as well so having a car to get around and scoot passengers to all the places we needed to go was handy.

Southwest Flight to Grand Rapids

Where We Stayed

My friend’s parents have a vacation home in Traverse City so luckily, lodging was free for me! Their home is on Old Mission Peninsula, specifically Neahtawanta. Their house was literally right by the water and they had their own dock on Lake Michigan! They do have a bed and breakfast in the area if you want to visit (and don’t conveniently have a friend with a place to stay). The peninsula is gorgeous and it was awesome to wake up to gorgeous lake views every morning. We had coffee on the porch by the water every day!

Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary


Where we ate

We did a quick Costco run on our first day there so we did a lot of our own cooking but there were a few local favorites that we wanted to try. If you’re in the mood for lunch, be sure to stop at Bad Dog Deli for a sub - seriously, it’s the best sandwich I ever had! Need dinner? Head to the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for a great selection of beers and food. It’s a great casual restaurant with a neat atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more upscale for dinner, I recommend checking out Poppycocks. They also have a great happy hour if that’s something you’re interested in. Little Fleet is a fun area with lots of food trucks, great beer and (best of all), live music. There was a bluegrass band when we went with an awesome vibe.

Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bad Dog Deli
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary, Bad Dog Deli
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary, Jolly Pumpkin
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary, Jolly Pumpkin
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary, Jolly Pumpkin
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What we Did

Dave managed to borrow a boat from a neighbor friend so we all took it out to the lake! Lake Michigan is gorgeous and so blue! I couldn’t believe how clear the water was and boating with friends (and a cooler full of White Claw) is so much fun and I highly recommend it. As the house had its own dock on the beach, the family had an assortment of water toys including a paddle board and kayaks. We even went tubing one day! It was my first time so Brian joined me on the floatie. It was a lot of fun but I was definitely sore the next day. We enjoyed taking the boat out to Power Island for a day of relaxing, and in my case, reading. I brought my Kindle with me which was super handy because I was able to bring a lot more books than I would have packing individual books.

Visiting wineries and vineyards is also a great past time when you’re in the area. We visited two - Bonobo Winery, which was one of the most beautiful vineyards I’ve seen, complete with lawn games and delicious white wines full of peach notes. I did a standard tasting of five different wines for $10 which was not too bad. Next up, we headed for Bowers Harbor Vineyards for another tasting. This winery had a much more rustic and casual vibe that I enjoyed as well. I liked both wineries but if I had to choose one or the other, I think I liked the Bowers Harbor wines a bit better but in terms of atmosphere, the Bonobo Winery has the edge.

A note about the wines from Traverse City - Brian explained to me that the grapes grown in TC are much sweeter due to the stress they undergo in terms of a colder climate and landscape so most of the wines here are whites (versus, say the wines from California that tend to be reds as the climate is warmer). As a white wine lover, this was all right with me but just something to think about if you prefer red wines.

I mentioned this in the section earlier but we also hung out in town a few times as well. Of course we had dinner out but on one of the days we were there, they were having a block party downtown which was fun to see. I got some souvenirs including a cherry candle (Traverse City is known as the cherry capital in the US) and a block of fudge (nearby Mackinaw is famous for their fudge) so I got the works. Be sure to check out Cherry Republic - it’s a store full of all things cherry. Think cherry barbecue sauces, cherry salsa, cherry candies, cherry fudge, cherry candles, and cherry-themed t-shirts!

My friend Dave also brought his drone. It’s basically impossible to fly a drone in DC because of security concerns so we found a big wide lake and the beach a to be a great location for flying.

Kindle on Lake Michigan
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
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Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Power Island
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Power Island Beach
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Power Island beach
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bonobos Winery
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bonobos Winery
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bonobos Winery
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bonobos Winery
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bowers Harbor Vineyard
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bowers Harbor Vineyard
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary Bowers Harbor Vineyard
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary
Traverse City, MI Travel Diary


What I packed

I was pretty minimalist when it came to packing for this trip: four tops, four bottoms, one dress, and two swimsuits. I also have to disclose something: I broke my shopping ban. There was a neighbor who sold Neahtwanta wear such as hats, tees, and sweaters. I liked the idea of supporting a local business, on top of which, I realized I hadn’t packed adequately for the weather. When I left DC, the temperatures were in the 90s (Fahrenheit) with 70-80% humidity. In Traverse City, the temperatures were in high 70s with minimal humidity (plus being on the boat and swimming in the lake cooled me down) and I found myself getting rather cold. I bought one long-sleeved tee and a baseball hat (for boating days). While I’m sad I broke my shopping ban, I’m choosing to make these exceptions and will be continuing my ban. I wore every single thing and as far as packing for a one week trip goes, I don’t think I overpacked at all! Hover over the pictures below to see the brands.

Everlane jeans

Everlane jeans

Forever 21 shorts

Forever 21 shorts

Madewell dress

Madewell dress

Albion Fit swimsuit

Albion Fit swimsuit

J.Crew Chambray shirt

J.Crew Chambray shirt

Madewell shorts

Madewell shorts

Forever 21 tee

Forever 21 tee

Madewell slides

Madewell slides

Madewell Pocket Tee

Madewell Pocket Tee

Patagonia fleece pullover

Patagonia fleece pullover

Zaful swimsuit

Zaful swimsuit

H&M sweater

H&M sweater

Zara leggings

Zara leggings

H&M denim shorts

H&M denim shorts

Nisolo flats

Nisolo flats

Nike sneakers

Nike sneakers

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DeborahTravel