Sunday, August 14, 2011

Other things to do in and around Traverse City

There are tons of attractions in the Traverse City area, which I'll say is the top left corner of the lower peninsula, or the tip of your left pinky from the back of your hand.  There are lots of cute towns with various shopping and eating places, islands to visit, and lots of outdoor activities.  For example, there's Sleeping Bear Dunes, a park featuring 400 foot tall sand dunes, Old Mission Peninsula is fun to drive around and has some wineries and historic attractions, and there are five lighthouses in the area to visit.  Did you know that Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state?  There are lots of cruises you can take in the Grand Traverse Bay, parasailing, you can rent boats, there are lots of golf courses... and there are a few casinos too, if that's your thing.  The visitor's bureau has a pretty good website of things to do in the area, but there are of course many more things than they list!

This year we visited Leland and it's Fishtown historic district for the first time.  Fishtown has these old, decrepit looking buildings that are what would have been there 100 years ago.

(Not my photo, because I didn't take many this year, but I went here!  Lifted from the site above)

Today they're home to some souvenir shops and a couple of food places.  An amazing smoked fish store, with fantastic prices because it's fresh and local, and the cheese shop in the photo above with really good cheeses.  I really enjoyed the goat gouda.  The town itself is very small and very cute with galleries and shops.  You can even charter boats and go fishing on Lake Michigan, for those who like to fish!

And of course, the big thing to do anywhere you visit is eat!  Since this is the Cherry Capital (Michigan produces 75% of American tart cherries and this is where they are grown) anything cherry is good to eat, and they are everywhere.  Dried, covered in yogurt or chocolate, worked into sauces, in pies... there's even the huge National Cherry Festival on the 4th of July weekend.  I've already blabbed about the wonderful ice cream at Moomers, so no need to repeat that.  Restaurants that I recommend are:

Thai Cafe: I know it sounds ridiculous to recommend a Thai restaurant in northern Michigan, but this is a really good restaurant!  The spices are very well done, the flavors are wonderful, I've liked everything I've had from there. And they give you huge portions.

Firefly: a really interesting place because they have large dishes but you can also do a tapas-type dinner and order a bunch of small plates to share.  I've been twice with a friend of mine who has had a great time working up north for like five or six summers, and we've done the tapas dinner thing both times.  Loved everything!  The nachos really stand out in my mind.    

North Peak Brewing Company: they do in fact brew their own beer, which I didn't order because I don't really like beer, but my brother did, and he liked some of them.  The fish and chips are great, the pretzel crusted walleye is also very good, and the veggie nachos are great too.  I love nachos and am quite the critic, so that's a real complement.

Amical: this was a new visit this year and a huge success!  Everything was wonderful, and the star was this enormous tomato soup en croute (with pastry on top) - seriously, the soup could have been a dinner all on it's own because it was so big, and it was delicious!  I didn't finish it though because I had a whitefish coming for dinner, which was also wonderful.

We also ate at Poppycocks and I thought the food was very good, but they don't take reservations, so we had to wait around for a while, and there was an issue with them not having a lot of vegan options for my sister despite saying they did, but the food we had was good.  The sun-dried tomato polenta stack was really tasty, and the salmon and whitefish were both very good.

So, if you go to visit the Traverse City area, there are lots of things to do, and you should visit!  In the winter there's skiing, so it's a four season destination.  Please do visit, Michigan could use the money!


Zhu said...

Small towns have great gems, exotic restaurants or local food. I totally agree!

And yeah, Michigan could use the money :-D We are supporting NY State over there with our frequent trips to rural places.

getyourselfconnected said...

Very cool! Like a town that time forgot. You didn't get a boat and go out on Lake Michigan to fish???

au soleil levant said...

Zhu - form what you say on your blog, it sounds like northern New York has more problems than Michigan, so thanks for supporting them. But if you're ever in the mood for a long road trip, or if they ever build that high speed train to Windsor, you should support us too!!

GYSC - well, as much as I wanted to embarrass myself by trying to fish when I never have before, no, the fishing didn't really call to me. I would like to learn though! When do we start lessons? :)

Andromeda said...

I miss nachos! Your expertise sounds like mine and grilled cheese (fact: Hooters has the best). I love all your vacation posts, I never knew Michigan had so much going on! I will no longer omit it when people ask me what to visit in the states :-)

Animesh said...

Wonderful! Now I know what to do when I visit Northern Mich :).


au soleil levant said...

Andromeda - Hooters? Really? Wow, I might have to go try them if they're that good! And I'm glad Michigan has finally made it onto your list of states :)

Animesh - I do expect you to visit Michigan the next time you' the US! I post all this info because I had a lot of visitors to my vacation posts from last summer, so I thought I'd help out people trying to make a trip.

getyourselfconnected said...

Sent you a note, talk to you soon.

getyourselfconnected said...

Note back in morning.

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