Posts Tagged ‘Traverse City’

Vines and Vistas make a great fall getaway

Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.

Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.

 

Maybe it’s the talk of the Chicago Bears’ training camp. Or maybe it’s the ads for back-to-school supplies and end-of-summer sales. All of a sudden I’m thinking about where to go for a fall getaway that is withing six hours of Chicago.  Planning the trip now helps get through the “dog days” of summer.

 

On the map, (yeah, I still like atlases) the Michigan town of Traverse City may seem far  but I have made it up to TC in time for lunch. I love this town anytime of year but it’s still my top Midwest choice for fall.

 

I leave home in the northern suburbs early enough to do breakfast in Saugatuck then head east to Grand Rapids where I pick up US Highway 131. Its bordering forests and little traffic make it a relaxing drive up to US Highway 115 that is a perfect angle west to State Highway 37, the main road into TC.

 

After dumping travel bag and stuff at my lodging (more on this later) I feel my shoulders relax as I thread my way around the rolling, vine-covered landscape of the Old Mission Peninsula that starts at the east end of TC. Over every hill waits another glimpse of the sparkling waters of Grand Traverse Bay.

 

Over every hill is another spectacular view when hiking or driving Old Mission Peninsula at Traverse City.

Over every hill is another spectacular view when hiking or driving Old Mission Peninsula at Traverse City.

Or I head up the Leelanau Peninsula at the west end of TC to meander along the lapping shores of the Bay’s West Arm to Suttons Bay for lunch at Martha’s Leelanau Table, a small restaurant favored by the locals. Her arbor covered terrace is perfect for planning which winery to go to first.

 

Due to the two peninsulas’ prime clime location on the 45th parallel, soil and water protection from the Bay and nearby Lake Michigan, the land here has produced an abundance of cherries (home of the National Cherry Festival) apples and grapes. Translated, that means there are excellent wineries on both the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.

 

The shops here in Suttons Bay beckon with colorful banners and signs after lunch. And around the corner from Martha’s is the excellent Suttons Bay Bike Shop which I may return to if I decide to bike north to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

 

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Leelanau Peninsula

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Leelanau Peninsula

 

Back to the B&B to relax and make dinner reservations. This time I’m staying on the outskirts of Suttons Bay at Black Star Farms which has a nice habit of serving a free glass of wine and nosh during the cocktail hour and also does terrific breakfasts.

 

Where to make reservations for dinner. Hmm, maybe Sorellina’s because of its really good veal dishes and it is downtown TC so I could work off dinner exploring Front Street.

 

Since my other two faves probably need more time than I have today,  I’ll probably do the teeny, tiny Cooks House tomorrow. It finds innovative but yummy ways to prepare locally sourced ingredients.  Then, it’s the Boat House for its good food and views the next day.

 

The city has lots of places to stay whether looking for something in town, on Traverse City Bay or staying at a winery on the Mission Peninsula. Check out the Traverse City Visitor Center  for lodging choices.

Chateau Chantal

Chateau Chantal

 

I’ve stayed at the BayShore Resort which I liked for its beach and indoor pool, and Wellington Inn because of its charm and good breakfast.

 

However, I’m thinking of staying at Chateau Chantal on the mission Peninsula next time for its views and it reminds me of a chateau in the Loire Valley. Maybe next time I’ll hike to the Mission Point Lighthouse on the Mission Peninsula.

 

Guess there will be a next time.

 

(All photos are by J Jacobs)

 

Fall color information and trip

Even though leaves are already beginning to change, only a few places on the US border with Canada reach peak color in September. The problem is that when trees are ablaze with reds and golds in mid-October the roads are often clogged with what some locals in famed fall states call “leaf peepers.”

Fall is a wonderful time to take a drive. Traverse City Tourism photo

Fall is a wonderful time to take a drive. Traverse City Tourism photo

One way to avoid some of the traffic and find a place to stay is to go during the week, not the weekend. Another, is to go early or late in October instead of the middle weeks.

To help you on your way here are  some sites to check for color and a couple of color drives to take.

 

Sites that monitor fall color

Keep checking these sites for color changes:

Weather fall foliage is at weather maps.

The Federal Forest Service is at Forest Service fall colors

The University of Illinois Extension site has links to several states’ fall color reports and some suggested drives at Extension Illinois

Leaves are just beginning to change color in the Traverse City area of Michigan.

Leaves are just beginning to change color in the Traverse City area of Michigan. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

Color drives and wine tasting await in Traverse City, MI

Called TC by residents and frequent vacationers to the  Grand Traverse Bay area, Traverse City is known as the Cherry Capital  in spring and summer. So if you go up there pick up some chocolate covered ones or the preserves.

However, in fall go for the color, the apples and the wine. Michigan, and particularly the Traverse City area, is known for all three.

All the drives around TC are spectacular as you motor north from the city up the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas because much of that area has OMG hill top views of Traverse Bay’s bright blue water.

But this is also an area of wonderful drives west through forested areas across the Leelanau Peninsula over to Lake Michigan and its Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Among the National Lakeshore routes is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

A great place to stay in the middle of the National Lakeshore is The Homestead, a full service resort with wonderful views and a great location.

If thinking of staying on the Leelanau Peninsula check out Black Star Farms. Its rooms fill quickly with return guests so try to decide early.

Basically a B&B style inn with gourmet breakfasts and a glass of wine to welcome guests, the place is nicely located to drive north to shop and eat in Suttons Bay, explore Northport further up and the lighthouse up at the point. Black Star Farms also has its own wine and is near several other wineries.

Go west from Suttons Bay to the cute town of Leland and its historic Fishtown.

Stop at the General Store on Old Mission Peninsula

Stop at the General Store on Old Mission Peninsula. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Leelanau Peninsual has several excellent wineries so take the wine trail there. Pause to look across the vineyards towards the bay to snap a photo.

Over on the Old Mission Peninsula, two fun places to stop while doing wine tastings there is the old General Store and the lighthouse. Be sure to have the camera or cell phone ready because, well, just go, you’ll see.

 

Thoughts on where to stay

Some of the wineries on Old Mission  have accommodations but there are several good adult lodging choices in TC Including the Wellington Inn B&B  and the Park Place Hotel. Families might like the Sugar Beach Resort Hotel because it has an indoor pool, game room and comp’d breakfast. But the TC area has enough different type accommodations to suit every budget and lifestyle. Same is true for restaurants because the area is a year-round destination.

Start planning now for your fall getaway. Have fun!

 

 

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