Traverse City is quickly becoming the most appealing weekend destination for all kinds of Michiganders – including me! The convenient driving distance (just a few hours from anywhere within the state), make it close enough yet just far enough away to feel like a vacation. Even on my short vacation back to the US, I was able to squeeze in a few days for a Traverse City weekend trip.
While originally drawn in by the promise of vineyard tours through Traverse City’s Michigan Wine country, I was intrigued by increasing attention the city has garnered for being a “foodie” paradise. Big name publications have been talking it up, including features by USA Today and Huffington Post. Nothing can compete with my love of wine, but amazing food comes in at a close second.
I was also attracted to Traverse City for it’s small-town vibe. I love small towns (having grown up in one), and walkable main streets. If there is a better city for walking than Traverse City, I’ve yet to find it!
The downtown area is cute and full of shopping, dining, and drinking. The canal and lakeshore (and beach!) are just steps away. The beautiful brick buildings, clean sidewalks, and neatly kept shrubbery are picturesque, and provide an idyllic background for a stroll. Esquire magazine agrees, having listed Traverse City as one of the 50 Coolest Small Towns in America!
A weekend is the best timeframe to take in all that Traverse City has to offer, but I could have stayed longer. (I’d love to make a goal of seeing all the wineries in a week, for example, but my liver might disagree)
Whether you’re an adventurer, beach lover, or foodie freak, Traverse City has something to offer. And regardless your interests, I’d recommend the following weekend itinerary (detailed advice for each of the activities are available by clicking through the links)….
Traverse City Weekend Trip Day 1 –
Stay in a Bed and Breakfast and take Sunset Boat Cruise
Arrive to Traverse City in the midafternoon.
Check into your Bed and Breakfast (a must-try!). Before booking, make sure you’re located within walking distance to the super cute downtown.
Walk towards the lakeshore to check in for your sunset cruise, while enjoying the historic downtown views. After checking in, have a bite to eat and drink, maybe relaxing lakeside at an open air bar like at West Bay Beach.
When the time comes, board your cruise and enjoy the unbeatable Michigan sunset!
After the sunset, walk back through the downtown, stopping for a few drinks if you’d like before tucking into your cozy B&B for the night.
Traverse City Weekend Trip Day 2 –
Go on a wine tour
Wake up whenever you want (it’s vacation!) and have a yummy breakfast prepared by your B&B host.
Head out to the beach, for a bit of shopping, golfing, or whatever activity you’d like, but be sure to hit a deli or lunch spot before 1pm (take it to go if you’d like), and grab a few beers or a bottle of wine as well.
Wait at your B&B for your wine tour pickup with your chosen snacks and booze. Get picked up and hit the vineyards hard! You’re sure to bring home a bottle or two for later.
After the vineyards, you’ll either need a nap or more drinks before dinner. Try a waterfront restaurant for a delicious meal and some drinks, and call it a night when you please.
Traverse City Weekend Trip Day 3 –
Visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes
Wake up again for your last morning in Traverse City, and enjoy your B&B breakfast before heading out.
The weekend isn’t yet over! After leaving Traverse City, head just 30 minutes east to take in the beautiful National Lakeshore of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, spending the morning hiking and enjoying. Have lunch in Empire before heading back home.
When to Visit for a Traverse City Weekend Trip?
The ideal time to visit Traverse City is during the Michigan summer months, including June, July, and August, though this is also when prices are the highest. But so worth it!
Where to Eat on a Traverse City Weekend Trip?
I really loved Firefly restaurant and also West Bay Beach for a casual dinner, but there are SO many options, some of which are listed in this guide. Walking around downtown, you’ll see countless options.