If you have never been to Michigan, we pride ourselves on many things in the Great Lakes State. Our lakes being one of them, but also our vineyards, breweries, ski resorts, local festivals and the ability to find something fun to do all year round. The summer and fall months are especially festive along the coast of Lake Michigan, so my family jumped on the chance to spend a long weekend at the Cherry Tree Inn and Suites in one of our more famous towns, Traverse City. We had an amazing time and compiled a list of our favorite fall activities in Traverse City, Michigan. Some are completely free, some are only the cost of gas, some have a modest fee and while you can find ways to splurge at them all, it’s worth every penny.
Mission Point Light
Mission Point Light is a beacon at the very end of Old Mission Point, a peninsula that juts into Grand Traverse Bay. It’s just a short 17 mile drive North of Traverse City.
Built in 1870, Mission Point Light sits half way between the North Pole and the Equator exactly on the 45th parallel. While it hasn’t been in service since 1933 it is open to the public for viewing. One the light house grounds also sits the Hessler Log Cabin, a restored turn of the century log cabin. While Maddilyn wasn’t so interested in learning about the Cabin, Jake and I were. Built in 1856, the cabin is typical of the homes built by early pioneers. It consisted of one room, a sturdy bed and accessories typical of the era.
After exploring the grounds, we made our way down to the rocky beach and happened upon a fun discovery. There are hundreds of rocks stacked in precarious ways, and even rocks pushed into formations (like spirals) in the ground. I imagine that it is the work of hundreds of tourists over a period of time, but I couldn’t find anyone to tell me exactly how they came about. Do you know?
Fall Color Tours
While I’m a summer girl at heart, there is no disputing that Michigan is at the peak of beauty in the Fall months. Mother nature sets the landscape on fire in hues of bright orange, yellow and deep reds. It’s such a gorgeous time of year that thousands of people – local and not – embark on Fall Color Tours. Traverse City is unique in that it allows your to experience the tours in a variety of ways: boats, hot air balloons, on foot, or with leisurely car rides. We took the latter two and I’m glad we did. Not only were we able to enjoy the beginning of the change (believe it or not it gets even more beautiful) at a leisurely pace, we found a few hidden gems along the way like the Old Peninsula Grill.
Bookstores are my natural habitat, but crafting stores come in at a close second. I could spend all day among old books and fresh pottery. So you can imagine who we *really* went to Hands on Art for – but for pretenses sake, let’s say it was for Maddilyn. By the end of our visit, not even I was sure who had more fun. Julie, the owner, was so great during our visit. She took Maddilyn under her wing, inspired her to go crazy and then left her (okay, us) to create our masterpieces.
Hands on Art had nearly 50 different options from the seasonal, to the practical, to the decorative and they covered a large price range. Unsurprisingly, Maddilyn chose to create an Angry Birds dish and while Jake and I totally meant to choose our own projects, we ended up having too much fun just watching her. Before we knew it, an hour had gone by and we finally handed her masterpiece over to Julie to be fired in the kiln and shipped right to our home.
Shop Until You Drop
Residing along the coast of Lake Michigan means that the small business district of Traverse City basically resides along a two mile stretch along Front Street. There, we found some awesome gems inside the locally owned stores lining the street. I was in my element finding a book store, camera shop and equestrian store to happily browse, while Jake couldn’t leave the American Spoon without some of their locally made jams. We also spent an absurd amount of time inside Nifty Things looking at all of the buried novelty items. We may have ended up taking home far more than we came with but one of the perks of a staycation is that you take home as much as your car can carry!
We had such a fantastic time in Traverse City but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the places to go and things to see. One of the beauties of Michigan is that each of the four seasons can make a place like Traverse City a totally new experience no matter how many times you’ve been there before. I can’t wait to go back this summer!
A huge thank you to Traverse City for hosting our stay. All opinions remain our own.