Adventure Stories

The Most Pleasant Peninsula: Traverse City

traverse city

Traverse City is the heart of Michigan’s northern lower peninsula and is the place that holds my heart. Home to fun breweries, delicious restaurants, and fantastic beaches, TC is the place to be in the summer. For people, like myself, in search of adventure, check it out. Here are some of my favorite adventures in and around Traverse City.

Paddle the Bay

Traverse City is centered around West Bay, an inlet of Lake Michigan with turquoise water and sandy beaches. Downtown Traverse City is home to numerous rental shops to pick up kayaks or paddleboards for the day and head on down to the beach. Take advantage of these! Paddling is a fun and active way to get to know the beach and see Traverse City from a different (and my personal favorite) perspective.

Camp on Power Island

Towards the north end of west bay, there is a little island called Power Island. The forested island is gorgeous and home to a dock to jump off of, a rope swing, and numerous grills and picnic tables for a day long adventure. For those looking for a bit more, there is a little island right off the northern end (connected via isthmus) of Power Island called Bassett Island. This little guy has five camp sites available to be rented out nightly for a super affordable price– and what’s more fun than camping on an island?

Explore the State Hospital

On the west side of town, next to the current hospital, is the grounds of the old state mental hospital that shut down half a century ago. Some of the buildings today have been transformed into hip dining and shopping establishments, but others have remained abandoned. Checking out the old grounds, especially at night, is not an adventure for the faint of heart, but it is definitely worth doing! Also, there are a bunch of fun hiking trails on the property, they are beautiful easy hikes in the summer, and are used for cross country skiing in the winter.

Taste the Wine

With the Old Mission Peninsula stretching 18 miles into Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City is a hub for vineyards and wineries. The peninsula has a perfect microclimate for growing grapes, and in the past few years, wineries have taken off in the area. Spend an afternoon (or make a day of it) and go wine tasting on the beautiful peninsula and take in the views of East and West Bay while enjoying fresh local wine! Shuttles are available from the wineries, so deciding on a DD isn’t even a worry!

Climb Old Baldy

The Traverse City area is home to some pretty epic spots for watching sunsets over Lake Michigan, but my personal favorite is a (not super well known) bluff called Old Baldy. Located a bit south of Frankfort, about a 45 minute drive from Traverse City, this 356 foot high dune on the shore of the lake is absolutely breath taking and delivers some of the most beautiful sunsets ever. It’s an easy ~1 mile hike from the parking lot out to the top of the bluff that leads through forest and opens up to sand dunes hugging the shoreline.

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About the author

Celeste Buck-Heinz

With Bozeman, MT as my most recent home, I am an adventure lover who can't get enough of traveling. I grew up in Traverse City, MI, on the shore line of Lake Michigan. I went to college in Vermont and spent some time living in Ecuador and the Galapagos before taking off and moving to Kosrae, Micronesia. I'm a water baby transplanted into the wild west and loving it! I couldn't be more excited to share my passion for adventure and travel with an inspiring group of women. Check me out on IG @celestebuckheinz !

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