One of my favorite Northern Michigan destinations is Traverse City, with its many quaint shops, miles of sandy beach and trails along Grand Traverse Bay, close proximity to fabulous wineries and breweries, and multiple hotspots for outdoor activities. Traverse City has been the top choice for our annual family vacation several times. Justin and I are also fortunate to have some wonderful friends live in the city so we visit them usually a minimum of two times each year.
Our recent visit to our friends’ house in Traverse City brought a much-needed getaway for both of us. After months of adjusting to a new job, Justin’s graduation and studying for board exams, plus battling weeds in the flower beds and other tasks, we were ready to have fun and relax. And visiting our friends made the weekend that much better.
While rain was predicted, Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day with temps in the 70s and sunshine. We took a road trip to Bellaire, about 30 minutes from downtown Traverse City. Our destination: Short’s Brewery, which excited my craft-beer loving husband. Bellaire is a small town located between Traverse City and Petoskey, near Torch Lake. Short’s has 20 of their beers on tap and a menu of good food. The restaurant is a mix of industrial and rustic – welcoming, open and bright. They host entertainment some nights too. Justin and I each tried a flight of five beers and had a fun time.
After lunch, we headed back to downtown Traverse City to wander. We all said we didn’t need to buy anything yet somehow ended up carrying bags filled with purchases back to the car! There are the usual tourist stores in Traverse City but also some unique and fun stores to explore. I always love visiting Cherry Republic, which offers a variety of samples. We couldn’t resist purchasing some cherry salsa, cherry poppyseed vinaigrette dressing and sour cherry candies. Yum.
We visited Right Brain Brewery’s new location on East 16th Street. Funny enough, their original location was next door to a hair salon, as is this one. The new location is a big open industrial-type building with the usual bar stools and high top tables, but also mixed in with couches, comfy chairs, long tables and old-fashioned furniture. Eclectic art and sculptures are interspersed around the area. The only downside was the humidity and heaviness in the air. A small fan was blowing near the bar but otherwise it was a bit stuffy. I tried their Strawberry Fields ale while Justin had a flight with variety of tastes and our friends enjoyed a yummy cider. The beer wasn’t as flavorful as Short’s beers but the atmosphere is fun (hula hoops and games!).
The evening was spent relaxing at our friends’ house, enjoying dinner, drinks, a dance party and even a short workout. Love those type of evenings with friends! We had hoped to hike or geocache on Sunday but woke to dramatically different temps (wind, gray skies and high 40s!).
No visit to Traverse City is really complete without visiting at least one, or some, of the great wineries on Old Mission Peninsula or Leelanau Peninsula. Longview Winery’s tasting room is located in Cedar on Leelanau Peninsula and carries a delicious Rustic White that is still one of our favorites. Longview doesn’t distribute down state so we usually stock up on some bottles of Rustic White when we visit. As the winery describes it, the wine is “loaded with tropical fruit flavors” balanced with “zingy acidity.” Excellent flavors. We also visited Chateau Fontaine in Lake Leelanau. Welcomed by their friendly dog, we were pleased to learn they still had cherry wine, which is another favorite of ours.
We had lunch at Seven Monks Taproom on Union Street. This newer establishment has 46 beers on tap, a large bottled beer selection, ciders and wines. The menu has a decent selection, although a bit pricier than other brew pubs nearby. There are several televisions and a fireplace. It’s a narrow, little bit dark venue but I liked the atmosphere and wasn’t surprised to learn it gets busy in the evenings.
So it was another whirlwind weekend getaway but still felt relaxing. Maybe because we were away from the hustle and bustle of the metro area and our responsibilities, or because our friends are so welcoming, or we just love being in Traverse City. Whatever the reason, it was a fun adventure.