Thousands of visitors have already discovered that Traverse City is a stunning summer destination. But those magnificent views of soft sky, water and shore don’t disappear after Labor Day – and neither does the feeling you get when you’re here.
In the quiet, intimate seasons of fall and winter, you can experience Traverse City the way the locals do. It’s the time of year when the shopping and dining are more relaxed, and people can take the time to meet over a hot mug in a cozy downtown café.
If anything, autumn makes Traverse City’s beauty even more memorable; it’s a gentler, more nostalgic season here – a time of crisp mornings, mellow golden afternoons and cool, starry evenings. The region’s characteristic landscape of rolling ridges, lush forests and wide expanses of open water are the quintessential backdrop for fall color. Some of the most dramatic places to enjoy the annual display are at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, along the narrow Old Mission Peninsula or in Antrim County’s glacier-scoured Chain of Lakes region.
Of course, if you really want to experience the full sensory richness of autumn, you have to get out and listen to the crunch of leaves, breathe the cool air and smell the spicy aroma of apples and wood smoke. Hiking or cycling one of the region’s many non-motorized trails, or paddling a canoe or kayak down one of its gentle rivers are great ways to have an authentic encounter with Traverse City’s fall beauty.
Shoppers are drawn to the city’s tree-shaded and pedestrian-friendly downtown, where a decade of thoughtful restoration and renovation has yielded beautiful results: about 150 fascinating boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and galleries, and lots of places to relax. (Meanwhile, the Grand Traverse Commons, a former mental asylum, offers some shopping and dining adventures of its own.)
Traverse City’s restaurants now enjoy a national reputation for their fresh, locally-inspired cuisine. From charcuterie prepared at an in-house butchery, to desserts made with farmers market selections that morning, local restaurateurs also tell the story of the region’s bounty.
Naturally, the 40+ wineries and tasting rooms of the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are a belly-warming compliment to a harvest meal. And we’d be missing our creative craft beer and ciders without our 17 microbreweries and taprooms. Needing something a little stronger? Our distilleries offer craft spirits infused with flavors of the land. Last we counted, there are five within the Traverse City area.
As winter settles in and the snow begins to fall across this glacier-carved landscape, the entire region becomes a sparkling white playground for outdoor winter sports. More than 200 miles of the country’s finest and most diverse ski and snowmobiling trails are here in the enchanted Boardman and Jordan River valleys, and the downhill skiing is some of the best in the Great Lakes region.
It’s not hard to experience Traverse City adventure – whether it’s a long afternoon window-shopping, a bicycle ride over brilliantly-colored hills or a glittering ski journey through a snowy winter forest. Come on up! When you’re here, you’ll feel it.
You can also find Traverse City Tourism inside The Vineyard at the 10th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival. Look for the Traverse Wine Coast on the south side of the Steelcase Ballroom.