A weekend in Traverse City, Michigan.
Traverse City is known for it’s wine and beer, stunning vistas, proximity to national & state parks, and unlimited itinerary options for families or couples. We’re focusing on the romance, dialing up the fancy, donning on the endearing, and setting up an itinerary that puts hearts in your eyes. This is a getaway guide to a weekend in Traverse City.
[P.S. There’s a helpful Google map at the end of this post!]
Where to stay in Traverse City
No couple can go wrong staying at The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, one of the best and most romantic properties in Traverse City. You don’t even need to leave the resort — they have everything anyone could want.
What’s impressive about the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa are the varied accommodation options. Get sweeping views at the Tower, comfortable rooms in the Hotel, lakefront or golf course views at the condominiums, or stay at Resort Homes for larger groups. Since we’re talking about a romantic weekend in Traverse City, stay in the Tower. If you get lucky, you’ll have incredible views of Grand Traverse Bay.
Take a look at their Romance Packages: there’s a weekend option for two that includes 2 night’s accommodation, a three-course meal at Aerie restaurant (the best view in Traverse City), breakfast at Sweetwater American Bistro, and discounted spa services.
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd
Acme, MI 4961
Pricing and booking information.
Cut out of work early, beat traffic, and arrive early evening to kick off your romantic weekend in Traverse City.
Dine at Boathouse
Splurge on dinner at Boathouse, where rustic farmhouse charm meets fine white tablecloths and impressively mannered service. Boathouse embraces the farm to table movement, but carefully selects any ingredients within its backyard and beyond to unite the finest culinary elements.
As this was a romantic weekend, we opted for the dinner for two option — two 5 oz Kobe filets, 1 pound whole Maine lobster, crab stuffing, fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and two Boathouse salads to start.
After your dinner, step outside to the lounge chairs and watch the sun set.
Pro Tip: Call a few days early for a reservation. When we called the day of, the restaurant was at capacity. They allow walk ins, but that doesn’t guarantee a timely table. Ask for a table with a waterfront view.
14039 Peninsula Dr
Traverse City, MI 49686
Drinks at Mission Table & Jolly Pumpkin
Not far from Boathouse is a turn into Mission Table & Jolly Pumpkin. They share a building, so you get a two for one deal with this stop. Try a beer on the patio at Mission Table, then walk through the historic building to get to Jolly Pumpkin on the other side.
Pro Tip: Slow down as you near the entrance — the signage is minimal and easy to miss on the winding road. We missed it twice. Third time’s the charm.
Chase the nightlife
If you’re not ready to tuck in for the evening, the party can continue on S Union Street street. Top off with a drink at 7 Monks Taproom.
Breakfast at Sweetwater American Bistro
Begin your day right off the lobby of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa at Sweetwater’s all-American breakfast buffet. You’ll need your energy today, so fill up from their omelette station or go for the classics – eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and all the other delicious things that make breakfast the most important meal of the day.
Venture off to Empire Michigan Sleeping Bear Dunes
Only 45 minutes away from The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a National Park that can’t be missed if you’ve never been before. If you have, you probably camped there as a kid. Relive those childhood memories with your travel companion. Then run down the giant sand dunes together, hand-in-hand. Though that could be dangerous – have you ever tried running down a sand dune with someone? Physics poses a challenge. Have fun. Fun is romance, people!
Though you could easily spend an entire weekend visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes, for the sake of cramming all the romantic things into one weekend in Traverse City, we’d recommend spending only a few hours at the dunes. You’ll have enough time for:
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
- Dune Climb (but not the climb all the way to Lake Michigan)
- Glen Haven Historic Village
This is a self drive. Play some happy love songs — maybe Sinatra or Sam Cooke. If you do not have a National Parks pass, admission will cost you $15.
Keep on Truckin’ at The Little Fleet
They say love is about compromise. Not at The Little Fleet. In the heart of Traverse City, there’s a giant lot that contains a fleet of food trucks. Choose between tacos or pizza or sushi or ice cream (or something healthy). There’s outdoor seating as well as an indoor bar with dine-in tables. This was the coolest.
The Little Fleet
448 E Front St
Traverse City, MI 49686
Toast to Romance with a Traverse City Wine Tour
“One does not simply walk into Traverse City and not wine tour.”
Unless you grew up in the midwest, you may not think “wine country” when someone says “northern Michigan.” But consider this: the region runs along the 45th parallel, as do famous French wine regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy. There are over 40 wineries in the area. I applaud the wine-o who can accomplish a visit to all in a single weekend in Traverse City.
There are two places you need to know about: Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. Each have an abundance of wineries tucked between the rolling vineyards and orchards, peeking out at the bay. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong choosing one over the other. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll find more wineries along Leelanau Peninsula.
There are a few ways to experience wine tasting in Traverse City:
Biking Wine Tour
Will exercise for wine? Consider a biking wine tour. Grand Traverse Bike Tours came highly recommended.
Self Drive Wine Tour
A perfect option for the couple that doesn’t like to be constrained by the schedule and itinerary of a tour group. However, this means the romance of wine tasting becomes unbalanced, as somebody needs to navigate, drive, and worry about logistics.
Book a Wine Tour
The easiest option. If you don’t have a designated driver and plan to overindulge during the tastings, I’d recommend booking a wine tour. Most tours last approximately four hours and visit up to four wineries. We opted for this and were glad for it – trust me, after enough tasting rooms you’ll probably take a wine nap on your way home in the backseat of the bus. It’s nice to be taken care of.
Pro Tip: if you plan to go on a wine tour, book as early as possible to ensure you have a spot. Although there are many companies, they do tend to fill up quickly on the weekends. If there are any wineries you’re adamant about visiting, request it during your booking. Many of these tours will try to accommodate you!
Here is a list of Traverse City wine tour companies that were suggested to me.
Grand Traverse Tours* — $50
Traverse Bay Tours — $59 (they have a fantastic online booking feature)
Traverse City Tours — $35
Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours — $49.50 (their buses are TIE-DYE)
*We chose Grand Traverse Wine Tours because they offered a later afternoon tour (4-8pm). They provided water and bags for wine purchases and sample glasses. We visited four wineries: Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, 2 Lads Winery, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, and Hawthorne Vineyards.
Pro Tip: Things that are not included in your tour purchase: wine tastings and gratuity. Wine tastings range from $5-$10 depending on the tasting room. Gratuity for the driver is not included in the booking fee. Bring cash.
Dinner at Aerie Restaurant
After hours of wine tasting, you’ll be in a wine coma. Wine tours drop off at your hotel (hopefully you booked at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa), so when you return, take a quick catnap then head upstairs to Aerie Restaurant and Lounge. Aerie boasts the best views of Traverse City, with the city and the water stretching below. A three course meal is included if you purchased one of the romance packages for Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Even if you didn’t, Aerie was one of the most delicious meals on our trip and you should make the extra effort to dine there.
Couples Massage at Spa Grand Traverse
Confession: I’ve never had a massage before. Ever. Until this. Life. Changed. Spa Grand Traverse is one of the top spas in Michigan, carrying their own signature spa products. Cherries are synonymous with Traverse City; you have to go for the cherry infused massage. It was 50 minutes of pure bliss.
While you’re waiting for your spa service, enjoy the ambiance of the fireplace while eating a homemade peanut butter cherry granola bar. I insist that you eat this granola bar. I almost missed it and the experience would have been completely different. That delicious.
Brunch at The Towne Plaza
When searching for the best Bloody Mary in Traverse City, results consistently recommended The Towne Plaza. Though the garnishes are the standard olives, pickle, and lime, it’s the inside that counts (isn’t it always?). The Towne Plaza uses a chipotle infused vodka and creates a homemade Bloody Mary mix from veal stock. DELICIOUS. A few times I needed to remind myself to slow down and savor. Let this drink accompany your breakfast out on their spacious patio and you have the makings of one of the best brunches in Traverse City.
Shop on Front Street
Walking off a good brunch is always a good choice, especially when the best shopping is a few blocks away from The Towne Plaza. Front Street is home to artisan coffee shops, made in Michigan stores, high end art galleries, corny silkscreened tourist shirts, and the famous Cherry Republic — a store of all things cherry with an overabundance of free samples (including free wine tasting).
Sweet Endings at Moomers
Before the journey home, theres one final stop before you end your romantic weekend in Traverse City — Moomers. It’s been voted the best ice cream in America. Now, I’m skeptical of any place whose claim to fame is through a popularity contest, but after trying it for myself I can attest to all the reasons why it’s popular enough to be voted the best: it really is the most delicous ice cream I’ve ever had. And I make a point to eat a lot of ice cream. Homemade, family-run, and located right on the family dairy farm, your biggest challenge of the day will be deciding between the 160 unique flavors.
I tried the cherry moobilee and banana peanut butter. Angels sang with every lick.
Weekend in Traverse City Guide Map
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Three cheers to Traverse City tourism for setting us up with the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for our anniversary weekend in Traverse City. Although my accommodations were sponsored, all opinions are genuinely and authentically my own — no amount of cherry infused massage could sway me otherwise.