Explore the Great Lakes State – from stunning Traverse City to vibrant Detroit
WORDS: CATRIONA RIGNEY PHOTOS: ALAMY, GETTY IMAGES
Sitting on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City is a picturesque and vibrant destination offering something for everyone.
Traverse City proudly calls itself the “cherry capital of the world” and during its annual eight-day National Cherry Festival at the beginning of July you can taste cherry everything, from pies and ice cream to chocolate and wine. There’s also a Thunderbirds air show, parades and, we kid you not, a cherry pit spitting contest.
Flo Rida performed this year, while the festival even has its very own Cherry Queen – a cherry-championing ambassador selected from hopefuls across the state of Michigan.
WINE LOVERS REJOICE!
There are more than 40 vineyards on the stunning Traverse Wine Coast. We felt like we were in a sun-dappled Hallmark movie as we drove out to Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery on Old Mission Peninsula. Frosé (frozen rosé wine), a Secret Garden where you can pick from 6,000 lavender plants, and sweeping views across the vineyard make this place truly Instagram-worthy.
Another pinch-me destination is Black Star Farms Suttons Bay, tucked away on Leelanau Peninsula, where a tasting room packed to the rafters with delicious wines is nestled beside an equestrian-inspired 10-room inn.
Traverse’s wine region is celeb-approved, too. Madonna’s family and Hollywood actress Amy Smart own vineyards there.
Continuing north up Old Mission Peninsula you’ll discover Mission Point Lighthouse, a picturesque building from 1870 which sits right on the water. Meanwhile, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is so breathtaking we weren’t surprised to hear it was voted the Most Beautiful Place in the US by Good Morning America. There are more than 100 miles of gorgeous hiking trails, while stargazing is another huge draw. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll see the Northern Lights.
The culinary scene is fresh and exciting with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. Italian hotspot Trattoria Stella serves up a delicious house-made burrata ($23) and a mouthwatering tiramisu.
For food with a view, head to fine-dining restaurant Artisan, with its waterfront patio overlooking Lake Michigan. The $25 cheeseburger was one of the best we’ve had. Retro diner J&S Hamburg is a local favourite where a huge stack of pancakes cost us just $7.99.