December Morning at West End Beach: Downtown Traverse City

December Morning at West End Beach: Downtown Traverse City

By MIKE NORTON

At last! Early winter’s persistent overcast disappeared late Sunday night, revealing a bright winter moon and giving us a splendid pink-and-lavender dawn to mark the start of the Christmas week! It was a cold walk to work this morning, but made wonderful by the bright sunshine reflecting off the bay and the surrounding hills. Give me “cold and clear” over “warm and gloomy” any day!

That’s how it is when you live along the water. We love our snowfall, but the beauty of winter really arrives when it gets cold enough for the clouds to move away and let the sun shine down on all this glittery, diamond brightness of wind-carved drifts, crystalline ice and powdery snow sifting down from the trees. And since winter got an early start this year, it looks as though it’s moving even sooner into its prettiest stage!

Icicles and Ice Fog at the West Bay Open Space

I did some cross-country skiing Sunday afternoon on the trails around the Old Mission Point lighthouse, and the conditions were so perfect that I overextended myself a bit. You know how it is when you just go on and on, enjoying the prospect of what you’ll see around the next bend or over the next hill…. And then comes the moment when you realize it’s time to turn around and go back the way you came. Hey, no complaints – it’s a great place to ski (or snowshoe, or just walk around).

Saturday is Christmas Day, and some of my readers may want to know where they can find a restaurant in Traverse City that’s open on Christmas (not as easy as you might think!) Here’s a list that the folks at the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau have put together.. it’s probably not complete, so if you know of any other places that are serving Christmas dinner, let me know and we’ll add it in! One thing you might want to know (if you don't already) is that Michigan state law prohibits the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day -- so don't expect your favorite bar or tavern to be open, and if enjoying an alcoholic beverage is an important part of your Christmas observance, you might want to stock up ahead of time.

Holiday Inn West Bay
Christmas Buffet featuring Prime Rib
Hours: Noon-5 pm
Great Wolf Lodge
Christmas Breakfast Buffet
Hours: 7:30 am-11am Reservations not necessary.
Adults-$9.95, kids 4-10yrs-$4.95, 3yrs and under are free
Christmas Dinner Buffet
Hours: 4 pm-9 pm
Adults-$19.95, teens 11-15yrs.-$12.95, kids 4-10yrs. $7.95, under 3 yrs. free
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
Aerie Restaurant-Brunch
Hours: 11 am-6 pm Reservations are highly recommended.
Adults-$22.95, kids 6-12yrs-$11.95, 6 yrs and under are free. Beverages, tax, and gratuities are not included in pricing above. Parties of 8 or more add 18% gratuity.
Sweetwater Café: 534-6000
Hours: Breakfast 7am-11:30am
Lunch-11:30am-5pm
Dinner-5pm-10pm
Shanty Creek Resorts
Lakeview Restaurant (reservations recommended)
Breakfast Buffet: 8am-12pm
Lunch: Noon-2pm
Dinner: 6pm-9pm Order off the menu, plus special holiday features.
Cambria Suites
Breakfast Buffet Hours: 7am-11am
Adults-$7.95, kids 10yrs & under ½ price.
Leelanau Sands Casino, Suttons Bay
Double Eagle Restaurant
Hours: 8 am-10 pm
Turtle Creek Casino, Williamsburg
Bourbon 72
Breakfast-7:30 am-11 am
Lunch 11:30 am-3 pm
Dinner 5 pm-10 pm