Vitamin N: nature. It fills our spirits and makes our bodies strong. And for visitors to the Traverse City area, a beautiful and health-giving year-round daily dose is readily had. Here’s our punch list of possibilities for getting outdoors in every season.
Spring fills the forest floor with wildflowers, trees with migrating songbirds and orchards with blossoms. Celebrate the season at Empire’s Asparagus Festival, Old Mission Peninsula’s Blessing of the Blossoms and the Bayshore Marathon.
Morel mushroom hunting: Roam the spring woodlands in search of this renowned delicacy. State and federal lands, like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, are open to mushroom hunting.
Birding: The Great Lakes shores are internationally known flyways for the great spring migration. Grab your binoculars and head to the national park or state lands at the tips of Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas, where land narrows and funnels the bird traffic!
Fly-fishing: The season opens on the last weekend of April. Don the waders and wet a line in the Boardman River, a Blue Ribbon trout steam. Or head east an hour to the legendary waters of the Au Sable River (where Trout Unlimited was founded), and the Manistee River.
Wining: May is Michigan Wine Month -- also known as Traverse City Uncorked -- and with about 40 wineries dotting the shoreline, the Traverse City area is the destination for sipping. Wander the vineyards of the Traverse Wine Coast and spot the cherries on their way in the fields of blossoms.
Summer puts TC’s natural glories on full display. Sparkling water, beaches, trail time -- grab hold! Find festivals big and small; from the week-long spectacle of Americana at the National Cherry Festival to one-day wine fests and weekend art fests in TC and Leelanau County’s harbor towns.
Biking: Road riders trace the twisty two-lanes of Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas and roll along safe, car-free paved bike trails, while mountain bikers seek the rolling, winding singletrack of the Vasa Trails. Rent at Brick Wheels and McLain Cycle.
Fishing: World-renowned fishing on Lake Michigan and inland lakes keeps anglers entranced. Go big: charter a captained boat for salmon and lake trout on the big water from Traverse City and Leelanau ports. Go peaceful: cast for panfish from a canoe in a motorless lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.
Hiking: Wander dozens of miles of trails near Traverse City. Right in town, find paths through hilly forest, wetland and meadow areas at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Discover dozens more beautiful, lightly traveled trails on the websites of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Leelanau Conservancy.
Boating: Sailboats, powerboats, canoes, paddleboards ... launch your water craft of choice on the clear, cool waters of the Traverse City area. A gorgeous bay, a Great Lake, rivers, and clean inland lakes await. Rent at TC Watersports.
The arrival of fall’s cool days, brilliant forest colors and the scent of fallen leaves brings fresh excitement to days outdoors in search of vitalizing Vitamin N.
Color tour hiking: Step into forests glowing yellow and red and with air tinted with autumn’s scent. Pair forest with shore on trails at the tip of Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula and in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Lots more winding, peaceful pathways on websites of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Leelanau Conservancy.
Hunting: With hundreds of square miles of public lands nearby, Traverse City draws hunters looking to engage in the timeless rite of the chase, while bonding with friends and family during rich days outdoors.
Cycling amid the colors: Take in autumn’s scent while pedaling safe, car-free bike trails: Sleeping Bear’s Heritage Trail, the Leelanau Trail to Suttons Bay, or the TART Trail right in TC. Mountain bike at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, the Vasa or tip of Old Mission Peninsulas. Rentals at Brick Wheels and McClain Cycle.
Fishing: When water temps drop, fish feed with gusto, and fall-run salmon nose up-river. The fish frenzy fuels the fever dreams of fishermen, who head to the waters seeking the thrill of the strike. Find big water charters in TC and Leelanau ports, or back your boat trailer up to one of dozens of launches within a half hour of downtown.
In TC, snowfall is plenty and nearby lakes freeze solid, so winter devotees find plenty to love. Winter fests like the Vasa cross-country ski race and the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race at Timber Ridge Resort bring people together to share a passion for snow, but so often, folks just head out with a friend or two to immerse in winter’s quiet crispness.
Snowshoe: It’s safe (little chance of falling--especially if you use poles) and tailored to your level of fitness (go slow or bust it out). Easy, pretty trails at Boardman River Nature Center or hillier at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Rentals at Backcountry North.
Ski: Downhillers head to nearby Shanty Creek Resorts and Mt. Holiday. The XC set finds joy on the perfectly cared for Vasa Trail or user-tracked trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Rentals at the resorts.
Snowmobiling: With hundreds of miles of groomed sledder trails within each reach of Traverse City, snowmobilers basecamp here and spend days powering through the snowy forest. Rent and access the trails at Ranch Rudolf.