Well hello, big PTO spender! Sounds like you’re taking an extra day to make it a long weekend. With the luxury of three days, you’ll have the wiggle room to explore, to rest and to even venture off the itinerary. Sounds thrilling! Adventurous! And most of all, sounds like more meal times for eating vacation food. #thedietstartstomorrow #ornever
Eat/drink: Fuel up at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons just west of downtown. Have a sit-down breakfast at Red Spire Brunch House or grab a breakfast pastry and coffee to-go at Pleasanton Bakery and Higher Grounds Coffee.
Explore: Book a historic tour of “The Commons” (local speak) in advance. You’ll end the 2-ish-hour tour in the Mercato -- the lower level of interesting shops and restaurants.
Eat/drink: Drive or bike over to The Filling Station Microbrewery on the Boardman Lake south of downtown. Enjoy a pint and a flatbread pizza.
Hike/paddle: Take a scenic walk on the TART Trail around the Boardman Lake or plan ahead with another mode of transportation. Kayaks, SUP boards and bikes are all available to rent. Paddle your way into town or bike along the paved section of the Boardman Lake trail.
Shop: Whether you came by car, bike or water, it’s time to wander Front Street. There are 150 different shops, galleries and restaurants to explore.
Eat: It’s evening in downtown Traverse City. Let your nose dictate where dinner needs to happen. You’ll know when you know. (But often we know to chow down at Spark’s BBQ, Cooks House or Harvest.)
Nightcap: Grab a drink, listen to some live piano and watch the town from above at Top of the Park (aka, the top floor of the Park Place Hotel).
Drive: Time to tour Old Mission Peninsula. Whether you’re a wine sipper or not (there are about 10 tasting rooms on this peninsula alone) this stretch of land is stunning. Stop in at the General Store for an old-fashioned road snack or lavender ice cream at Brys Estate’s Secret Garden.
Eat/drink: If you’re into charcuterie and cheese plates, the wineries kill it. Share some apps and head back downtown for an early dinner.
Stroll: Before dinner, wander into the historic residential areas of downtown Traverse City. Sixth Street, a cobblestone stretch along the Boardman River, is lined with Victorian mansions that once housed the wealthy lumber barons (including our town founder, Perry Hannah).
Eat/drink: For an affair you won’t forget anytime soon, try Alliance in the Warehouse District. The experience is magical, and the food a lovely representation of the region’s bounty. Definitely make a reservation at least a week out. Prefer casual? Head just next door to the Workshop Brewing Co. or North Peak Brewing Co. back on Front Street.
State Theatre movie: A classic, and too often missed by visitors. Finish dinner with popcorn and a movie under the famous star ceilings (they were made to imitate the stars over West Bay). Don’t forget to check the movie lineup at the equally-charming Bijou By the Bay.
Eat/Drink: Head downtown for a big or little breakfast. Green House Café on Front Street has everything breakfast lovers want, including gigantic muffins. For a quick coffee and pastry, stop into Good Harbor Coffee & Bakery on Front Street. And for an Omelette, you can’t go wrong at The Omelette Shop on Cass Street.
Pack lunch to-go: Walk into Folgarelli’s and you’re walking back in time to Old World Italy. The massive sandwiches are picnic perfect for heading to the dunes. Don’t forget to peruse the cookie counter.
Explore: Time to get your dune on! Gear up for a 45-minute drive out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Not sure how you want to experience it? Make a pit stop at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire.
Duning: Keep at it, baby! Crack into those sammies anytime now.
Drive: As you head back to Traverse City, cut through Leelanau Peninsula by way of Lake Leelanau. Make a leisurely stop in Suttons Bay and enjoy the beer garden at Hop Lot Brewery.
Eat/Drink: Time for a great meal to cap off a long weekend. For a water view, try Apache Trout Grill at the base of Leelanau Peninsula, for a downtown experience try Taproot or make one last drive up Old Mission to the Boathouse Restaurant.
Chill: Soak up the last few moments of vacationland with a little sunset action. Grab a bench at the Open Space and let the golden hour begin.