Short on time for your upcoming trip to Traverse City, Michigan? Here’s a perfect weekend Itinerary for 2 days in Traverse City.
I have to admit, when I first started planning my trip to this town in northern Michigan, I knew very little! I heard this region was known for cherries, and I heard chatter about its up-and-coming wine region. However, I’m happy to report that after just 2 days in Traverse City, my mind was blown! Read below for all the details of this Traverse City itinerary-
After reading this article, check out my guide to Mackinac Island, Michigan (one of the most popular summer destinations in the U.S.)!
Plan Your 2 Days in Traverse City
When to Visit
The best weather in Traverse City is from June to August. Equally as nice is May when spring flowers are in bloom, and during fall in September and October, you can find beautiful fall foliage. If you don’t want to freeze, avoid winter!
For the best hotel rates with nice weather conditions, visit during the middle of May before Memorial Day and after Labor Day through the end of October. We visited in the middle of May and saw less crowds, had great weather, and snagged a great hotel rate!
Getting to Traverse City
- Fly: If you’re coming from farther away, flying will be your best option! You can fly into the Cherry Capital Airport (TVC). The Cherry Capital Airport is a full-service commercial airport serving over 15+ cities with non-stop direct flights across the United States. The airport is conveniently located only 10-15 minutes from downtown Traverse City.
- Drive: Traverse City is a comfortable driving distance from many cities in the Midwest. As you get closer to Traverse City, it’s fun to watch the scenery change to vineyards, rolling foothills, and orchards of cherry trees. It’s the perfect weekend getaway!
Should I Rent a Car in Traverse City?
Yes, I highly recommend renting a car for Traverse City. Parking spots downtown were easy to find and you can pay with a credit card at a meter. Most hotels in Traverse City typically include complimentary parking as part of your nightly rate. Any day trips to wineries or the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park will require a car.
Where to Stay During 2 Days in Traverse City
Chateau Chantal B&B – Boutique Luxury
The elaborate 11 room bed and breakfast at the Chateau Chantal Winery is situated on a hill overlooking vineyards and the Grand Traverse Bay. A getaway at Chateau Chantal combines everything you need for a perfect relaxing vacation: a winery, vineyard, gorgeous rooms, and delicious food.
All the rooms are named after impressionist artists, and each is individually decorated with elegant furniture. The inn itself offers fireplaces, breakfasts, and a friendly staff who will be glad to help with any other arrangements. After a long day exploring the vineyards, cherry orchards and dunes, this B&B Is the perfect place to come back to and truly unwind with a glass of wine and a lovely view from the hilltop.
Rooms book up fast during the summer months. You can look at available rooms and rates here.
2 Days in Traverse City: Day 1 – Wine Tasting and Sightseeing Along the Old Mission Peninsula
Winemakers have a saying that “grapes grow in beautiful places”. The Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, which locals refer to as “Old Mission”, lives up to that saying.
Traverse City runs through the 45th Parallel, the same as the Bordeaux wine-growing region in France. Ten wineries make up the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail. The Old Mission Peninsula is small enough to cover in a day since it’s only 19 miles long and three miles wide.
Wine grapes, tart cherries, apples, and peaches are among the many fruits that love growing in this region. Therefore, you can’t miss wine tasting along the Old Mission Peninsula! Read on for my favorite wineries (with the best views) in the Old Mission Peninsula.
Brunch at The Town Plaza
Before a day of wine tasting, start your day with a filling brunch! The Town Plaza is known for its comfortable outdoor seating and innovative brunch menu that changes seasonally. They are famous for their pork-centric dishes including Tasso Benedict—Tasso ham, English muffin, poached egg, Cajun sauce, and potato.
Swing by the Mission Point Lighthouse
Start your day on the Old Mission Peninsula by driving up to the top and work your way down. The Mission Point Lighthouse is at the very north end of M-37. You’ll pass by cherry tree orchards and vineyards on your drive up through the Old Mission Peninsula.
Don’t Miss Seeing This: The Mission Point Lighthouse at the peninsula’s tip is on the 45th parallel, which marks the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole. You can take a photo of where the line is!
My Top 3 Wineries on Old Mission
Chateau Chantal – Famous for their Ice Wine!
Chateau Chantal has everything you could want: a beautiful French-style inn, cooking classes, jazz, wine dinners, and cellar tours. If you’re just dropping in for a visit, I recommend ordering a flight to try a variety of the wines. Our favorite was “Celebrate” which we ended up purchasing a bottle of to bring with us up to Mackinac Island!
Chateau Chantal is Michigan’s oldest ice wine producer! Ice wine is made from grapes that have been partially frozen on the vine. Chateau Chantal has been making ice wine since the early 1990’s. Michigan’s climate in this region is one of the few areas in the U.S. that’s ideally suited for the production of ice wine. Save a glass for dessert – it’s sweet but so delicious.
Bonoboo Winery – Best Sparkling Wines and Tasting Room
Bonoboo Winery offers their guests a relaxing atmosphere with fantastic artisan wines made on site. A few of their most popular wines are their Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. This year they just released a new Sauvignon Blanc made from the winery’s own grapes.
What sets Bonoboo apart from the other wineries on Old Mission are their sparkling wines! They make a crisp and refreshing Blanc de Blancs, and a Sparkling Rosé with a smooth dry finish. Both were spectacular and perfect for enjoying on their patio. These were the best sparkling wines we found out of any of the wineries we visited on Old Mission.
I really enjoyed the layout and design of the Bonoboo Tasting room. They have a spacious deck with comfortable furniture on a warm day, or a cozy inside that’s warm and inviting. Bonoboo’s tasting room was specifically designed to provide separate, private areas for groups and couples to hang out while tasting.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery – Best Frosé
At over 111 acres, Brys Estate Vineyard is one of the largest vineyards and wineries on Old Mission. I loved their outdoor deck that has gorgeous panoramic views of the vineyards and the Grand Traverse Bay.
Brys has a wide selection for their wine tasting flights and charcuteries if you’re hungry. Brys Estate has a focus on red wines, but features a wide variety of vintages. They are also one of the few wineries that serves a fantastic frosé!
Walkthrough the Cherry Orchards
Traverse City is known as the “Cherry Capital of the World”. Even the airport is called Cherry Capital Airport! The five counties around Traverse City make up the region that produces 40 percent of the annual cherry crop in the United States.
The Old Mission Peninsula is lined with beautiful rows of cherry trees.Take a moment and pull over and take in the beauty of the cherry trees and rolling hills.
Dinner at Trattoria Stella
If you can only eat at one place in Traverse City, make it Trattoria Stella. Trattoria Stella has everything you could want in a restaurant: friendly and knowledgeable service, a cozy and intimate setting, and a menu that will blow you away.
Located at the beautiful and historic Grand Traverse Commons, the restaurant has a cozy intimate feel. Exposed brick and hidden alcoves to dine in make you feel like you are in Italy as soon as you sit down.
They offer about five different seasonal kinds of pasta each night. One of their signature dishes is the grilled octopus. The octopus at Stella’s simmers for 6 hours before getting grilled for the perfect combo of tender and charred. If you haven’t had octopus before, this is the perfect place to try it!
I loved dining here because it gives you a chance to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!
Traverse City Weekend: Day 2 – Explore Downtown and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Brunch at Brasserie Amie
Start your day with brunch at an award-winning Parisian restaurant, Brasserie Amie. The decor here is charming and chic, and the staff was so welcoming. They have an extensive list of specialty coffees and french inspired cocktails. Don’t miss trying their signature crème brûlée latte – a vanilla latte with a caramel crust made by using a culinary torch to caramelize the sugar. The poached eggs with smoked salmon were also delicious!
Downtown Traverse City reminds me of the iconic “small town USA” feel. You can browse local independently owned bookstores or antique stores. In July, it’s the main location for the beloved National Cherry Festival that draws thousands of visitors every year.
Ice Cream at Moomer’s
Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream is the perfect stop on your way to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
Their family-run kitchen makes over 160 different flavors of ice cream with 20 rotating flavors available daily. Moomer’s signature flavor is Cherries Moobilee, a mix of black cherry-flavored ice cream with chunks of black and red cherries, chocolate fudge swirl, and chunks of homemade brownies.
Can’t decide? Order one of their ice cream flights and try five different flavors!
Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes
In 2011, Good Morning America called Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in the United States. I knew I had to visit this northwest corner of Michigan for myself to see what the excitement was all about. You could spend 2-3 days camping and exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes. However, if you’re looking to see the main highlights of the area, you can’t miss hiking the Empire Bluff Trail and taking the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
Empire Bluff Trail
This 1.5 mile hike is one of Michigan’s most popular hikes! The views at the top are spectacular overlooking Lake Michigan. There’s plenty of parking at the base of the hiking trail and benches at the top to enjoy the views.
This trail does have a couple of areas with steeper climbs but is overall it is a good family-friendly hike. The hiking trail is easy and well maintained. The flat gravel path that was added is smooth enough that it can be walked in almost any footwear.
I loved this beautiful 7.4-mile loop with stunning panoramas of the dunes, Lake Michigan and Glen Lake. They have so many scenic outlooks to stop at and take in the views, it will be hard to pick your favorite!
I recommend stopping at Stop #1 to see the Covered Bridge and Stop #9 for the Lake Michigan Outlook. We stopped at the Lake Michigan Outlook near sunset, and it was beautiful to watch the sun sink into the lake on top of the sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.
There is an entry fee of $25 per vehicle, that is valid for 7 days.
Dinner at The Little Fleet
In downtown Traverse City, the Little Fleet is a collection of food trucks that reflects the diverse restaurant culture of Traverse City. Run by local entrepreneurs, you’ll find food trucks with food from brick oven pizzas to BBQ. The pizzas from Traverse City Pizza Company, and burgers from Glendale Ave. were two of our favorites!
There’s a spacious patio seating area with a fire pit and full bar. We saw so many locals with their pets enjoying a summer night out. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for a relaxing casual spot for dinner in Traverse City. You can visit their website here for a full list of their food trucks and events!
2 Days Traverse City Weekend Itinerary: Summary
Traverse City is one of the few places I’ve been that has retained its “real American small town” feel with a thriving community that continues to grow. Bon Appétit named Traverse City one of America’s “Five Top Foodie Towns,”. Even with almost 40 vineyards, and wineries Traverse City is just as well known for its microbreweries and micro-distilleries.
The glacier-carved landscape that results in rolling hills lined with cherry trees is truly spectacular. Traverse City is the perfect place to be outside – whether it’s on a hiking trail or at the beach. Even with just 2 days Traverse City, I guarantee your heart will quickly be captivated , and you will leave already making plans to return back as soon as possible.
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