Berries, cherries and more near Traverse City

Berries, cherries and more near Traverse City

By Debra Karplus

Take a drive north to an area of Northwestern Michigan where you'll be equidistant from the equator and the North Pole. You'll discover recreation and camping, orchards and wineries, live music and art galleries, interesting restaurants, cafes and shops, and forest and lake-side scenery that will amaze you.

Traverse City and its neighboring communities around the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula have much to offer visitors year-round.

From Champaign-Urbana, there are many routes to take. Start by heading north on Interstate 57. You can take I-80 to I-94 driving along the east side of Lake Michigan. Merge onto I-196. Beyond that, there are several well-paved wide state roads that will get you to the Traverse City area in about seven hours, including a couple of short snack breaks, partly because of 70 mph speed limits in much of Michigan and Indiana.

The Traverse City area is the perfect vacation spot for enjoying picturesque scenery.

Summer sports and recreation abound in the area. You can water ski or Jet Ski, swim, rent a boat or go rafting. Bring fishing gear. Rent a bicycle or bring your own. Or experience horseback riding.

Those who can brave the cold and snow of Northwestern Michigan will enjoy winter sports. Opportunities to rent a snow mobile, go hunting, ice fishing, and cross country or downhill skiing are ample.

Blueberries, cherries and grapes are major crops in the area. Visit one of the many wineries or go on a winery tour. You can even spend the night at the inn at Chateau Chantal's romantic winery and inn. See for information.

There are many other options for lodging in the Traverse City vicinity. For travel during peak summer months, be sure to book your accommodations early to assure vacancies. The area features numerous campgrounds and cabins and cottages for rent. For those needing less rustic sleeping quarters, try one of the many local motels and hotels or stay at a bed and breakfast establishment.

Or you can participate in the Keeper Program at the Mission Point Lighthouse, along Route 37, You take care of the lighthouse and pay a nominal fee for a stay in the furnished lighthouse living quarters.

Be sure to head down the road to the Old Mission General Store, where you're likely to find just about anything you might need to buy.

Indoor activities are plentiful in Northwestern Michigan, too.

With Northwestern Michigan College situated in Traverse City,, concerts and other activities can be enjoyed indoors. Also nearby is Interlochen Center for the Arts, Eat a light meal or ice cream at Buds across from the Interlochen campus.

Visit the town of Omena in near Sutton's Bay and explore the gallery or enjoy the fresh lake fish and salmon at the bar and grill called The Knot. Be sure to stop at Fishtown in Leland, Mich., on the way.

Pack your camera to capture some of the peninsula splendor of Michigan. A trip to the Traverse City area promises to delight you. Plan your next vacation now.

Debra Karplus is an occupational therapist living in Champaign. Learn more at

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ERE wrote on August 26, 2013 at 6:08 am
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Great article! Don't forget the spectacular Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore on the west side of Leelanau Peninsula. The dramatic nightly sunsets across Lake Michigan are best enjoyed from Empire, a funky, fun, and friendly village nestled in the middle of the national park.