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Exploring Michigan’s Traverse City Region

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Old Mission Lighthouse

Baby boomer travelers, is a trip to Michigan’s Traverse City on your travel list? You’re in luck. In today’s guest post, Laura Martone, author of Moon Michigan, gives us the scoop and a chance to win her book. Remember when Laura offered boomer travel advice about visiting the Florida Keys for My Itchy Travel Feet? Sit back and enjoy Laura’s take on visiting Traverse City and beyond:

Now that summer is upon us, it’s an excellent time to savor the mild temperatures and diverse landscapes of the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Traverse City – the self-proclaimed “cherry capital of the world” and home to the upcoming National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival – serves as an ideal home base for baby boomer travelers to explore an assortment of cultural and recreational activities, from the Interlochen Center for the Arts to the Loda Lake National Wildflower Sanctuary. Here are just a few more of the nearby diversions worth your time:

Tasting Wines on the Old Mission Peninsula

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Chateau Traverse

From Traverse City, you can easily drive or ride a bike (yours or a rental) to the Old Mission Peninsula, a bucolic 17-mile-long sliver of land that divides Grand Traverse Bay into its East and West Arms. Besides historic landmarks like the Old Mission General Store and the Old Mission Point Lighthouse, baby boomer travelers will find seven picturesque wineries, all of which offer complimentary tastings. Although you might not have time to visit all seven, be sure to stop by Chateau Grand Traverse and Chateau Chantal, each of which features an informative tour and an on-site inn. Boomer bicyclists may also appreciate the peninsula, with its rolling hills and stunning bay views.

Voyaging Across Grand Traverse Bay

While exploring the Old Mission Peninsula, you’re likely to spot numerous sailboats and other vessels in Grand Traverse Bay, especially on a sunny afternoon. For a closer view of the water, head back to Traverse City, where you can go for a swim at one of several beaches, rent a kayak or paddle boat from Sail & Power Boat Rental, or embark upon a two-hour voyage aboard the Tall Ship Manitou, a majestic replica of a 19th-century cargo schooner. Through the Tall Ship Traverse Co., boomers can also opt for specialty trips, such as a wine-tasting cruise or, if you have the time, a four-day sailing adventure.

Climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Sleeping Bear Dunes

Once you’re back on dry land, head west to the shores of Lake Michigan, where you’ll find Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Encompassing rocky beaches, hardwood forests, peaceful farms, and inland lakes, the park also features the largest freshwater dunes in North America. Take some time to embrace the strenuous Dune Climb (a fun adventure for active baby boomers) which affords marvelous vistas of Glen Lake. To combat the often hot sand, I recommend wearing a solid pair of sneakers, then cooling off with a swim in North Bar Lake. Other attractions include the seven-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive; the former logging village of Glen Haven, which contains a blacksmith shop, cannery boathouse, and general store; the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum; and the offshore South Manitou Island, where you can have a picnic, tour the lighthouse, and hike to various historic structures.

Touring the Leelanau Peninsula

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Cherry Republic

Driving east from Glen Haven, you’ll encounter the town of Glen Arbor, where the popular Cherry Republic provides a cornucopia of gourmet, cherry-flavored products, from cookies to salsa to wine. The lush property also includes a rustic eatery and a separate tasting room. Beyond Glen Arbor, a tour of the Leelanau Peninsula includes photo-worthy stops like Leland’s restored “Fishtown”; Lake Leelanau, popular with anglers and paddlers; and the lovely Grand Traverse Lighthouse, established in 1858. Also on the peninsula are numerous wineries, including the Ciccone Vineyard and Winery, owned by the parents of pop icon Madonna, and Black Star Farms, which also offers a distillery, creamery, and bed-and-breakfast. From here, it’s just a 14-mile drive back to Traverse City, where baby boomer travelers can enjoy a pleasant stroll through the downtown district, home to quaint shops and a historic opera house.

Have you been to Traverse City? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

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