Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need to escape the harsh realities of the world. So we decided to head to Traverse City, Michigan for a family trip on the lake! Traverse City is a 6 hour drive from Chicago. It seems like a lot, but it is totally doable. We did a lot of research leading up to the trip, and couldn’t wait to get out of the city. Something about a lake house is so soothing. We loaded up the car and headed to Michigan!
Where We Stayed
We booked a small cottage on VisitupNorth.com. It was perfect for us! We wanted something on a lake, with a grill and a nice patio. This home was available and checked all the boxes. We started looking on airbnb and VRBO, which led us to this company directly. Traverse City has lots of beautiful resorts and hotels, although I can’t speak to them.
Our house was on a small no-wake lake and was very private. The drive to Lake Michigan and the main area of town was only about 15 minutes. We loved the home we picked so much!
Where To Eat In Traverse City
We booked our trip knowing we wanted to grocery shop and grill most of our food. I think other people had the same idea, because it was so hard to find hamburgers in the grocery store!
We had the best time grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, corn, mixing up salads, and making s’mores by the fire on the lake. But we did go out for a few treats!
- Kilwin’s Ice Cream. A classic.
- Petosky Pretzel Company. Get the pepperoni pretza. You won’t be sorry.
- Doug Murdick’s Fudge
- Espresso Bay. They have the most unique latte flavors that I’ve ever seen!
- Moomer’s Ice Cream. So good we went twice.
- Grand Traverse Pie Company
Things To Do in Traverse City
- Wine Time! We visited Chateau Grand Traverse Winery and it was beautiful. Even the drive there was spectacular and so scenic. Despite what people say, we were able to go to one winery with the baby with no problems. I think more than one a day would have been too much for Sidney. We made sure to bring our picnic blanket so she could crawl around, and lots of snacks. Sidney had a ball people watching and playing outside. We ended up purchasing about 6 bottles of wine – my favorites are the Pinot Noir Rose Vin Gris and the Spiced Cherry Wine.
- Interlochen performing Arts Center. Dan went to camp here as a teen and I’ve always wanted to see the campus. Interlochen is an audition-only performing arts camp, specializing in music, acting, dancing, and visual arts for very talented kids. While the camp is currently closed due to Covid, they typically have performances in their gorgeous amphitheater, to which the public may attend. We need to get back to see a performance! We got to see Dan’s cabin, though!
- Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Warning – you need to be pretty fit to take this on. There is a scenic drive that we planned on taking, but when we found out it was closed we decided to try our best and hike up the dunes to see how far we got. Hence the dress instead of workout clothing, haha. We made it about 3/4 of the way up before Sidney had enough. You can always bring a picnic and see the dunes from the bottom. They are spectacular and worth seeing!
- Shopping. There are lots of cute shops and boutiques in the main drag of town. A couple of our favorites:
- Horizon Books
- Cherry Republic
- Hanging Out. One of my favorite parts about our trip was just hanging out at home with our little family. We sat outside by the lake, crawled around indoors, and enjoyed yummy meals together on the patio.
A few tips to keep you comfortable/things I wish someone had told us!
- Bring your own baby gear. Since we rented a home, they didn’t have all the things you need to keep a baby comfortable. We brought our own pack and play and a portable high chair (only $30 and a great investment).
- Our house didn’t have a bath tub, so we bathed Sidney in the sink. If a bath tub is important to you, make sure you double check before you rent.
- Fire Wood. Most lake houses have fire pits, but don’t provide kindling or fire wood. Put it on your shopping list, and well as a lighter and some newspaper.
- Bug spray. I got nailed sitting outside one evening. I recommend bringing bug spray – and remember to use it.
- Propane. Most of the rentals we looked at didn’t provide propane for the grill. Bring yours from home or plan to buy some when you get there.
Traverse City is an absolutely beautiful vacation destination. I haven’t felt so relaxed in a really long time. Our trip was the excuse I needed to slow down, breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy a getaway from reality.
Have you been to Traverse City before? Where is one of your favorite places to visit? Let me know in a comment below!