Traverse City in the Winter: The Romantic Getaway you Never Knew You’ve Always Wanted
Rejuvenating, peaceful, and timely are what come to mind when I think back on our getaway to Traverse City last weekend.
There’s this thing called rest and it was calling our names by way of crashing waves, vineyard wine, mouth-watering food and coffee, bonfires, sports activities, and relaxing massages – Traverse City Winter Style.
Do you go up north during the winter? If not, you should; it may prove to be the treat you never knew you’ve always wanted.
I told my hubby I wished someone was filming us as we walked through the Leelanau Valley View Condo Suit at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. As we opened the door we both blurted out,
Because it would have captured our truly genuine, raw, in the moment response.
We were so excited because it was a loft-style layout – our dream-home vibe we’re planning to live in someday! It was so fun to spend the weekend in a place like this.
It felt similar to an Airbnb experience but with the amenities of a resort.
We immediately settled in and cozied up by the fire. We knew this would be an awesome trip but we were shocked that we would need to be disciplined with our time, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have left our suite.
- 2 bed
- 2-1/2 bath
- Living room
- Dining room
- Full kitchen
- 2 balconies with multiple seating
- Views of the golf course and bays
- Privacy shades throughout
- Robes to wear during your stay
Bonus: Here are seasonal packages that offer discounted rates + coupons for many other places around the Traverse City area.
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, I’d recommend securing your lodging soon, as places book quickly.
The Food & Drinks
Traverse City has nailed “dining and drinks during a pandemic.” Kudos to you, TC!
The only thing I wish I knew is that we should make reservations at any place we want to actually dine. Although many restaurants could potentially be walk-in, Traverse City is still poppin’ in winter and making a reservation is key if you want an igloo or shanty.
Here’s our food itinerary:
We did think to make reservations at one of the highlights of our trip – Chateau Chantal. Located on the Peninsula between the East and West Bays, they have placed their igloos on both sides of the chateau so no matter which igloo you choose, the views are stunning.
Bill was so friendly and assured us his main goal was to help us pick the wines we would personally love. Turns out he was right, because we took two bottles home with us. One was their Celebrate sparkling wine, as Bill reminded us that every day we wake up should be a celebration.
And we can all cheers to that!
15900 Rue de Vin
Traverse City, MI 49686
The Good Bowl
Vietnamese food is like a treat for my husband and me, so it almost felt like dessert (don’t worry we still had dessert, too). Take-out-to-dine-in was amazing when it meant we got to eat in our cozy condo suite with a view!
|The Good Bowl|
328 East Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49684
We didn’t actually get to eat here this time around but I’d highly recommend making a reservation to Hopscotch Their vibe is so adorable! You can just feel the cozy romantic atmosphere from the parking lot. Plus, who doesn’t love brick oven pizza? GF options are available as well.
2032 US-31, Traverse City, MI 49686
Taproot Cider House
I don’t think there will be a trip to Traverse City that we won’t eat at Taproot Cider House. It’s now become our go-to spot! We loved the vibe last year when concerts were available and dining inside was a thing. But the food is just as delightful and held up that same warm feeling just fine in our own car.
And you guys! We ate our burgers with so much wonder and astonishment at it’s deliciousness that people passing by were looking at us funny. We had no shame though…cause that burger was GOOD!
|Taproot Cider House|
300 E Front St, Traverse City MI 49684
You don’t think of a salad as a stand out meal but the flavor profile of their Filetto di Insalata (Filet Salad) made this place the highlight of the trip, food wise. Crunchy, savory, sweet, and the mixture of flavors was like a warm blanket of goodness as we cozied into our night in.
It’s beautiful inside and I can imagine going back for dine-in some day.
BONUS: We got a pleasant surprise when we went to check out – entrees are buy one get one free while our state continues phases of reopening.
242 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Higher Grounds Coffee
I wouldn’t call us coffee snobs so much as coffee adventurers. We love trying new things and believe it or not, we hadn’t been to Higher Grounds yet! Every time we visit TC we just miss them and they’ve been closed. This time around we made sure to plan our timing.
They’ve decked out their outdoor space with heaters and a burning wood bonfire. This made waiting for our coffee just as intimate as sitting down to enjoy it together.
Just sitting with coffee for however long we wanted, no pressing time frame or kids to attend to, it was such a special moment.
OH! And their coffee is delicious, but I probably don’t have to tell you that right? If you haven’t been yet, give yourself a treat and check it out next time you’re there.
|Higher Grounds Coffee|
806 Red Drive, Ste. 150, Traverse City, MI 49684
Jack’s – Room Service at the Grand Traverse Hotel and Spa
Room service isn’t usually something we do, we love getting out to see the local cuisine but this day was special. We decided to get breakfast ordered in on Sunday morning before our massages. It was perfection, you guys. To wake up, snuggle in on the couch in the robes provided, sip coffee, and hear a knock on the door…”Room service!”
It was wonderful to have had breakfast and be ready to head down through the underground tunnel leading to the spa. Cozy, warm, and bellies full.
Fun Note: On our drive up, we toted a charcuterie “box” my sister made for us.
It was the PERFECT way to eat on the drive and be ready for a good dinner once we arrived. If you’re interested in taking a box like this with you, try Nibble and Nosh GR.
I’ve been so excited to tell you guys about this part! My husband kept saying, “we’re like kids without the kids!”
And he was right.
We played and played and I’m convinced that “recess” for adults should be a thing.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old…we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw
Here’s the fun we got into:
Tubing Down Mt. Holiday
If you want a good laugh, check out our Traverse City trip highlights. I let out screams of joy down their hill and I’m not at all ashamed to say it!
“See, THIS is why Michiganders love winter!” I told my smiling California-native husband at the top of the hill.
When we arrived, walking to the tubing hill was serene with a scent of a bonfire in the distance and surrounding conifers.
But the real vibe-setters of this experience were the staff. From the person who hooks up your tube and the guys at the top gustily whipping you down the hill – their conversation and humor set the tone of the day of pure fun!
Once you’re done tubing you can enjoy their new Winter Garden where you can grab a wine, cocoa, and snacks then sit by the bonfire to take it all in.
(Thanks Mt. Holiday! You guys are day makers!)
-Make a reservation.
-If you love twinkling lights go at night. Mt. Holiday is lit up at night and has a light tunnel over the hill.
-Bring cash for the Winter Garden snacks bevys.
3100 Holiday Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Axe Throwing in The Den at Grand Traverse Resort
The Den = a getaway for the mind.
Axe throwing is legit SO MUCH FUN! We tried axe throwing for the first time ever and started out TERRIBLY. I’m laughing right now just thinking about it. After a few tries we both got bullseye over and over. I’m not sure why, but hitting the mark was extremely satisfying.
True to our nature, we spotted something else we had to try. So, we went on a trip to other planets, the sun, and the moon in their virtual reality pods.
It felt good to learn something new and laugh with my guy. With all of the tension in the world right now this was more than just an incredibly fun time (which it absolutely was). It was also such a healing relief to genuinely let go of the cares of the world for a moment and laugh, just the two of us.
Scenic Drive through Mission Peninsula and Sunset at Mission Point Lighthouse
Date night drives are kind of our thing…it’s where we dream, chat about future plans, and gaze at the beauty of our surroundings. It’s one of our date night suggestions actually, and this one tops the list!
We kept thinking that Traverse City should have a special name for this peninsula stretch because it’s just vineyard after vineyard with the bays to the east and west. With a blanket of snow, this could arguably be one of the most romantic drives in Michigan.
Coffees in hand, music filling your ears, and taking in this drive could be your best FREE winter date ever.
BUT WAIT. This destination is what truly stuns.
Mission Point Lighthouse itself is closed during the winter but that doesn’t stop tourists like us from visiting.
The beach in the winter was never something our family considered doing growing up. But a few winters ago, during a retreat on Lake Michigan, I decided to go check it out. Now, it’s an annual tradition of sorts. At some point during the winter, we make our way over or up. It has honestly been one of the reasons I look forward to winter now and helps keep spirits up.
If you haven’t done this yet, you really should. It may just restore your love for winter, as well.
And then we caught a spectactular sunset over Lake Michigan.
You won’t want to miss this. We timed our Chateau Chantal visit perfectly as to catch the sunset right at 5:38pm.
Here’s where you can find the look out as it’s not on an actual map:
|Mission Point Lighthouse|
20500 center road, Traverse City, MI 49686
More Things to Do in Traverse City
Snowshoe the Vasa or Local Tart Trail
We were looking forward to snowshoeing the Vasa Pathway but when we arrived there wasn’t enough snow. Still, I wanted to mention this because the Vasa is like a rite of passage for visiting Traverse City in the winter. If there is snow when you visit, you’ll want to make this part of your itinerary.
If the Vasa is too large to tackle right now, no worries – there are many other trails to choose from, some even including a wine tour!
You can rent snowshoes at the GTR Health Club.
|VASA Pathway/Tart Trails|
4450 Bartlett Rd, Williamsburg, MI 49690
Walk the Pier & Beach to see the Mural Art in Clinch Park Tunnel
With snowshoeing being out, we changed plans and went on a hunt for the breathtaking mural piece spanning the entire tunnel to Clinch Park.
We had heard of it but had never seen in in person and WOW.
I may be bias in that some of my ethnicity and history is Native American, but I’m pretty sure anyone who views this will take away the immensely felt love, passion, and color this artist conveys.
Tip: You’ll find this tunnel on the east end of the Clinch Park street parking lot right underneath of the big sign and across the street from the Bijou by the Bay.
111 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI, 49684
Get a Massage or Spa Treatment at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
I want to say I’ve saved the best for last but everything we did was so awesome! BUT what I can say is, this is best saved for last. After all of that playing, waking up on Sunday morning to a relaxing massage was perfection.
For parents with two kids with constant needs, this Sunday we felt so pampered and in total relaxation mode.
When you arrive you are to call before you enter the spa doors. The staff will let you know when it’s safe to walk in so you’ll be the only ones in the waiting room. Before you do so, you’ll be screened by a hands-free temperature doc.
Then you’ll head downstairs to a tranquil vibe and are given a silky weighted robe and sandals to slip into before your massage. Afterward, the dry sauna and health club are available for use.
***safety note: To be honest, I was a little nervous about getting a massage. But we were really happy to know that Grand Traverse Resort takes safety measures seriously and we felt safe the entire time because of the extra caution made and proper mask wearing.
If you’d like to go the extra mile (like we did) Nuunchi KF94 masks are the way to go. Their company is family owned and Hannah is one of my friends, so tell her hi for me ok?!
With valentines day coming up and a few months left of winter fun, I hope you guys get a chance to go up north and spend some quality, relaxing, rejuvenating time together!