10 Non-Alcoholic Activities in the Traverse City, Michigan Area

When people visit the Traverse City area, they are bombarded with activity suggestions like the following the Wine Trail or the kayak brewery tour. All of the hype seems to be centered around these activities leaving non-drinkers to wonder if there are any non-alcoholic activities to enjoy in the area.

So what’s a person to do if they are pregnant or aren’t a drinker? Can you still enjoy visiting this area?

I’m happy to tell you there are lots of activities to enjoy in the area that don’t involve drinking. Here are a few ideas to help you start planning your trip!

10 Non-Alcoholic Activities in the Traverse City, Michigan Area:

1 – Old Mission Peninsula & Lighthouse

One of our favorite destinations in this area is Old Mission Peninsula. There are lots of activities here including seeing the lighthouse, dipping your toe into Lake Michigan, hiking, and the beautiful drive.

Even if you aren’t partaking in the wine, the wineries and the grape vines are breathtaking. Every hill you crest brings an even more stunning view, making this a great place for a leisurely drive.

If you’d like to see one of our adventures on this Peninsula, check out the video below.

Old Mission Peninsula Mi - Lavender Ice Cream, Lighthouse, Wine Trail
Watch this video on YouTube.

2 -Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Grand Traverse Lighthouse is at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula and is another lovely destination. You can take a tour of this lighthouse and walk the grounds. There are lots of great photo locations here! They also have a museum and a gift shop.

Michigan has done a wonderful job of preserving their historic lighthouses and they all have their own distinct character. They are truly national treasures and are worth visiting.

3 -Tall Ships Cruise

Tall Ship Manitou is a replica of an 1800’s “coasting” cargo schooner, similar to those that used to sail the Great Lakes long ago. They have some cruises that include dinner and drinks but they also have a dinner cruise which allows you to bring along your own food as well as one which features Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream which looks amazing. You can see which options are available and even book your tickets on their site.

4 -Farmer’s Market

The Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market features local produce, baked goods, flowers and plants during the following days and times:

  • Saturdays starting in May through October – 7:30 am to Noon
  • Wednesdays starting in June through September – 8:00am to Noon

They started out with only 10 vendors but at the time of writing this, it has now grown to be one of the top 3 largest markets in Michigan, and the largest growers only market. They feature over 115 local area farmers throughout the season.

The market takes place in parking lot “B” at the southwest corner of Cass and Grandview Parkway in Downtown Traverse City, however, during the National Cherry Festival it is moved to the Old Town Parking Garage. For more information, you can check out their website.

5 -Kayaking & Paddle Boarding

The water sources in Traverse City abound, making it a wonderful place to take out your kayak or paddleboard. You can rent kayaks all around the city and can take them out on organized tours, many of which contain stops at breweries.

However, there are plenty of waterways in the area where you can enjoy a paddle that don’t include alcohol. There are options for all experience levels. You can choose anything from leisurely paddle on a river or stream all the way to a more adventurous paddle on Lake Michigan or Grand Traverse Bay.

For a great compilation of places to kayak/paddleboard, check out this post from TraverseCity.com.

6 – Peterson Park (10001 East Peterson Park Road, Northport, MI 49670)

Another quiet place to visit is Peterson Park on the Leelanau Peninsula. This park has a beautiful overlook area from which you can see North Manitou Island. This is a great place to stargaze and to view the Northern Lights when they are visible.

It also has stairs leading to the rocky beach below. This is a great place to go if you’re looking for unique rocks that have been washed up with the tides the night before. We hear it’s well known as a good spot for finding Petoskey stones!

The park also has a nice picnic area, vault toilets, and a play area for children. We have visited several times and it hasn’t ever been very crowded.

7 -Sutton’s Bay

If you’re looking for a quaint village that is highly walkable and is filled with shops, galleries, restaurants, and more, Sutton’s Bay is a great stop. Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, this town is a quintessential Michigan coastal destination.

It also features several inns and B&Bs if you’d like to use this location as the home base for your trip.

Check out their event calendar to determine a good time to visit. Being in Michigan’s wine country, they do have several events which cater to this crowd; however, they also have sidewalk sales and art festivals which might be more to your liking.

You can learn more about the area and all it has to offer here.

8 -The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

A unique, historical destination to visit in Traverse City is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Formerly the Northern Michigan Asylum, this compound is surprisingly fun to visit. The basement of the main building has been restored and is filled with shops and restaurants which are open to the public.

On your first visit, it can be a bit confusing to know where to park or how to enter the building. There are parking lots all around the complex but what gave us pause was trying to figure out which door to enter. It wasn’t obvious!

We took a chance and parked in front of what looked like the main building (it was the biggest one we found.) After exploring a bit, we found that there are several doors you can enter which all lead to the same place. The basement of the large building has the majority of the shops but you can check out this interactive map if you’re looking for anything specific to explore.

For history buffs, they also offer several different tours of the complex that look like like a blast. We definitely want to go back up to try out their twilight tour!!!

Be sure to drive around because there is more to explore than you might first realize including a community garden, hiking & biking trails, bocce ball courts, and more. It’s definitely worth a visit and was our favorite spot to check out inside of Traverse City proper.

10 – Hiking

There are lots of amazing hiking trails in the Traverse City area. We have personally enjoyed many of the trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, which is about 30 miles west of the city.

If you’d like to see more details about a few of the trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, check out the video below.

Hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Empire Bluff & Pyramid Point Trails
Watch this video on YouTube.

There are also plenty of other trails in and around Traverse City including some on the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the Traverse City site for an extensive list.

9 – Biking (TART Trail)

Like other areas in Northern Michigan, Traverse City has done an excellent job of providing lots of wonderfully maintained bike paths. The 10.5 mile long Traverse Area Recreation Trail (TART) goes through the downtown area and provides a safe path to several parks, restaurants, shops, and the beach.

Parking is available in several lots along the trail. For detailed info, check out their website.

If you’d like to see some of our adventures while staying in Traverse City, check out the video below.

We've never done this before + Our weekend in Traverse City, Michigan
Watch this video on YouTube.

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