The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.  

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT 
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY 
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY 
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

BRUNCH SPOT

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen (T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers; you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java; they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION 
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)

Moomers, Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Shop // Photo by Taylor Brown

The Little Fleet, Best Dog Friendly Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

LOCAL CIDERY
Tandem Ciders, Suttons Bay
Snag a picnic table beside the bright white barn turned cherished cidery, and order a winningly crisp Smackintosh.
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (2)
» Left Foot Charley, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL DINING DEALS AND SPECIALS
Mama Lu’s $2 Tuesday, Traverse City
$2 each from Labor Day to Memorial Day: Chef’s choice taco, pork rind, beer and whiskey shot.
» Bubba Time, Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Antrim 25, Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

LOCAL HARD CIDER
Left Foot Charley, Cinnamon Girl, Traverse City
Fresh apples from two farms on Old Mission Peninsula create this classic beauty with a warm and bubbly personality.
» Tandem Ciders, Smackintosh, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Xr Cyser, Beulah (3)

LOCAL PIZZA PLACE
The Filling Station, Traverse City
Is it a pizzeria that brews great beer or a brewery that makes unreal pizza?
» That’sa Pizza, 4 Locations, Traverse City & Acme (2)
» Peegeo’s, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL RIESLING
Chateau Grand Traverse, Late Harvest Riesling
From the founding winery of Old Mission Peninsula comes this great take on a local fave. Hints of apricot, melon, honey.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Late Harvest Riesling (2)
» Chateau Chantal, Late Harvest Riesling (3)

STORE FOR LOCAL BREWS
The Beverage Company, Traverse City
After 25 years in business, and with a name like Beverage Co., this team knows bevies. Special requests? Just ask.
» Lake Ann Grocery, Lake Ann (2)
» Tilley’s Party Store, Traverse City (3)

TACO
Carnitas, Spanglish
Corn tortillas topped with roasted pork, shredded cabbage, salsa verde, chopped onion and feta cheese. Order three. Eat with glee.
» Fish Taco, Mama Lu’s (2)
» Tacos, Agave Mexican Grill (3)

WINE STORE FOR LOCAL BOTTLES
The Blue Goat, Traverse City
Built in the 1880s, this iconic building was likely TC’s first general store. 130+ years later, people still visit for necessities (wine).
» The Beverage Company, Traverse City (2)
» Burritt’s, Traverse City (3)

WHITEFISH DIP
Carlson’s Fisheries, Leland
Made with fresh whitefish caught and smoked outside their door … Lake Michigan on a cracker.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

Best Northern Michigan People

BARBER
Kurt Johnson, Jon’s Barbershop, Suttons Bay
One of the sharpest scissor-hands east of the Mississippi, Kurt has found a fitting home (alongside Paul MacWilliams, Chip Smith and Mike Hill) at this classic Up North establishment.
» Allie Waite, Jude’s, Traverse City (2)
» Lindsay Pastor, M.O. Hair & Beauty Lounge (3)

BARTENDER/MIXOLOGIST
Chellsey Avalos, Paddle Hard Brewing, Grayling
She makes a point to get to know every customer who comes through the door and what they like. Remembers you when you come back. Has your refill before you ask. Cheers, Chellsey!
» Kelly Savich, Barley and Rye, Ludington (2)
» Tommy Nakhovanh, The Parlor, Traverse City (3)

BUILDER
» Socks Construction, Traverse City
The firm’s mantra: A desire to create spectacular architectural spaces that connect people to their communities and to nature. TC thanks you, Socks.
» Shugart Builders, Traverse City (2)
» Paul Maurer General Contracting, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL SOLO MUSICIAN
Levi Britton, Traverse City
When this Traverse City native and music legend (he’s toured with the Gin Blossoms, Pat Benatar, Peter Frampton, America, Lighthouse and way more) faced a life-threatening illness this winter, his hometown responded by putting his GoFundMe page over goal. Check out his FB page to see where he’ll be performing this summer. Glad you’re back at it, Levi!
» Joshua Davis, Traverse City (2)
» Miriam Pico, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL TV NEWS TEAM
9&10
Covering all corners of the North and its stories—big, cool, curious and sweet. Special shout out to Michelle Dunaway: Thanks for shining your camera and your smile on Traverse Magazine every month on the The Four!
» 7&4 (2)
» Michigan This Morning, Fox 32 (3)

REALTOR
Holly Hack EXIT Realty Paramount, Traverse City
Contemporary? Classic? Country? Cottage? Count on Holly to make your real estate wishes come true.
» Wally Kidd, Kidd & Leavy Real Estate, Walloon Lake (2)
» Weston Buchan, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors, Traverse City (3)

Dave Rommell, Best Fishing Charter Boat Captain // Photo by Jesse Green

Chellsey Avalos, Best Bartender // Photo by Jesse Green

FISHING CHARTER BOAT CAPTAIN
Dave Rommell, Tiny Bubbles Charter, Frankfort
Captain Rommell guarantees you’ll come back with a catch. Fish on.
» Bill Wright, Leland Fishing, Leland (2)
» Chien Nowland, Nauti-Cat, Traverse City (3)

HIGH SCHOOL BAND DIRECTOR
Chad Mielens, Traverse City West Senior High
Pretty impressive, Mr. Mielens, given this was your first year at TC West! Principal Joe Esper tells us what you’re doing right: “Students like him because he pushes them to get better in a calm, respectful and supportive way.” We like your style.
» Keith Kucynski, Ludington High School (2)
» Seth Kilbourn, Roscommon High School (3)

LOCAL RADIO HOST OR TEAM
Mikey Zeroe & Chase Grant, 104.5 BOB FM
These two pledged to chug an entire bottle of hot sauce if they won our Red Hot Best contest. Okay Northern Michigan, let’s hold ’em to it!
» Interlochen Public Radio (2)
» Mike, Christal, and Joel WTCM (3)

SKI INSTRUCTOR
MacKenzie Bickel, Mt. Holiday Race Team
The Jr. Olympic podium finisher, Mid-America Cup winner, US Development Team member and US Nationals qualifier has come full circle coaching local youth.
» Dana Frank, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Jan Clark, Shanty Creek Resort (3)

VETERINARIAN
Bay Area Pet Hospital, Dr. Whitney Jencka
Dr. Whitney has two pets: Mae, an unreasonably smart mixed breed dog, and Brick, a talkative cat. She’s ready for whatever hairball your pet throws.
» Dr. Kathryn Cochran, Suttons Bay Animal Hospital (2)
» Dr. Jennifer Klabunde, Northwood Animal Hospital (3)

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Andrejka Photography, Petoskey
An affinity for working with people combined with her background in Fine Arts make Andrejka a standout. More importantly: she’ll teach your wedding party to tap dance.
» Windborne Photographic Studios, Traverse City (2)
» Exposures by Rah, Interlochen (T3)
» Allen-Kent Photography, Traverse City (T3)

WEDDING FLORIST
Victoria’s Floral Design, Benzonia
Fulfilling floral fantasies for almost 20 years, this one-stop shop also offers decor rentals and wedding planning packages.
» The Blossom Shop, Traverse City (2)
» Floral Underground, Traverse City (3)

Kurt Johnson of Jon’s Barber Shop, Best Barbershop // Photo by Jesse Green

Best Northern Michigan Places

BANK OR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
4Front Credit Union, Traverse City
Members love their hometown approach combined with cutting-edge financial tools. They also appreciate the 4Front mission: to reward members, not to make money for shareholders.
» TBA Credit Union, Traverse City (2)
» Honor Bank, Honor (3)

BEACH FOR ROCK HUNTING
Van’s Beach, Leland
The only challenge here? To remember to look down, what with Leland Harbor, North Manitou Island and Lake Michigan snagging your attention.
» Petoskey State Park, Petoskey (2)
» Point Betsie Lighthouse Beach, Frankfort (3)

BEACH TO BRING DOG
Good Harbor Beach, Good Harbor
You will throw that stick and throw that stick and throw that stick … good thing this sandy stretch of bliss is so beautiful.
» Esch Road Beach, Empire (2)
» Elberta Beach, Elberta (3)

BEST PLACE TO GET A LOCAL T-SHIRT
M22, Traverse City
As they say, it’s not a road, or even a T-shirt. It’s a lifestyle.
» High Five Threads, Traverse City (2)
» Tee See Tee, Traverse City (3)

BLACK DIAMOND SKI HILL
Buck, Crystal Mountain
Manicured slope (unless it’s a pow day) perfect for long arching turns and enough pitch to make things exciting. Insider’s tip: Even late on that powder day, find it fresh by the lift towers.
» Scarface, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Gorge, Crystal Mountain (3)

MINI GOLF COURSE
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park, Traverse City
Putt your way through dreaded dungeons, across creaking footbridges and past cascading waterfalls—if you dare!
» Crystal Falls Mini Golf, Benzonia (2)
» Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, Petoskey (3)

MOST SCENIC LIGHTHOUSE
Point Betsie Lighthouse, Frankfort
This pinup girl of Great Lakes lighthouses is more than a pretty face. Check out her gorgeous beach and dark and stormy past.
» Mission Point Lighthouse, Traverse City (2)
» Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington (3)

MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAIL
Vasa Single Track, Supply Road, Traverse City
Up, down, all around on forested loops of up to 25K on this quad-burning grandaddy of Northern Michigan mountain bike trails.
» TART Trail (2)
» Glacier Hills Pathway, Bellaire (3)

OUTDOOR ICE SKATING RINK
14th Street, Traverse City
It’s all hockey all the time at 14th and Pine where kids in pads have the Wings on their brains.
» Suttons Bay Ice Skating Park (2)
» Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville (3)

PET-FRIENDLY LODGING
Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
You’re going to love The Waffle Cabin and spa. Fido’s going to love the trails and disc golf course.
» Timber Ridge Resort, Traverse City (2)
» Falling Waters Lodge, Leland (3)

Falling Waters Lodge, Best Pet-Friendly Lodging // Photo by Jon-Paul Allgaier

CAMPGROUND
Ludington State Park, Ludington
Three campgrounds stretch out beside sandy beaches, scenic dunes, lush forests and a lighthouse. Fish, paddle, tube, hike, swim—stop for s’mores—repeat.
» D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor (2)
» Platte River Campground, Honor (3)

CAR DEALERSHIP
Serra, Traverse City
Folks applaud this large inventory of new and used Subaru, Toyota, Nissan, VW, Audi, Cadillac and Volvo. Great website lets you shop in your jammies.
» Fox Grand Traverse (BMW, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes) (2)
» Bill Marsh Buick GMC, Traverse City (3)

CONSERVANCY PRESERVE
Arcadia Dunes, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
Find 15 miles of hiking and biking trails in this exquisite mix of dunes, forests and Lake Michigan overlooks.
» Whaleback Natural Area, Leelanau Conservancy (2)
» Brown Bridge Quiet Area,Grand Traverse Conservation District (3)

PILATES / YOGA STUDIO
Yen Yoga & Fitness, Traverse City
Classes offered in their downtown studio, countryside vineyards and among blooming lavender fields.
» Yoga Roots and Healing Arts, Petoskey (2)
» Cynthia Lang Pilates, Ludington (3)

PLACE FOR TEAM TRIVIA
Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort
What mammal lays eggs? We have no idea. But we do know Fun Guv’nr Black IPA goes great with honey sriracha popcorn.
» Rare Bird Brewpub, Traverse City (2)
» Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City (3)

PLACE TO BUY AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Miner’s North Jewelers, Traverse City
The store’s signature Lakeshore Diamond has 108 facets (most round brilliant diamonds have 58). Yes, it’s sparkly.
» Becky Thatcher Designs, Glen Arbor (2)
» CC Jewelers, Traverse City (3)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Best Place to Take an Instagram Shot // Photo by Taylor Brown

CROSS COUNTRY SKI TRAIL
Vasa Pathway, Traverse City
Play loop-de-loop on bike, skis or your feet on these 25K+ of trails that wind through a state forest. Also, the hub
of two well-known events: The North American Festival of Races and the Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Challenge.
» Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire (2)
» Doe’s Delight, Crystal Mountain (3)

FINE ART GALLERY
Twisted Fish Gallery, Elk Rapids
Welcome all: serious collectors, casual art lovers and folks who want to soak up the color and beauty of this gallery and sculpture garden.
» Oliver Art Center, Frankfort (2)
» Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City (3)

FITNESS STUDIO/GYM
Grand Traverse Bay YMCA
Child care, three locations and enough fitness classes to spell no excuse. Yep, as they say, Access for All.
» Yen Yoga & Fitness, Traverse City (2)
» Planet Fitness, Traverse City (3)

GIFT SHOP FOR SOUVENIRS
Nifty Things, Traverse City, Suttons Bay, Alden, Elk Rapids
The place to go to for the perfect gift, times two. One for me, and one for you. Nifty Things has it all and way more.
» Cherry Republic, Traverse City, Glen Arbor (2)
» My Secret Stash, Traverse City (3)

GROUP TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours
Going out on the town all tuxedo and heels? They have your chariot. Looking for a ’70s school bus? They have you covered. A ride for every vibe.
» BATA, Traverse City (2)
» Benzie Bus, Honor (3)

HAIR SALON
Salon Verve, Traverse City
Thanks to this team of holistic stylists for keeping us beautiful AND healthy. TC grooves on your mad skills and nontoxic, organic products.
» Epiphany Salon (East & Downtown Traverse City) (2)
» Impres Salon & Spa, Traverse City (3)

HOTEL/INN/RESORT WITH A VIEW
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
Rock the day away, gazing at two Great Lakes, the Mackinac Bridge and the Michigan mainland.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Falling Waters Lodge, Leland (3)

PLACE TO GOLF 9 HOLES
Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
Golf Course Superintendent Jason Farah has prepped courses for the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. Expect gorgeous greens.
» Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Acme (2)
» Interlochen Golf Course, Interlochen (3)

PLACE TO HEAR LIVE MUSIC
Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen
Jewel, Nora Jones and Josh Groban all spent time at this lakeside campus. You should, too. World-class artists and performances hosted year-round.
» Lake Ann Brewing Co., Lake Ann (2)
» Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire (3)

PLACE TO TAKE AN INSTAGRAM
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sunsets at Overlook #9. Brilliant blue views at Empire Bluff. A slow-mo tumble down the Dune Climb. Take your pick of epic pics.
» Empire Bluff Trail Overlook (2)
» Fishtown, Leland (3)

PUMPKIN PATCH
Pahl’s Pumpkin Patch, Buckley
Pick some pumpkins, pet some goats, sip some hot cider. Get your country on here.
» Gallagher’s Farm Market, Traverse City (2)
» Jacob’s Corn Maze, Traverse City (3)

SLEIGH RIDE
Ranch Rudolph, Traverse City
Cue “Jingle Bells”: Belgians Prince and Monte (2,200 pounds of grace and love each) pull your sleigh through the Boardman River Valley and along the Boardman River.
» Black Horse Farm, Empire (2)
» Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville (3)

SMALL-TOWN “MAIN STREET” (SMALLER THAN TRAVERSE CITY)
Main Street, Frankfort
A legendary craft brewery, historic theater and local eateries and shops lead all the way to a sandy Lake Michigan beach.
» St. Joseph Street, Suttons Bay (2)
» River Street, Elk Rapids (3)

SNOWMOBILE TRAIL
Ranch Rudolf, Traverse City
Two hundred miles of trails, a dedicated fleet of groomers and a Western-style ranch to warm up in set in the middle. That’s a winner winter weekend.
» Benzie County Trailhead, Benzonia (2)
» Jordan Valley, East Jordan (3)

The Grand Hotel, Best Hotel With a View // Photo by Connor Gray

HVAC/HEATING & COOLING COMPANY
Team Bob’s, Traverse City
Others may let us down, but for 35 years, Team Bob’s has been keeping our homes warm in the winter, cool in the summer, our sinks running and toilets flushing. 
» Precision Plumbing and Heating, Traverse City (2)
» D&W Mechanical, Traverse City (3)

LANDSCAPING CO.
Zimmerman Landscaping, Traverse City
From your grandma’s petunias to your backyard oasis, this family-owned company has been helping to pretty up NoMi since 1929. A big, green thumb’s up.
» Pine Hill Nursery, Traverse City, Kewadin (2)
» Crystal Gardens, Frankfort (3)

LOCAL THRIFT STORE/RESALE SHOP
Zany Consignment Boutique, Traverse City
Boho? Wide-brimmed hat? A chic clutch? Find your style at this hip consignment shop on Vine Street in Traverse City’s historic Slabtown district and now a second location on US 31 in Williamsburg.
» Mrs. O’s Crap Shack, Interlochen (2)
» Women’s Resource Center, Traverse City (3)

TEENSY TOWN
Frankfort
With one of the best sandy beaches, breweries and movie theaters in the Great Lakes, this smidge-of-a-town is a hands-down big shot.
» Leland (2)
» Suttons Bay (3)

VENUE TO THROW AN INTIMATE PARTY (50 AND LESS)
Red Ginger Lotus Room, Traverse City
A buzzing metropolitan atmosphere, sublime sushi rolls and crisp cocktails served up beside floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking downtown.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay (T3)
» Willowbrook Mill, Northport (T3)

WEDDING VENUE
Castle Farms, Charlevoix
This stone French Renaissance-style castle built in 1918 is the very definition of enchanting.
» Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park, Traverse City (2)
» Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay (3)