Ride Traverse City’s Tart Trail

Patrick Wellever

The TART (Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation) Trail wends past giant maple trees, wooden bridges, trout streams, the airport, railroad tracks, city neighborhoods, a marina and the beach, and you can get on or off along this east-west trail to find food, shopping and other urban adventures.

Start on the east end, off Bunker Hill, where you can park, and roll behind the hotels that line U.S. 31. Stop and grab a thick milkshake at Don’s Drive-In (2030 U.S.-31 N., 231-938-1860). At Mitchell Creek, find a wooden bridge over a trout stream and watch the fish dart below. Several adjacent local and state parks and the Reffitt Nature Preserve (off Aero Park Drive) are yours to explore. Further west, in the historic mahogany-clad train station, sip a cappuccino at the Station Espresso Bar. Cross Eighth Street and head toward Front Street for a slice of Paesano’s (447 E. Front, 231-941-5740) white pizza made with herbs, chopped garlic and mozzarella, asiago, and fontinella cheeses. Find fine art at Belstone Gallery (321 East Front, 231-946-0610), then spin down to Grandview Parkway to find the Open Space and West End Beach, where you can put your feet in the water and contemplate the ride home.

QUICK BITE: Grab takeout sandwiches like The Poor Old Man–grilled black forest ham, melted baby Swiss, hand-blended herb cream cheese, red onion, sprouts and romaine on fresh sourdough–at Homegrown Organic Eatery, right across from the Open Space (223 W. Grandview Pkwy., 231-932-4690). The prices here reflect the owners’ dedication to using only organic products–even the salt and pepper are certified. Or, spin on down to the legendary Sleder’s Tavern (1200 W. Eleventh, 231-929-8989, sleders.com) and order up a lean ‘n’ juicy buffalo burger. Just don’t forget to kiss the moose at the back of the bar–it’s tradition at this 125-year-old saloon.

YOU SHOULD KNOW: Need wheels? You can rent all kinds of bikes–mountain, road, cruiser, kids and tandem–at McLain Cycle & Fitness (750 E. 8th St., 231-941-7161, mclaincycle.com) or Brick Wheels (736 E. 8th St., 231-947-4274, brickwheels.com).

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