Traverse City is home to miles of Northern Michigan hiking trails. Ranging from The Old Mission State Park to Traverse City’s unofficial “Central Park” at the Grand Traverse Commons, there are plenty of places to stretch your legs and take a stroll through Northern Michigan’s outdoors. And when you’re done, head over to one of the suggested Northern Michigan restaurants for some farm-to-table food and maybe even a Northern Michigan beer. We’ve put together a guide with plenty of travel ideas for your hike and bite around Traverse City.
Old Mission State Park with Jolly Pumpkin
- At the tip of Old Mission Peninsula lies Old Mission State Park, home to the 144-year-old Old Mission Point Lighthouse. Walk the cobbled beach way out to where the land meets the water, or take an easy stroll along the paths surrounding the lighthouse. For longer hikes, explore the extended trails through the acres of woods and abandoned orchards that surround the park. Finish off your hiking with some drinks and food at the Jolly Pumpkin located on Peninsula Dr. on Old Mission. The Jolly Pumpkin serves up delicious pizzas and savory entrees—but you really need to try their artisan ales. The La Roja is an amber ale with earthy caramel, spice and fruit notes, while the Madrugada Obscura claime to be as dark as a moonless midnight with notes of roasted malts and bitter hops.
Grand Traverse Commons with PepeNero
- This 430-acre, in-town oasis was once the campus for the Northern Michigan asylum, a 19th-century state mental hospital that closed in 1989. Now, the rolling grounds serve as Traverse City’s unofficial “Central Park,” with miles of meandering hiking trails, plus sweeping views of Grand Traverse Bay and the stunning Victorian-Italianate spires of the Commons’ historic buildings. Swing into PepeNero, located directly in the Commons, for authentic Italian cuisine. Owners Giorgio Lo Greco and Luca Carteni say their mission is to provide delicious, all-natural, freshly cooked real Italian food. We think they’re doing that pretty well.
Sand Lakes Quiet Area with Mr. C’s Pub and Grill
- This secluded section of the Pere Marquette State Forest delivers on the peacefulness its name suggests. Eleven miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trails wind through nearly 3,000 woodland acres, home to five geologically rare marl lakes (two of which are stocked with rainbow and brook trout); a beautiful spot for bird and wildlife watching. Drive up towards Williamsburg and grab a bite at Mr.C’s pub and grill when you’re done hiking. Try one of their delicious flat-breads and relax with a cold Michigan beer. The Sand Lakes Quiet Area is located ten miles east of Traverse City, off Broomhead Rd.