It just doesn’t get any better than a kick-back cruise through the bay. Whether yours is a crew of landlubbers or seasoned sailors, the big boats of Grand Traverse Bay offer delightful escapes into the wide-open water. Just find your sea legs and choose your adventure. Here are two that we love:

Family sailing fun: The 62-passenger tall ship Manitou (231-941-2000,, a replica of an 1800’s cargo schooner, cruises elegantly through West Bay to reveal fantastic views of Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas. Take your family on the two-hour noon cruise (adults $37, children $18), which includes an on-deck picnic lunch. Or, reserve a post-sail patio seat at Scott’s Harbor Grill (12719 S. West Bay Shore Dr., 231-922-2114) for seafood, ribs and a splendid view of the bay.

Adventurous paddle: For unparalleled access to beaches, coves and sweet shoreline vistas, slip into a kayak delivered to you from Northwest Kayak Outfitters ( For $40 a day, you can tool around the East Bay coastline or follow one of three paths in the Northwest Water Trail System — ask for a map designating worthy stops like parks and beach towns. Celebrate the voyage’s end with a wood-fired pizza at North Peak Brewing Co. (400 W. Front St., 231-941-7325).

More Ways to Get on the Water!

Quick Links to More Fun in Traverse City!

Emily Bingham is assistant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s

Note: This article was first published in April 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.