If you're planning a family vacation to Traverse City this summer, make certain your itinerary includes a sail on Grand Traverse Bay aboard the schooner Inland Seas.

The 21-year-old Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) has just launched the summer schedule for the 77-foot tall school ship, and as always, it's stocked with opportunities for family sailing adventures focused on hands-on science, maritime history and culture of the region.

Family Science Sails

During these three-hour sails, groups of up to 30 individuals—think: families, children, parents, teenagers and grandparents—work together like scientists to collect samples of fish, aquatic insects, plants and water. They examine fish, bottom organisms, sediment and plants; view plankton through a micro-video system; take turns steering the ship; and even make weather reports to the National Weather Service. While the Inland Seas programs area educationally focused, they are structured to teach in a fun and entertaining way. Departing from the ISEA Center in Suttons Bay on Fridays and some Saturdays throughout the summer, these three-hour learning adventures are conducted by ISEA’s professional staff and its volunteer corps of over 200 professionally trained instructors. $$40/person, $35/child under 18.

Last Week for the Family Science Sails! Jump Aboard Here!

Specialty Sailing Adventures

These day-long or multi-day programs for families and adults feature a history, geology and ecology sail to Power Island and an underwater exploration of shipwrecks and other underwater features in Grand Traverse Bay. Some highlights:

Maritime History

On July 23, Inland Seas passengers will explore the rich maritime heritage of the coastal villages of Suttons Bay, Omena and Peshawbestown during a dinner cruise from 5-8 p.m., with a guest faculty of local historians.

Invasive Species

ISEA will once again conduct its Invasive Species Research Program for High School Students.  These overnight programs for teenagers will be offered on June 29-30 and July 15-16.  A Technology in Invasive Species Research Workshop for high schoolers is scheduled for July 27-28. This two-day sailing experience includes seminars by researchers and professionals, as well as the opportunity for students to build a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to take back to their school for classroom use.

Grand Traverse Bay Ecology

On August 19, Inland Seas explores the Geology of Grand Traverse Bay where passengers will discover—both above and below the water—what gives the Bay its unique character.  This sailing adventure includes lunch and a hike on Power Island.


The popular Astronomy Under Sail excursions, with astronomer Dick Cookman, are scheduled for the evenings of  August 20 and 21, beginning at 9:00 p.m. Sailing eastward away from the shore,  this adults-only adventure affords a clear view of the night sky and the constellations that have guided ships for centuries.

For further information on program fees or to book a summer program, contact the Inland Seas Education Association at 231-271-3077 or on the web at schoolship.org.

Planning a vacation to Traverse City?

  • First, get your bearings with an overview of Traverse City.
  • Canoe Traverse City's Boardman River.
  • Ride bikes on the Traverse City TART Trail.
  • Roll up to Traverse City's old fashioned drive-in diner for a fab burger and shake.
  • Visit the former state hospital, now vibrant Commons at Grand Traverse Village for shopping, dining, hiking and more.

More Ways to Get on the Water!

Photo(s) by Courtesy Inland Seas Education Association