For a night out on the town in Northern Michigan, we plumb the Red Hot Best results from the June 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine to create unforgettable outings for you and a favorite friend. From mixed drinks to picnics, there’s some fun to be found around Northern Michigan!

Whiskey Town

Nothing stokes the romance quite like barrel-aged hooch, so this Red Hot Date itinerary is a TC love fest of style, cool bars and creative comfort cuisine with a bourbon soundtrack. Start your romp at the Traverse City Whiskey Company’s 14th Street Stillhouse for a small batch tipple and a bottle for the afterglow. Next head downtown to Ella’s to get chicly appointed with a hot pair of handmade jeans, some new kicks or a cocktail dress. Sufficiently stylish, saunter across the street to The Franklin, where Chef Myles Anton rocks innovative casual fare like fennel salad with shaved Parmigiano or a fried walleye sandwich with carrot, creamy malt vinaigrette and tartar. Wash it down with wine, cider or a whiskey cocktail from Franklin’s epically cool beverage menu. End the evening by making love-eyes over expertly stirred ol’ fashioneds in the cozy environs of The Parlor on Lake Street.

Whiskey Town Date Destinations:

  • Traverse City Whiskey Company 201 East 14th Street, Traverse City 231.922.8292
  • Ella’s 209 East Front Street, Traverse City 231.947.9401
  • The Franklin 160 East Front Street, Traverse City 231.943.2727
  • The Parlor 205 Lake Avenue, Traverse City 231.821.6926


Common Ground

Hold hands, breathe the early summer air and inspire your appetites strolling the pristine 140-acre Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area with pathways snaking through forested hillsides, meadows and wetlands. Coming off the trail, follow the delicious waft of cumin and carnitas to Spanglish, where legitimately delicious tacos, chicken and guajillo tamales and fresh salsa verde await. Food in hand, make your way to the adjacent patio at Left Foot Charley’s tasting room for al fresco synergy with Bryan Ulbrich’s Cinnamon Girl Cider or sparkling pinot blanc. Say your sweet sayonaras over an indulgent slice of blueberry ripple from the Underground Cheesecake Company.

Common Ground Date Destinations:


Peninsular Picnic

Your afternoon of pastoral amore starts in Suttons Bay at the Black Star Farms tasting room with a sip of oeno-art from winemaker Lee Lutes. Stash a few bottles of pinot noir rosé in the cooler and gas up the Porsche for a beautiful commute to Leland via Northport on M22, one of the prettiest roads anywhere. Roll into Leland’s historic Fishtown, and head straight for the Village Cheese Shanty for a brace of tasty pretzel bread sandwiches like the turkey and bacon North Shore. Cooler full, press the pedal and head south for Good

Harbor Bay Beach to picnic. Push your toes in the sand and gaze at the Manitou Islands and the azure waters around them. A great time to get down on one knee if your relationship is mature enough for that.

Peninsular Picnic Date Destinations:

  • Black Star Farms 10844 East Revold Road, Suttons Bay 231.944.1270
  • Village Cheese Shanty 199 West River Street, Leland 231.256.9141
  • Good Harbor Bay Beach 6393 West Harbor Highway, Maple City

More Northern Michigan Food

Top 10 Food Trucks in Northern Michigan

Channing Sutton: 45 North Vineyard & Winery’s Manager

Video: Traverse City Winery Brys Estate Thin Crust Pizza Recipe

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski