An added bonus to Northern Michigan food and drink tours? Many offer opportunities for outdoor excursions either onsite or close by. Here are a few of our favorite ways to sip and savor, understand and appreciate the craft, and get outside and enjoy the beauty of our region.
Featured in the March 2021 annual food and drink issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Take a look!
Wander & Wine on Old Mission Peninsula
When the pandemic led to indoor seating restrictions earlier this year, Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, like so many businesses, got creative. Through March 6, hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski the best of Brys Estate’s 111 acres. Two new winter trail options feature views of the vineyard, resting lavender fields and wooded valleys. Stay toasty with an insulated mug of spiked hot cider (a souvenir mug is available for $15, with $5 cider refills) or a glass of wine on the trail. Gather afterward at one of the winery’s outdoor fire pits. The trail is open daily during business hours, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Watch & Taste the Chocolate Magic in Petoskey
While the venerable Northern Michigan chocolate establishment Kilwins temporarily suspended its tours this winter due to the pandemic, their Chocolate Kitchen in Petoskey has remained open and welcomes customers to stop in and watch the team make their famous truffles, chocolates, brittle and other beloved confections. Take a walk or bike ride after your chocolate-tasting fun—just steps away from the chocolate factory, there’s access to the Little Traverse Wheelway, a rail-to-trail paved bike path that runs 26 miles from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. (Note: Last April, a portion of the Little Traverse Wheelway was washed out, with erosion damage west of Magnus Park. Plans are in the works to restore the Wheelway.)
Raise a Glass & Take to the Trails in Traverse City
For a behind-the-scenes look at a local craft distillery, sign up for one of Traverse City Whiskey Co.’s off-site production facility tours. Offered weekdays at 4 p.m., tours typically last 45 minutes and cost $15/person (tours include a taste of any of their whiskeys—try the American Cherry Edition or limited-edition release Barrel Proof Bourbon). Afterward, visit the distillery’s Stillhouse Cocktail Bar near downtown for additional libations (outdoor seating available). Just behind the bar on 14th Street, you’ll find access to the four-mile Boardman Lake Trail. Take a relaxing stroll with an optional (highly recommended) stop at The Filling Station for pizza (a 0.9-mile walk from the Stillhouse).
Eat, Drink & Explore Leelanau
At 17 miles long, the Leelanau Trail provides not only a non-motorized paved pathway between Suttons Bay and Traverse City, but also the chance to walk and bike to great food and drink destinations. A newer addition to this corridor: Farm Club, a gathering place “to celebrate land, honest food and community.” This farm, restaurant, brewery, bakery and marketplace is seven miles from downtown Traverse City and easily accessed by the Leelanau Trail. If you want to continue your self-guided Leelanau tour, travel five miles farther along the trail and watch for a wine barrel and small square sign featuring a wine glass. Take a right at the next intersection and you’ll be at Shady Lane Cellars. Sip a glass of wine or buy a bottle to go at the newly SIP Certified (Sustainability in Practice) winery, one of only two in Michigan.
Some businesses had temporarily suspended their indoor tours in January when this story was reported. Call ahead or check online for hours and current COVID-19 safety policies. If you can’t visit in person, consider supporting area businesses with online or to-go purchases.
Find this and more articles celebrating Northern Michigan outdoors, local food and craft drink in the March 2021 annual food and drink issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.