Downtown Traverse City’s buzzing beverage scene, with several breweries, distilleries and a winery, is complemented by a beautiful patchwork of vineyards and hops farms rolling between Old Mission Peninsula’s 11 wineries. Dive in to learn where to visit and how to sip like a local in the Traverse City region.
This article was featured in the 2021 Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. Download your free digital issue today to experience the full guide for yourself.
Explore Traverse City’s Wineries & Book a Wine Tour
There are more than 40 wineries in the area that comprise the Traverse Wine Coast (which includes the Leelanau Peninsula). You’ll find bottles of bubbly, whites, rosés, reds and even ice wine (a type of dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine!). In the tasting rooms, each one unique, wines are paired with sunsets over vineyards, crackling fires and breathtaking views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay.
That being said, it’s time for a wine tour! Whether you’re looking for a private chauffeur for two to three people, a limo for a special event or a bus for all of your friends who want to savor time spent together and the craft of winemaking, there’s a transportation company ready to help. Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail’s website has great info for planning your trip and current updates on annual events, like the famous Mac & Cheese Bake-Off. Know, too, that many of the wineries have expansive outdoor seating so you can spread out and relax. If you want to add on stops along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, visit their website to plot your route.
INSIDER’S TIP: Many local beaches don’t allow glass bottles. Chateau Chantal has the answer: Try their canned bubbly cherry wine. Each can equals half a bottle of wine, so sip accordingly.
Photo by Lydia Mejia
Visit A Dozen Traverse City Breweries
With more than a dozen breweries in Traverse City and neighboring Williamsburg and many more pubs and bars to pick from, TC is the perfect destination for craft beer lovers.
Newest on the scene, Stone Hound Brewing Co. started welcoming guests in February with cans for carryout and indoor and patio seating. The renovated laundromat-turned-brewery on Bunker Hill Road is owned by Brent Faber, who is joined by Head Brewer Chris Cargill. Chris served as a production brewer for Short’s Brewing Company for five years. When you belly up to the bar, be prepared to say, “Wow.” An epoxy “river” inlay features 30 pounds of Petoskey, Charlevoix and Leland Blue stones.
Other must-visit hangouts in town include Right Brain Brewery (known for both its eclectic look and beers), Rare Bird Brewpub (where a celebrity or two has also been spotted—hello, Matthew McConaughey), The Filling Station Microbrewery (you can bike there along the Boardman River Trail or the TART) and Earthen Ales, which sits in the heart of The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. And did you know, you can take a TC beer tour by boat or bike? Check out Kayak Brewery Tours, Paddle TC and Kayak Bike & Brew.
INSIDER’S TIP: Interlochen is brimming with brews. Bradley’s Pub & Grille at the Interlochen Golf Course has everything from Bell’s Two Hearted to Miller Lite and PBR on tap. Just up the road is Hofbrau Steak House & American Grille (the “Hoffy” as locals affectionately call it), an Interlochen landmark for more than 100 years with more than 50 choices on its draft list.
Stop By Traverse City’s Local Distilleries
The local wine and beer scenes are complemented by a small but mighty craft spirits industry. In downtown’s Warehouse District, Mammoth Distilling Cocktail Lounge offers industrial vibes and a range of classic and creative cocktails. Or, try the “Create Your Own Whiskey Blend” experience and take home a custom bottle of bourbon or rye.
You’ll also find high-quality spirits and cool atmospheres at both of TC’s distilleries, Traverse City Whiskey Co. and Grand Traverse Distillery. And don’t forget about the authentic cocktails (and the Prohibition vibe to go with them!) at 123 Speakeasy on West Front Street; Low Bar, located below 7 Monks Taproom on Union Street; and The Parlor, housed in a revamped warehouse on Lake Street.
INSIDER’S TIP: To-go cocktails are legal in Michigan as of July 1, 2020, and many local restaurants and bars have added carryout options to their menus. The law doesn’t expire until December 2025, so if you’d prefer to enjoy a beverage at home this summer, go for it!