The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a hub for shopping, eating and playing. From The Mercato to hiking trails with a view, this village located inside a historical hospital complex is the perfect way to spend your day in Traverse City.

This article was featured in the 2021 Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. Download your free digital issue today to experience the full guide for yourself.

Here’s the thing with The Commons—it’s a village within a town. You’ll enter a world unto itself when you pull onto Cottageview Drive and follow the quiet, narrow winding road into the heart of The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The sky is spiked with the signature red spires of the former Traverse City State Hospital buildings, more than 100 years old, buildings that have since been renovated into modern-day condos, boutique businesses and fab restaurants, all with a nod to their history.

Shop & Search at the Mercato

Visitors can spend the day shopping in the Mercato (Italian for “market”)—a series of brick hallways and nooks full of one-of-a-kind businesses. You might find yourself lost in the maze of historic walkways … and stumble across finds like Crystal Lake Alpaca Boutique, High Five Threads or Moonstruck Gardens & Leelanau Lavender. Shop and search for the next hidden gem among all the offerings.

Dine and Drink at Grand Traverse Commons

After shopping, book a table at Trattoria Stella—probably the most famous restaurant at The Village—designated a Top 100 Wine Restaurant in America by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Cuppa Joe and Red Spire Brunch House are favorite breakfast spots, and the urban winery Left Foot Charley boasts its very own famous Cinnamon Girl hard cider. And if you ask where to get Mexican, everyone in TC will answer with one word: Spanglish. Try their Big Daddy Burrito.

Spanglish at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Hike the Trails & Tour The Commons

The Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area includes 140 acres of unpaved hiking and biking trails through the hills behind Building 50 at The Commons. On your outing, look for the Hippie Tree—painted in a rainbow of colors and filled with feel-good affirmations. In addition, look for the reservoir built in 1894 to help support the former hospital’s fresh-water needs. Today, the concrete structure is covered in brightly colored graffiti and has become a surprising find in the serenity of the woods.

Explore the Grand Traverse Commons Haunted Grounds

For an up-close look at the past, sign up for a tour that takes you through underground tunnels at The Commons dating back to 1883. Spend two hours with a guide exploring multiple floors of buildings yet to be renovated, and venture into the 1883 Steam Tunnel. Discover the origins of Dr. Munson’s “beauty is therapy” philosophy, learn what the iconic red spires were for and, if local legends are true, you might even see a ghost!

Play in The Grand Traverse Commons Piazza

In Italy, small towns often have a centrally located piazza where the community gathers together to talk, stroll and enjoy one another’s company. Modeled after a European lifestyle, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons has a park-like area affectionately called The Piazza, home to bocce ball courts, live music, a weekly farmers market, community events and family picnics. Come and enjoy! For more information visit

Find this article and more in the 2021 issue of the Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. If you’re not subscribed to Traverse Magazine, you can download the Vacation Guide for free.

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