Ten Things to Do in Northern Michigan Before Summer

Spring’s a fickle mistress Up North, so while the near-perfect-highs and abrupt cold snaps have been busy battling for air time in Traverse City, we’ve kept ourselves occupied with these fun, between-the-seasons excursions (two steps ahead of that pending Summer rush):

1) Morels

Growing up in the South, I’d never heard of the Morel mushrooms that seem more prominent in Northern states. I had no idea what I was missing! Fun to hunt (a kid-friendly adventure that Jackson adores) and absolutely delicious.

Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

2) Mini-Golf

There’s nothing like beating the Memorial Day rush to Pirates Cove Mini-Golf, which offers up two courses, a zip line, bumper boats, a ropes course, an arcade and ice cream. A sunny-season staple for our little family.

Pirates Cove - Traverse

Jackson @ Pirates Cove in TC

3) Mackinac Island

The Georgia girl in me expected a North-coast Jekyll Island, but Mackinac Island has more of a Savannah vibe, just with more spectacular water views. Our ferry trip to the no-vehicles-allowed Island led us to Cloghaun B&B, Arch Rock, the Butterfly House and Fort Mackinac.

Mackinac Island

The view from Fort Mackinac

4) Home-Grown

It’s fun to get handsy with the agriculture that so permeates this place. This year we’re trying our hand at strawberries, peppers and gladiolas. Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market and Cherry Street Market are back in full swing, offering up a slew of local goodies.

Cherry Street Market

Cherry Street Market

5) Patios

Sun + outdoor patio + a MI brewed/corked beverage = the perfect dining experience. There are plenty of great restaurants to pick from, but Amical, Mackinaw Brewing Co. and Pangea never disappoint as the firsts to unfurl that outdoor-dining welcome mat.

The Omlette Shoppe

The Omlette Shoppe, another patio favorite

6) Sweets + Sunsets

Pick your favorite ice cream, pick your favorite beach, and park it. We’re typically Clinch Park beachcombers, but can also vouch for the sunset view of East Bay from Woodland Sweets in Acme and Torch Lake after visiting the Cone Corral in Alden.

Sun Setting on Lake Michigan

Sun Setting on Lake Michigan

7) Sunrise(s)

At least once a year, we like to watch the Sun rise and Spring always feels like the perfect time to do it. The quintessential ‘reset’ button – I hit mine just this morning.

Sunrise over Old Mission Peninsula

Sunrise over Old Mission Peninsula

8) Sleeping Bear Dunes

Well-publicized as 2011’s Most Beautiful Place in America, you have to see Sleeping Bear to believe it – and there’s definitely something to be said for doing so while you still pretty much have the park to yourself. (We even found a few morels there!)

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

9) Indoor Water Fun

The Kaliseum in Kalkaska has become a weekly venture for us. Part waterpark, part swim lessons and totally cheap, this place seems completely off everyone else’s radar. We’re also eying closer-by Great Wolf Lodge for Courtney, Donny & Isaac’s visit in a couple of weeks. πŸ™‚


Kaliseum (why not a pic of the water slide, Jess??)

10) The Great Lake Plunge

The challenge: getting in the Big Water (Jackson’s latest Lake Michigan pet name) well before the water temp would indicate it’s wise to do so. We took the plunge today in Elk Rapids.

Elk Rapids Rock Circle

Elk Rapids Rock Circle

Happy Swimmer

Happy Swimmer

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8 thoughts on “Ten Things to Do in Northern Michigan Before Summer

  1. Loran says:

    I love the sunrise/sunset pics! Can’t wait to go check it out first hand!

  2. We made the blog πŸ™‚ We cannot wait for our visit!

    • jcee3 says:

      We can’t wait either! We have our eye on the Great Lakes Children’s Museum and the Cherry Bowl drive-in theater for when you guys are in town πŸ™‚

  3. Heather says:

    Also, nice new look!

  4. Heather says:

    You picked a great morning for your annual sunrise. And I love that last pic of Jackson! Did you swim for-real or just wade? (PS – Elk Rapids is significantly warmer than Hasserot πŸ˜‰ )

    • jcee3 says:

      We swam for-real (okay: belly-button high) in Elk Rapids and @ Public Dock. It was okay after that first five-minute freeze! πŸ™‚

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