• Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE
  • Traverse City is the Perfect Dream Destination

    FROM THE Spring 2016 ISSUE

Traverse City, linchpin of Michigan’s largest waterfront resort area, is a mix of stunning scenery and classy creature comforts, with plenty to do year-round. Ample accommodations, fun activities, mouthwatering local food and locally produced libations—this area really has it all, making it an outstanding destination for meetings and special events.

Allison Beers, owner of Events North, advises planners to allow the longest planning window possible, especially if they need to rent transportation. “There are not too many mid-to-large size coaches and buses,” she says.

This experienced TC planner also says not to rule out off-season events. “So many people want to be here in June, July or August, but the shoulder seasons are just as lovely as peak season,” she says.

“Even in the nicest of our nicest restaurants, it’s really a casual atmosphere,” notes Tori Piersante, vice president of sales for Traverse City Tourism. Piersante passes along one more tip, advising planners to leverage the area’s cachet to lure participants: “Attendance gets really good when you say Traverse City.”

The city’s many attractions could fill a book (and, in fact, they have). Here are a few we think aren’t to be missed.


Cambria Suites Hotel

With 92 suites, this hotel is super quiet due to its construction material, and fiberoptic cable ensures dependable high-speed Internet. It has two events rooms: a 14-seat boardroom and a room large enough for 50 seated, 65 theater-style or 100 for cocktails. traversecitylodging.com; 231.778.9000

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

As the area’s largest full-service resort, the 600-room Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers 86,500 square feet of meeting space for groups of up to 2,500. The resort’s flexible meeting and event facilities can be divided into 36 separate meeting rooms of varying sizes and two exhibition halls. Other amenities include three championship golf courses, a full-service spa, three restaurants, multiple lounges and several distinctive shops. grandtraverseresort.com; 800.236.1577

Park Place Hotel

This historic downtown property offers 140 rooms and more than 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel, which is undergoing renovations, is in the heart of downtown, surrounded by the city’s attractions, and features a restaurant, two lounges and a health club with indoor pool. park-place-hotel.com; 231.946.5000

Shanty Creek Resorts

Located in Bellaire, about 31 miles northeast of Traverse, this all-season, 5,000-acre destination features more than 400 guest rooms and 36,000 square feet of meeting space, along with three restaurants, two grab-and-go grills during golf season and a spa. Activities include 72 holes of championship golf and outstanding downhill and cross-country skiing. shantycreek.com; 855.up.north or 800.678.4111

West Bay Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort

This 179-room, full-service waterfront hotel, located close to downtown, offers more than 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, two restaurants, a night club and seasonal patio bar. Other amenities include a beach with watercraft rentals and charter fishing, and a health club with indoor/outdoor pools. tcwestbay.com; 231.947.3700


Aerie Restaurant & Lounge

Located on the 16th floor of the Tower at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Aerie offers diners breathtaking views of the resort’s rolling greens and Grand Traverse Bay. Enjoy regional American selections that highlight local produce, microbrews and wines, along with artisanal bread and cheese. A private dining room is available for groups of up to 12. grandtraverseresort.com; 800.236.1577

Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Brewery & Distillery

The Pumpkin is an informal restaurant, brewpub and distillery on Old Mission Peninsula. (It’s one of four locations, all owned by the Northern United Brewing Co., which is helping to lead Michigan’s beermaking renaissance.) Located on the same estate are the Peninsula Room, for events of up to 150 people; and the Mission Table, for meetings and intimate events for up to 60 guests. jollypumpkin.com; 231.944.6984

Red Ginger

Located downtown next to the historic State Theatre, Red Ginger’s cuisine is an eclectic mix of bold Asian flavors. Dine in the energetic main dining room or in the private dining spaces: the Lotus Room (48 guests seated or 80 for cocktails); RG Studio (24 seated or 49 for cocktails); or Small Lotus (12 seated only). eatatginger.com; 231.944.1733


Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn

This working Old World-style winery and bed-and-breakfast is perched high on a ridge of Old Mission Peninsula, about 12 miles north of downtown, with a 180-degree view of Grand Traverse Bay. It has 11 luxury suites and a boardroom that accommodates 12. chateauchantal. com; 231.223.4110

Hagerty Center

Hagerty is owned and operated by Northwestern Michigan College and located on the shore of West Grand Traverse Bay. The conference center offers about 6,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space. In proximity with the Hagerty are the West Bay Beach resort and the 120-room Bayshore Resort Hotel, with 3,406 square feet of meeting space. nmc.edu/hagertycenter; 231.995.3100

Music House Museum

The museum’s extensive collection of rare automated musical instruments includes music boxes, phonographs, jukeboxes and radios that date from the early 1800s to 1940. It’s available for private rental May through December, and can accommodate up to 80 seated indoors, with room for an outdoor tent and 50 parking spots. musichouse.org; 231.938.9300

Spider Lake Retreat

Located deep in the forest south of Traverse City, this 20,000-square-foot facility has 450 feet of sandy beach on Spider Lake. It provides provides sleeping and dining for up to 64 people, with 16 bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining and recreation rooms. antonco.com; 231.935.0111

Wellington Inn

The Wellington is a restored neoclassical mansion from the early 20th century, and is located in a neighborhood close to downtown. It features nine guest rooms, two carriagehouse suites with two bedrooms each, and an elegant third-floor ballroom that makes a unique meeting space. wellingtoninn.com; 877.968.9900

Kirkbride Hall

Kirkbride Hall is a newly opened event space at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The restored hall, which was the chapel of the 1885 psychiatric hospital, includes 30-foot ceilings, wainscoting and 2,600 square feet that make for a gorgeous event space. kirkbridehall.com; 231.941.1961

The Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park

The 3,535-square-foot Cathedral has a geothermal heating and cooling system to accommodate year-round rentals. The indoor accommodations are large enough for a sitdown dinner for 200-plus, or a reception for 300-plus, the legal occupancy limit. A lawn adjacent to the barn is large enough to double accommodations under a tent. historicbarnspark.com; 231.342.1526


Sightseeing at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore In 2011, Good Morning America viewers voted northern Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore the Most Beautiful Place in America. nps.gov/slbe; 231.326.4700

Traverse Tall Ship Co./ Tall Ship Manitou

Traverse City lays claim to more tall ships than the exhilaration of wind-driven water travel aboard the 114-foot Manitou, a replica of a 19th-century schooner that’s available for groups of up to 59 people. tallshipsailing.com; 231.941.2000

Canoe/Kayak Expeditions

The Boardman, Betsie and Platte rivers are tame enough for novice paddlers, while the Traverse bays and Lake Michigan are better suited for a sturdy sea kayak. The National Park Service recently authorized All About Water to provide guided kayak tours in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. traversecitytourism.com

Hiking/Cycling the TART Trail

The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail comprises more than 60 miles of paved, nonmotorized trails that run across Traverse City, past beaches and rail yards, neighborhoods, forests and wetlands. traversetrails.org; 231.941.4300


The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians operates the Leelanau Sands Casino and Lodge, north of Suttons Bay, and Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, near Traverse City. Turtle Creek has a 4,000-square-foot ballroom, for up to 260 guests (it can be divided for smaller groups), and a 551-square-foot conference room, for up to 12, with comfortable executive chairs, an oversized table and a drop-down projector screen for presentations. Hospitality suites with one or two bedrooms are also available. leelanausandscasino.com; turtlecreekcasino.com; 231.534.8815, 800.922.2WIN

Beer & Wine

The Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are dotted with vineyards and wineries that bring home awards from regional, national and international competitions. All wineries are open for tastings and tours year-round, and some have on-site restaurants. The Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail promotes 24 wineries and 10 events on its website. Craft beer lovers will be glad to know that Traverse City now boasts almost 10 microbreweries, brewpubs and craft brew taprooms. lpwines.com; 231.642.5555


Dennos Museum Center

Located at Northwestern Michigan College, this museum’s ever-changing exhibits feature historical and contemporary works by artists of state, national and international stature, and whose permanent display of artwork by the Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic is one of the largest and most complete in the United States. The Dennos marks its 25th anniversary in 2016, and is expanding with new galleries to showcase its permanent collection. dennosmuseum.org; 231.995.1055

Sleeping Bear Point Maritime Museum

This former U.S. Life-Saving Service and Coast Guard station in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was built in 1901 to house the crew and equipment needed to help ships in distress. The grounds are available to rent under a special-use permit; apply for a permit on the National Park Service’s website. Park rangers demonstrate from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends how the heroes of a bygone age risked their lives to rescue shipwreck victims. nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/ maritimemusem.htm

Interlochen Center for the Arts

The internationally renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts has the 6,800-square-foot Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership conference center with a 2,400-square-foot great room, two classrooms and a garden patio. Amenities include modern audio-visual equipment, on-site catering, pianos and musical equipment, discount pricing for on-campus accommodations and discounted rates for nonprofits. Its summer Arts Festival features such top-notch acts as the Canadian Brass and Tony Bennett, and it sponsors a yearly Shakespeare Festival in July. Tours are welcome. interlochen.org; 231.276.7387

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

This campus preserves the castle-like buildings of a Victorian mental asylum in a 320- acre wooded park and gardens that’s become a favorite place for hikers and cyclists. The 6-acre lawn and arboretum in front of the Kirkbride building is available for rental. It’s also the center of an ambitious redevelopment where former hospital buildings are being turned into restaurants, shops, galleries and apartments. thevillagetc.com; 231.941.1900

The day’s agenda is done—all the to-do items have been checked off, and it’s time to come together as friends and colleagues. So, what is there to do? Well, if you’re meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, plenty. Located just 20 minutes to the Detroit Metro Airport, which offers 1,100 daily flights from four continents, the city is home to the University of Michigan and is a hub of creativity and culture. Ann Arbor offers a walkable downtown and the quirky and innovative attractions you’d expect to find in a college town. 


First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month. 


Is celebrating Michigan Wine Month a work activity? Absolutely, especially when you’re checking out wine-centric venues for possible future events. Traverse City Uncorked is offering a mobile-exclusive pass to a collection of curated wineries offering deals and discounts to redeem during Michigan Wine Month—also known as May!