Holidays are extra special around Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay

Art Weber

        From the lavish holiday decorations throughout Traverse City, at the head of the west arm of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, to the open windblown tip of the Old Mission Peninsula anchored by the 1870 Mission Point Lighthouse, the holiday season is special around Grand Traverse Bay.
        It starts with a beautiful natural landscape blessed with grand views of watery expanses, a landscape that’s virtually guaranteed to have a generous snow cover through the winter.
        Some say it’s a tale of two peninsulas.
        Enjoy the season – or any of the winter weeks to follow – with the joyous hustle and bustle of a prideful and welcoming city, or the more casual quiet of smaller towns and country inns scattered along either of the two peninsulas that define Grand Traverse Bay.
        The 30-mile-long Leelanau Peninsula. with its backbone of massive sand dunes separates Grand Traverse Bay from Lake Michigan. Follow M-22 and special places to stop are a cinch. It ends at Northport with the Grand Traverse Light.
        Old Mission Point is shorter, but blessed with frequent wonderful vistas along its 18-mile length. The peninsula’s natural beauty is dotted with cherry orchards and an abundant number of wineries eager to host visitors for tastings and food. The narrow peninsula divides Grand Traverse Bay creating the bay’s wishbone shape and resulting in views of the bay to both the east and west.
        It’s all there to be enjoyed throughout the year.
        But Christmas and New Year’s – the holidays – are special.
        Christmases are white, decorations festoon stores and landscapes, carolers still go door to door, the Christmas spirit prevails.
        Traverse City is small – the official population is less than 16,000 – but vital with a robust calendar of civic activities, bustling retail, and highly regarded restaurants. The giant lobby at 16-story Grand Traverse Resort is dripping with lights, attracting strollers, shoppers, and families seeking the attention of Santa.
        In places like Glen Arbor and Leland, the backdrop is small town, and many of the attractions are geared for serving visitors. Some of them, like the beds and breakfasts, are totally geared for visitors, others like Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor are favorites both for locals as well as tourists.
        The eastern shore of the Bay is no piker, either. Elk Rapids is a wonderful place to explore, as is the shoreline of both the bay and Elk Lake.
        For more information, visit Traverse City Tourism at and Other excellent sites include and
        For inspiration on places to explore along M-22 check out Jim DuFresne’s “Trails of M-22” guidebook at


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