Dig Michigan: Traverse City

Traverse City is the largest city in Northwest Lower Michigan, and the first of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments

Sunrise, East Arm, Traverse BayThe Long Crossing

A combination of Wikipedia’s Traverse City, Michigan entry and the Traverse City CVB the Grand Traverse Bay got their name from 18th century French voyagers who made la grande traverse or “the long crossing” across the mouth of the bay Grand Traverse Bay. In 1853 the only post office in the region was located at Old Mission, then known as “Grand Traverse.” While in Washington, D.C. in 1852, Tracy Lay convinced the U.S. Post Office to authorize a new post office at his newer settlement across the bay. The village was known as “Grand Traverse City,” but at the suggestion of a postal clerk the “Grand” was dropped to limit confusion.

Culinary Delights

The Grand Traverse region earns the nickname of “Cherry Capital of the World,” producing an estimated 360,000,000 pounds of cherries annually. It’s not just cherries though – the wineries of the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula have risen quickly to the top due to a conducive micro-climate for growing grapes. You can enjoy the region’s agricultural bounty through a wide array of farm markets and food producers like Shetler Family Dairy, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream (named America’s Best Scoop in 2008) and Carlson’s of Fishtown. There are also at a number of great restaurants in the city and scattered throughout the area. Just a few of these to not miss are Fusion, amical, Trattoria Funistrada, The Old Mission Tavern and (of course) the Cheese Shanty.

Traverse City, in pictures

The photo above is titled Sunrise, East Arm, Traverse Bay and it was taken by Joel Dinda, who has several more from Traverse City and this set of Leelanau County photos (slideshow). As you can see from Joel’s photos, the countryside and shoreline surrounding Traverse City is some of the most beautiful in Michigan. In addition to Traverse City, some things you might want to look at include Old Mission, Sleeping Bear Dunes and of course photos of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford.

TJ's Pub by the pentax hammer
TJ’s Pub by the pentax hammer

But what is there to DO in Traverse City?

If you enjoy the outdoors, Northwest Michigan is the place to go. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is among the most beautiful natural areas in the nation, offering miles of untrammeled Lake Michigan coastline, hiking, camping and cultural opportunities and the world’s largest shifting sand dunes. There are many more beaches offering swimming and fishing on the area’s many inland lakes like North and South Lake Leelanau and Torch Lake. You can also hike the trails of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, bike on the many backroads and trails including the TART Trails and the Betsie Valley Trail and enjoy golf at a dizzying number of golf courses.

If the outdoors isn’t your thing you can experience shopping in downtown Traverse City and at villages across the region. The State Theatre – home of the Traverse City Film Festival – has been beautifully restored and shows a variety of independent and classic movies every day. The region also boasts some excellent museums including the Dennos Museum, Music House (private museum), and Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City, the Manistee County Historical Museum, the Empire Area Historical Museum, Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Guntzviller’s Spirit of the Woods Museum (private) and the Carl T. Johnson Hunting & Fishing Center in Cadillac.

Where do I go for more?

You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford and also try the pages for Traverse City, Manistee, Cadillac and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the Traverse City Visitors Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, MyNorth, Kalkaska County Michigan Online, the Benzie County Visitors Bureau, and our own and

2008 Michigan Energy Fair, June 27-29 in Manistee

Spinners 1 by n8xd
Spinners 1 by n8xd

The 3rd annual Michigan Energy Fair will be held June 27-29, 2008 at the Manistee County Fairgrounds in Onekama. Billed as “one of the most comprehensive expositions of renewable energy generating equipment, home and business energy efficiency techniques, and technical workshops in the state”.

The 2007 Michigan Energy Fair hosted over 4000 attendees who viewed the products and services of over 100 sponsors and exhibitors. Check out the video below in which fair organizer Jeremy Wittrock talks about the 2007 event

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing in several noted speakers including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Dr. Richard Blieden, and David Konkle. Workshops will address topics including wind energy, green building, geothermal heating and cooling, home energy efficiency and energizing Michigan’s economy.

Michigan send $18 billion dollars to other states in energy costs. With activities for kids, food, music and a wide range of exhibitors, the Michigan Energy Fair is a great place to learn about how we can go about reversing this drain on our state’s economy.

Energy Fair Links

Recap of the 2007 Michigan Energy Fair

Recap of the 2006 Michigan Energy Fair

The Michigan land Use Institute reports on the 2007 Michigan Energy Fair (with video) and also on the 2006 Michigan Energy Fair.

Check Absolute Michigan keyword energy for a gigawatt more related links and articles.

Michigan History: Harriet’s Daring Flight

Harriet Quimby by Aerofossile2012

Harriet Quimby was always ready for a challenge. One of her biggest came on April 16, 1912, when she flew across the English Channel.

Born near Manistee, Michigan, on May 11, 1875, Harriet Quimby moved with her family to San Francisco, California, when she was a teenager. In 1903, she moved to New York City where she got a job writing for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. Over the next nine years, Harriet wrote many stories, including an advice column for women.

In October 1910, Harriet met one of the nation’s leading aviators and convinced him to teach her how to fly. Ten months later, she became the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license.

After getting her license, Harriet decided to become the first woman to fly over the English Channel. In March 1912, she sailed to England and borrowed a 50-horsepower single-seat, single-wing plane to make the flight.

Flying was both thrilling and dangerous. Planes were fragile and their engines undependable. Besides those problems, planes had open cockpits and no radar or radios. Recognizing the dangers, one male pilot offered to make the flight for her. He said he would wear Harriet’s purple flying suit, fly across the Channel and land in a remote spot. He would quickly trade places so she could receive credit for being the first woman to pilot a plane across the Channel. Harriet said no. As she recalled later, this “attitude of doubt . . . made me more determined than ever to succeed.” On April 16 she decided to go, even though weather was bad.

Harriet’s plane lifted off at 5:30 A.M. About an hour later, she descended from the clouds and landed near Hardelot-Plage, France. Although she was about 30 miles from her planned destination, she had made it.

Harriet continued flying and writing until a fateful day in July 1912 when she was killed in an airplane accident. According to one historian, Harriet Quimby “was a pioneer who helped overturn stereotypes about women’s roles in society, and who made it possible for them to achieve their dreams.”

About the Photo: This photo is from a set of cool photos from the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace that feature banners for an exhibition they did on female aviation pioneers. For more about Harriet Quimby, check out and also Wikipedia’s Harriet Quimby entry.

For more stories from Michigan’s past, look for Michigan History and Michigan History for Kids magazines. For information call (800) 366-3703 or visit

Michigan Historic Homes: Kaleva Bottle House Museum

Bottle House by agilitynut

This home was built by John J. Makinen, Sr. using over 60,000 bottles laid on their sides with the bottoms toward the exterior. Most of the bottles were from his own company, The Northwestern Bottling Works. The house was completed in 1941 but sadly Mr. Makinen passed away before he could move in. The house was purchased by the Kaleva Historical Museum in 1981 and is listed on the National and Michigan Register of Historical Sites. The museum includes items relating to lumbering, farming, homemaking, office machines, railroad, local area schools and so much more. Please call the Kaleva Historical Society at 231-362-3519 for tour information.

You can see more photos of the Kaleva Bottle House on Flickr and in Julie Quinn’s Kaleva Bottle House Gallery. Read more at Roadside America’s Kaleva, Michigan Bottle House entry and other bottle houses from!

The Manistee Chamber of Commerce has a complete list of historic homes and buildings to see in the Manistee area.

More Michigan Historic Homes on Absolute Michigan.