We had the best little getaway to Traverse City last weekend! We took Peyton up to Traverse City when she was little, and then visited again, when London was a baby – but were long overdue for a visit. By the time February rolls around, I am so over winter, but Traverse City has so many fun things to do with kids – in the snow, and warm and cozy inside 😉 I am excited to share my kid-friendly winter Traverse City Travel Guide with you today!
Where we stayed
We partnered with Grand Traverse Resort & Spa to create this travel guide, and absolutely loved it. David had been years ago, and I had never stayed there. The resort itself is huge, with a handful of restaurants, shops, a golf course, and a spa!
We were in the Old Mission Suite, which was gorgeous. We had a private balcony, and windows facing the bay, which made for the best sunsets.
Shop my outfit here.
The girls had their own sleeping space with a bathroom and two beds, while Dave and I had the Master Suite. We had a massive soaking tub, a huge vanity, a walk-in closet, a king bed, and sliding glass doors to our balcony.
In the main living area, we had a fireplace and TV area, and then a kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, which always is good when you’re traveling with kids!
Because we were in a suite, we had our own parking lot, but the hotel does offer valet for those staying in the main area. While the suite we were in was not “connected” to the hotel above ground, there was a tunnel that conveniently took us to the main part of the hotel. This allowed us to head to the pool, lobby, shops, and restaurants without bundling up and walking outside!
Where we ate
After we checked in and got settled, we headed to dinner inside the resort at Sweetwater American Bistro. The food was amazing, and for a Friday night at 6pm, we didn’t have an issue walking right in!
The girls each ordered the mac n cheese, I ordered the salmon (which was amazing!), and David ordered a steak – which was delicious and massive.
Saturday morning, we got ready and headed into town for breakfast at The Omelette Shoppe. It was quite busy, but the food was amazing. David and I each had an omelette, while the girls enjoyed sausage and pancakes. The Omelette Shoppe is always SO kid-friendly, despite the tight quarters. The kids menus come with crayons, animal crackers, and wet wipes! (total bonus when there is maple syrup involved! hah)
Saturday night, we ate downtown at Mackinaw Brewing Co. We headed in for an early dinner around 4:45, because it started to rain. It wasn’t too busy when we got there, but was pretty packed when we left. I had my favorite meal of the trip here: a pecan crusted walleye, topped with dried cherries. David had an olive burger (which he said was amazing), and we shared the key lime pie for dessert. For being a “brewing co” it was very kid-friendly, and the girls loved the kids menu!
While downtown, we stopped at Cherry Republic – which doesn’t totally count as a restaurant, but it’s worth mentioning. They have ice cream and lots of samples, as well as a wide range of specialty sodas and wines! There is also a little seating area, and an activity space for kids, with a little ball pit. We picked up some amazing granola, my favorite chocolate covered cherries, and a big bag of dried cherries for the girls.
Sunday morning, we headed to the tower for brunch at Aerie. I would recommend a reservation here! Aerie is located in Grand Traverse Resort & Spa; it is the whole 16th floor. The floor plan is laid out as a circle, with tables alongside the windows. Despite the storm rolling in, we had an amazing view – and can’t imagine how gorgeous it would be on a sunny morning, or even at sunset! Aeire had a delicious breakfast buffet, with baked goods, lox, fresh fruit, and an omelette station. The dessert stand was a dream, too! Your breakfast buffet will include one complimentary drink (mimoas count!) Despite being a self-serve buffet, the staff went above and beyond, and was SO friendly.
What we did
The first night, we laid low since it was a little later, and everyone was exhausted from traveling. After dinner, we explored the grounds at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa a bit. There are a ton of little shops just off of the lobby. There’s a Dylan’s Candy Bar, which the girls LOVED, and a toy shop called Tumbleweeds. They carry a ton of cute Melissa & Doug toys, and have a play kitchen and cash register set up inside that kids can play with.
The weather was quite nice Saturday morning and early afternoon, so we rented snowshoes from the resort. This was the first time the girls had ever worn snow shoes, but they had a blast! If you’ve never been, I definitely recommend trying! Check out the winter activities available at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, and info on rentals here.
The pool at the resort is SO kid-friendly. There were life jackets available to borrow, and one pool featured a fun little obstacle course, a basketball hoop, and a water slide. There was another pool, and a very large hot tub in the area as well. It wasn’t super busy when we went, and we were able to claim a lounge chair, but they do have lockers available for your belongings.
Shop my swimsuit here.
Near the tower elevator (by the toy store), there is a Free Library in a glass case! This was such an unexpected surprise, but the girls had a great time flipping through the children’s books!
Saturday, we went to Darling Botanical downtown. It was in a cute building with some unique shops, and a coffee shop. While you could buy pre-arranged flowers and cut flowers, we opted to let the girls build their own terrariums. This was SO fun. They picked their vases, rocks and soil, and then were able to pick plants or succulents (or skip the soil and do air plants!). I think the highlight for the girls was picking a cute figurine to “guard” their plants!
Mt Holiday is about 10 minutes away from Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, and offers so many winter sport options. From skiing, to snow boarding, to snow tubing! There are also trails for cross-country skiers. Given that Saturday morning was such a nice day, it was very busy, so I definitely recommend calling ahead for a reservation!
You can bring your own board/skies/helmet, or rent. They have a tow-rope which makes it easier with little ones. You can also grab a drink or a snack in the lounge!
Shopping downtown in Traverse City is so fun! There is such an array of shops. I mentioned Cherry Republic above. We came home with an assortment of cherry goodies.
There is a toy shop called Toy Harbor downtown, with all kinds of cute toys. My favorite little shop in Grand Haven is called Glik’s, and I was so excited to see one in Traverse City! They carry brands like Free People, Roxy, etc.
Now, we had about 48 hours in Traverse City, so we couldn’t do everything on our list, so here are a few things that were recommended to us, or that were on our list, but we just didn’t have time!
There is an arcade located in the Health Club, right by the pools! We didn’t see it until we were packing up to head back to the room after swimming. If we had known it was there, we would have wandered down Friday night.
The State Theatre is right downtown, too. Every Saturday, they offer a 25 Cent Kids Matinee!
We lucked out with weather Saturday, and opted for some outdoor activities, but our “back up plan” in case of a storm was the Great Lakes Children’s Museum!
I also would have loved to visit Mission Point Lighthouse, but it was closed to visitors for the season. Although, the park and area trails are open year-round. Next time!!
In the summer, the beach by the bay is a fun destination, but we had fun watching the ice fishermen and the bikers on their fat tire bikes on the ice!
We had the best long weekend in Traverse City, and absolutely loved our stay at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. Seeing the bay covered in ice was gorgeous. On our last morning, we checked out just in time to dodge a snow storm – although, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa would have been an okay place to be snowed-in 😉
Have you visited Traverse City? What are some of your favorite winter activities or must-see sights?
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This post was sponsored by Grand Traverse Resort & Spa and Traverse City Tourism. All content and opinions remain our own.