Old Mission Peninsula: 14 Jaw-Dropping Sights, Sips and Sauvignons Near Traverse City Michigan

Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula Travel GuideOld Mission Peninsula: 14 Jaw-Dropping Sights, Sips and Sauvignons Near Traverse City Michigan

Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula | All Guides and Photography by Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com

Traverse City, Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula has so many fun things to do!  We had so much fun on our past trips to the Cherry Capital of the World that we outgrew our single itinerary...so we broke it up into 3 much more manageable regions!!  We are sooo excited to share them with you!!

Behold... THE LUSH Itinerary below! 

We created a TOTAL OF THREE Traverse City travel guides, you can grab The Cheers and The Juicy Itineraries below.



  • The Cheers Itinerary heads up the Leelanau Peninsula with an Emphasis on Wine Tasting, Sightseeing, Eating and Adventures.  Lots of photo opportunities and fun!
  • The Juicy Itinerary has an Emphasis on Exploring the Heart (and surrounding region) of Traverse City. We’ll see some iconic sites, check out farms, go hiking, enjoy tours and embark on a Tall Ship excursion.  Perfect Itinerary if you are arriving in Traverse City from the South.  Lots of photo opportunities and fun!
  • The Lush Itinerary (this guide) has an Emphasis on Sightseeing and Wine Tasting Along the Old Mission Peninsula. Lots of photo opportunities and fun!

Feel free to substitute in different stops from other itineraries...we won’t be too offended!  ;) *Most wineries open at 11:00 a.m. so we incorporated a few hours of morning activities to kick off the day!

Route: Today we are focusing on the Old Mission Peninsula wine trail!  We enjoy heading north on 37 all the way to the Old Mission Lighthouse.  Then on the return trip, we like to mix things up by heading south on 37 until Bower Harbors Road.  Turn right on Bower Harbors Road.

Visit Bower Harbors Vineyard and then if you like, check out Pyatt Lake Bill Carls Nature Preserve. If you want a break from wine tasting, this is a great stop!  Then continue down Peninsula Drive for a gorgeous view of the water for the duration of your drive back to Traverse City.

Note: There are several orchards, vineyards and lookouts along 37, so be sure to stop whenever you see something of interest!  

Time Allotment: The whole day! It’s best not to have any time frames for today or tonight.  Just enjoy the experience and don’t hurry!  You won’t be able to go to ALL of the wineries so just pick 3 or 4 and allow time to relax at each stop!

How Late are The Tasting Rooms Open? Depending on the time of year and day of the week, most are open until 7:00 p.m.  Some have live music so the hours will vary.  If you are touring in the evening, be sure to check their websites for their hours of operation!

The Lush Itinerary Map is Interactive!  You Will Find...

  • Overview of all recommended stops, activities and sightseeing
  • Description
  • Addresses
  • Link to web pages if applicable
  • Link to Google Maps for fast navigation
  • Latitude and Longitude Coordinates
  • Phone number to venue if applicable

*Be sure to click this link to open the Lush Itinerary Map in Google Maps so you can see where they are as you drive!


We created this Old Mission Peninsula Things to Do Interactive Map to help you find your specific stops and aid in planning your trip. 

Helpful Map Tips:

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header. 
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing. 


Are you ready?  Let's GO!  Be sure to use the map above to reference all our stops! So many Traverse City things to do!


Distances Between Our Stops on This Old Mission Peninsula Road Trip

Distances:

  • Overall: Boardman Lake Trail to Old Mission Lighthouse is 19.5 miles (25 minutes)
  • Boardman Lake Trail to Blackstar Farms Old Mission is approximately 4.2 miles (7 minutes)
  • Blackstar Farms Old Mission to Brys Estate is 7.7 miles (10 minutes)
  • Brys Estate to Old Mission Lighthouse is 8.8 miles (11 minutes)

Boardman Lake Trail


Let's get an early start today! 

If you need some light morning exercise before hitting the wine trail (lets get in those steps!), check out the Boardman Lake Trail! 

This beautiful 3-mile heavily wooded trail wraps along the eastern and northern boundaries of Boardman Lake. The 3-mile heavily wooded trail wraps along the eastern and northern boundaries of Boardman Lake. 

Parking: Access and parking at the north end is off Hannah Road just south of the Traverse Area District Library, and at the south end from Medalie Park in the Logan’s Landing area off South Airport Road. 

Surface:  Boardwalk, Crushed limestone, Flat, Paved

Link: Here’s an Interactive Map of the trail with parking and kayak rental info!


Blackstar Farms Old Mission Peninsula


Address: 360 McKinley Rd E, Traverse City, MI 

Black Star Farms Old Mission sits just off scenic M-37 among the rolling hills, vineyards, orchards and gorgeous views of Old Mission Peninsula.  This beautiful state-of-the-art wine processing facility focuses on white wine production.  

The tasting room features a stunning round bar constructed from wine barrels, a cozy fireplace, and a knowledgeable and friendly staff. You can taste many of their amazing award-winning wines and brandies, all of which express the regional nature of northwest Michigan.


Mari Vineyards


If you want to see one heck of a view, check out Mari Vineyards!  This winery offers an unbelievable view of Grand Traverse Bay while sipping a delicious glass of wine.  I just could not get over this view as I strolled around the beautiful property. It's absolutely breathtaking!

Mari Vineyards has over 60 acres of vineyards planted entirely on the Old Mission Peninsula, with more being added every year!  


Chateau Grand Traverse


Address:  2239 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 

Pop into Chateau Grand Traverse and enjoy a tasting or glass of wine outside under the beautiful umbrellas.  It’s a lovely place to relax and enjoy the views!


There is also The Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse if you wish to wake up to the beauty of rolling hills and vineyards! 

Pretty hard to beat these incredible views of the vineyards and rolling hills!

Book your reservations early as they fill up quickly.

Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery


Address: 3309 Blue Water Rd, Traverse City, MI 

How about this for a spot for delicious wine tasting?  Can’t beat the views! 



Plus the barrel room below is just so gorgeous! I loved wandering around the tasting room and the property, it was a treat to enjoy the views.


Jolly Pumpkin (Idea for Lunch)


Address: 13512 Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686

If you are hungry, the Jolly Pumpkin is nearby!  The casual pub atmosphere is a great place for smoked pulled pork nachos, smoked whitefish dip and pizzas!  Plus there’s a great selection of beers on tap.


Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn


Address: 15900 Rue Devin, Traverse City, MI 49686

Reservations: Call ahead to reserve for wine tours and dinners

Chateau Chantal Winery is one stop that I never miss when exploring Old Mission Peninsula.  They have great wines and ciders overlooking the 65-acre estate with views of the Traverse Bay.  Chateau Chantal is a stop you don’t want to miss!

CELLAR TOURS-(Check their website for availability, times and purchasing tickets.) Learn more about the craft of making wine during one of Chateau Chantal's cellar tours! Stroll through the wine cellar for a 30 minute tour.  Add a glass of wine to be enjoyed on your tour for a small fee.  Reserve online! Offered mid-June through Labor Day, limited availability. 

WINE DINNERS-A delicious multi-course wine pairing dinner prepared fresh on select days by their talented in-house chef. Check the times, menu and pricing on their website.  Bucket list for us!!


Mission Point Lighthouse and Old Mission Lighthouse Park


Address: 4001-4475 Murray Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the north end of beautiful M-37.  You’ll drive through cherry orchards and vineyards along the way so keep your eyes open! 

The Mission Point Lighthouse no longer guides vessels through West Grand Traverse Bay like it used to from 1870 until it was decommissioned in 1933.  Now, the Mission Point Lighthouse offers visitors a sneak peek into what life was like around the turn of the century for lighthouse keepers and for others who lived and worked in the area.

First floor of the museum is FREE, however, there is a small fee to see the 5th Order Fresnel lens, 2nd floor museum and experience the stair climb to the tower with awesome beach views.  



There are lots of birdwatching and photographic opportunities while exploring the area.  I just LOVE walking along the beach, especailly near sunset to search for shells or rocks.  It's fantastic to simply relax and enjoy watching the waves crash against the beach. 



Be sure to embark on a self-guided historical tour through the lighthouse for a small fee (you can climb all the way up to the tower!). 

Pop into the small gift shop, peek into the historic Hessler Log Cabin and explore the miles of scenic trails that traverse through and around the park (many of which are just as historic as the lighthouse itself).  



  • Parking is free.
  • Park, trails and beach are open daily until 10 pm all year. 
  • The park is handicap accessible but not the lighthouse since it is historic.
  • The park grounds has outdoor ​toilets. 

HOURS: 10-5 daily, November weekends (Fri-Sun) Noon-4.

*All proceeds from admissions benefit the Mission Point Lighthouse and its preservation, restoration, and interpretation.

NOTE: The lighthouse gift shop does not sell beverages or food, no dogs allowed inside the lighthouse. 



Sometimes photos don't justify how gorgeous a spot is.  In light of that, here’s a video showing just how peaceful and pretty this place really is!  

I recommend spending at least an hour here as you can climb the lighthouse (open only in the summer months), walk the beach and enjoy the grounds. 

The 45th parallel- A few hundred feet north of the shoreline at Mission Point Lighthouse is the actual 45th Parallel of Latitude. 

This line marks the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole.



Latitude (north-south) and longitude (east-west) have long been the common language of all sailors, geographers and aviators.  By listing the latitude and longitude, you can pinpoint any position on the surface of the earth. 

Bowers Harbor Vineyards


Address: 2896 Bowers Harbor Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686

Bowers Harbor Vineyards offer quite a few award-winning wines and ciders that you need to taste!  It’s such a beautiful place to sit, relax and enjoy a flight of wine while gazing over the rolling vineyards. 



Bowers Harbor Vineyards, established in 1991 was initially a horse farm.  It now has 20 acres of vinifera vines. The tasting room is the former stable-how cool is that!?



Since Old Mission Peninsula was designated a distinct American Viticultural Area in 1987, Bowers Harbor grow Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Linda Stegenga and her son, Spencer - along with wife Erica and sons Evan and Spencer - live on the estate and care for this beautiful land.

Isn’t this gorgeous view just beckoning to you?  The views are gorgeous all year! These photos were taken in October. 


So this is fun: Be sure to check their labels as their vineyard dogs are featured on numerous wines!

Their interpretive nature trail offers a great location to take a hike and explore the beautiful property.

Pyatt Lake Bill Carls Nature Preserve


Address: Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686

Link: Map for trails and parkingParking on Pyatt Road.



If you are looking for a break from wine tasting, this boardwalk with a beautiful trail and overlooks is the perfect solution.  

More than 250 plant species have been identified on the property, and each spring, orchids and trillium carpet the ground. If you are lucky, you might see migrating waterfowl use the lake as a resting area.  Beautiful warblers, winter wrens, woodpeckers, and owls live in the beautiful preserve.



Following the loop in a clockwise direction, head left at the junction next to the parking area on a path labeled as the Frances Lamson Eaton Nature Trail. Within 200 yards you reach the short spur to the observation deck on Pyatt Lake.  I love sitting on the bench for a bit to enjoy the view of the beautiful Pyatt lake. In the early morning or dusk, you can sit quietly looking for wildlife.  It’s a stunning view even in the fall!

Backtrack to the main loop as it heads southeast around Pyatt Lake. The path remains in the woods and then makes a sharp swing to the west and at Mile 0.5 arrives at a junction.  By taking the left fork you will follow a wooded path and shortly arrive at the preserve’s second observation deck (no stairs), this one overlooking beautiful waving grasses.  

This trail continues south, reaching an unbridged stream in 200 yards. Backtrack to the last junction and continue northwest (left) on a segment labeled as Lou Anne Tasch Nature Trail.  This will take you back to the parking area at Mile 1.1.



Tips/Trail Notes:

  • Be sure to walk to the first Pyatt Lake overlook if you are short on time!  It’s quiet and beautiful! 
  • Follow the pink trail markings on the trees so you remain on the trail.
  • Bring mosquito spray during the summer months.
  • No porta-johns or restrooms available
  • The path is dirt and at times there are boardwalks.
  • No stairs to manage. 
  • Overlooks are flat or on ramped boardwalks
  • Parking allows for only about 8 cars so a motorhome would be a tight fit during summer months with more traffic.

Dinner Ideas

If you wish to enjoy dinner while on Old Mission Peninsula (why not?!) we recommend either Mission Table or Boathouse Restaurant.  

Mission Table: 13512 Peninsula Dr #9717, Traverse City, MI 49686

Boathouse Restaurant: 14039 Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686

Reservations: Yes

Mission Table is fantastic farm-to-table fare in a historic home. Reservations are accepted.  Beer and spirits tasting room plus Jolly Pumpkin beer!  

Boathouse Restaurant is located on the shores of beautiful Bowers Harbor.  While dining, you can enjoy views of the docks and bay with wide-open windows and a summer deck.

It’s a good idea to call ahead for reservations, especially if you have a larger party or are requesting specific seating locations.


Bryant Park


Address: Intersection of Garfield Rd and Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI, 49686

If you have had a busy day and wish to hit the beach for quiet, reflection and peace, this is the beach to visit.  I love that it is away from the busy crowds but has so many amenities.

There’s a picnic area, a playground, restrooms (flush toilets! YEY!) with changing area, charcoal grills and lots of tall pines for shady areas if you desire.  Take a walk along the beautiful stretch of sandy beach to reflect on your day or clear your mind.  

Often you'll find excellent sunset views overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay!


Nauti-Cat Cruises - Sunset Cruise!


Address: 615 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686

Reservations Needed: Yes

With a passenger capacity of 40, the Nauti-Cat is so much fun during the summer!  The dimensions of the Nauti-Cat are 47′ long, 29′ wide and a mast 63′ high, making it the Largest Commercial Sailing Catamaran on the Great Lakes. 

They have cruises ranging from 1.5 – 2.5 hours long, depending on the time of day.  


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