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Michigan Cherry Coast Bicycle Tour 
A bicycling vacation along the coast of Lake Michigan 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

Day 1 l Day 2 l Day 3 l Day 4 l Day 5 l Lodging l Getting There l Cycling

The northwestern coast of Michigan's Lower Peninsula is the setting for a beautiful six day cycling vacation in August.  Brilliant aquamarine waters of Lake Michigan dramatically frame miles of back roads in the “land of many little bays.”  This tour begins and ends in the self-proclaimed “Cherry Capital of the World,” vibrant Traverse City, MI.  Tour highlights include 2 nights of in-town lakefront lodging in Traverse City, biking along the miles of paved path in the one-of-a-kind national park, Sleeping Bear Dunes, visits to the bustling and charming summer resort towns of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Boyne City, as well as an optional visit to Michigan’s crown jewel: bike and horse carriage friendly Mackinac Island. 

MI Cherry Coast Tour Fast Facts:


Five nights in 2 Waterfront Inns 

Spectacular Views and Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Vibrant Downtown Traverse City 

Optional daytrip to Mackinac Island

Beautiful Petosky, Michigan


 2018 Dates:

6 days / 5 nights  (Su-Fr)


August 12 - 17

August 19 - 24

August 26 - 31


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2018 Tour Price:
$2275 - 2375
Price range reflects early to late enrollment.  

Bike rental: $100

Single occupancy  room supplement: $500

Tour prices  subject to change


Dates with an asterisk * have a solo traveler hoping for a roommate--  Call for details

RESERVE YOUR SPOT (click here)  


Day 1:  
After a brief orientation meeting and light lunch, we will start our week of pedaling!  Our first day of bicycling takes us along the quiet agrarian back roads of the Old Mission Peninsula with numerous cherry orchards, vineyards and hops farms dotting the landscape.  A longtime locals’ favorite ride, we bike north along the shoreline of this skinny spit of land that partially bisects Grand Traverse Bay.  We stop briefly at the peninsula’s northernmost point for a visit to the Mission Point Lighthouse dating back to 1870.  Our ridge top ride returning to Traverse City provides awesome views of both Grand Traverse Bay and Little Traverse Bay.  Stop along the way for a taste of local wine or craft beer, or simply wait until the end of the ride to sample Michigan’s booming craft beer industry at one of the 16 micro-brewery locations within walking distance of our hotel.

Dinner is together as a group tonight within walking distance of our hotel.

Bicycling Distance: Up to 43 miles, with options to shuttle ahead. 
Terrain: Sections of flat shoreline terrain along with some rolling hills.  Total elevation gain of up to 1200 feet.

Rooftop Patio at Hotel Indigo, Traverse City, MI


Day 2: 

Today is a special day filled with mammoth lakeshore sand dunes and stunning Lake Michigan views!  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park won the title of "Good Morning America's" Most Beautiful Place in America and is one of the nation's best-kept secrets.  We start our day with an early morning shuttle to maximize our time in this treasure of a National Park.  Clamber up the 300 foot “Dunes Climb” in your bare feet.  Back on the bike, take on the challenging but rewarding Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  (shuttle option available.)  This route winds through a wooded area of the giant sand dunes and accesses the park's most spectacular overlook, where you will revel in views of the aquamarine waters of Lake Michigan.  Cycle miles of paved off road bike paths that wind through the National Park grounds.  Explore historic buildings describing 20th century life in the early lakeshore settlements.  We’ll stop for lunch in charming Glen Arbor and have a chance to revel in all things cherry at Cherry Republic, “the largest exclusive retailer of cherry products in the United States.”  The afternoon offers the option of another short shuttle before completing our late afternoon journey back to Traverse City on the Leelanau Trail.  Running through the last of Leelanau County's former railroad corridors, the Leelanau Trail features picturesque forests, farms, vineyards, lakes and ponds and is an amazing cycling resource in the area. 

The evening is yours to explore the many options awaiting you in Traverse City, MI.

Bicycling Distance: 25 – 60+ miles, with options to select the distance right for you.
Terrain: Flat in spots with rolling hills.  Total elevation ranges from 365 to 1200+ feet of climbing, distance dependent.


Day 3:  

We bid goodbye this morning to fun Traverse City and begin with a short shuttle to bypass some early morning commuter traffic. Our starting point is on the ridge top back roads stretching along the east side of Little Traverse Bay.  Miles of quiet tree-lined roads lead us to Charlevoix, one of the hidden gems of northwest Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  Situated on a spit of land between Lake Michigan and Round Lake, the downtown is known as “Charlevoix the Beautiful.”  With abundant flowers lining the main street and boarding the park overlooking the marina where yachters dock for day trips, Charlevoix really is a beautiful sight worth savoring.  Grab a picnic lunch to refuel in the expansive grassy park overlooking the water before tackling the afternoon’s optional miles.

The Little Traverse Wheelway is a 24 mile paved bike trail connecting Charlevoix, Petoskey and Harbor Springs and offering picture postcard views of Lake Michigan.  We take advantage of this amazing shoreline resource to roll to our home base for the next 3 nights, Petoskey.  Be sure to stop along the way for the many photo ops available! 

The afternoon is yours to spend as you choose.  Continue on your bike to explore Harbor Springs, pedal along the paved paths to the interesting historic Oden Fish Hatchery Visitor’s Center, or take time off the bike for strolling the streets of Petoskey thick with boutique stores, pubs and restaurants.  Our hotel, the Staffords Perry, is only steps away from the heart of the historic shopping district.

Dinner will be as a group this evening at one of Petoskey’s many excellent options. 

Bicycling Distance: 28 – 65+ miles, depending on the options selected. 
Terrain: Flat in spots, with some rolling hills.  Total elevation ranges from 1216 – 3645+ feet.


Stafford's Perry Hotel, Petoskey, MI


Day 4:  

Our big day and a day full of choices!  After breakfast, we depart for a shuttle to Mackinac City, the jumping off point for an optional, included excursion to Mackinac Island.  Mackinac Island is a step back in time to a car free era with only bikes and horse drawn carriages for transportation.  The eight mile perimeter road offers spectacular views, and the town is full of restaurants, museums and sites, so the island will give you plenty to do all day.  A late afternoon return shuttle will get you back to Petoskey.

While Mackinac Island is on the bucket list of many visitors to this region, we know several of you have already “been there, done that.”  For those folks, we have the alternate itinerary of a supported bike ride along the shores of Lake Michigan and through the fabled “Tunnel of Trees” northwest of the summer resort town of Harbor Springs.  This paved, low traffic road winds its way along the bluffs high above Lake Michigan before connecting back to the paved dedicated Little Traverse Wheelway leading you to Petoskey. 

Dinner tonight is “on your own” to explore the many options available in bustling Petoskey and make the most of the flexibility offered to you today.  

Mackinac Island

Bicycling Distance: 8 – 16+ mile options available on Mackinac Island.  Island terrain is flat along the perimeter with some short steep climbs to the ridge top vantage points.  Up to 65+ miles are available on our alternate itinerary, with options to strategically "leap frog" ahead if desired.
Terrain: Flat in spots, and includes some climbing along the way.  Elevation gain on the island is variable but can be up to 760 feet.  Elevation gain on the alternate route is also variable, but can be up to 1662 feet.

Day 5:  

Today offers one of our favorite rides in the area!  We revisit the Little Traverse Wheelway and the spectacular morning light along the shores of Lake Michigan.  The scenic views from the Charlevoix Yacht Club provide additional postcard worthy photo ops.  We continue to the shores of the wishbone shaped Lake Charlevoix and the historic Ironton Ferry.  The tiny vessel named the Charlevoix holds 4 cars (in addition to cyclists!) and made the “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” newspaper feature noting that its captain traveled more than 15,000 miles without being more than 1,000 feet from home.  The south shores of Lake Charlevoix sparkle in the sunlight and provide an amazing backdrop to today’s low traffic journey.  The route is mainly flat leading to the relaxing Boyne City hub at the eastern edge of the lake.  Boyne City thrived as a regional logging center in the 19th century and still has preserved some its “Wild West” charisma.  In the early part of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway summered here in his family’s home on nearby Walloon Lake.  Stop in the preserved Boyne City General Store to peruse a wall full of memorabilia dedicated to the celebrated writer.  

Bicycling Distance: Up to 16 - 60 miles, with options to extend.
Terrain: Flat with some rolling hills as always.

Day 6:

Our final day will include a short van shuttle back toward the shores of Little Traverse Bay.  We bike another local favorite route down the scenic east shore of Torch Lake before rejoining the ridge top roads leading back into Traverse City.   Showers and lunch will be provided before heading out.


Most meals will be included in the tour price, starting with lunch on Day 1 and concluding with lunch on Day 6.  There will be two "on-your-own" dinners and two "on-your-own" lunches. 

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Night 1 & 2:   Hotel Indigo, 263 W. Grandview Parkway, Traverse City, MI  49684

Within an easy walk to downtown attractions and offering a spectacular view of Grand Traverse Bay, this new hotel also boasts spa-inspired showers and numerous modern amenities.


Nights 3-5:  Stafford's Perry Hotel,  100 Lewis St., Petoskey MI 49770

An 1899 landmark in the heart of downtown Petoskey, this 79 room hotel is home to the Noggin Room, one of the best place to grab a pint. 


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Getting to the Tour Start (Traverse City, MI):


Cherry Capital Airport, (TVC) Traverse City, MI.  Served through Detroit by Delta and through Chicago by American and United.  

Ground Transportation:   

Carolina Tailwinds will provide a courtesy shuttle from the TVC airport the morning of Day 1 of the tour.  We can also pick up at any Traverse City airport hotel, or your chosen downtown hotel should you opt to stay additional nights at a different location.
On the last day, we will drop guests at TVC if needed.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport  (GRR), Grand Rapids, MI
Service by Southwest, Delta, United, Allegiant and American. 
156 miles from the tour start.
Ground Transportation:  Bus transport to Traverse City is available, as are rental cars at the airport.  

Driving:  Mileage to Traverse City:

Cincinnati: 488 l Detroit:  242 l Grand Rapids: 140 l Mackinac Bridge: 102 l Chicago: 305 l Toronto: 280


Timing:  Arrive at the tour start location no later than  11:30 a.m. on Day 1 (10:30 a.m. if renting a bicycle.)  Arrive a day or more early to enjoy Traverse City and all it has to offer on your own.  We will return to Traverse City on Day 6 between 2 and 3 p.m.



The terrain is flat in spots, but does have some elevation gain each day.  The terrain is a mix of gently rolling hills, with some short hilly sections, and flat terrain, making it accessible to all ability levels.  Road bikes and hybrid style bikes are both appropriate. 


This 6 day tour offers routes of 25 - 60+ miles each day (at your option).  Mileage each day will range from 35 - 65 miles.  As with all Carolina Tailwinds tours, you can take advantage of the support van to "leap frog" ahead on the route and tailor the route and route distance to your needs.


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Extend your visit: 

There is much to see and do in Traverse City and beyond.  

Traverse City: Add a night or 2 to your stay in the area to explore this town with style and substance. While there is no doubt that tourism drives the local economy, Traverse City remains a real community with hardware stores and office shops next to gift shops and galleries. Sip your way through the Traverse City Ale Trail, add an excursion for wine-tasting along the bay, or rent a kayak for a summer paddle on the scenic bay which remains the top draw of Traverse City in the summer.
Interlochen, MI: Located 14 miles south of Traverse City, the Interlochen Center for the Arts operates a year round school for gifted students to explore music, dance, theater, film, literature, and visual arts. Hundreds of concerts, readings, film screenings, dance and theatrical performances, and art exhibitions are open to the public. The offerings are diverse and always impressive.


Call 888.251.3206 (or 336-794-1054) or click here to request your reservation today

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