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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What's Included in Your Tour Price
5 nights at boutique inns and in town hotels
Dinner on Nights 1, 3, & 5; All lunches except 1; All breakfasts; Snacks; and hors d'eourves most nights.
Services of Expert Local Guides
Carolina Tailwinds maintains a guest to guide maximum ratio of 7:1 on all our tours. Guides are ready to show you the hidden wonders of each and every destination.
Full Route Support & Luggage Transfer
Service of 1 – 2 support vans on route every day.
Complimentary Airport Transportation from Traverse City
Carolina Tailwinds picks up on the morning of Day 1 and drops off in the late afternoon on Day 6 at the Traverse City airport and surrounding Traverse City inn locations to and from our tour start at Hotel Indigo, Traverse City, MI. Timing formally coordinated 2 weeks prior to tour date.
More details on what's included:
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Nights 1 & 2
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.
The terrain is flat in spots, but does include some elevation gain each day. Cyclists will encounter 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.
Tour Point of Origin:
Hotel Indigo, 263 W Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI (231) 932-0500
Getting to the Tour Start (Traverse City, MI)
Driving: Approximate travel distance to Traverse City--
- Cincinnati, OH: 488 miles
- Detroit, MI: 242 miles
- Grand Rapids, MI: 140 miles
- Mackinac City, MI: 102 miles
- Chicago, IL: 305 miles
- Toronto, ON: 280 miles
Airports: Cherry Capital Airport, (TVC) Traverse City, MI is 6 miles from our tour start location. Served through Detroit by Delta and through Chicago by American and United. tvcairport.com
Ground Transit: Taxi cabs and Ubers are available at the Traverse City airport. 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.
Parking: We have arranged for long term parking for the duration of your tour. We will end the tour in Traverse City with an opportunity to shower prior to departure.
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. Your return flight should depart no earlier than 5:30 p.m.
Extend Your Vacation
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.
With the blue waters of Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan on the north, east, and south, Wisconsin's Door County is a 75 mile long peninsula of dramatic limestone cliff faces, white sand dune lined lakeshores and abundant pristine water views. Interspersed through the splendid natural scenery are inviting small towns and villages—each one charmingly different from the next.
The highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, cascades, glens, colleges, hamlets, valley farms, quaint towns and steep hillsides dotted with vineyards. All of this, in addition to the sparkling waters of long blue glacial lakes, make the NY Finger Lakes a special bicycling destination not to be missed.