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Where to Stay in Traverse City
With the exception of a few hotels near the Cherry Capital Airport, virtually all of Traverse City’s accommodations are located on or near the southern shores of Grand Traverse Bay. At its southern end, the bay has two arms, the West Arm and the East Arm. Downtown Traverse City is situated at the base of the West Arm, while the East Arm area has a greater selection of resorts and hotels. Dividing the two arms is the Old Mission Peninsula, which extends north into the center of Grand Traverse Bay. There are very few accommodations on the peninsula itself, though it is known for its wineries and its exceptional bay views.
If you need to pinpoint the ultimate cheap hotel deals in Traverse City to stretch your travel budget, you should include the airport hotels in your lodging search. But depending on when you travel, you can find big discounts on even five star accommodations on the bay; the cooler temperatures of spring and fall usually usher in price drops. If you prefer the peak summer season, the more basic bay shore resorts still make it possible to experience Traverse City on a limited budget.
Traverse City Hotel Tips
Though Traverse City’s year-round population is small, it has a huge variety and number of hotel accommodations. Along the coast, state-of-the-art spa hotels are scattered among older resorts with historic charm and comfortable chain motels with competitive rates. If you compare properties carefully before you book, you can find something that perfectly fits your budget and your getaway plans, whether you’re taking a family vacation with the kids or running off for a romantic honeymoon.
Aside from the hotels, motels and resorts, there are several bed and breakfast inns in Traverse City. Some are historic farmhouses with hearty breakfasts like mom used to make, while others embrace distinctively modern interiors and equally fresh culinary concepts.
Traverse City Hotel Recommendations
There are excellent hotel picks all over Traverse City’s “Motel Mile” along the bay, but a few stand out for their atmosphere and amenities. The Beach Haus Resort is one such establishment, noted for its well-kept beach, friendly service and picture-perfect lawns and gardens where guests like to picnic. If you plan to splurge, its “penthaus” with a fully equipped kitchen, designer furniture and panoramic views is one of the best rentals in town.
Located side-by-side in the heart of the East Arm shoreline are Grand Beach Resort and its sister property, Sugar Beach Resort. Spacious rooms with private balconies, free wireless Internet access and options like whirlpool tubs for two are what keep vacationers coming back to these resorts year after year. Another popular resort is the Best Western Four Seasons, which offers its guests a menu of 15 different types of pillows to choose from. A full, hot and complimentary breakfast is served each morning, and can be delivered directly to guest rooms on request.
If you’d prefer a bed and breakfast, you’ll be amazed at the elegance of the Wellington Inn, operated from within a fully restored 1905 mansion. Its great location puts guests within easy walking distance of the beaches and several shops and restaurants. The Grey Hare Inn, one of the few places to stay on Old Mission Peninsula, is located on the grounds of a sprawling vineyard that grows the grapes used by the nearby wineries.
Traverse City Transportation
Traverse City’s winding bay shores and outlying nature sites offer some of the most unforgettable views and experiences in Northern Michigan, but it will be difficult to get out and see them without your own car. If you’re taking a flight to Traverse City, renting a vehicle from one of the many national car rental agencies at Cherry Capital Airport is your most convenient option.
There are several other ways to get around in Traverse City, however. Public transportation is offered through the Bay Area Transportation Authority, or BATA, which operates bus routes covering the entire city. Maps, schedules and fare information are continuously updated on the BATA website. Private taxis and airport shuttles also serve the area, though you should plan on calling for rides rather than finding cabs on the street. Downtown Traverse City and the neighborhoods along the southern bay shores are scenic areas best explored on foot.