Friday, August 31, 2012

A Vegan Vacation Weekend to Traverse City

IMG_1739 ranked Traverse City, MI as it’s #1 Foodie City in the U.S. and it’s not hard to see why.  While the farmland around my home state of Illinois only seems to have vast “Big Ag” corporate farms churning out tons of government-subsidized corn and soy, the farmland in the rolling hills of northwest Michigan contains a delightful mix of small family farms, fruit orchards, and vineyards—all producing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and wines.

When I last visited in 2010, my brother took us to meet a ski buddy friend who happened to run his family’s cherry orchard on the Leelanau peninsula during the non-winter months. Cherries are the region’s biggest crop and Traverse City hosts a great Cherry Festival each June.

But on this visit, as a recently-converted vegan, I was most looking forward to the Saturday morning farmers’ market.  The markets in suburban Chicago had been a huge disappointment for me this summer—more vendors selling candles, flowers, and dog treats, than actual farmers selling heirloom and organic fruits and vegetables!

The farmers market in Traverse City was overflowing with fresh and beautiful produce.  Not quite as big as the massive Madison, WI market, but excellent quality offerings and lots of variety.


I wished I could buy it all, but had to be carefully choosy to ensure it would all fit in my RV fridge.  Here’s the bounty I ended up selecting – everything was delicious!


Traverse City has some wonderful “farm-to-table” restaurants and wineries, but I decided on this trip to eat my fresh produce and spend more time out and about.

There were plenty of sailboats out in Traverse Bay on this warm and sunny day:


The little downtown area of Traverse City is also delightful—I love the little canal that flows behind Front Street:


And Front Street itself was drawing quite a crowd of shoppers, diners, and even a small happy group of Occupy protestors!  My kinda town!


The great summer music camp, Interlochen, was less than 10 miles from my campground, so I decided to attend a free faculty chamber music concert.  The campus is located in a pine forest and they’ve tried to maintain as many trees as possible


Wish I could have recorded the concert, as each of the pieces were wonderful, but pretty rare 20th century chamber works.  A delightful evening.

The next afternoon, Millie and I took a drive around the Leelanau peninsula exploring the small farms:


We ended up at one of Millie’s favorite dog swimming beaches at Glen Haven in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  She managed to pace herself and swim for a full hour, and was one very happy (and tired) dog!


In 2010, we stayed at the state park right in town.  Convenient, but ridiculously tiny sites, overly-crowded, noisy, and smoky from all the campfires in such close proximity to each other.  It was also rather expensive by the time we paid for daily vehicle entrance passes for both cars (on top of the nightly camp fee).  So this time around, arriving for a warm summer weekend with no advance reservations, I now knew of a better place to go—the Northwestern Michigan Fairgrounds!


Only $20/night and just 5 other campers in the whole place!  Fairground RV parks are a great alternative to kid-packed, overpriced commercial campgrounds (and state parks too!) during busy “high-season” weekends.  Nice monthly rates (and 4G cell service) here too, so I may very well spend a month here in a summer to come—Traverse City has got everything a vegan tech worker and her dog could ever want!


  1. Luscious food! I am leaning towards alot less meat in my diet as well, but not totally vegan. I agree about camping at the quietest places that can be found. Great post, Lynne.

    1. That's great Sunny! Do what feels comfortable and sustainable for you. Every little bit helps!

      After eating out of frozen and fast food boxes for most of my life, I'm still really enjoying the taste of all these new and delicious whole/fresh foods I've been eating the past 4 months (and super motivated by the effortless loss of 25 lbs!) that I've not yet had many cravings for the old foods. But I'm sure when Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll have a little turkey with my veggie sides-- some things you just can find suitable vegan substitutes for!

  2. Wonderful to hear about nice quiet landing...15 yrs plus since been that way. MI is one of the best summer finds indeed!

    1. I've lived in the Midwest most of my life and never made it Traverse City until a few years ago... boy was I late to the party!

  3. I can't believe it. We left Traverse City Saturday! Had planned to go to farmer's market, but got tied up. Now we are further north in Mackinaw.

    1. Well, the nice thing about the area is how many roadside farm stands there are. Bet you can find a few up around Mackinaw or SSM, but if not, there's always those yummy pasties!

  4. Look at Millie's grin. She probably grinned the whole time she was swimming, too.

    1. She was a pooch absolutely possessed!!! I'd never seen her swim for a solid hour before!


  5. Such an enjoyable post !!!! Great photos too !!! Thanks for sharing ..... My dog, Sir Duke would have loved the swim and the good company......


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