When Columbia-Tusculum residents Angela and David Lyman are contemplating regional travel, northern Michigan always comes to their minds.
"To me, Traverse City is a kind of wonderful combination of the urban niceties "” fine restaurants, boutique shopping and stuff "” and then a five-minute car ride away, you're in the middle of wineries, orchards and terrific hiking country," says David. The Lymans actually moved here from Detroit "” to reside in one of the colorful purple "painted ladies" that dot Tusculum Avenue "” so they know the state of Michigan well.

"I love visiting up there," he continues. "I've sat in the western-most bar stool in the eastern time zone, a little place called the Hoop & Hollers."

The Lymans point to the summers as a favorite time to point their hybrid electric car north to Michigan "” "The evenings are nice and cool in the summers" "” and many fellow Cincinnatians certainly follow suit. That David has traveled the world (he fulfilled a dream recently of spanning the globe, visiting dozens of countries in 80 days) and still is sold on Michigan, speaks volumes about the state's appeal.

Indeed, Michigan has much to offer the seasoned traveler in the way of beaches and dunes, more shoreline than any state in the nation except Alaska. The northern part of the state is also known for its classic lighthouses, wineries, casions and stellar hiking opportunities.
Former Cincinnatian Dale Parry "” now living in the Ann Arbor area "” notes that "'Up North Michigan' [is] how Michiganders refer to the upper part of the LP (Lower Peninsula). If you go into the Upper Peninsula, you're no longer just 'Up North,' you're in the U.P. Which is where you find Yoopers. Not to be confused with Trolls (people who live 'below the bridge'). Okay, we're officially weird."
We'll have to take his word for it.

Put another way, one travel essayist observes: "Michigan up north is a state of mind, a place in our memories and imaginations. Here we step back to a time when anyplace north of Ohio was 'up north.' "


Traverse City is certainly a focal point for travelers and outdoorsmen.

Surrounded by navigable water, Traverse is the perfect start for any boating journey. Located at the base of the twin Grand Traverse Bays, the city features several marinas and boat rental charters. Take your pick from catamarans, cabin cruisers, ski boats, pontoon boats and the like.

Indian hunters and French traders were the first boaters to spend time here, and it was they who gave the region its name "” La Grand Traverse, because of the "long crossing" they had to make by canoe across the mouth of the bay.
These days, the action takes place as much on land as in the water.

Hiking, in-line skating and biking are particularly popular. Start with the Traverse Area Recreational Trail (TART). where you can skate, hike, or bike on a paved trail, then continue on a boardwalk through marshy lands out to Acme and back. It's about an eight-mile round trip, and as scenic as you can get.

The region is also home to vintners who grow the grapes and bottle the wines on the scenic Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas. The orchards produce notable Rieslings, methode champenoise sparkling wines, Chardonnays and fruit wines, as well as Pinot Noirs, ice wines and other varieties.


Front Street stretches for several blocks along the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay, lined with food shops where you can buy some freshly-made fudge, eat lunch at a sidewalk table, or sample one of the many cherry products from the region. Yes, it's cherries galore as vendors offer up dried cherries, cherry wine, cherry salsa, cherry BBQ sauce, cherry pie with cherry ice cream, cherry chicken salad sandwiches, cherry soda and even cherry chili.

Sidewalk dining doesn't have to be your only culinary experience. Traverse City regulars point to a pair of famed restaurants: At Front Street's Pâtisserie Amie, executive chef Eric Fritch runs a French bistro known for its salmon crêpes, coq au vin, steak frites and, for dessert, pear-almond tartlets. Over at 310 on Cass Street, chef Tom Kelly dishes up bouillabaisse of steamed mussels, dim sum, and braised rabbit.

On the 16th floor of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, meanwhile, the restaurant Trillium offers a panoramic view of the East Bay as well as a terrific brunch menu.

Relocating & Second homes

There are plenty of opportunities to purchase second vacation homes or otherwise relocate to this area of Michigan, say Cincinnatians who have actually done it.

"Harbor Springs is very popular, a very exclusive area," says Sally Derrick of Anderson Township, whose family has owned several homes over the years in the region. Located on Little Traverse Bay along the shores of Lake Michigan, this quaint part of the world is known for its recreational finds, art fairs, championship golf and even challenging ski slopes. In fact, Harbor Springs markets itself as a four-season destination.

"It's one of the most quaint and scenic parts of Michigan," says Derrick.