Great Lakes Children's Museum celebrates youngsters' innate curiosity by providing them with interactive exhibits that encourage exploration and use engaging, hands-on activities to teach visitors about everything from natural science to regional history. To learn about the water cycle, kids can mimic the path of a raindrop by climbing a set of stairs, crawling across a cloud-like platform, and then sliding back down to the ground while learning about evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
At one of the museum's most popular exhibits, the water table, parents can work alongside their children and discover how to use insertable pieces to redirect the water's flow, create standing waves, or form swirling eddies. Encouraging this sort of interaction between family members helps foster a lifelong passion for learning by allowing adults and children to work together as they gain new knowledge about the world around them.
Casks of award-winning vintages tempt guests at Bowers Harbor Vineyards, which earned Best of Class for its 2007 Cabernet Franc at the 2010 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, among multiple other awards and pleasantly slurred compliments. Surrounded by verdant hills near the lapping tongue of Lake Michigan, Proprietor Spencer Stegenga oversees the harvest, fermentation, and self-defense training of a delicious range of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, as well as hard cider. Visiting sippers can silence their thirstily jabbering tongues with Bowers’ signature reds—the 2896 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, touched with a bit of cabernet sauvignon, or the Meritage blend, whose soft tannins create a smoothly quaffable mouthful. Or try the 2009 Rosé, redolent with the flavors of flowers, berries, and wine.
Two Lads Winery's grape-laden, sustainably farmed fields yield 11 wines in a variety of vintages, with a focus on dry reds and sparkling wines. The 1.5–2 hour visit starts with a tour of the 58-acre hilltop complex, during which guides explain the wine-making process using diagrams painted by children, before the tour moves to the 22-acre vineyard, where the grape connoisseurs teach about grape varieties and grape-milking techniques.
As the trees take on the fiery hues of autumn, the pilots at Grand Traverse Balloons help guests watch the transformation from the best seat in the house—a basket. For the last 25 years, the Fall Color tour soars above the tree line, awarding hot air balloon passengers a view of the forest at heights between 2,000 and about 3,000 feet. The tours aren't limited to the season, either, as the Federal Aviation Administration–certified staff flies its inflatable fleet year-round.
Group rides take up to 10 people for one-hour jaunts over Traverse City and the surrounding countryside of northern Michigan. The seven-story balloons float over scenic stretches of lakes, bays, vineyards, and woodland.
In addition to group flights, the pilots also host private charters and tethered rides, for which a balloon is tied to the ground and soars up to 150 feet and down again on a vertical path. But no matter what, every aerial errand ends the same way—with the captain celebrating a successful landing by sharing champagne and razzing the nearest flightless bird.
As the winds pick up across the surface of West Grand Traverse Bay, they occasionally catch the roughly 1,000 square feet of sail that towers above the deck of the Nauti-Cat, allowing the catamaran to smoothly cruise through the water at speeds of up to 14 knots. The crew leads as many as six outings each day depending on the weather conditions. During these day trips, as many as 40 passengers can savor views of the sunset or the Old Mission Peninsula's luxurious homes while they relax on a vessel complete with modern amenities, including two restrooms and an on-board cash bar. On select Friday and Saturday evenings, the Nauti-Cat hosts lively musical performances as local bands or DJs set up on a custom-designed stage on the vessel's bow.
The River Traverse City sits in the heart of Travers City’s Clinch Park. Just behind Con Foster Museum we handle bike rentals, kayak rentals, serve snack food and provide beach gear! We look forward to showing you another side of Traverse City from the trails, to the currents of the Boardman River. Fun for all ages.