Brilliant fall colors, sprawling vineyards and crisp Great Lakes breezes … these are the things that Traverse City brings to mind as fall tumbles toward lower Michigan.
In an effort to fully embrace the changing seasons and also to simply put something (anything!) on the calendar that we could look forward to, I booked a weekend in the northwestern lower peninsula for our little crew of three, plus a few of our family and friends.
My plan was to find a home large enough to accommodate us comfortably but also had plenty of outdoor space, and that was within an easy drive to Traverse City and the wineries. After falling down a rabbit hole of AirBnB and VRBO properties, I came across the hidden gem that I’d been hoping for … a brand, spankin’ new house rental, perched above a lake just outside of town. It offered spacious common areas for gathering with steaming mugs of coffee in the mornings or glasses of wine once the kids were in bed, seven bedrooms (sleeps 12), a private fire pit and in-ground hot tub, and access to kayak and SUP boards for some aquatic exploration.
I mean, does that check the list or what?
Coolest of all, it’s one of three neighboring homes (four more coming in the future) that are all nearly identical and available to rent as a part of the new Lakemore Resort. As you might imagine, my wheels are already turning on a potentially epic three-rental-house family reunion or group getaway. This new resort, interestingly enough, builds upon three existing rentals – located just across the same lake, Lake Arbutus – that are known as Lakemore Retreat and are available to rent via VRBO. (If you’re curious, it was my discovery of the Lakemore Retreat Lodge, which was swiftly booked out from under me on VRBO, that led me down the path to find Lakemore Resort. It’s a wild ride inside my travel-wired brain, sometimes.)
For families with little ones, I especially appreciated the home layout, which included one bedroom (with queen and twin bed) on the walk-out basement level alongside a family room and kitchenette. It was the perfect space for our early-rising infant to crawl around without disturbing the rest of the house. For context, a king bedroom resides on the main level, and the second floor includes three queen rooms and two kid-friendly rooms that each have a sweet desk set up next to a twin-size bed.
Our early October visit to the property was the stuff that Michigan weather forecasters dream of … temperatures in the 60s, crunchy and colorful leaves and full sunshine. We threw open the windows, kayaked during the day and sat around the fire pit with blankets at night. Our only legitimate issue was that we found out (way too late) that we were visiting during the busiest weekend of the year for local wineries … needless to say, rather than a leisurely tasting on a vineyard lawn, we grabbed bottles to go and brought them back to the house for our own slower paced sipping.
So, do as I say and not as I do – call ahead and book a table for your party! Wineries at the top on my list, which are all located on the Old Mission Peninsula and are approximately 30-minute drive away, are:
- Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery
Great tasting room space and a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc
- Bonobo Winery
Bright and airy, AND co-owned by HGTV host Carter Oosterhouse!
- Mari Vineyards
An expansive outdoor area plus gorgeous lake views