Traverse City & Old Mission Peninsula: An Afternoon

Old Mission Lighthouse, which operated from 1870 to 1933

Old Mission Lighthouse, which operated from 1870 to 1933

I wanted to put a really cute title on this for you ...I really did. But nothing was coming to me and so this is what we're stuck with and we'll all just have to learn to live with it. At least we (you) know what we're talking about — that much is plain.

My youngest sibling and I ventured up to the Traverse City area yesterday, spending a few hours in the Cherry Capital of (Michigan? The U.S.? The World?! (but probably just Michigan!?!)).

Traverse City is a place I have been to many times; though, admittedly, a host of those trips were visits to the mall or to Turtle Creek Casino in nearby Williamsburg. Even though I've probably been going there since I was in elementary (maybe even before that), I don't think I'd ever spent any proper time in the downtown region along Front Street until a couple years ago during the city's heralded National Cherry Festival.

The hustle and bustle and shops and restaurants and people and cars and sights and sounds and things and more things and still other things of Front Street were again a destination of mine on this little Thursday excursion to Grand Traverse County — but first, we sat down for brunch at the Omelette Shoppe on Cass Street.

I ordered the Inferno omelette, which is some concoction with barbacoa and chipotle sauce, and let me tell you, it was sublime (it does not appear on their online menu though for some reason). My brother ordered the fluffiest chocolate chip pancakes I have ever seen in my life. While the food was certainly spectacular, this is not the place to go if you're looking for a cheap eat, however. Our bill (with tip added) came to $34 for the two entrées, two sides, and two cups of coffee.

Brunch at the Omelette Shoppe

Brunch at the Omelette Shoppe

Even with the pricey(ish) caveat, I'd still recommend checking out the Omelette Shoppe if treating your taste buds is the ultimate goal.

Brunch was followed by a little stroll down the aforementioned main drag of downtown. We first ducked into the Art & Soul Gallery, a space filled to the brim with paintings of Michigan scenes — such as the Mackinac Bridge and the channel in Charlevoix — and an assortment of wood-carved fish, among other artful ditties. I'm sure there were Petoskey stones in there somewhere, but frankly the things have never interested me.

Nifty Things was our next stop, its "Fine Cigars" sign ushering me inside. They have a range of assorted bric-a-brac, and those cigars, but we didn't end up buying anything.

After that, to be perfectly honest, we didn't hang around Front Street too much longer, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there is also a Kilwin's shop down there and the delightful State Theatre, which is gearing up to host the Traverse City Film Festival from July 25 through 30.

Exiting the confines of downtown T.C., we set our sights on Old Mission Peninsula, which is home to ten wineries, including Black Star Farms, Chateau Grand Traverse, and Bowers Harbor Vineyards. We bypassed all ten of them, however, heading for the tippy top of the peninsula where sits the Old Mission Lighthouse.

In operation from 1870 to 1933, the surprisingly short lighthouse is now a quaint, little museum. Applications to be the lighthouse keeper for summer 2018 are actually open right now, if that sort of thing interests you. Living in the lighthouse (for at least a week), greeting visitors from around the country and sometimes the world, and having a front row seat to the sunset over West Grand Traverse Bay doesn't sound too shabby, in my opinion.

Plus, for supplies, you can always run over to the Old Mission General Store, which happened to be our next stop. Located on Mission Road, you step into this place and it might as well be 1927 or thereabout. It's a little dark and cramped, but I loved the atmosphere of it. People leaving reviews on Trip Advisor don't seem to share my opinion, but they also sound like they have a stick up their ass, if you ask me (pardon my French).

Front porch of the Old Mission General Store

Front porch of the Old Mission General Store

(Seriously, though, this is an excerpt from one reviewer: "The front parking spots are short and close to the road. A van had parked next to me blocking my view of the street. This caused my daughter to have to cross the street to motion me back safety [sic] onto the street then jump in." ...Like, wow, what an inconvenience *rolls eyes*)

But okay! Before I take off on a rant about silly people and their nitpicking ways, let's drive back down the peninsula and make way for the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a series of shops and restaurants housed in what was formerly part of the Traverse City State Hospital.

While there are many places here worth stopping at — such as High Five Threads, a Michigan apparel company; Raven's Nest, which sports unique household items; and Vintage du Jour, an antique furniture store — I had one destination in mind: Landmark Books. Paul, the owner, has an amazing collection of classic books, including many hard-to-find editions, and also specializes in fixing typewriters, which he also sells.

This time I only picked up an ambiguously-aged collection of Lewis Carroll stories and writings, but the last time I visited Paul I walked away with a 1940 copy of Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and an even older copy of one of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books. With not even a hint of sarcasm, I would 10/10 recommend a visit to Landmark Books.

Paul's bookshop closed out our afternoon in Grand Traverse County, which I would consider well-spent. It still feels as if I have much more exploring to do in the area, though.