While in Traverse City, we had the opportunity to explore the Old Mission Peninsula with a personal tour guide, Mike Norton, Media Relations Manager of Traverse City Tourism. Normally I don’t write about experiences that my readers can’t do themselves, and while you may not be able to have a personalized tour with Mike, you can certainly take a self-guided tour. This 16-mile-long finger of land protrudes into Grand Traverse Bay, dividing it into a West Arm and an East Arm. The peninsula is named for a Christian mission to the Native Americans founded in May 1839 by Rev. Peter Dougherty and Rev. John Fleming. Our tour guide lives on the peninsula and wanted to show off its beauty. The Traverse City area is the largest producer of tart cherries in the country. You’ll definitely see cherry orchards on a driving tour of the Old Mission Peninsula, and, because grapes were found to grow well where cherries grow, you’ll also see vineyards.
Eight wineries call the Old Mission Peninsula home. Because this wasn’t of interest to my kids, we admired the vineyards, but didn’t go into any wineries.
One of the wineries had a hillside of wildflowers.
Next Mike took us to the tip of the peninsula to see the Mission Point Lighthouse.
The lighthouse was operational from 1870 until 1933. Even though it’s not in operation, you can tour it, climb the tower, and enjoy the view from the top.
After that we explored the shore. Mike tried to find a Petoskey Stone to show to the kids, but was unable to find any.
The final stop on our tour was Haserot Beach. Mike lives nearby and kindly brought his kayaks for my kids to use. (The kayaks are the part that you can’t do on your own, but you can play at the beach.)
Mike gave them some pointers, then sent them off.
We brought some of our sand castle tools so the kids could build a castle. The kids demonstrated their techniques to Mike.
Unfortunately, the sand was rather coarse and the hand stacked tower collapsed. They salvaged what was left and decided to turn it into a very small castle.
The finished castle was small, but I think it turned out well.
Ready to visit?
Old Mission Peninsula Visitor Information (Includes information about parks, farm markets, wineries, and other points of interest)
Mission Point Lighthouse
20500 Center Road, Traverse City MI, 49686
April – October: Open Daily, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
November & December: Open Weekends, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
$4.00 per adult
$2.00 per children 12 & under
5 & under FREE
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