Fun Things to do In Traverse City with Kids


February 8, 2021

This weekend we needed a break. We needed to get away and we were also without a baby sitter. We put our heads together and decided to head north with our little family and our son Otto to meet up with my sister and brother in law. There are so many fun things to do in Traverse City with kids that are also fun for the adults. There are covid restrictions in place as I write this, some of it is subject to change based on the current covid climate but we found this weekend to be extremely restful and fun. It was great to reconnect with family while being snowed in.

We relaxed, we slowed down and we ate about two pants sizes past where we should have stopped. During the winter in Michigan everything moves at a slower place. Like we are all catching our breath for a bit. I haven’t had a chance to see my sister and brother in law since Christmas so it was nice to have time away to relax. They even got me to play card games (and I Hate games).

Downtown Traverse City

Where we stayed: 
We stayed at the Leland Lodge located right near the historic Fishtown. The Leland Lodge is is located at the top of the hill with great views and a short drive to wineries, the water as well as downtown Traverse City. The Leland Lodge is extremely family friendly and a great place to take your kids.

Things to do in Traverse City with Kids while staying at the Leland Lodge:

Bogeys: Forget what you know about hotel restaurants, Bogeys is legit. They are so friendly and accommodating to families and are practicing excellent Covid-19 precautions. They have a great kids menu as well as a great wine and beer selection for adults. Whenever we stay at the lodge we always have plans to go our for dinner but after a big day of exploring and adventure, cozying up at Bogeys is usually where you’ll find us. My favorite things to order is their chowder, brussel sprouts and a burger. Their brussel sprouts are some of the best you will ever have. If you’re on the fence about brussels, give these a try they will change your mind.

Sledding: The Leland Lodge has one of the best sledding hills around. They even have an area for sled parking. Didn’t bring one? Don’t worry they have all the rentals you need for your stay. As a parent you can skip the gym because the hike back up the hill will get you in tip top shape after an evening at Bogeys.

Historic Fishtown: One of the funnest things to do in Traverse City with kids in the winter is to walk to Fishtown. Throw on some snow shoes or “walk like a penguin” down the hill from the lodge and it will take you right to historic Fishtown. In the winter everything is frozen which makes an incredible and quiet site. In the summer the small shops are open and I highly recommend the cheese shop.

Peace Love and Little donuts in downtown traverse City

Fun things to do In Traverse City with Kids while also wanting to do some adult cider and wine tasting: 

Northern Michigan is known for their wine making but I also love the ciders and spirits that are being created up north. (Joe also loves the beer). The capacity right now is 25% according to regulations so I highly encourage making reservations at 2 – 3 places per day. We made igloo reservations the first day at Chateau Chantal, Peninsula Cellars and Tabone winery. All three places were incredibly accommodating with Otto and had snacks available for purchase as well as juice boxes. I found that by spreading out the tastings an hour or two apart it gave time for us to do some exploring on the side so Otto wasn’t just sitting with us all day.

On day two we visited Blustone Vineyards and Bel Lago . Both of these places we did indoor tasting but felt very comfortable with the atmosphere and precautions they were taking. We did make a reservation at both places ahead of time. We are wine club members at Blustone and enjoyed tasting their sparkling wines and ciders as well as some of their reds. After that we headed to Bel Lago and I think this might have been my favorite stop of the trip. We enjoyed their ciders, got to try their new seasonal drink of cherry wine and drinking chocolates. Their ciders were some of my favorites I’ve tasted up north. They were so kind and let Otto and I watch how they make their pizzas. Otto came running back to take each one of us to see his pizza being made. When we got our drink topped with whipped cream they also brought him a little cup of whipped cream with sprinkles. He thought he was pretty cool knowing how pizza was made and eating whipped cream.

Chateau Chantal Igloo Tasting

Things to do in Traverse City with Kids When it Comes to Food: 

We ate dinner at Bogeys twice while staying at the Lodge, it was easy and delicious. We took a break from tasting and ate a delicious lunch at North Peak brewing. The atmosphere was relaxed and very family friendly. We all warmed up with soup and sandwiches, relaxed and enjoyed each others company before walking next door to Folgarellis for cookies. The gentleman working behind the counter gave otto a special cookie waffle and it made his entire day.

We ate breakfast at 45th Parallel Cafe which was the perfect way to start the morning. They have good, hearty breakfast options of biscuits and gravy, scrambles, baked goods and of course, grilled cheeses. This is located about ten minutes (in the snow) from the Leland Lodge and one of the only breakfast places open around the lodge. The first day we grabbed delicious little donuts at Peace Love and Little Donuts  this place is like the Qdoba of donuts. You select what you would like for the toppings and they make it hot and fresh right in front of you. The donuts are about a quarter of a typical donut size so it’s fun to try a few different combinations.

Another great place to stop for snacks and incredible baked goods is 9 bean rows bakery. We stocked up on some ciabatta bread and a sleeve of Valentine Cookies for the ride home.

Peninsula Cellars Wine Tasting Traverse City

Things to do in Traverse City with Kids That are FREE

We have visited Traverse City so many times over the years and the views never cease to amaze us. One of the best things northern Michigan has to offer is the great outdoors. There are so many parks, trails and views that are accessible and stunning any time of year. One of my favorite places to trek is the sleeping bear dunes. In the spring – fall the farmers market is open and full of beautiful produce, farm fresh goods and cheeses. If outdoor hiking isn’t your style just taking a scenic drive around the bay looking for ice balls and snow packed trees is amazing. If you are comfortable with heading indoors these are some other fun activities, some have a small admission fee. 


Added: This is article is about the fun kid friendly places that are open currently in the pandemic. There is a lot more options when places and activities are able to resume due to no Covid and also warmer temperatures. Sledding with your kids overlooking the beautiful bay, going on walks to the icy frozen fish town, simply watching your pizza get made are things that rocked my son’s world. When as working parents do we get that quiet time with our kids? Hardly ever. Each family is different and each family enjoys different things. For us? Resting, Relaxing, playing games in a space that was out of the norm for us felt really really good.

Peninsula Cellars Wine Tasting Traverse City inside Kid friendly wine tasting in traverse city Ice balls in traverse city Historic Fishtown at night Historic Fishtown traverse city Leland Lodge Sledding Hill Sledding hill at leland lodge Fun activities in Northern Michigan Otto running up the sledding hill Blustone Vineyard Leland Blustone Vineyard Leland traverse city michigan Bel Lago Winery Traverse City Michigan Cherry Wine with hot Chocolate Winter activities in Northern Michigan Father and Son enjoying northern michigan Enjoying a drink at Bel Lago Winery Cherry wine and drinking chocolate special drink of the month at Bel Lago

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  1. Ashlee says:

    Just so you know this isn’t things to do in traverse City it was places to drink and eat in leland and Sutton’s bay. The only thing that was kid friendly that didn’t involve eating and/or drinking was the sledding which you can do anywhere. ‍♀️ As a mother of three I found this unhelpful as things to do in traverse City.

    • Hi Ashley,
      This is all in the Traverse City area. Peace Love and Donuts is right in downtown Traverse City. I’m sorry that you did not find this helpful for you or your three children but as a mother of one, we had an absolute blast together.

      My son loves to go to lodge in the winter and where else can you find a sledding hill over looking the stunning bay? Sure you can go sledding anywhere but on vacation things feel different and special.

      If you feel like you have better ideas to do with your kids in the Traverse City area during winter in a pandemic I would love to hear them! Please feel free to share below.

      Have a wonderful day and thanks for visiting the site.

  2. Amy says:

    Hi Abigail,

    I found your article pretty spot on and in the summer there’s a few more family-friendly opportunities for kids to enjoy. Love TC my kidoes love living here. Loved your photos.

    • Thank you Amy!
      Summer cannot come soon enough.
      In the winter things in TC area are so quiet and peaceful. We took so many wonderful walks, went sledding and enjoyed all the little things you normally wouldn’t pay attention to in the hustle of spring and summer.
      We cannot wait to go back!

  3. Tommy says:

    Hi that’s so funny I was going to write something very similar to Ashley. We all appreciate your writing but it seems more like an article on what you can put down your gullet and stuff in your mouth. Would like to see activities not eating or drinking that you could do with kids and I felt like yours did not address that. but thank you for the wonderful writing anyway. I hope you guys are getting some exercise after eating all that…. almost made me feel sick like I need to go for a run! 🙂

    • Hi Tommy,
      This is my blog and I write about things I do with my family. We experience places through food and exploration. I wish you would have thought twice about the things you wrote. “Put down your gullet and stuff in your mouth”? That is so abrasive.
      We went sledding, went on walks, drove through the snow covered roads looking at the ice balls in the water, sitting by the fire at the lodge. It’s winter, in a pandemic there is not a lot open but also there is nothing wrong with taking your kid along for the ride who thought igloos were a blast as much as sledding and walking through frozen fish town.
      Hope you got your run in and started to feel better.

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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