Since becoming puppy parents to our mini golden doodle, Wrigley, our lives have been changed forever. He has been the sweetest addition to our family and brought us so much joy. As soon as we brought him home, I quickly realized that a lot of our plans were now based on whether our furry friend could come with us. We love to take him hiking, to breweries, to the beach and everywhere in between! But I have to admit, it's not always easy to find out which facilities allow dogs and it can involve a lot of research or calling around - especially if you're trying to travel somewhere you've never been before. So when I had the opportunity to team up with Traverse City Tourism and showcase all the pet-friendly attractions the city by the bay has to offer (trust me, there's a lot) I couldn't wait to start planning our itinerary. Find out more about how Wrigley and I spent three days in the Cherry Capital including our favorite wineries, restaurants, shopping and attractions.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Traverse City Tourism. The itinerary was created by me based on personal research and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
We stayed at the Comfort Inn during our trip which has a number of dog-friendly rooms on the first floor with easy access to the main lobby for all those potty breaks you're bound to take. The front desk staff were great and had plenty of treats for Wrigley (5-stars if you ask him). The hotel is located just a few miles from downtown and they have a free shuttle that will pick you up and drop you off until midnight if you don't want to worry about parking. However, kudos to Traverse City for being one of the most parking-friendly cities I've been too with multiple garages, free parking on Sundays and very affordable rates ($1/hour) in most lots during the week. Comfort Inn provides a complimentary breakfast for guests each morning which was a great start to our day and allowed us to begin exploring earlier as opposed to trying to fit another restaurant stop into our itinerary. Keep in mind there is a small fee to have your dog stay with you and they can't be left alone in the room. This wasn't an issue for us because there are so many pet-friendly options and Wrigley loved exploring with us the whole time, but something to note if you plan to go anywhere that doesn't allow dogs. For a complete list of dog-friendly accommodations in Traverse City, click here.
With around 40 different wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms to choose from, you simply can't visit Traverse City without making a least a few wine tasting stops. There are two primary regions, Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula, each making it easy to hop from one winery to the next while enjoying picturesque views along the way. Plan to choose your top two or three locations for each peninsula so you have time to truly enjoy each stop and don't feel rushed to make it to all of them. It also gives you a reason to come back and have a completely different vacation the second time around. During our trip we spent the first day driving up Old Mission and the second day exploring the Sutton's Bay area. The following wineries are some of our favorite pet-friendly stops:
Bry's Estate (Old Mission): Home of the insta-worthy frose, Bry's is one of my top Traverse City wine tour stops every time I visit. While dogs aren't allowed in the tasting room or on the patio, they are welcome in the side lawn area which is far less crowded with plenty of adirondack chairs and yard games. You'll have to visit the tasting room to order drinks (and their famous cheese board) but you'll welcome to take the drinks out to the lawn with you and their staff will deliver any food. If you have someone joining you on your trip I highly recommend taking turns walking out onto the sky deck on the patio which offers amazing views of the vineyard.
Bower's Harbor (Old Mission): This would have to be my #1 pick for dog-friendly wineries in Traverse City. The grounds are absolutely breathtaking with so many different areas for seating as well as an outdoor tasting bar. Your furry friends are allowed in all areas of the facility including the shop inside. Be sure to try one of their flight trees which offer a variety of different wine samples that pair together based on your tasting preferences including a sweet, sparkling, or red flight, among others. Many of the wines are even named after the owner's dogs who can occasionally be spotted visiting the tasting room. Brix and Cooper are a few of my favorites! The tasting room also has a wide selection of dog-themed merchandise including the cutest cheers dog treats.
Black Star Farms (Leelanau): Don't get this location confused with the Old Mission tasting room which isn't dog-friendly. However, the flagship Black Star Farms facility located on Suttons Bay has a gorgeous outdoor patio area to sip a glass of wine with your dog by your side. They also offer plenty of space to wander around if your dog gets a bit restless from sitting all afternoon including hiking trails near the back of the grounds. The 160 acre estate is home to a distillery, farmstead cafe, inn and equestrian facility.
45 North (Leelanau): Located directly on the 45th parallel which is in line with Italy’s Piedmont region and Bourdeaux in France, everything here is handcrafted on site with over 10 varieties of grapes planted. There are several tables on the outdoor patio which welcomes dogs along with a lawn area featuring two bocce ball courts. Head into the gorgeous post and beam barn to grab a glass of your favorite wine or five tasting samples for $7.
Mawby (Leelanau): Home of the bubbles, Mawby is known for their sparkling wines and ciders. Dogs are allowed on the outdoor patio and throughout the grounds but not in the tasting room. Upon arrival you are greeted with four complimentary tastings of some of their signature bubbles. From there you can either purchase wine by the glass or try one of their signature tasting flights for $9 which includes two, 2oz pours of your choice paired with a locally made spread and crackers.
Cherry Republic: Traverse City isn't called the Cherry Capital for nothing! Cherry Republic is home to all things cherry. The Glen Arbor location offers a pub, ice cream parlor, storefront, wine tasting bar and the cutest outdoor space with yard games and an official cherry pit spitting lane. Dogs are welcome throughout the grounds as well as in the shop and tasting room. We stopped here for lunch after our visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes and it was the perfect place to grab a refreshing cherry blonde ale paired with their famous cherry chicken salad. If you don't have time to make it to the Glen Arbor location they have a storefront on Front Street in downtown Traverse City where you can still get all the free samples your heart desires and purchase some of their many cherry infused products which make great souvenirs.
The Shed: This beer garden takes the cake for dog-friendly eateries complete with a full doggie menu. The apples and peanut butter were a big hit with Wrigley and they also offer a puppy patty, gluten free dog biscuits and salmon and brisket treats. The garden is a bit hard to find, but is located in the parking lot behind Blue Tractor. For humans they offer a wide selection of beers and cocktails along with bbq plates and house made sandwiches.
The Filling Station: Traverse City isn't only about the wine, they also have a number of breweries throughout the downtown area. The Filling Station, located in the historic railroad district, has family style patio seating along the tracks. The microbrewery features a number of rotating craft beers which pair well with their wood-fired pizzas made in a traditional brick oven.
Workshop Brewing: If you're a beer fan you'll also love this stop. Offering pub style service you can grab a seat on the patio overlooking the bay and listen to the live music (located inside) six nights a week. Their chicken quesadilla was honestly one of my favorite meals of the entire trip and they have an expansive beer menu along with wine and cider options. Don't miss the chance to snap a photo high fiving the bear painted on the brewery's wall!
Little Fleet: This stop should be on everyone's Traverse City list, with or without a dog. Offering an eclectic mix of food trucks, everyone is sure to find something they love including my personal favorites Cordwood BBQ and Happy's Taco Shop. Be sure to order a handcrafted cocktail from the insta-worthy bar in the middle of the lot and then find a seat outside or under the shaded pergola if your pup needs a break from the sun to cool off.
Bluebird: If you find yourself strolling around historic Fishtown in Leland (see below) stop in to their riverside patio for lunch or dinner. The tavern features typical American fare while the dining room has more upscale options including a variety of seafood dishes. Make sure to call ahead before you visit to ensure their patio is open as we went on a Monday evening and they weren't serving outside that night.
MOOmer's Ice Cream: Located a few miles outside of Traverse City, the family-owned cow-to-cone micro creamery should be on everyone's must-visit list. The ice cream shop is home to 160 different flavors including the famous Cherries Moobile featuring black cherry ice cream with chunks of black sweet cherries, brownies and chocolate fudge. Can't decide on just one flavor? Try out their unique flight option with five different choices and don't forget a pup cup for your dog! Enjoy your sweet treat overlooking the dairy farm, or wander back to the sunflower garden. If you can't make it out to the store, you can still savor the creamy goodness of MOOmer's at various ice cream shops located throughout the city.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Ahh Sleeping Bear Dunes - forever one of my favorite up north attractions! This 64-mile stretch of breathtaking views, freshwater beaches, and miles of hiking trails is just a short 30-minute drive outside downtown Traverse City. Plan to spend a least half a day here to get the full experience but you could easily make it into a full day adventure. If you're short on time and still want to get the most out of your trip opt for Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The seven mile loop drive offers multiple overlooks and stunning views of the lakeshore. There is a $25 fee to get in but don't let that scare you away. The entry fee is good for seven days and allows you to access all of Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park (including the dune climb). A few of my favorite stops along the drive are the covered bridge (#1) which is a picturesque drive through and a great photo op. The Dune Overlook (#3) offers sweeping views of the dunes which gently dip to the lakeshore to the north. Lake Michigan Overlook (#9) and Sleeping Bear Dune overlook (#10) are the highlight of most people's drive and can be accessed from the same parking lot. The platform at #9 is 450 above the lake and feels like you're looking straight down to the water. Stop #10 offers equally breathtaking views atop the iconic landform that gave the park its name. There are signs posted all around advising you not to climb down because the rescue fees if you can't make it back up are steep so only do so at your own risk.
If you have a bit more time, consider tackling one of the many hikes throughout the park. Dogs are welcome on all paths and it's a great way to get some exercise together. Cottonwood Trail (#4 on Pierce Stocking Drive) is a 1.5 mile loop through the middle of the dunes which involves walking through a lot of sand but offers an up close look at the unique landscape surrounding you. Empire Bluff Trail is one of my personal favorites and is a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike through the woods ending on a boardwalk with a distant views of the curving shoreline. The trail is very moderate with minimal elevation and good for all ages. Another hike still on my bucket list is Pyramid Point. The 2.8 mile round trip hike takes you on a gravel/sand trail up 570 feet offering 180 degree views of the lakeshore. If you're not up for conquering the entire loop, there is a lookout point that jets off from the main trail only .6 miles in. Your GPS will likely deceive you while trying to locate the start of this hike (speaking from personal experience). Don't confuse the trailhead with the paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail which runs along M22. When you turn off M22 onto S. Basch Road keep driving down the dirt road, turn right at the fork and keep driving until you fully loop around to Basch road and the Pyramid Point trailhead.
Front Street: Shop small and shop local is the theme behind downtown Traverse City's unique boutiques and galleries that line Front Street. There are plenty of dog-friendly shops with water bowls out front. A few a my favorite stops are Lakes and Grapes, M22, and Cherry Republic. Be sure to check out the We are Your Wings TC mural (located outside Coin Slot) and the Greetings from Traverse City mural (located outside Kilwin's).
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons: This historic 1884 hospital complex has been transformed into a unique shopping and dining scene. Stroll through the shops in The Mercato on the bottom floor of the grand to find books, furs, jewelry, gifts and more. Walk across the street to sip on local wines and beers on the terrace of Left Foot Charley or grab a cup of coffee next door at Higher Grounds. You can also take a historic tour of The Village campus, exploring unrenovated buildings and a brick steam tunnel built in 1883 (not dog friendly).
Historic Fishtown is a small fishing village, nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan and is one of the only working commercial fishing villages in Michigan. Stroll down by the dock among the original fishing shanties, many of which have been turned into small shops and galleries. Snap an insta-worthy photo with your pup at the fish wall outside Two Fish Leland or next to the iconic Janice Sue and Joy fishing tugs. If you're looking for a quick meal, grab a sandwich from the famous Village Cheese Shanty and eat it on the dock overlooking the mouth of the Leland River. The Bluebird patio is another dog friendly spot to grab a bite to eat. Rick's Cafe (located below The Cove) has one dog-friendly table on their patio but it can be hard to snag as it's only offered on a first come, first serve basis.
Wags West Dog Park
If your pup is anything like Wrigley, they are bound to get tired of walking on a leash the whole trip. Luckily there is a place for them to run free right in the heart of downtown. Wags West Dog Park (315 N. Division Street) offers a large fenced in yard for your dogs to burn off some energy. We stopped here on a Tuesday morning and there were four other dogs for Wrigley to play with. The park also offers easy access to a water fountain for dogs inside the gate.
Living near Lake Michigan, we love to take Wrigley to the beach and during our trip to Traverse City we were on the hunt for a place for him to cool off. Old Mission Lighthouse Park is located at the end of Old Mission Peninsula and juts into the Grand Traverse Bay. An easy walk from the parking lot, you'll have access to miles of shoreline as well as a shallow sandbar for quite some distance out in the water which is perfect for pups who like to wade in but not swim. This site is also home to the historic Old Mission Lighthouse which makes for a great photo op and offers tours (not dog-friendly). If you're looking to splash in the water and enjoy some beach time with your pup while visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes, Esch Beach (Otter Creek) and Peterson Beach are both dog-friendly. The far west end of West End Beach in downtown Traverse City also allows dogs on leashes.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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