Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Traverse City | Midwest Living

Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Traverse City

1) Grand Traverse Lighthouse One of Michigan's oldest lighthouses sits at the tip of the 1,300-acre Leelanau State Park peninsula. Pay the park entry fee and $4 to climb to the top of the restored 1858 structure and wander through a museum for a peek into the life of a lightkeeper. Ghost walks and overnights are also available. (231) 386-7195;

2) Lehto’s Pasties Specializing in traditional Cornish meat pies, the former Pasty Wagon food truck has moved into a Front Street storefront. Ground beef, potatoes and rutabagas fill tender hot pockets of dough. It’s classic to-go food for just $6. (906) 643-8542;

3) Two Lads Winery The Old Mission Peninsula is home to a handful of notable Michigan wineries; we like Two Lads for its stunning scenery and high-quality varietals. Inside the hilltop building, the owners produce top-notch Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Taste six samples for $5, or buy a bottle and sample for free. (231) 223-7722;

4) The Village at Grand Traverse Commons What was a mental asylum in the late 1800s is now home to condos, spas, boutique shops, a winery, cafes, an indoor marketplace and chichi restaurants. Dozens of trees not usually found in this region dot the 480-acre park surrounding the gothic-looking facility (the asylum administrator was something of a horticulturalist). (231) 941-1900;

5) The Little Fleet This nightly food truck roundup has all the ingredients for a party. Order barbeque, grilled veggie wraps or gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches; grab a beer or craft cocktail; and find a seat in the food court to enjoy the indie music playing in the background. Most menu items clock in at $6 to $12, drinks $3 to $10. (231) 943-1116;

6) Dennos Museum Center On the grounds of Northwestern Michigan College, this little museum packs a big cultural punch with one of the United State’s most complete collections of Canadian Arctic Inuit art, including stonecuts, etchings, tapestries and artifacts. Provocative sculptures by Michigan artists hold court just outside the museum and around campus. Adult admission is $6. (231) 995-1055;

7) National Cherry Festival Springing from a Blessing of the Blossoms back in the 1920s, the annual event now draws nearly half a million people over eight days each summer. After you’ve filled up on all manner of cherry goodness, try a pit-spitting or pie-eating contest or any of the numerous other games, performances and shows. (231) 947-4230;

8) Right Brain Brewery Housed in a converted warehouse, this craft brewery produces a range of styles and flavors, such as peach, banana and pecan pie. There are ususally a dozen brews on tap that go well with the waffle sandwiches, sliders and other nibbles. Flights are $15, and a 30-minute tour is $5. (231) 944-1239;

9) Slabtown Burgers Traverse City’s Slabtown neighborhood takes its name from the slabs of lumber 19th-century Bohemian immigrants used to build their homes. A yellow house in the neighborhood is the place to go for delicious burgers. A single with basic toppings rings up at $3.25; build one to taste with add-ons like green olives, grilled mushrooms, banana peppers, dried cherries and blue cheese. Even with hand-cut fries and a drink, you probably won’t drop more than $7. (231) 932-1760;

10) West Bay Beach This four-season Holiday Inn Resort makes the most of its Grand Traverse Bay location with floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking views from most of the 179 guest rooms. The seasonal outdoor patio is a prime viewing spot for sunsets. Casual restaurants, nightlife venues, an indoor-outdoor pool round out offerings at this spot that’s in walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants.. (231) 947-3700;

Photos courtesy of Traverse City Tourism