Experience Old Mission Peninsula
A narrow strip of land stretches north from Traverse City, dividing up two stunning bays into East and West. While less than a mile wide at its widest stretch and just thirteen miles in length, the Old Mission Peninsula is home to an incredible amount of history, commerce, and natural beauty. Aside from words of praise from friends who have been there and maybe seeing a few Instagram posts, many of our guests who’ve never ventured to Old Mission before have no idea of what’s in store for them on their Old Mission Peninsula wine tour. You’ll be fascinated at how many wineries, vineyards, beaches, and history you’ll encounter on such a small, but very special stretch of land.
Old Mission Peninsula Wineries and Vineyards
Rather amazingly, there are more than ten wineries and one distillery on Old Mission Peninsula. In fact, at almost any winery you stop at, you’re able to look out over the hills to see at least one or two other vineyards dotting up from across the vista. It makes for some incredible views, as the vineyards stretch out over the hills as far as the eye can see. The nine most prominent wineries on the peninsula have come together to form the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, an association that works together to organize events and to promote the peninsula as the place to go for top-quality wine in the Midwest.
Old Mission is also home to some of the largest cherry orchards in the area. The combination of these cherry orchards and vineyards makes for some gorgeous scenery while driving on the peninsula. When the cherry blossoms bloom in early spring, the entire peninsula is covered in the most beautiful white petals. From the sky, it looks like just Old Mission is still covered in the snows of winter! You’ll also see plenty of Traverse City locals taking in the views by bicycle or while enjoying a jog. Enjoying the views of the bays is also another perk of experiencing a wine tour of Old Mission, which guarantees guests plenty of photo opportunities.
History on Old Mission Peninsula
Although guests are unlikely to ever tire of exploring the wineries, there’s also more than a little history on the peninsula. Perhaps the most famous historical site is the Mission Point Lighthouse, located at the northern tip of the peninsula. The lighthouse was built in 1870 and operated until 1933 when it was decommissioned. However, the lighthouse has been immaculately maintained and is open for visitors to explore from May until October.
No tourist destination would be complete without a good haunting, and fortunately enough for us, Jolly Pumpkin has just such a hair-raising tale to tell. As every local Traverse City child will tell you, Jolly Pumpkin’s grounds are haunted by Genevive Stickney, the jealous and long-since deceased former widow of a man that left his riches to his nurse and mistress, rather than to Genevive. This restless spirit often obliges us with some excitement by frightening an unsuspecting guest or barmaid from time to time.
Old Mission Beaches
If ghosts aren’t your thing, take a break from your wine tastings with a stop at one of the many beaches that line Old Mission Peninsula. The most popular is probably Haserot Beach, which is far enough out on the peninsula to usually discourage too many folks from making the drive out. As a result, it’s one of the least crowded beaches on the peninsula and an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon with your toes in the sand.
Out near Mission Point Lighthouse, there are also plenty of spots to park and along the road and enjoy some often completely empty beaches. Just look for the public land signs designating the land as public, and your private beach awaits!
To stay a bit closer to Traverse City, East Bay Park is located at the base of Old Mission, within walking distance of many hotels on East Bay. It’s a quiet spot, complete with public barbecues, picnic tables, and restrooms. Bryant Park is also a very family-friendly beach on the base of the peninsula and is within walking distance from any neighborhood on the east side of Traverse City.
If you need any other reasons to come visit us and Old Mission Peninsula, please let us know! We’d be happy to write about any topic you’d be interested in learning more about. Just send us an email!
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