City Offers Great Women's Getaways
By Mike Norton
this time of year, many of us have had
our fill of winter.
And that's a shame, because March can
be the very best time of year to enjoy
the pleasures of a snowy forest, a sun-drenched
ski hill or a midnight display of the
northern lights. The days are longer,
the weather is brighter, and the approach
of spring lends a certain last-chance
poignancy to the experience.
Shopping along Front Street
be sure, late winter weather can be a
chancy thing. That's why a destination
like Traverse City, on the northwest coast
of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, is the
perfect spot for a "last hurrah"
getaway, especially for the girls. Surrounded
by a glacier-carved landscape of lakes,
bays and rolling hills, this resort community
provides a wide spectrum of winter recreation, with opportunities for
shopping, nightlife and fine dining.
Many of those opportunities can be sampled
along Front Street, the main shopping
thoroughfare, which blends funky sophistication
with picturesque 19th-century charm. With
over 150 boutiques, shops, restaurants
and galleries, it's a great place to ramble,
browse and linger.
An added benefit is that late winter and
spring are the "shoulder season"
in this part of the world, when room rates
are low and some great bargains can be
found. For example, the Traverse
City Convention & Visitors Bureau
is running a special "Girlfriends
Getaway" packages that combine special
low rates at 20 participating hotels and
resorts — as low as $24.50 per person
per night — with a wide variety of discounts ranging from shopping and dining to entertainment and pampering.
The packages, which run from Feb. 1 to
June 12, include discounts for shopping,
dining, casino gaming and clubbing, and
can be enriched with such add-ons as spa
to its vast acreage of forest and parkland,
Traverse City is probably best known for
the quality of its winter "silent
sports:"' snowshoe hiking and cross-country
skiing. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National
Lakeshore has eight marked trails, some
leading to panoramic views above the lake.
Other marked trail systems include the
Lost Lake Pathway near Interlochen, the
3,500-acre Sand Lakes Quiet Area near
Williamsburg and the Vasa Pathway, one
of the finest cross-country ski trails
in the nation. Within the city, the 300-acre
Grand Traverse Commons features superb
skiing and snowshoeing in parklike grounds
among century-old, European-style buildings
and stands of old-growth pines.
The Timber Ridge Resort, a cross-country
ski and snowshoe center in the hills south
of town, offers a March 5 "Wednesday
Women's Night" where women gather
for lessons, clinics, food and fun on
the resort's lit trail system.
When it comes to downhill skiing, the
region's premiere full-service winter
destination is undoubtedly Shanty Creek
Resorts, a 4,500-acre recreational complex
in the beautiful Chain of Lakes region
about 30 miles northeast of Traverse City.
Ski Magazine rated Shanty Creek the Midwest's
number-one destination in value, dining,
lodging, weather and après ski
activities. Its ski areas feature a 450-foot
vertical with 49 runs for every ability
level, plus four snowboarding parks and a tubing park.
Other skiers have prefer staying closer to town, taking advantage
of low lodging rates and a broad choice
of shopping, dining and entertainment
options. For them, Traverse City's two
day ski areas, Mt. Holiday and Hickory
Hills, provide a welcome alternative
Snowmobilers tend to head south and east
of town, where more than 200 miles of
the country's finest, most diverse
snowmobiling wait for them in the enchanted
Boardman and Jordan River valleys.
There's something for every taste, whether
it's twisting and turning through dense
hardwood forests, touring over hills,
bridges, and waterways, or racing across
wide-open spaces with plenty of room to
enjoy the fresh white powder. Best of
all, both trail systems are close to Traverse
City's hotels, resorts and restaurants, an important consideration at the end
of a long day of sledding.
City Convention & Visitors Bureau
101 W. Grandview Parkway,
Traverse City, Mich. 49684
Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
4050 Hammond Road
Traverse City, Mich. 49686
1 Shanty Creek Road
Bellaire, Mich. 49615