Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
People in these parts, talking about income levels, cushion it with the saying “The bay is half the pay.” But don’t take that the wrong way — the living is good here, and east and west arms of Grand Traverse Bay are just bonuses.
Sure, the boating season is shorter than you might like, just spring to fall, but that’s from the first cherry blossoms until the berries have become wine on Mission Peninsula, which divides the bays. Traverse City has all the charm of a tourist town, all the amenities of a big city — and everything a boater could ask for.
Private and township marinas are sprinkled around both bays, offering launch ramps and slips. Public boating-access sites offer simple launch-and-park options.
In town, you can take in a play, shop in boutiques, dine in opulence or convenience, or walk along the Boardman River as it winds its way through the city.
Afloat, set your sights beyond the bays — maybe to the Beaver Islands (once ruled by self-declared Mormon king James Jesse Strang), maybe to far-off ports like Milwaukee or Chicago or beyond. Just don’t be surprised if you’re soon back to the bay that some figure is half their pay.
Need to Know
Dream Boat: Four Winns V305 — Spend the day, or spend the week. The V305’s got what it takes.
Fun Fact: Thanks to the weather-moderating influence of Lake Michigan, the Grand Traverse region grows up to 360 million pounds of cherries annually; it celebrates with a National Cherry Festival in July.