The first in our series of Michigan bachelorette party ideas and itineraries:
When it comes to wine pairings, there’s nothing to better complement bottles of bubbly than lacy lingerie. That’s why a trip to legendary Traverse City, Mich., just four hours north of Detroit, is one of the easiest options for a girl’s weekend away.
Located on the 45th parallel, the region is ideal for growing the grape varietals that are used in sweet white wines (and a few reds, too). Wineries with friendly tasting rooms run aplenty; combined with relatively inexpensive lodging and a creative culinary scene, T.C. tops the list for driveable destinations.
We’ve pulled together a sample itinerary (which I’ve stolen from the many, many girls and couples trips that my fabulous friend Sarah has organized), and I’ve also included a couple of key considerations when planning your own bash for the bachelorette.
There are a slew of hotels near the bay in downtown Traverse City, but many of them lack the, well, charm, that one might hope for when planning a gal’s getaway. I’ve stayed in Park Place Hotel, which typically offers discounted room block rates for groups, and is centrally located and within walking distance to plenty of bars and restaurants. (Heads up: it’s definitely outdated.) That said, my preferred option is a rental condo or house that can accommodate a group of your size. Not only do you reap added savings, but you can more easily lounge with the ladies, cook breakfast together, or break open those bottles that you purchased earlier in the day. (Side note: I’ve stayed in both AirBnB and VRBO rentals in Traverse City, both of which worked perfectly for groups of 12 – 14 people.)
Two-Day versus Three-Day
When planning a bachelorette, you’re often required to play nicely with friends of the bride that you may not know very well. Keep in mind that some gals may be on entry-level job budgets, have children that require their attention, or a demanding job. For those reasons, it’s easy to suggest that everyone head up north whenever is most convenient for them. Prime partiers can scoot after work on Friday (or take the day off), while others can arrive early Saturday and save the cost of Friday night dinner and lodging.
– Arrivals into Traverse City by guests staying two nights; check into your hotel or rental
– Dinner at Stella’s in Traverse City – an awesome Italian restaurant housed in a former mental hospital – which features snout-to-tail selections in a unique, lower level of the building. Make reservations!
– Drinks at the chic and dimly lit Low Bar, just off of Front Street. Think ornate, Victorian furniture, black velvet and craft cocktails.
– Arrivals of the remaining gals to the hotel or rental by 11:30 a.m.
– Book your tour bus or limo to arrive at 12:30 p.m. for a four- or five-hour rental; you definitely don’t want to be driving yourself from vineyard to vineyard! Load in with some snacks to keep folks fueled (think: mini champagne splits – most companies allow open alcohol on the bus – with cheese and crackers). Consider reaching out to By the Bay Transportation or Blue Lakes Charters for a driver and rental and be sure to provide your winery list in advance. (Also: call each winery at least two weeks in advance to make sure they’re able to accommodate your group at the times you’ve scheduled.)
- Brys Estate Winery: A well-appointed tasting room and a long, private bar for larger groups make the wine taste even better at this Restoration Hardware-feeling tasting room.
- Bonobo Winery: Owned by HGTV star Carter Osterhouse, this brand new winery is a gorgeous stop with just enough white wines to keep you busy while you try to spot the owner or his wife, Amy Smart. Lovely back decks are perfect for group photos!
- Mawby: Why wouldn’t you indulge in some champagne, too? This winery offers two lines of bubbly blends that you can sample alongside bite-sized apps for purchase.
- Two Lads: High atop a hill, this industrial looking winery offers views off either side of the peninsula. The wines are great and the setting is fabulous.
- Jolly Pumpkin: If you’re wined out, consider a stop into Jolly Pumpkin for the sour Belgian brews and distilled liquor samples.
- Wine drop at your rental and hotel, 10 minutes to primp and then have your driver drop you all off at your dinner location. Trust me, you’ll be starving and it will be easier to snag a group reservation around 5:30 or 6! Consider Red Ginger downtown, an Asian fusion style eatery that’s also easy distance to your next stop or two.
- Bar-hopping with the bride means heading in whichever direction she desires. If you’re up for dancing, however, the locals will point you to Side Traxx, a gay nightclub where the beats are always bumping. As the name implies, it’s a bit off the beaten path, so you may need to call a cab or two to take you home at closing.
- Make a breakfast in the rental kitchen or head to one of two Omelette Shoppe locations for a delicious morning meal before making the trek home.
- Pit stop at Birch Run! Did I even have to suggest this? 🙂
What must-see or must-taste tid bits would you add to this itinerary?