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  • The Grand Traverse Bay Area is a region in Northern Michigan, known for its lakes and lakeshores, for its cherries and grapes and mushrooms, and for its boating and downhill skiing. Technically, the name refers to the shoreline bordering the West Arm and East Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay, but more generally the name is used to refer to all of Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties and at least the northern part of Benzie County; western Antrim County, which also borders the bay, may be included as well. Traverse City makes an excellent base for exploring the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas to the north, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the west.

    During the summer, fresh cherries are abundant and can be found at U-Pick orchards around Traverse City. With the Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, and numerous lakes and rivers in the region, water sports are highly popular during the summer. Canoe trips are a lot of fun. Trips down the calm Lower Platte (2 hours) and fast Upper Platte River (4 hours) in canoes, kayaks, rafts, tubes, motorboats or rowboats. You'll need to leave your car in a parking lot by the Platte River Point on Lake Michigan, where the trips end, so bring money for parking ($3 for the parking lot alone, or $10 for a permit to all of Sleeping Bear Dunes). Lower Platte $10 - $48 (rafts $95 - $150), Upper Platte $14 - $45. The Grand Traverse Bay Area boasts ten golf courses; others are located in Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula. A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort, 627 A-Ga-Ming Drive in Kewadin, 231-264-5081 or 800-678-0122. 36 holes of world-class golf. Golf school and lodging packages available. $20 - $74. Champion Hill Golf Course, 510 N Marshall Road in Beaulah, 231-882-9200. 18 holes, par 72. Cross-country skiing available. $9 - $45. Interlochen Golf Club, 10586 US-31 S in Interlochen, 231-275-7311 or 877-480-7311. 18 holes, par 71. Rated one of the top 100 best value courses in America, with one of the most scenic and lush courses in the region. Complete dining room service, driving range, practice green, complete pro shop. $12 - $39. Mistwood Golf Course, 7568 Ole White Drive in Lake Ann, 231-275-5500. 27 holes of championship golf and 9 holes of par 3 fun. Rated 4 stars by Golf Digest Readers in 2004 "Places To Play" and voted "Best Pro Am" by Northern Michigan PGA. Driving range, practice sand trap, and two spacious practice greens. Fully-stocked pro shop, on-site Sunset Bar & Grill and Bogey's Snack Bar. Adjacent rental units. $15 - $95. Pinecroft Golf, 8260 Henry Road in Beaulah, 231-882-9100. 18 holes, par 72. Rated 4 stars by Golf Digest Readers in "Places To Play". $9 - $45. Skiing is a popular wintertime activity; there are three main ski areas in the region, one of which is in Traverse City. Crystal Mountain Ski and Golf, 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive in Thompsonville, 800-968-7686. Voted #1 Resort in the Midwest by Ski magazine. Downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating and ice hockey, sleigh rides, snowshoe and moonlight hikes. Two golf courses with 36 holes, and over 90 golf schools, lessons and clinics. Equipment rental and tuning, snowsports school, kids' programs and lessons available. Therapeutic massage, fitness center, indoor pool, hot tub, arcade room. Lift tickets $15 - $79, golf rates $30 - $85. Shanty Creek Resort & Club, 1 Shanty Creek Road in Bellaire, 231-533-8621 or 800-678-4111. 43 ski runs, sleigh rides, tubing. Four championship golf courses. Fitness center, spa, four on-site restaurants. Skiing and golf clinics and lessons available. Ski lift tickets $12 - $46, golf rates $12 - $99. There are two casinos in the area, one in Williamsburg just outside Traverse City, and the other in Peshawbestown in the Leelanau Peninsula. Fun Country, 9320 US-31 S in Interlochen, 231-276-6360. Miniature golf, go karts, wading pool, water slides, paddle boats, arcade.

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