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Manitou, Page Two

 

If you go

The Manitou

Overnight accommodations on the Manitou, including the two-hour evening sail, box picnic and prepared breakfast cost $188 per couple, $107 for a single and $51 for children ages 8 -12. Dates are still available through September 27 and begin again in May. Packing a small duffel with only overnight essentials and a camera is a good idea — there really isn't room for more.

The schooner Manitou cruises West Traverse Bay, Traverse City, at noon, afternoon and evening for two-hour sailings daily May through September. Prices range from $32-$39 for adults, $16 — $24 for children. The lunch and dinner cruises are the higher fares and include the picnic. There's enough room for 62 passengers on the two-hour excursions. Reservations are recommended for both the cruises and B&B stays.

Passengers for the 6:30 p.m. evening cruise join B&B guests topside after a short safety talk on the boat ramp. Once aboard, there's time to mill about the boat, tour open cabins and find a comfortable spot to relax. Passengers help hoist sails if they wish and take turns steering once the schooner is under sail. Away from the pier, alcoholic beverages, water and soft drinks can be purchased. For reservations and information, call 800/678-0383, 231/941-200 or check www.tallshipsailing.com, www.bbonline.com or www.laketolake.com.

Extra days in Traverse City

Looking for additional overnight accommodations? Try the Holiday Inn West Bay Resort (231/947-2652 or 800/888-8020) with bay views from guest rooms, a sandy beach and an outdoor patio. If there are children along, you'll want to check out the Great Wolf Lodge (231/941-3600, www.greatwolflodge.com), a waterpark resort with family-sized suites like the "wolf den" featuring bunk beds hidden in a make-believe den. If you can get them away from the waterpark, there are plenty of outdoor activities and events — public beaches and parks dotting the lake and a vibrant walking downtown filled with retail shops, including a bookshop called Horizon with a neat children's section. There are also toy stores, a fudge shop, ice cream and coffee shops and more.

There's no shortage of restaurants, music (Interlochen Center for the Arts is nearby) and entertainment either. We dined to guitar music on the patio at North Peak Brewing Company (231/941-7325, www.michiganmenu.com) — highly recommended for the handcrafted beers and root beer and delicious light summertime fare before discovering a community jazz festival, a downtown arts event and an outdoor theater production — all going on simultaneously.

Luckily for us, as a ranger with the national park service at nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore our romantic bridegroom-to-be on the Manitou provided tips for the best routes along the lakeshore before the cruise ended so we knew just where to head the next day: Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive — late in the day for picturesque views from the famous 450-foot sand dunes above Lake Michigan.

Then it was on to Glen Arbor, for some local cherry tasting at the Cherry Republic (www.cherryrepublic.com). There are plenty of cherry products for sampling in downtown Traverse City shops, too.

Without youngsters, we spent another afternoon visiting a few wineries and cherry stands along the Old Mission Peninsula - a thin peninsula jutting up the middle of Traverse Bay. The literal end of the M-37 rests on the 45th parallel, marked by a lighthouse and park. Four wineries along the route offer tours, tastings and special events like jazz evenings at Chateau Chantal (800/969-4009, www.chateauchantal.com), perched on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Bed & breakfast guests at the new inn adjoining the winery are treated to the same views along with upscale rooms, each themed around a replica of a famous painting hung somewhere in the suite.

For additional information about the Tall Ship Manitou and the Traverse City region, contact the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/940-1120, www.mytraversecity.com).

Ready for a longer trip?

Think you might want to try a longer trip? The Maine Windjammer Association (www.sailmainecoast.com) represents a fleet of historic vessels departing the mid-coast of Maine on three-day and six-day sails from May through mid-October. Staff will answer seasonal questions and direct you to the month that matches your preferences, but if it's leaf peeping you're after, Fall from a schooner is picture perfect.

Captains of the 14 member ships stop at fishing villages and scenic towns as well as a tried and true coastal picnic spot for the time-honored downeast lobster bake. The lobsters are fresh-caught for the event and it's an "all-you-can-eat" picnic. Prices range from $350 — $850 per person, including the lobster bake and the rest of the delicious meals and pastries prepared on the wood burning stove. Schooners vary in size and design-accommodating six to 40 passengers. A few have private baths.

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