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Apr 18, 2010 08:57 PM

Traverse City--need kid friendly, non-chain recommendations

We'll be heading to TC for a family wedding the first weekend in May. We'll be there Friday evening through Sunday morning. Breakfast is handled at the hotel--we need one early lunch (Saturday) and one dinner. Five-year-old doesn't like most spicy food or unfried fish but is a pretty good eater; two-year-old eats NOTHING, so we're pretty much taking him out of the equation. Husband and I like everything, pretty much. I haven't been up that way in years and when I was we were in Sutton's Bay--given the kid factor, we'd like to stay close by as much as possible versus heading onto the Leelanau Peninsula, although we may have some more time before we leave for home on Sunday and choose to spend it there. We figure you can't go wrong with a brewpub..any good ones? Or other must-dos that are kid-friendly?

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  1. Two big brewpubs downtown:

    North Peak Brewing Co
    Mackinaw Brewing Co

    Based on my very limited experience (couple visits each, and I'm not much of a beer drinker) I'd give a slight edge to Mackinaw, but really they're very close to each other in terms of atmosphere and quality.

    North Peak Brewing
    400 W Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684

    1. I'm not sure if these qualify since they belong to a Michigan-based chain/dining group (which also includes North Peak) : Bower's Harbor Inn and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery on the Old Mission Peninsula or Blue Tractor BBQ near downtown. All would be kid-friendly and of similar quality - that is, good food and relaxed setting, but not an unforgettable experience.

      Stella, in the Grand Traverse Commons, boasts creative use of local ingredients as well as creative use of an old state asylum. It is a uniquley elegant setting!

      Poppycocks for lunch downtown or Hanna Bistro for a more elegant atmosphere but still kid-friendly.

      I don't recommend Mackinaw Brewing based on a negative personal experience. I was served an item that had gone bad, and quite obviously so. Instead of comping my lunch, I was given a voucher for a free sandwich on my next visit. I wasn't impressed.

      Not Grand Traverse Pie Co. Tourist trap.

      Here is a link for a partial list of downtown TC restaurants, including phone #s:

      1 Reply
      1. re: tokyo

        I would also suggest Poppycock's with kids. When my kids were little I would take them there and now that they are in college we still enjoy it. Great menu for adults, too.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. I second Poppycocks where a couple of my kids always go for the buttered noodles and we get to eat really wonderful food. It's right downtown. Great desserts or walk across the street to Kilwin's candy store or down to the other end of Front Street to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. Also Bubba's is a great local spot for hamburgers, breaded mahi mahi, etc. Also downtown. Don's Drive In is a classic diner. Hamburgers, fries and outstanding milkshakes. It's on the TART bike trail so if you stay in a hotel on Munson Ave. or downtown you can hop on the trail and ride your bike to Don's or any of these restaurants. My kids love that!


          1. If you decide that you'd like to try something just a step above a brewpub, try Trattoria Stella. It's in an old insane asylum and I've dined there with my own kids (who don't eat or sit still) as well as nieces and nephews on many occasions. The restaurant itslef has a bar area and then two or three (can't remember) different dining rooms. If you go during slower periods (as we do) they'll stick you in a less than crowded room which works well for kids. The food is really good, I'm sure you can find many food reviews on the restaurant. But for a nicer restaurant with no kid menu, they are pretty darn kid friendly.

            Stella Trattoria
            1200 W 11th St, Traverse City, MI 49684