An Insider’s Guide to The Village at Grand Traverse


Do you have a love of historic buildings and entertaining backstories? The Village at Grand Traverse is an active restoration site of the old state mental hospital. Now turned foodie heaven, a day at The Commons includes boutique shopping, gourmet cuisine, and educational tours. Here are a few of my favorite stops for your next summer trip to Northern Michigan.



Seriously good Mexican, I mean seriously, arguably the best  and most authentic, flavorful Mexican you can get in Northern Michigan. Spanglish holds a special places in most locals hearts.


Left Foot Charley

Want some wine with your Mexican cuisune? Left Foot Charley’s is just a few steps away from Spanglish and readily accepts outside food to pair with their local selection of wines.


Higher Grounds

Not only can you order one of the best tasting mugs of coffee you can also buy one of the freshest. Roasted on site Higher Grounds is a local favorite used by many of the local coffee shops and carried in a many of Traverse Cities local stores. So even if you can’t go into Higher Grounds and try their coffee on location make sure you pick up a pound from the grocery store before you head home. I have friends in Central America where the beans are sourced that send me requests to ship them Higher Grounds coffee. That’s how good their roasts are. My favorite is Maya Magic espresso, but Guatemalan beans will always taste like home to me.



Schedule varies by season so check online before heading out to buy local made products fresh from distributors. The market is a great place to chat with friendly locals about what’s happening in the area.


The Underground Cheesecake Company

Called the cheesecake factory by locals. The café sells wonderful wraps, local goods, and Moomer’s ice cream. It’s conveniently located amongst some of the trendiest boutiques in building 50 also called the Mercato.


Cuppa Joe

Vintage charm at its best. A brunch favorite, Cuppa Joe is located in the 60’s remodel section of building 50 but will eventually be restored to match the rest of the original building.



Silver Fox Jewelry

A personal favorite, Silver Fox Jewelry sells local made products at affordable prices. Go in and check out their lovely and unique selection, including pieces made by me. Just ask for work done by Amanda Tiffany.



The Historic Barns

A rustic chic location for a wedding or other venue, the inside of The Historic Barns has been beautifully restored. The outside is connected to the Botanical Gardens and Pavilion making it an excellent family photo opportunity.


Botanical Gardens

A large undertaking contributed to by many Grand Traverse volunteers is the local botanical gardens. Adjoining buildings to the commons have been remodeled and repurposed to feature the beautiful area to full advantage. Highlights include a historic cistern fountain, innovative green roof, and labyrinth. The restored buildings are a fusion of modern innovation and repurposed elements from the old state hospital.



There are extensive trails running behind Commons that can be accessed via trailheads clearly marked along the woods edge. trails include hilltop views and quant streams.


Historic Tours

For 25.00 historic tours of condemned portions of the old state hospital can be viewed. This is a great tour for those who are obsessed with Traverse City back in the day.


The Tunnels

The best part of the Historic Tour listed above is a visit to the old steam tunnels that run under the old state hospital and toward Munson Medical Center.

Make sure to let me know what your favorite UP North location is in the comments below. I’m going to try and feature some of the best locations in Grand Traverse and Leelanau County in the upcoming months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *