It is not often where you stay at a place and feel immediately connected to history. It adds an extra dimension to a vacation that one does not get at a Holiday Inn or an Airbnb. The minute I signed the guest register at the Old Mission Inn near Traverse City, I felt like I was part of the long line of history stretching back to 1869. I was one with the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe Louis who also signed that same register.
Continuity of ownership at the Old Mission Inn
When I arrived at the Old Mission Inn, I was greeted warmly by the owners, Angie, Bruce, and Tyler. I was then given a quick tour of the building and my room. Angie stressed the history of the building at every turn. The Old Mission Inn has only been owned by four owners since 1869, so each owner averages almost 37 years at the helm. Continuity is important in the hospitality industry and you cannot beat the excellence and knowledge that is gained with the same owners maintaining a property for so many years.
Each time a new owner takes hold of a place they have to learn the ropes and make the rookie mistakes until they have mastered their craft. This takes time, and many places today have a merry ground of ownership and managerial leadership. This is not the case with Old Mission Inn. The fact that they are grooming their son in taking a larger role in the business assures that the line will remain for many years to come.
Location is everything
The most important aspect of a hotel property; however, is the location. The hospitality and staff goes a long way, but the property needs to be near or on an interesting place in order for it to thrive. The Old Mission Inn does not suffer from this as the Old Mission Peninsula and the Traverse City, Michigan area is an amazing place to visit during any time of the year.
The Old Mission Inn is located up the Old Mission Peninsula about 15 miles from Traverse City, Michigan. Depending on your agenda, this can be positive or negative. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy the region in a more tranquil setting then this Inn is perfect. If you are looking to be close to the action in Traverse City where you are a mere walk away from many of the city hotspots and breweries, then this location may not be for you.
Even if you are looking for the latter, it would behoove you to spend at least a night out on the Peninsula. You can get your fill of Traverse City in a day or two and then move up the Peninsula in order to enjoy a different experience in the region. When I am traveling, I like to mix it up. During this trip I stayed two nights at the Old Mission Inn and camped one night in Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Things to do around the Old Mission Inn
Although the peninsula is quieter than the city, that does not mean there is a lack of things to do or see. There are multiple scenic overlooks including just about anywhere along the shoreline, there is the Old Mission Lighthouse Park at the end of the Peninsula, and there are cherry orchards, great places to eat, and several wineries. Some of the activities that one can enjoy here include hiking, kayaking, boating, biking, bird-watching, or just plain relaxing.
The Inn itself is a destination. If I had more time, I would have enjoyed a day just relaxing on one of the hammocks, or sitting on the porch enjoying the beautiful view of Lake Michigan. There is also a horseshoe pit and cornhole boxes, so if you come with friends you can enjoy a friendly match or two. They have a beautiful fire pit out front with a circle of chairs, so you can congregate around the fire and tell stories about the day’s adventures.
With such a beautiful outdoor destination right out the front door, the Old Mission Inn is not a place you will spend too much time indoors. When you do though, the inside dwellings are quite cozy and comfortable. In fact, I slept both nights on the day sleeper in front of the television. I hope this is not criminal to stay in a bed & breakfast and not actually sleep in the bed. I am sure if I did I would have been happy with the result as it sure looks like a great place to sleep.
Both mornings that I stayed at the Old Mission Inn, I had fishing adventures set up with Sport Fish Michigan. Usually a morning of fishing involves waking up at the crack of dawn and getting that line and lure wet just as the sun emerges. This would have been problematic as the breakfast gets served starting at 8 a.m. Fortunately, Sport Fish Michigan understood my love of breakfast and allowed the fishing to begin at 10 a.m., so I had plenty of time for my favorite meal and coffee. Their breakfasts are amazing and include fruit, pancakes, Belgium waffle and many other items.
Related: Traverse City smallmouth bass fishing by sight
This was also my favorite part of the day for the conversation. The other patrons and owners sit around the breakfast place exchanging conversation. I always enjoy talking to other travelers, and the last morning I talked with a couple from Sault St. Marie, Canada.
When you stay at the Old Mission Inn, you get to put a pin into their map indicating your home city as they have a map of the U.S. and the world. This is another way travelers feel connected to the history of the Inn. I was unable to do this because Chicago is so well represented that there is no room for another Windy City pin. It was no mystery to me why the Traverse City area is so popular with Chicago travelers. It is only five hours away but it is so beautiful up here that it feels like it is a world away.
One tip about staying at the Old Mission Inn is you need to plan your dinner in advance. On night one, I enjoyed a sunset at the Old Mission Lighthouse. By the time I was ready for dinner, everything was closed. I had to drive back into town in order to eat, which was a 30 mile round trip. This is easy to avoid with a little planning. There are several quality restaurants close by. I ate a wonderful meal at the Old Mission Tavern the next day, and they also have a general store less than a mile away. There is a kitchen in the rooms, so bringing food to cook is another option.
If you are looking for a quiet getaway in the cherry orchards and wineries of the Traverse City area along the beautiful shores of the Old Mission Peninsula, then the Old Mission Peninsula is the place. As an added bonus, you get to be a part of the lore of Traverse City’s oldest continually operating historic hotel.
My stay in Traverse City and the Old Mission Inn were partially sponsored by the Traverse City Tourism Bureau. My thoughts, photos, opinions regarding the charm of the area and the Old Mission Inn are my own. As an added bonus to my words and pictures, I give you one minute of serene bliss from the frontyard of the Old Mission Inn.
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I was here looking for the bass fishing.
Hi Ms. V,
Click on this link:
I spent an afternoon in those hammocks several years ago! Then my friends and I had a brownie-eating contest where we couldn’t use our hands. Good times.
It sounds like you had a great trip! Next time don’t forget to check out some of the beautiful wineries on the peninsula!
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Thank you Brianna for the comment. I am more of a beer drinker, so I hit many a Traverse City area brew pub. I do like wine as well and my interest was perked driving by so many wineries on my way up and down the Old Mission Peninsula. I will be sure to visit one next time I come. If I only visit one, which one would you recommend? Glad to hear you had a great visit at this location as well.
I’m not much of a wine drinker myself. They just tend to offer some really picturesque views. I think my favorite would probably be Chateau Chantal. The main building itself is just so gorgeous, and the views outside aren’t bad either 😉
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That will be the first winery I visit. Thanks for the tip.