There are a number of ways to have a memorable Traverse City adventure throughout the summer and fall. With 19 breweries and taprooms, alongside unique tour options such as TC Ale Trail, TC Cycle Pub, Brew Bus, and Paddle for Pints, there seems to be something for everyone.
The most recent addition to this band of experiences is Kayak, Bike and Brew, which allows participants to explore the downtown area by pedal and paddle. Recently, MittenBrew joined a tour to get an inside glimpse at how this unique experience works.
Upon arrival, we were prompted to put together a swag bag and test out a bike. The swag set the tone for the good times ahead: sunglasses, tattooes, stickers, Kind bar, $10 Pangea’s Pizza Pub gift card, a TC Ale Trail map, and a bag to put it all in.
Our guide, Paul, made sure we were comfortable on our bikes and gave us a run-down of our route before we took off. Then, to start the tour, we pedaled across a bridge (that we would soon paddle under), went through a tunnel, and made our way onto the Traverse Area Recreation Trail (TART). We rode the trail along the water, through a downtown neighborhood, and merged onto the Boardman Lake Trail. We crossed another bridge, which led us to our first stop: Right Brain Brewery.
Once inside, we were given forty minutes to enjoy a brew or two. It was 90 degrees outside, so most opted for something light and refreshing. This particular tour group only consisted of six people (some get as big as twenty), so we were able to get to know each other as we sipped at our first stop. There was a couple from Detroit, and another from Chicago. Both were up for long weekends and a desire to explore the wide variety of beer in the area.
Our group continued on to our second stop by hopping back onto our bikes and taking the Boardman Lake Trail back around the lake to The Filling Station Microbrewery. With saison in hand, pizza on the table, and live music in the background, this was a great summer stop.
After The Filling Station, we switched from bikes to kayaks. We launched our kayaks right behind The Filling Station, along Boardman Lake and into Boardman River. We paddled past condominiums, under bridges, and around large trees to the Union Street dam.
This was our portage point for our third stop, which would be Rarebird Brewpub. Our guide stayed with us at each stop, checking in, inquiring about our beer selection, and giving out suggestions for other great local spots to stop, all while keeping us on time.
In fact, we found ourselves with a little bit of extra time, and were able to squeeze in an extra stop at Brewery Ferment. Then it was back to our kayaks for the rest of our paddling adventure. This leg of the river had more tree cover, with periodic exposure of downtown buildings and parking lots.
We paddled past many downtown landmarks and soon approached the last river bend. Part of the Boardman River’s beauty is this last bend—it is where you transition from a secluded urban river to a wide open bay. Turning this bend suddenly revealed the Grand Traverse Bay we, and would take us along the final stretch of our tour into Clinch Park.
Once the paddling ended, the tour crew loaded the kayaks, and we made our way back to Pangea’s. The whole tour lasted roughly four hours, was a smaller compliment to Paddle for Pints, and allowed for new comradery and plenty of fun.
To learn more or book your own Kayak, Bike & Brew tour, visit http://kayakbikebrew.com.