Public and Family Programs

Our public programs provide an opportunity for individuals to experience and learn about the Great Lakes through a variety of options. From science to music and art to astronomy, these experiences will bring you closer to understanding the importance of protecting and preserving our freshwater resources.

Great Lakes Discovery Sail

Get up-close with the Great Lakes in this hands-on experience for the entire family. The adventure takes place aboard our 77′ schooner Inland Seas and begins as soon as we leave the dock. You will help us trawl for fish, collect plankton, and sample the lake bottom so we can take a look at all parts of the lake. The discovery begins when you hold fish in your hand, gasp at the miniature world contained in a drop of water, uncover animals in bottom samples, and conduct chemical tests on the water.

Plus, participants work together to raise the anchor and hoist the sails, and everyone gets to try their hand at the wheel of the ship while we are under sail. This program will show you new aspects of the Great Lakes, and help you feel more connected to these great waters. There is something in it for everyone!

An excellent voyage for both myself and my 8 year old grandson! He’s still talking about the experience days later and using some of the new vocabulary he learned. Thanks to all!

2017 Participant

 

Each sail is three (3) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $35; Children (10 and under): $25

View schedule and buy tickets

Astronomy Under Sail

The open water is an ideal place to experience the brilliance of the stars in a Northern Michigan dark sky, and there is no more informative place to view them than from the deck of our 77′ schooner. During the Astronomy Under Sail program, Astronomer Dick Cookman orients you to the vastness of the night sky, points out constellations, and shares his extensive knowledge of galaxies, stars, observational astronomy, and history. Come with all of your questions and prepare to be amazed. This summer, take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience the Great Lakes in a whole new way. Please dress for cooler temperatures.

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

Having the astronomist on board was a great asset! Loved it!

2017 Participant

 

General Admission (all ages): $45.00

View schedule and buy tickets

What's in the Great Lakes Food Web?

The food web connects all of the living things in the lakes to one another. Step aboard to get up-close with the fish and plankton that call the Great Lakes home and discover a new addition to the food web – microplastics. Then, set sail and steer the ship as we look for these tiny pieces of plastic with the Manta Trawl. Learn how microplastics interact with life in the Great Lakes and what we can do about them. All microplastics data collected goes to researchers at State University of New York, Fredonia. Participants are also invited to help raise the sails on our 77′ schooner and will have plenty of time to enjoy the experience of sailing.

All the staff and volunteers were upbeat and knowledgeable. They encouraged and engaged my grandson in all the activities and it was a positive learning experience for both of us. Thanks for a wonderful evening.

2017 Participant

 

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Great Lakes Under the Microscope

Experience the micro-organisms and insects in Lake Michigan up close as you examine the bottom of the food web. Raise the sails, steer the ship, and join us on a voyage of discovery that goes all the way to the smallest creatures in the lake. During this two-hour program, you become a scientist and a sailor, adding to our understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem, with time planned in to enjoy your sail.

 

Our grandchildren, ages 7 & 9, were engaged the entire morning. Length of 2 hours was perfect. We all learned a lot! Will look forward to repeating the excursion next year.

2017 Participant

 

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Fishes of Lake Michigan

Cast the net from the deck of Schooner Inland Seas. Haul it in to see for yourself what kinds of fish are abundant. Then, raise the sails and steer the ship as you learn about the fish we caught and what that means for the ecosystem. Special guest fisheries researchers will give you the scoop on what’s happening to the fish populations in the lake today. All fish data collected goes to the Michigan DNR.

 

Having the live animals to observe was excellent. The outing was a great value.

2017 Participant

 

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Steady the Ship

Early European settlers used sailing almost exclusively for travel and trade and it is still one of the best ways to connect with the Great Lakes. On this sail, you will have an opportunity to raise the sails, steer the ship, learn the forces keeping the ship afloat, discover why the ship stays upright and moving forward, and learn how sails work. This experience also helps participants place schooners in a historical perspective on the Great Lakes and provides an opportunity to simply relax aboard a majestic tall ship schooner.

 

This was definitely one of our best experiences on our first vacation to Michigan and the Sutton Bay area! Our boys (12, 10, 8) were ALL very engaged and interested in learning about the local bay and the boat. They were put to work and were excited to be a part of the experience. I HIGHLY recommend this company and all they have to offer. The volunteers and staff are INCREDIBLE communicators/educators and know how to ask a variety of age appropriate questions to pique the kids curiosity and encourage a love of learning –despite it being “Summer!”. Boys had a ton of info to share to grams and gramps at home. GREAT price for the experience.

2017 Participant

 

This sail is two (2) hours in length. Arrive 20−30 minutes before the scheduled start of the trip. To ensure that passengers receive their full sail time and we stay on schedule, the ship leaves at stated departure times and cannot be held for late arrivals.

General Admission: $30; Children (10 and under): $20

View schedule and buy tickets

Specialty Sails (Bike & Boat, Breakfast, Dessert, Fall Colors, Father's Day, Music, Painting, and Wine)

Beer Education Sail

Join Inland Seas and special guest Short’s Brewing Company for this tasty and exciting evening. While under sail in Suttons Bay, Short’s Brewing Company will have Liberators aboard providing a unique look at brewing in Northern Michigan. This two-hour sail will provide beautiful views of the bay from the deck of the schooner Inland Seas, a beer education, and tastings for all passengers ages 21 and up. Cost: $45

Bike & Boat

This unique experience combines biking the Leelanau and TART Trails and sailing on the schooner Inland Seas. The adventure starts in Suttons Bay at the Inland Seas Education Center. Participants bike 17 miles down the Leelanau and TART Trails stopping along the way at Shady Lane. Once reaching Traverse City, bike seats are exchanged for cabin tops as participants board the ship. (Bikes will be transported back to Suttons Bay.) Onboard guests will receive a dinner prepared by the ship’s cook and beverages during the 2.5 hour sail back to Suttons Bay. NOTE: This excursion is a total of six hours.  Cost: $60

Breakfast on the Schooner Sail

Join us for a 2-hour unique experience aboard our 77′ schooner Inland Seas. Enjoy a homemade hot breakfast prepared for you while under sail on this traditionally rigged ship. Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, fruit, coffee/tea, and more! You will have the opportunity to help hoist the sails and steer the ship or just relax and enjoy the ride. Crew and staff will be available to answer your questions and provide schooner yarns (stories) when requested. Cost: Adult $45; Child $35

The breakfast event was very nice. Staff and volunteers were very friendly and made the morning.

2017 Participant

Fall Color Sail

Enjoy the beautiful fall colors from the deck of the 77′ schooner Inland Seas as she sails around Suttons Bay. Fall is a relaxing season in northern Michigan as temperatures are comfortable and traffic is light. On this sail, participants may help the crew in raising the sails and steering the ship, or just sit back and relax while taking in the wonder our Great Lakes provide us.

Fall Dessert Sail

A schooner sail is a fun way to end your wine tasting day! The Fall season is a great time to be on the water in northern Michigan. Temperatures are comfortable, traffic is light, and we just may see some fall colors. Enjoy coffee, hot cocoa, and a special local dessert on this 2-hour fall sail. Participants can help raise the sails and steer the ship or just sit back and relax.

Father’s Day Discount Sail

Join us for this special 2-hour Steady the Ship sail. On this sail, you will have an opportunity to raise the sails, steer the ship, learn the forces keeping the ship afloat, discover why the ship stays upright and moving forward, and learn how sails work. You will also have the opportunity to go below deck and explore life on a schooner.

As a special for Father’s Day, sons/daughters (grandsons/granddaughters) can sail for free with their fathers, grandfathers, or those who are father-figures to them. *Limit: One free son/daughter ticket per paying father ticket.

Music with a Purpose Sail

Join us for a 2-hour music sail on board the schooner Inland Seas. Once we leave the dock, participants will have the opportunity to help raise the sails. Then Dan Hall will entertain guests with lively sea chanties (songs) and stories. General admission: $45 [Note: In case of uncooperative weather, event will be held in the Inland Seas Education Center.]

Dan Hall Bio: Dan has opened or shared the stage with Bill Clinton, Tom Paxton, John McCutcheon, Christine Lavin, Josh White Jr., Michael Smith and many others. He has written and produced soundtrack music for a feature film co-starring Ernest Borgnine; several documentaries, commercial jingles and a theme song for a PBS television series. Through his songwriting residency, Dan has written and recorded hundreds of songs with tens of thousands of elementary students around the country. His work with maritime historian, Ric Mixter, has delighted audiences with their show, “Storm.” The show, “a lecture with a band!” features stories of triumph and tragedy aboard the inland seas with archival and dive footage of many well-known (and not so well known) shipwrecks.

Painting for a Purpose Sail

Join us for this unique 2-hour sailing and painting opportunity on board the schooner Inland Seas. Once we leave the dock, participants will have the opportunity to help raise the sails. Then a local artist from Painting with a Twist will guide you step-by-step as you create your own Great Lakes masterpiece. All painting materials are provided. Bring your beverage of choice and create your own masterpiece on this 77′ schooner “studio.” Sail is limited to 25 guests. General admission: $45 [Note: In case of uncooperative weather, event will be held in the Inland Seas Education Center.]

Wonderful time we had for my daughter’s Bachelorette Party, the only downfall was we were so busy painting we never got to take in the beautiful views of Sutton’s Bay. Thanks again I will definitely recommend friends and family.

2017 Participant

Wine Education and Tasting Sail

Leelanau County and the Grand Traverse region are known for their many wineries. Join us for this 2-hour sail where you will taste local wines as you learn why this region is successful in growing grapes. Adults only. Cost: $45

View schedule and buy tickets

Below the Bay (Underwater ROV)

Discover the underwater world of Grand Traverse Bay at Discovery Pier through the unique lens of an underwater vehicle. Individuals of all ages will enjoy operating the state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle (ROV) as they investigate the marina structure and look for Great Lakes creatures. This hands-on learning experience provides a glimpse into the technology influencing research, monitoring, and exploration of the Great Lakes and the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

This program is located on the deck of the schooner Utopia at Discovery Pier, 13271 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI. The schooner does not leave the dock for this program.

Really cool to get to drive the ROVs around the aquatic weeds and scare the gobies! Unfortunately, my video game skills are lousy, so I kept diving into the bottom. We were also pleased to get to go below on the Utopia, what an absolute beauty.

2017 Participant

 

Cost to drive the ROV: $20 for 25 minutes. Tickets must be purchased online or by phone. Call ahead for groups of more than eight (8).

Disclaimer: Participants are guided by a professionally trained ROV staff member. Failure to follow instructions of staff member may result in loss of opportunity to use ROV and participant fee.

View schedule and buy tickets

 


Sign-up for news, events and other ISEA information

Subscribe