Public and Family Programs

Our public programs provide an opportunity for individuals to experience and learn about the Great Lakes through a variety 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!

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

Astronomy Under Sail Image

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 an historical perspective on the Great Lakes and provides an opportunity to simply relax aboard a majestic tall ship schooner.

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 (Breakfast, Music, and Painting)

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. General admission: $40

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 TC Celtic will entertain guests with lively sea chanties and Irish songs. Thanks to a Suttons Bay Arts Festival grant, this sail is being offered for a discounted price. General admission: $25

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 Artist Shelly Morey from Sip and Dab will guide you step-by-step as you create your own 12″ x 12″ Great Lakes masterpiece. All painting materials are provided. Thanks to a Suttons Bay Arts Festival grant, this sail is being offered for a discounted price. Sail is limited to 20 guests. General admission: $25

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.

Cost to drive the ROV: $10 for 15 minutes; $17 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