Discovery Center Information

Discovery Center and Pier, which is the home of Discovery Cruises, is a place of inspiration, connection and collaboration to understand and appreciate the Great Lakes.  The mission of Discovery Center and Pier is to connect people of all ages, abilities and needs to the Great Lakes through recreation, education, history, science and stewardship.

The Discovery Center launched in 2006 with the donation of real estate and improvements on the west side of M22 northwest of Traverse City to Rotary Camps and Services.  Rotary and the donor both shared a vision of creating a campus for water related non-profits to run their operations and offer programming.  In 2016, Rotary purchased the Discovery Pier, formerly known as the "old coal dock" from the City of Traverse City.  Historically, the Pier was used for more than 70 years as an industrial port - bringing fuel, road salt, and other commodities to the region.  The goal was to secure a home port where their partners could operate their boat-based programming and create a park-like setting that would be welcoming to the public, offering recreational and educational opportunities.

For more information on Discovery Center Great Lakes visit their web site at 

The Discovery Pier is in the midst of an exciting transformation - turning an old coal dock into a community resource unlike any other in the region.  The goal is to create a recreational destination for people of all abilities and a place for non profit and educational entities to base their water-based programming.  All features will be designed and constructed using universal access principles, ensuring that Discovery Pier will be a place where all members of the community can connect with the Great Lakes without barriers.

The proposed improvements will go beyond ADA compliance and include:

  • barrier free parking and sidewalks;
  • green/open space lawn;
  • three season pavillion tent;
  • new railing along the pier with forearm rests, 25% of which will be at a lower level for children and people in wheelchairs;
  • shade structures to provide places of refuge from the sun and inclement weather; and,
  • a kayak launch specially designed for people with disabilities.

Discovery Center and Pier Partners:

Great Lakes Children Museum

Maritime Heritage Alliance

Inland Seas Education Association

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay

Traverse Tall Ship Co.

Traverse Area Community Sailing


NMC, Water Studies Institute