Traverse City is a popular tourist destination in Northern Michigan, located at the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay. Traverse City is famous for the National Cherry Festival which is held each year around the 4th of July.
Where to Stay
If you are looking to enjoy the water, there are many beachfront hotels located on Front Street just a short drive away from the downtown area. My favorite is probably Sugar Beach Resort. If you are up for roughing it on your visit to Traverse City, Traverse City State Park campground is across the street from the pricey beachfront hotels and is about 10% of the cost per night. If you are looking to stay closer to the action, the Delamar has a great location. For an adults-only trip close to the wineries, I highly recommend the Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse on Old Mission Peninsula. Traverse City can get very crowded in the summer and lodging can be very expensive, but prices drop in late fall to early spring if you don’t mind the snow and the cold breezes coming off the lake.
What to Do
You could spend days browsing the shops and restaurants in downtown Traverse City. Be sure to check out Cherry Republic, which sells 200+ products celebrating Michigan’s Montmorency Cherry. Once you explore all of the shops downtown, head to Grand Traverse Commons, a shopping and dining district in the former State Hospital. Want to learn about the history of the buildings or its reported hauntings? They have tours for that.
With all the crystal blue shoreline, you are missing out if you don’t get out on the water. Even if you don’t stay at one of the beachfront resorts, there are many public beaches along the waterfront. Places all over the area rent pontoons and jet skis. On our last visit, we took a sunset cruise on the Tall Ship Manitou and I would recommend it to anyone looking to get out onto Grand Traverse Bay.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a short drive away and was voted the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America. Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a great way to see the park. If you are looking to do some hiking, the Empire Bluff Trail is probably my favorite in the state.
There is plenty to do in winter too. There are several big ski hills in the area including Crystal Mountain. Those non-skiers like me can enjoy snow tubing at Michigan’s largest tubing hill, TimberLee Hills. Miles of trails abound for snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
If you visit when they are in season, I highly recommend picking cherries or apples at one of the many farms in the area. Of course, those aren’t the only fruit grown in the Traverse City area. There are also many wineries in the area on both Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas. There are wineries in the area that will make you rethink what you know about Michigan wine. My favorite wineries in the area that produce high-quality, interesting wines include Mawby Sparkling Wines and Rove Estate Vineyard on Leelanau and Bonobo, 2 Lads, and Chateau Grand Traverse on Old Mission. If you’re interested in hard cider, Tandem Ciders on Leelanau is my favorite in the area. I am not a beer drinker, but there are many microbrewers in Traverse City as well including Mitten Brewing Company on Leelanau and Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission.
Where to Eat:
I always struggle on my visits to Traverse City because there are so many interesting restaurants that I want to try new places but I also want to go back to my favorites. The one restaurant that I have to visit every trip is North Peak Brewery. Get anything with the beer cheese and you won’t be disappointed. For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with the Omlette Shoppe or Bubbie’s Bagels. For coffee, I usually head to Cuppa Joe or Higher Grounds. Grand Traverse Pie Company is an iconic lunch (and pie) spot in the area. For dessert, you have to drive out to Moomer’s Ice Cream which was voted the Best in America by readers of USA Today. For a more upscale meal, I recommend Poppycocks downtown or Old Mission Tavern which serves wonderful food in the middle of a local art gallery.
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