Traverse City. Michigan, the largest city in Northern Michigan, has appeared on dozens of “Best of” lists on travel and business cities. Thrillist includes Traverse City on its “14 Best Beach Cities’ list, and it’s received accolades from Livability.com, Smithsonian Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and other publications and websites.
The bustling downtown area, known as TC, boasts hundreds of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. Three casinos featuring over 1600 slots, blackjack and roulette, are close by, in Suttons Bay and Williamsburg.
Traverse City has a population of 14, 674 as of 2010, and the Traverse City metropolitan area has 143,372 residents. Sometimes referred to as “Cherryland” or the “Cherry Capital of the World” because of its cherry orchards, Traverse City attracts 500,000 visitors to the yearly National Cherry Festival.
Visitors flock to Traverse City for more than cherries. It is home to many first-class breweries and wineries, and many breweries offer tours during National Beer Week in November.
Dress for the weather Traverse City Michigan. The average low temperature in February is 15.0 degrees, with a high of 30.4 degrees. The record low in Traverse City is 37 degrees below zero. You may want to visit early in the winter to avoid frigid temperatures if you’re interested in winter sports.
Traverse City was incorporated as a city in 1895. The Boardman River, part of the 287-mile Boardman watershed, is the most prominent waterway in the city.
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, an indoor shopping mall in a commercial/residential complex, was once a psychiatric asylum. The stores in the complex include Landmark Used Books, Heather Anne’s Home Décor, Silver Fox Jewelry and Vintage Du Jour. Relax with a cup of coffee at Cuppa Joe or enjoy quiche at the Red Spire Brunch House when you’ve finished shopping.
Downtown Traverse City has 200 boutiques, shops, and galleries within walking distance of each other. Pick out a stuffed animal or doll at Children’s World. Cali’s Wardrobe and Home sells natural fiber clothing and home furnishings, and eleven has classic apparel for men and women.
You won’t need to look far to find where to eat Traverse City Michigan. Whether you’re a vegetarian, gourmet or steak and potatoes person, there’s an eatery for you. Ethnic cuisines represented in Traverse City include French, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian.
Enjoy farm to plate food straight from Black Star Farms at The Hearth and Vine Café at Black Star Farms. The cafe is a 15-minute drive from downtown Traverse City in Suttons Bay. The menu changes seasonally, with pizza dough made from local red wheat flour and BSF red grape skin flour and salads made with fresh kale, Michigan apples, cherries, almonds, and feta.
Eat comfort food like a local at the Grand Traverse Pie Company. The restaurant has a full menu of quiches, sandwiches, salads and wraps, and dozens of pie flavors, with an emphasis on the local favorite – cherry pie. The cherry and chocolate combination Ganache pie is featured during the Christmas holiday.
Dine in or carry out sandwiches, burgers and other casual foods from Bad Dog Deli, or start your day with omelets or waffles at the 45th Parallel Café if you’re craving something simple and quick.
Family Friendly Activities
There are lots of activities for kids and families in Traverse City Michigan.
The River Nature Center offers rotating exhibits about plants, wildlife and the natural wonders in the Traverse City area and elsewhere. The Center provides Discovery Packs for kids, which include story books, crafts and trail guides. Kids learn about reptiles, amphibians, fossils, botany, birds and other subjects from exhibits and the Discover Packs to guide them.
Your child can learn about the water cycle, the Coast Guard, the physics of sailing and other river-related activities at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. Interactive and hands-on exhibits entertain children while educating them. There’s also a puppet theater with museum guests acting as puppeteers geared for children ages one through eight.
The whole family can have fun on the bumper boats, zip lines and go-carts at Pirate’s Cove. Open from late April to late October, Pirate’s Cove also offers miniature golf and a game room.
Breweries and Wineries
You’re in luck if you’re a wine connoisseur, or even if you just enjoy an occasional glass of wine or craft beer. Traverse City Michigan and the surrounding areas offer dozens of breweries, vineyards, taprooms and wine tours.
The Two Lads Winery combines a 23-acre vineyard with a 10,500 square foot production facility. There’s a tasting room where you can sample a flight of wine with cheese and cracker plates.
Traverse City microbreweries are known for their unusual flavors. Sample Northern Hawk Owl (Amber Ale) or Spiny Norman (India Pale Ale) at downtown TC’s Right Brain Brewer, or drink Cherry Heritage Lager on the Mackinaw Brewing Company patio overlooking the Boardman River.
Traverse City Michigan hotels offer choices for the budget-conscious to folks who want to be pampered.
Relax in privacy and comfort in a bed and breakfast in Traverse City. The Antiquities’ Wellington Inn has nine guest suites in a restored neoclassical mansion. Rooms have private baths, fireplaces and vintage furniture. The mansion’s ballroom is available for wedding and other events.
West Beach Bay, a Holiday Inn Resort, is three blocks away from downtown Traverse City. All rooms have flat-screen TVs with cable channels, desks, mini-fridges and coffeemakers. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, a children’s playroom and two restaurants where kids under 12 can eat for free.
Several hotels are located on the Traverse City waterfront. The Brio Beach Inn, located on East Grand Traverse Bay, has small, clean rooms with mini-fridges and in-room Wi-Fi. Enjoy jet skiing, swimming, or tanning on the beach. A continental breakfast is available daily in the lobby. Other waterfront hotels include the Cherry Tree Inn and Suites (400 feet from the beach), with a sauna and fitness center, and the luxurious Grand Beach Resort Hotel.
Get a firsthand look at the northern Michigan wilderness by renting a cottage or cabin. Island View Cottages. Choose from 12 cottages, most with full-size beds. A few of the cottages have an extra bathroom and other amenities. The largest rental, the Colonial House has four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Points of Interest
The Joseph H. Rogers Observatory, located on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College. Gaze at Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon at a public viewing hosted by students from the NMC Astronomy Club.
The Mission Point Lighthouse, on the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula, was built in 1870 to guide sailors through West Grand Traverse Bay. It was decommissioned as a working lighthouse in 1933. You can climb up to the lighthouse tower, visit the gift shop and walk the trails that surround Lighthouse Park. Check out the historic Hessler Log Cabin, which was moved to Lighthouse Park from its original location, to get a glimpse of pioneer life.
The lighthouse is open May to October and weekends in November, but the surrounding park and trails are open year-round.
The Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park is a 25-acre showcase for northwestern Michigan’s native plant and flower species. The Visitor Center has a gift shop and classroom where workshops are held.
View Inuit (Canadian aboriginal) prints and sculptures in the permanent collection at the Dennos Museum Center, traveling exhibitions and a performance series featuring jazz, bluegrass, and folk music.
Traverse City Film Festival
The Traverse City Film Festival, founded in 2005 by Michael Moore, John Robert Williams, and Doug Stanton, is a world-class film showcase. Held every year at the end of July, it highlights independent films and documentaries unlikely to receive mainstream distribution.
There’s a Kids Fest with age-appropriate films and a lawn party with face painting and other fun activities for the 12 and under set. The festival also features short films and free classic movies at the Open Space overlooking Grand Traverse Bay.
Camping, swimming, boating and other sports are prominent on the list of things to do in Traverse City Michigan.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore offers lush forests, miles of sandy beaches and a selection of northern Michigan’s flora and fauna. Rough it at the D.H Day Campground or hook up your trailer at the Platte River Campground. You can hike or bike on over 100 miles of trails most of the year and ski or snowshoe in the winter.
Bike, horseback ride, go fishing or take a sleigh ride in the winter at Ranch Rudolf or take a day tour on the Sailing Yacht Scout, which will take you and up to six guests on the Grand Traverse Bay.
The Traverse City Beach Bums, a professional baseball team, play at Wuerfel Park, a 4660 seat stadium near Grand Traverse Mall. (The Beach Bums belong to the Frontier League, which isn’t affiliated with Major League Baseball.) Team promotions include fireworks and a Family FUNday Sunday, which gives kids a chance to run the bases and collect autographs after the game.