Traverse City is a Midwestern gem located in the northwestern part of Michigan. I spent two months there two and a half years ago and found countless reasons to love this city.
The water. The Grand Traverse Bay is off of Lake Michigan, expansive and crystal clear. It is a few steps away from the downtown strip full of restaurants, ice cream shops, boutiques and even a neat book store. There’s loads of lakes and rivers in the surrounding areas as well giving you endless opportunities to swim, fish, kayak, canoe or just enjoy the sandy beach and water. I also went parasailing on the bay during the summer and definitely recommend it!
The food. Fresh fish is easy to come by in this city, especially perch, which is really tasty and fun to catch. Apache Trout Grill is a great lunch or dinner spot with a beautiful view. In downtown, there’s plenty of unique restaurants to choose from. I really enjoyed eating on the deck of Amical, a French café, located in the heart of the town. I went back multiple times for their French onion soup.
The wine. It’s easy to do a wine tour in this area. You can even stop by the winery Madonna’s family owns, the Ciccone Vineyard and Winery. Leelanau Cellars has a great view of clear blue water from the tasting room and great wine to boot. There’s plenty of wineries to enjoy tastings paired with a backdrop of the countryside or the lake.
Tart Trails. There are more than 60 miles of Tart Trails in the region. I biked 17 miles of the Leelanau Trail winding through farms, forests, vineyards, lakes and ponds. There’s even a bus that stops along the streets passing the trail that can take you and your bike to different parts of Traverse City and the surrounding areas. During the winter, some of the trails are used for winter sports, like skiing.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This special spot is less than 30 miles from Traverse City limits. A few years back, Good Morning America named Sleeping Bear Dunes the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” Sunset is absolutely stunning on top of the dunes overlooking the water. It’s a fun place to explore, and if you’re feeling up for it, you can run up and down the big dunes.
The National Cherry Festival. Traverse City is known for its delicious cherries and it’s something to celebrate! The festival features an art and crafts show, concerts, parades, an air show, Fourth of July festivities, of course endless cherries and many other fun events. (Honestly, what doesn’t this festival have!) It’s nine days of entertaining activities for all ages in the beginning of July.
The Traverse City Film Festival. Founded by Michael Moore, this festival is a week long at the end of summer and is full of movie-going in unique theaters across town. There’s even classic movies played on inflatable screens overlooking the bay at dusk free of charge. Traverse City has a special liveliness to it during this event. I saw a movie starting after midnight on a weekday, and the streets were still buzzing with people. If you visit during this time, seeing one of the films is a must.
These are just a few of the reasons I enjoyed my two months in Traverse City so much. If you haven’t been, this charming place should be on your list to visit soon!