The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (2024)

Life’s a bowl of cherries in Traverse City (the cherry capital of the world) , where the sandy soil creates ideal growing conditions for the region’s signature crop. Acres of gorgeous orchards populate the rolling terrain to complement bay waters crystal-blue enough to rival the Caribbean. Add in a charming collection of shops and restaurants, year-round outdoor recreation, wineries and fun community festivals, and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect Up North getaway. Here are 10 things visitors should put on their Traverse City to-do lists.

01of 10

Stuff Yourself With Cherries

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (1)

Address

154 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

Phone+1 231-932-9205

Sweet and tart cherries make appearances on local menus in all sorts of recipes including salads, co*cktails, ice cream, sauces, entrees and desserts in Traverse City. The annual Blessing of the Blossoms kicks off each growing season in May, culminating in the week-long National Cherry Festival in July (attracting some 500,000 attendees annually!). However, visitors can savor jams, salsas, sodas, candies and other fruit-based products all year at Cherry Republic, a gourmet gift store with three Michigan locations. And don’t even think about leaving town without popping in Grand Traverse Pie Company for a slice.

02of 10

Get Your Feet Wet

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (2)

Address

20500 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA

Phone+1 231-645-0759

At 19 miles long, Old Mission Peninsula splits Grand Traverse into East Bay and West Bay, with both bays perfect for sailing, fishing, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling and parasailing in startlingly clear waters. Catch some rays while the kids build sandcastles and splash around at Clinch Park Beach. Or, commandeer a kayak for a leisurely paddle on the Boardman River. At the northernmost tip of the peninsula, Old Mission Lighthouse offers intriguing insight into Traverse City’s maritime history and some great photo ops. Check out Torch Lake nearby.

03of 10

Sip a Little Vino at a Michigan Vineyard

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (3)

The same 45th Parallel terroir that feeds the region’s cherry production also lends itself well to grape growing that results in a thriving wine industry. According to the Michigan Craft Beverage Council, Michigan wineries bottle more than 2.7 million gallons of product each year; the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula represent two of five federally approved American Viticultural Areas, producing 55% of the state’s wine grapes. Visitors can sign up for guided wine tours, or pop in and out of several dozen wineries to sample the wares at will. Just remember, tasting room hours may be limited during the off season.

04of 10

Marvel at Mother Nature

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (4)

Address

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Maple City, MI 49664, USA

Required “Up North” viewing, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore sits 25 miles west of Traverse City on the shores of Lake Michigan. Plan on spending the better part of a day there to drink in breathtaking views from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive outlooks, tackle the Dune Climb challenge, journey along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, and explore the charming Glen Haven Historic Village and the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.

05of 10

Belly Up to the Bar

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (5)

Address

201 E Fourteenth St, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

Phone+1 231-922-8292

Traverse City Whiskey Co. makes its hometown proud with unique interpretations of the area’s signature product — namely, American cherry whiskey and its own line of gourmet co*cktail cherries. (The distillery team also produces bourbon, rye and gin.) Owner Chris Fredrickson hails from a cherry farming family that goes back several generations; the discovery of his great-grandfather’s old distilling patents inspired him to launch the award-winning operation in 2012. Guests can order flights and co*cktails at the Stillhouse bar or stop by the production building for a behind-the-scenes tour. The company breaks ground this summer on an expansive new experiential facility including warehouse space, a visitor center and on-site lodging to open next year.

06of 10

Feast on Food Truck Cuisine

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (6)

Address

448 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA

Phone+1 231-943-1116

Hungry? Make your way to the Little Fleet at the corner of Front Street and Wellington, a stationary collection of a half dozen or so food trucks with indoor/outdoor seating, a full-service bar and live music. Vendors may vary on any given night, but it’s a safe bet to expect they’ll be plating up tasty eats like street tacos, chicken sandwiches, sushi, frozen custard, curry and barbecue to consider.

07of 10

Catch a Movie at a Historic Theater

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (7)

Address

181 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

Phone+1 231-600-7300

Traverse City resident and filmmaker Michael Moore was the driving force behind renovations of the historic State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay, both ideal spots to take in an art-house flick, classic film screening or modern-day blockbuster. Moore also founded the Traverse City Film Festival in 2005, attracting scores of movie buffs from around the globe each summer.

08of 10

Explore One-Stop Shopping and Dining

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (8)

Address

1200 W Eleventh St, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

Phone+1 231-941-1900

A former psychiatric asylum may not sound like somewhere you’d voluntarily choose to go, but the Village at Grand Traverse Commons has completely reimagined a handsome set of Victorian-Italianate buildings constructed in the 1880s as a contemporary mixed-use development for shopping, dining and residential living. After ambitious adaptive reuse endeavors, the preserved historic grounds now offer hiking trails, a botanical garden, restaurants and cafes, art galleries, craft beer, boutique shops and local wine. Narrated walking tours are a good way to get the lay of the land; more adventurous guests should make sure to check out the eerie network of tunnels that runs beneath the property.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.

09of 10

Appreciate Inuit Art and Culture

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (9)

Address

1410 College Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA

Phone+1 231-995-1055

The Dennos Museum Center on the Northwestern Michigan College campus curates one of the largest permanent collections of Inuit art in the country, along with other world-class exhibits, galleries and programming. Created by an indigenous Inuit tribe from the Canadian Arctic region, the pieces on display include fascinating prints, sculptures, stone carvings and more.

10of 10

Hit the Trail

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (10)

Address

N Four Mile Rd, Traverse City, MI 49685, USA

Phone+1 231-941-4300

The Tart Trail network maintains eight multi-use paths for biking, jogging and walking, connecting to more than 100 miles of regional trails through some of the most scenic territory in the state. The nearly 10-mile paved leg that skirts East Bay and West Bay provides convenient access to Clinch Park, West End Beach and Traverse City State Park, with bikes and in-line skates available to rent along the way.

The 10 Best Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan (2024)

FAQs

What is Traverse City most known for? ›

Traverse City is known as the "Cherry Capital of the World." The area is also known for their natural attractions like freshwater beaches, vineyards, wineries and the proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

How many days do you need in Traverse City? ›

If you're looking for a perfect getaway for a long weekend, I'd put Traverse City right to the top of that list. While the city is fairly small, it offers a large variety of things to do, and three days is a perfect amount of time to spend here.

What is there to do in Traverse City today? ›

Top Attractions in Traverse City
  • The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. 1,550. ...
  • Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. 484. ...
  • Front Street. 936. ...
  • Mission Point Lighthouse. 924. ...
  • Chateau Chantal Winery & Tasting Room. 511. ...
  • Grand Traverse Distillery. 268. ...
  • Dennos Museum Center. 174. ...
  • Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails. 198.

Is Traverse City worth seeing? ›

Downtown Traverse City is a vibrant and charming destination that offers something for everyone. Whether shopping, dining or enjoying the arts, you will surely have a memorable experience in this beautiful area.

What type of food is Traverse City known for? ›

About Traverse City
  • Traverse City Local Food Scene. ...
  • Fruits: Ah, the sweetness of the tart cherries. ...
  • Fruit-Infused Spirits: The booming craft distillery scene in Traverse City owes much to the tart cherry. ...
  • Sauces and Salsa: It is no surprise that the versatile cherry inspires many northern chefs.
Feb 11, 2022

How many millionaires live in Traverse City, Michigan? ›

Traverse City, Michigan, is home to 600K millennial millionaires, fresh water beaches.

Why are people moving to Traverse City? ›

Traverse City offers a high quality of life, natural beauty, a friendly community, outdoor activities, four seasons, vibrant downtown, a strong economy, an affordable cost of living, a great education system, and excellent healthcare.

Does anyone famous live in Traverse City? ›

Traverse City has also been either the birthplace or home to several notable people as well. Political figures like Chasten Buttigieg, actors, musicians and even Mr. Hockey himself have all called the city home at some point in their lives.

What is the most scenic route to Traverse City? ›

You can't go wrong no matter where you drive during peak color season. One of our favorite routes is M-22 headed north to Suttons Bay. It's an exceptional way to see Old Mission in full color across West Grand Traverse Bay, with full foliage overhead all the way to Northport if you have the time.

What fruit is Traverse City known for? ›

For many, the answer is the fruit that crowned Traverse City the “Cherry Capital of the World.” The state of Michigan produces over 70% of the national tart cherry crop annually, and the Grand Traverse region is especially suited for cherry production.

Why do people like Traverse City? ›

Traverse City is blessed with natural beauty, year-round outdoor activities, a thriving economy, vibrant arts and culture and an enviable dining scene. Living in Traverse City, MI, offers residents an experience like no other.

Can you see northern lights from Traverse City? ›

The spotlight is currently on Traverse City as a great option to experience the Northern Lights. Men's Journal highlights the region. BestLife places the region as one of the best in the world for viewing.

Who is the largest employer in Traverse City? ›

biggest companies in Traverse City, MI
  1. Munson Healthcare. Zippia Score 4.0. ...
  2. Hospitality West Llc. Zippia Score 3.8. ...
  3. Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Tbaisd. Zippia Score 3.7. ...
  4. Northwestern Michigan College. Zippia Score 4.2. ...
  5. CEMA. Zippia Score 3.4. ...
  6. Oilgear. Zippia Score 4.4. ...
  7. Hagerty. Zippia Score 4.7. ...
  8. NMCAA.

What is the nickname for Traverse City? ›

Traverse City is nicknamed "the Cherry Capital of the World", as the area surrounding Grand Traverse Bay is a hotspot for cherry production. The city hosts the National Cherry Festival, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually.

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