There is nothing quite like summertime in Northern Michigan. Everyone has their own little up north sanctuary they like to travel to during the summer and mine is Traverse City. I have been visiting this town since I was little, and I am always in awe of the beauty every time I visit 23 years later. If you are planning a trip to Traverse City this summer and aren’t sure exactly what to do, take a look at my list below for my top 5 things to do to get the most out of your Traverse City experience.
1. Visit (and climb) Sleeping Bear Dunes
If you only decide to pick one thing on this list, make it this one. Sleeping Bear Dunes is located in Empire and is a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. It is a beautiful place that everyone needs to experience for themselves (pictures don’t do it justice). From the top of the dune to Lake Michigan it is approximately 450 feet. It is a steep and tough climb, but the view and scenery are worth the hike! It is about a 45-minute drive from Traverse City to Empire.
2. Wine Tasting
Experience the wonderful views of Traverse City while sipping on some wine. There are over 40 wineries and tasting rooms through Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula. Some of my personal favorite wineries are Black Star Farms, Chateau Chantal, and Bowers Harbor Vineyards, which are all located on Old Mission Peninsula. If you don’t want to worry about driving, you can schedule a tour with a tour bus that will drive you from winery to winery.
3. Bike Leelanau Trail from Traverse City to Suttons Bay (and back if you can!)
If you enjoy biking, I definitely recommend trying this! The Leelanau Trail is a 17-mile paved off-road trail that connects Traverse City to Suttons Bay. You will bike through the beautiful scenery of fruit orchards, meadows, and green woods. Once you get to Suttons Bay there are plenty of restaurants to dine at, as well as shopping.
4. Boat or Jet Ski on Grand Traverse Bay (East or West!)
If you have a boat or Jet Ski, definitely bring it with you on the trip. If not, there are multiple different options for boat rentals to choose from. It is truly a memorable experience boating on the big blue waters of the Grand Traverse Bay. The view of the city from the water is just as pretty as it is from land.
5. Visit the Cherry Republic store in downtown Traverse City
Traverse City is known for their cherries and the city is actually titled the Cherry Capital of the World. When you visit downtown Traverse City, make sure to visit the famous Cherry Republic store. It has almost everything cherry edible you can think of. As soon as you walk in you will be overwhelmed with free samples of cherry salsa, cherry barbecue sauce, chocolate covered cherries, cherry wine, and more! Just make sure to bring your wallet, because you will end up buying A LOT.
Every time I visit Traverse City I make sure to complete a couple activities from the list above. They are my favorite things to do, because I feel that I truly experience what the city is known for. However, there are many more things to do depending on when you visit. A few of my favorite summer festivals that I enjoy going to are the National Cherry Festival and the Film Festival, which are both held in July. Lastly, don’t forget to get some of the best ice cream in town at MOOmers Homemade Ice Cream! It was voted America’s Best Scoop on ABC’s Good Morning America in May 2008.