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Best Places to visit in Traverse City


Traverse City often flies under the radar. Nestled in the heart of Michigan, this charming city is a hidden gem that's worth exploring. From its stunning natural landscapes.

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Let's start our journey with one of the most iconic natural attractions in the area, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This pristine stretch of coastline along Lake Michigan boasts towering sand dunes that offer breathtaking panoramic views. Visitors can hike through the dunes, take in the scenic beauty, and even try sand boarding for an adrenaline rush. Don't forget to capture the stunning sunset over Lake Michigan – it's a memory you'll treasure forever.

2. Traverse City Beaches

Traverse City is renowned for its beautiful beaches. Whether you prefer the tranquility of a secluded spot or the bustling atmosphere of a public beach, you'll find the perfect place to unwind. Some popular options include Clinch Park Beach, Bryant Park Beach, and the Old Mission Peninsula's Haserot Beach. Soak up the sun, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and build sandcastles with your family – these beaches offer endless opportunities for relaxation and fun.

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3. Old Mission Peninsula

For wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, Old Mission Peninsula is a must-visit destination. This narrow strip of land extends into Lake Michigan, creating a microclimate that's perfect for growing grapes. The region is home to numerous wineries and vineyards, where you can savor some of the finest wines produced in Michigan. Don't miss the chance to explore the charming lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula and enjoy the scenic drive along M-37.

4. Traverse City's Cherry Festival

If you happen to visit Traverse City in early July, you're in for a treat. The National Cherry Festival is a week-long celebration of the region's cherry harvest and is one of the largest festivals in Michigan. Enjoy live music, parades, fireworks, and, of course, delicious cherry-inspired dishes. Try the cherry pie – it's a local specialty you won't want to miss.

5. Grand Traverse Bay

Grand Traverse Bay, with its crystal-clear waters and picturesque shoreline, is a water lover's paradise. You can indulge in various water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. The bay is also an ideal spot for a leisurely swim or a romantic sunset cruise. And with the surrounding Traverse City restaurants, you can easily enjoy a waterfront dining experience.

6. Traverse City State Park

For a taste of the great outdoors without straying too far from the city, head to the Traverse City State Park. This 47-acre park offers hiking trails, a beautiful beach, and ample picnic areas. It's a fantastic spot for a family outing, a game of frisbee, or a serene nature walk. The park is also a prime location for bird watching and wildlife photography.

7. Downtown Traverse City

Now, let's shift our focus to the heart of the city, downtown Traverse City. This vibrant area is a hub of activity and culture. Stroll along Front Street, lined with charming boutiques, art galleries, and unique shops. You'll find everything from handmade jewelry to locally crafted goods. Stop by the Traverse City Commons, a renovated mental asylum turned shopping and dining complex, for a unique experience.

8. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

A visit to Traverse City wouldn't be complete without exploring the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. This historic site, formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital, has been transformed into a thriving community featuring shops, restaurants, and even residential spaces. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of this place, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through the picturesque gardens and walking trails.

9. Traverse City's Culinary Scene

Traverse City is a food lover's paradise, with a thriving culinary scene that showcases the region's finest ingredients. Be sure to sample the local cherries in various dishes, from savory to sweet. The city's farm-to-table restaurants offer fresh, seasonal cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds. And don't forget to pair your meal with some local wine or craft beer for the full Traverse City dining experience.

10. Interlochen Center for the Arts

Art enthusiasts should make a stop at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, located just a short drive from Traverse City. This world-renowned institution hosts performances, exhibitions, and events throughout the year. Check the schedule for concerts by talented young musicians, theatrical productions, and art exhibitions showcasing the work of emerging artists.

11. Historic Sites and Museums

Traverse City has a rich history, and you can explore it by visiting some of the city's historic sites and museums. The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum on North Manitou Island offers insight into the maritime history of the area. The Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College showcases a diverse collection of art and cultural exhibits. Take a step back in time at the Historic Barns Park, featuring beautifully restored historic buildings and gardens.

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12. Outdoor Adventures

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for adventure in and around Traverse City. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, golfing, or fishing, the area has it all. Traverse City State Forest, with its network of trails, is a hiker's paradise. Cyclists can explore the TART Trail system, while golfers can tee off at one of the many scenic golf courses in the region. And if you're a fan of fishing, the rivers and lakes around Traverse City offer some of the best angling in the Midwest.

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