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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diaz

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Traverse City, Michigan

Updated: May 31, 2023

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Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a food lover, or a fan of the arts, Traverse City has something to offer everyone. Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay, this charming city is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, vibrant cultural scene, and friendly Midwest hospitality.


In this comprehensive travel guide, I'll show youth best of Traverse City, exploring its hidden gems, must-visit attractions, and local favorites. From exploring the stunning Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to indulging in the region's renowned cherry orchards and wineries, Traverse City is a destination that promises to captivate your senses and create unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through "The Ultimate Travel Guide to Traverse City, Michigan." Let's explore the beauty and charm of this enchanting city together!


Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan


Explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Traverse City is just a short drive away from the iconic Sleeping Bear Dunes, a breathtaking stretch of sand dunes along Lake Michigan. Hike the dunes, soak in the panoramic views, and don't forget to snap some incredible photos.


Visit the Old Mission Peninsula

This picturesque peninsula is known for its scenic beauty, charming wineries, and historic lighthouse. Take a leisurely drive along M-37, stopping at wineries to sample local wines, indulge in farm-to-table cuisine, and enjoy the stunning views of vineyards and the lake.


Traverse City State Park

Spend a day at the Traverse City State Park, located on the eastern shore of the Grand Traverse Bay. Relax on the sandy beach, go for a swim in the clear waters, have a picnic, or enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing.


Indulge in Cherry Delights

Traverse City is often referred to as the "Cherry Capital of the World," and for a good reason. Explore the cherry orchards, visit the annual National Cherry Festival in July, and don't miss out on trying cherry pies, jams, and other delicious cherry-infused treats.


Discover the Downtown Area

Traverse City's downtown area is a vibrant hub of activity, featuring unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Take a stroll along Front Street, explore the boutiques, grab a coffee, and enjoy the local charm.


Experience the Great Outdoors

Traverse City is surrounded by natural beauty, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. Go kayaking or paddleboarding on the Boardman River, hike the trails at the Grand Traverse Commons, or rent a bike and explore the nearby scenic trails.


Visit the Dennos Museum Center

Art enthusiasts should not miss the Dennos Museum Center, which houses an impressive collection of Inuit and Native American art. The museum also hosts rotating exhibits, live performances, and educational programs.


Take a Brewery or Winery Tour

Traverse City's thriving craft beer and wine scene offers a delightful experience for visitors, and during my fall visit, I had the pleasure of exploring the exquisite offerings at Mari Vineyards. This winery stands out for its unique approach, crafting red and white wines from experimental Italian grapes alongside traditionally grown appellation varieties. As I embarked on a tasting journey, I couldn't resist trying the 2020 Troglodyte Rosato. Though the combination of strawberry, watermelon, and jolly rancher flavors might sound unusual, I assure you, it was an excellent choice. Sipping this delightful wine was a superb experience that showcased the innovation and quality of Traverse City's winemaking scene.


Go Cherry Picking

Traverse City's cherry orchards provide a fun and unique experience for visitors, especially during the summer months when many orchards open their doors for cherry picking. However, during my visit in the fall season, I discovered a different kind of delight at Buchan's Blueberry Hill. While cherries were out of season, the farm offered the opportunity to handpick delicious blueberries instead. It was an absolute blast, wandering through the rows of blueberry bushes and plucking juicy berries straight from the branches. The experience added a delightful twist to my autumn adventure in Traverse City.


Take a Scenic Drive

Traverse City and its surrounding areas boast scenic drives that offer breathtaking views. Drive along M-22, a designated scenic highway, to experience stunning vistas of Lake Michigan and charming coastal towns. Alternatively, explore the countryside along the Old Mission Peninsula Loop, surrounded by vineyards and orchards.


Coffee Shops in Traverse City, Michigan

Whether you need a quick caffeine boost or desire a break from the chilly weather, these coffee shops have you covered.


BLK \ MRKT Coffee Shop

Nestled in downtown Traverse City, this trendy and inviting coffee shop is a personal favorite. With a comfortable atmosphere, delectable coffee, and an array of pastries and breads, it's an ideal place to unwind. Grab a seat by the large window, where you'll find seating and outlets, perfect for those planning to work or simply enjoy the ambiance. Don't forget to explore the neighboring shops in the building for a well-rounded experience.


Address: 144 Hall St, Traverse City, MI 49684


Mundos Roasting

Mundos Roasting is another gem that combines great coffee and a productive environment. They roast all their coffee locally in Traverse City, ensuring freshness and exceptional flavors. Alongside their fantastic coffee selection, they offer house-made pastries to satisfy your hunger. Plus, if you're concerned about parking, they have a secure parking lot, providing added convenience.


Address: 708 Boon St, Traverse City, MI 49686


Higher Grounds Trading Co

If you're in search of robust coffee, Higher Grounds Trading Co is a must-visit. This spot has garnered popularity for its strong brews and unique offerings. In the past, I thoroughly enjoyed their salted caramel latte, which left a delightful impression. During the summer months, be sure to check out their inviting patio. Take advantage of their commitment to sustainability by bringing along a ceramic mug or returning it on your next visit to reduce waste, as they don't offer to-go cups.


Address: 806 Red Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684


Hexenbelle

Located on Warehouse MRKT, a bustling street in Traverse City, Hexenbelle stands out as a trendy coffee shop. While there, indulge in their diverse selection of coffee drinks, teas, and mouthwatering pastries. If you're feeling a bit more hungry, their small menu also offers delightful sandwiches and salads. Take some time to explore the nearby shops and restaurants for a well-rounded Traverse City experience.


Address: 144 Hall St Suite 107, Traverse City, MI 49684


These coffee shops in Traverse City provide not only a warm cup of Joe but also a cozy atmosphere and unique flavors that will enhance your visit to this charming Michigan city.


Where to Eat in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan is a culinary haven, boasting a vibrant food scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From farm-to-table eateries to international flavors, here are some top dining establishments to consider during your visit:


The Cooks' House

This farm-to-table restaurant focuses on locally sourced ingredients and seasonal flavors. Their ever-changing menu showcases the best of Traverse City's culinary offerings, with dishes that are thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented.


Trattoria Stella

Located in the historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Trattoria Stella offers an authentic Italian dining experience. With a focus on traditional techniques and locally sourced ingredients, their menu features a variety of homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and delectable entrees.


Alliance

A gem in downtown Traverse City, Alliance is known for its inventive, globally inspired cuisine. The menu features dishes that blend flavors from different regions, resulting in an exciting culinary adventure. Don't miss their innovative cocktails and carefully curated wine list.


The Franklin

This neighborhood bistro is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. The Franklin showcases a seasonal menu with a focus on comfort food made from scratch. Their cozy ambiance and friendly service create a welcoming dining experience.


The Boathouse

Situated on the shores of West Grand Traverse Bay, The Boathouse offers stunning waterfront views and a menu that celebrates the bounty of the Great Lakes region. From fresh seafood to locally sourced meats, their dishes are skillfully prepared and artfully presented.


Amical

A Traverse City institution, Amical has been serving delicious meals in a relaxed atmosphere for over 30 years. Their diverse menu offers a range of options, including European-inspired dishes, sandwiches, salads, and delectable desserts.


Patisserie Amie

For a taste of French-inspired cuisine and exquisite pastries, head to Patisserie Amie. This charming bakery and café offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu that includes classic French dishes, brunch favorites, and a delectable selection of sweet treats.


The Little Fleet

If you're looking for a more casual dining experience, head to The Little Fleet. This outdoor food truck park and bar offers a rotating selection of food trucks, each serving a unique cuisine. Pair your meal with a craft beer or a creative cocktail from the bar.


Moomers Homemade Ice Cream

When in Traverse City, a visit to Moomers Homemade Ice Cream is an absolute must. This beloved ice cream parlor offers a delightful selection of handcrafted flavors, all made with locally sourced ingredients. Whether you're a fan of timeless classics like vanilla and chocolate or have a taste for more adventurous creations such as Cherry Amaretto or Sea Salt Caramel, Moomers has something to satisfy every ice cream lover's craving. Personally, my top favorites are the tantalizing flavors of cinnamon and pumpkin crisp, which perfectly capture the essence of fall. Indulging in a scoop (or two!) of Moomers ice cream is a quintessential Traverse City experience that you won't want to miss.


Where to Stay in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan offers a range of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. During my visit, I opted for an Airbnb, which provided a comfortable and personalized stay. Here are a few notable options for where to stay in Traverse City:


Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

This renowned resort offers luxurious accommodations, a championship golf course, a full-service spa, multiple dining options, and breathtaking views of the Grand Traverse Bay.


Hotel Indigo Traverse City

Located in the heart of downtown, this boutique hotel offers stylish and modern rooms, an on-site restaurant, a rooftop bar with panoramic views, and easy access to shops, restaurants, and entertainment.


Bayshore Resort

Situated on the waterfront, Bayshore Resort offers comfortable rooms, an indoor pool, a private beach area, and close proximity to attractions such as Clinch Park and the Traverse City State Park.


The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

This unique destination features renovated historic buildings that now house boutique hotels, restaurants, galleries, and shops. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience in a beautiful and tranquil setting.


Cherry Tree Inn & Suites

Situated on the East Grand Traverse Bay, this waterfront hotel offers cozy rooms, a private beach, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and a complimentary breakfast.


Best Time to Visit Traverse City, Michigan

The best time to visit Traverse City, Michigan depends on your preferences and planned activities. Summer (June to August) is ideal for outdoor pursuits and festivals. Fall (September to November) offers stunning foliage and wine-related events. Winter (December to February) is great for winter sports and festivals. Spring (March to May) is quieter and showcases cherry blossoms. Consider your interests and weather preferences when choosing the best time to visit Traverse City.


Traverse City, Michigan is a captivating destination that offers a multitude of experiences throughout the year. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures, culinary delights, scenic beauty, or cultural events, this charming city has something to offer every visitor. Whether you're a nature lover, a foodie, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Traverse City is a destination that promises to delight and inspire. Plan your visit based on your preferred activities and seasonal offerings, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this gem of northern Michigan.


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Hi, Thanks for stopping by!

I'm Samantha! A photographer and I believe that every picture has a story. As a blogger, I share my travel stories with everyone. I think it's important to document my travels and share my experiences with others. I've been to some amazing places and I've seen some incredible things. I want to share my stories and photos with the world.

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