With another sweltering summer fast approaching, many of you are probably looking to find somewhere to escape the intense heat. Look no further than up north in Traverse City, on the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan! Not only are there endless activities in the area to be a part of in Traverse City, but there are so many unique and special events that help to showcase the vibrant culture. Also, it is right on the edge of Lake Michigan, where there are beautiful beaches to cool off at and enjoy the view. Bryant Park, Clinch Park, and West End Beach are among the most popular areas to go swimming, and are perfect for a family outing. Below are just a few of the many reasons Traverse City, Michigan, is the ideal summer escape.
Traverse City holds a special place in our hearts as the first major road trip destination we traveled to together. If you’ve never had the chance to see the Cherry Capital of the World, you need to visit this wonderful community! There is so much to do. We are saddened that this city is unheard of by many fellow travelers. Hopefully this can change that!
Now, I’ll answer the question many of you probably have in your minds: no, we did not spin a globe or throw a dart at a map to pick Traverse City. We DID however take a trip with my family to go visit my grandpa. He is a long-time resident, Air Force veteran, and blueberry-growing aficionado. His home is on the front of ten acres of land that includes a mini forest and lots of area to garden. Being from California, we were surprised that this much property is not unusual for the region.
Traverse City is located in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Grand Traverse County. It is the largest city in the northern region, as well as the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States.
Perhaps the most notable event in Traverse City is the National Cherry Festival. This is an annual event that brings in thousands of locals and tourists alike to celebrate the annual harvest for–my personal favorite fruit–cherries! This year’s event is coming up fast with headline performances including Brett Young, Josh Turner, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, and many others. There are also a slew of family friendly activities and competitions.
Shopping & Dining
The downtown area keeps up a friendly atmosphere year-round with very welcoming small businesses. Some of these shops have remained unchanged since my dad grew up there! The down-to-earth welcome you receive is warm and inviting. The toy and souvenir shops are always fun, and the food is amazing.
One quaint spot we had the pleasure of visiting was Paesano’s Pizza. The Kolarik family that founded this restaurant in 1981 was that of my dad’s childhood best friend. Therefore, that meant we had to eat there! Being completely unbiased, it is so delicious. Their outdoor seating overlooks a gorgeous canal, and the atmosphere paired with laid-back, tasty Italian food makes for the perfect afternoon or evening.
Colonial Michilimackinac (Bonus Location)
While visiting northern Michigan, outdoorsy types should make the drive to visit the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) that is mostly inhabited by lifelong Michiganders. However, Colonial Michilimackinac should be your final stop before crossing the famous Mackinaw Bridge that leads to greener pastures (so to speak). This National Historic Landmark is home to its namesake Fort built by the French in the early 16th century.
Here you can take a journey back in time and immerse yourself in the many activities and exhibits found throughout the park. Showcasing the rich history, the employees do really well embodying their roles of the century. They never break character as they teach you about colonial life as soldiers and tradesmen. My favorite was watching the Blacksmith and his apprentice handcraft various wares for fellow citizens of the fort.
Have you ever taken a trip to northern Michigan? Do you have another favorite summer getaway? Tell us about your trips in the comments below. Oh, and don’t forget to follow us on social media for more adventure stories and travel tips! Sharing is caring! 🙂