Grand Beach Resort
Traverse City may well be the largest of the 21 counties that make up the Northern Michigan region but that doesn’t stop it being invariably described as a small town. Just under 15,000 people live here; small fry compared to the three million-plus visitors each year. Tourism is alive and kicking all year round with each season having its own appeal. Hotels, motels, and B&Bs here are plentiful so why not stay a while? It won’t take long for you to fall under the spell of this charming destination in the Great Lake State.
With temperatures hovering around the 70 to 80-degree Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius) mark, summer is a great time to explore Traverse City. The city’s enviable setting at the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay means that there are some excellent beaches on offer. Both West End Beach and Clinch Park Beach are within an easy walk of the downtown area, although families may wish to head to East Bay Park where shallow waters, a playground, and amenities offer the ideal combination for younger guests. If you’d prefer to fill sunny days with activities, there are plenty on offer. Golfers can while away the day at one of the city’s 16 championship courses; options include Arnold Palmer’s Manitou Passage and Tom Weiskopf’s award-winning Cedar River. Sailing is another option, with charters readily available along the bay’s edge.
Winters in Traverse City are not for the faint hearted as temperatures often reach sub-zero levels. That said, the falling temperature brings with it a good snowfall and the chance to enjoy winter sports. Less than three miles west of downtown, one of the most easily accessible ski areas is the city-operated Hickory Hills. There are just eight downhill runs on offer but with slopes suitable for beginner and advanced skiers, it’s a good place to take the family. Six miles to the east lies the Mount Holiday Ski & Recreation Area where the 16 runs offer activities such as snowboarding and snow tubing. Serious winter sports fans can head to Shanty Creek Resorts, just an hour to the north. This resort features six terrain parks and more than 50 slopes spread across The Summit and Schuss Mountain.
Although once a major lumbering centre, Traverse City is now better known for its dining scene. Described as America’s tart cherry capital, the pièce de résistance of the city’s culinary calendar is the National Cherry Festival. Held each July and attracting around half a million visitors, it is one of Michigan’s best attended events. Outside of July, you can enjoy all manner of delicious dining at the city’s restaurants. Options range from cheap comfort eats near Cherry Capital Airport to the smart chef-led dining spots dotted along Front Street. Don’t miss the chance to visit the area’s wineries too. There are seven to discover on the nearby Mission Peninsula and more than 20 along the Leelanau Peninsula, both of which are within a short drive of the city.
A trip to Traverse City will likely help you make memories that will last a lifetime but there’s no harm in picking up a few souvenirs of your trip. Many visitors like to spend time exploring the boutiques and independent stores in the downtown and Old Town districts although those who prefer big box shopping won’t be left out in the cold. Traverse City also has several large shopping centres, among the most popular of which are the city’s largest enclosed retail destination, The Grand Traverse Mall in the south of the city, and the nearby Grand Traverse Crossing. In the east, the Cherryland Center offers a mix of anchor and independent shops.
Traverse City offers visitors the perfect opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of a big city but that doesn’t mean you’ll find yourself short of things to see and do. Arts and culture fans can catch a performance of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, often held in the stunning City Opera House, while outdoorsy types can explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or enjoy the autumnal colours of the Old Mission Peninsula by taking a drive along Route 37. Film buffs can attend the Traverse City Film Festival, held annually around the end of July, while the whole family will enjoy a trip to the Cherry Speedway or to the GT Butterfly House & Bug Zoo, just 20 minutes to the east. Traverse City is the kind of place where everyone fits in.