With more waterfront acreage than any other state in the nation, Michigan is a natural paradise for water sports. The crystal clear lakes and rivers attract water enthusiasts of all types from swimmers to boaters and fishermen. It’s no wonder families have vacationed in Northern Michigan longer than Detroit has been making cars.
One of the top destinations for visitors to the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan is Traverse City, a vibrant mix of small beach town atmosphere and big city dining. Travel & Leisure named Traverse City as one of America’s Favorite Beach Towns. Livability called it “The Best Small Town in America.” And Zagat included it in a list of “6 Hot U.S. Food Destinations to Visit This Summer.”
Maybe it’s the water or the proximity to The Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City that gives the local food scene the edge. Traverse City even features that most urban staple, the food truck. The Little Fleet on Front Street is home to nine food trucks with a variety of specialties. Local chefs use a range of fresh produce for the best in farm to table dining.
A newcomer to this dining scene, Olives & Wine features sharing plates of creative Middle Eastern delicacies and a “wall of wine” serve yourself tasting option of local, national and international varietals. Visitors and locals alike can tour wineries and craft beer breweries via bike and canoe or a combination of both.
Michigan is the most agriculturally diverse state after California and one of Michigan’s most successful exports are cherries. In fact Northern Michigan is the cherry capital of the United States. Look for Cherry Republic on Front Street, an emporium devoted just to Michigan cherries. Generous samples of dried and chocolate coated varieties of cherries and just about any food staple with the delectable fruit are free to customers. If you’re here in July, check out the The National Cherry Festival. The Cherry Festival has a long history – the first Cherry Queen was crowned in 1925.
If you’re walking down Front Street, don’t miss the art deco historic State Theatre , restored with help from famous native son, film maker Michael Moore. Every summer, the theatre hosts the annual Traverse City film festival founded by Michael Moore .
While there is a small airport in Traverse City appropriately named Cherry Capital, a car is the best way to discover all the Upper Peninsula has to offer. Just a short 30 mile drive from Traverse City you’ll find Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a spectacular national park voted by the public as the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Our favorites at Sleeping Bear include the 7.4 mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which has easy access to scenic views of the steep sand dunes that border the clean, clear waters of Lake Michigan, the Dune Climb and nearby Glen Haven Maritime Museum and Great Lakes Boat Museum.
Along with the mom-and-pop motels, ice cream and fudge joints on the outskirts of Traverse City, a little further outside you’ll find top four season resorts such as the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and Shanty Creek Resorts.