Traverse City

Traverse City Travel Guide

You'll encounter one topic over and over again when researching things to do in Traverse City: cherries. This tiny town is the leading producer of tart cherries in the entire United States, and any list of what to do in Traverse City must begin with the National Cherry Festival. The festival is held during the first week of July, around the time of the annual harvest, and attracts thousands of visitors—500,000 in 2014 alone. The festival features parades, an air show, pie- and cherry-eating contests, and a mock election of cherry royalty.

The same environmental conditions that make Traverse City the cherry capital of the country also make it a leading producer of wine. In fact, USA Today has named it one of the Top Ten Places for Local Wine. Embark on a self-guided tour of the seven wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula, and if you want something more sudsy on your palate, be sure to stop by Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. The other peninsula, Leelanau, has nearly two-dozen wineries; a cider factory named Tandem Ciders, and a cheesemongers shop called Leelanau Cheese. Famous chef Mario Batali owns a summer home on the peninsula.

Looking to add some exercise to your list of what to do in Traverse City? The T.A.R.T. trail system offers miles of road cycling routes. Traverse City State Park has 250 campsites and many hiking trails—and exploring the verdant landscape is one of the best things to do in Traverse City. And Lake Michigan is an idyllic spot for sailing, fishing, and kayaking.

Sail Grand Traverse Bay on the schooner Manitou, one of the Great Lakes’ largest sailing vessels.

The local hangout is the spot for drinks, karaoke, and live music.

Climb sand dunes, hike, or enjoy the pristine freshwater beach.

Drive the 7.4-mile, self-guided tour of forest, dunes, and Lake Michigan vistas.