Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in Traverse City
Traverse City’s stunning beaches, arts, culture, parks and kid-friendly restaurants make this northern Michigan town a destination the whole family can enjoy.
Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.
1) Clinch Park Beach The largest and most popular of Traverse City's picturesque public beaches, Clinch Park is just a few blocks from downtown shops and restaurants. A beautification project added a splash pad, changing rooms and a cafe. While walking the shore, keep your eyes peeled for Petoskey stones-gray-brown fossilized coral with a sunburst pattern. traversecity.com
Clinch Park Beach. Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism.
2) Gallagher's Farm Market and Bakery Farm stands and markets dot the roads rolling around Traverse City, but Gallagher's holds special appeal. You can sample baked goods in a wide-open farm setting anchored by a big red barn; tour a corn maze, pumpkin patch and a petting zoo; and cherry products are particularly yummy. gallaghersfarmmarkettc.com
3) Traverse Tall Ship Company See Grand Traverse Bay from the deck of the Manitou, a gorgeous 114-foot-tall replica of a 19th-century schooner. The friendly crew lets passengers help raise and lower the sails during two-hour leisure cruises. Of course, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. In-season excursions run several times a day. tallshipsailing.com
4) Opa! Coney and Grill The melting pot of Greek, Polish and American food has tons of flavor. And it's reasonably priced, so load up on gyros, falafel, pierogies, burgers and Coney dogs. opagrill.com
5) The River The outfitter rents gear (bicycles, stand-up paddleboards, tubes and kayaks) and arranges tours. therivertc.com
6) Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre Honor's classic 1950s drive-in not only shows movies but also has a playground, miniature golf, a gift shop and an on-site diner. There's a no-alcohol policy, lewd behavior isn't tolerated, and none of the movies are rated stronger than PG-13. cherrybowldrivein.com
7) Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore You can't go to Traverse City and not also take the kids to Sleeping Bear Dunes, 26 miles west. Lake Michigan sparkles below sand dunes and bluffs; explore by driving, hiking, biking or paddling.
8) Old Mission Peninsula Wineries, cherry orchards, farm markets and B&Bs invite stops along this narrow strip of land dividing Grand Traverse Bay into east and west. The 1870 lighthouse at the northern tip marks the halfway point between the North Pole and the equator. Load up on ice cream cones and penny candy at the Old Mission Village's general store. traversecity.com
9) Grand Traverse Pie Company For an afternoon treat (or even breakfast-we won't tell anyone), stop at the original location of this nationally recognized bakery. In addition to slices of cherry, apple, lemon meringue or coconut cream pie, they serve breakfast, lunch and treats like cookies and cakes. gtpie.com
10) Great Wolf Lodge Both thrilling and tame rides and slides pack this 39,000-square-foot indoor water park. The massive resort also has an ice cream-themed spa for divas in training, a MagiQuest enchanted kingdom play adventure, miniature golf, an arcade and a bowling alley. greatwolf.com/traverse/waterpark