Traverse City’s stunning beaches, arts, culture, parks and kid-friendly restaurants make this northern Michigan town a destination the whole family can enjoy.
Traverse City
Clinch Park Beach
| Credit: Tony Demin

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.

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 seasonal corn maze, pumpkin patch and a petting zoo; and  cherry products are particularly yummy.

Tall ship Manitou

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.

Traverse City, Michigan

The River

The outfitter rents gear (bicycles, e-bikes, stand-up paddleboards, tubes and kayaks) and arranges tours.

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. About 40 minutes southwest of Traverse City.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
| Credit: Tony Demin

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.

Traverse City, Michigan, Mission Point lighthouse
Credit: Bob Stefko

Old Mission Peninsula

Wineries, cherry orchards, farm markets and B&Bs create stops appealing to both kids and adults along the Old Mission Peninsula, a narrow strip of land dividing Grand Traverse Bay into east and west. The 1870 Mission Point 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 General Store.

Grand Traverse Pie Company
Grand Traverse Pie Company
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

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.

Great Wolf Lodge

Both thrilling and tame rides and slides pack the 39,000-square-foot indoor water park. The massive resort also offers family yoga, arts and crafts classes, a MagiQuest enchanted kingdom play adventure, miniature golf, an arcade and a bowling alley. 

Opa! Grill

The melting pot of Greek, Polish and American food has tons of flavor. And Opa is reasonably priced, so load up on gyros, falafel, pierogies, burgers and Coney dogs.