Lively experiences—wine-country tours by bike, pub crawls by water and sailing on a replica schooner—color escapes to this Lake Michigan harbor town and its neighbors. Check out our guide to what to do, where to eat and where to stay in the Traverse City area.
Traverse City Boardman River paddleboarding
Credit: Tony Demin



Spend a day in the sun at one of the city's six public sandy spots, like popular Clinch Park, with picnic tables and a snack bar.

Crystal River Outfitters

Rent a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard and explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore via the meandering Crystal River.

Dennos Museum Center Traverse City Michigan
Credit: Todd Zawitowski

Dennos Museum Center

On the Northwestern Michigan College campus, the center's collection includes 1,000 pieces of Inuit art. 

Ways to water in the MIdwest
Leland's Fishtown
| Credit: Ryan Donnell


The working waterfront—one of the few unmodernized fishing villages on the Great Lakes—also houses galleries, cafes and boutiques in Leland, about 25 miles northwest of Traverse City.

Grand Traverse Bike Tours 

Join bike, e-bike, sailing and other tours leading to area wineries and breweries.

M-22 Drive 

One of Michigan's epic highways, the M-22 runs 116 scenic miles from Traverse City up the Leelanau Peninsula and then south along Lake Michigan to Manistee. Stop at wineries, roadside fruit stands, beach towns and hiking trails.

Michigan Legacy Art Park

Follow four trails to discover 50 sculptures on the grounds of Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville (32 miles southwest of Traverse City). 

National Cherry Festival 

"Eat, drink and be cherry" at events like pie-eating contests, farm tours, a cherry farmers market and parade (July 1–8, 2023). 

Nauti-Cat Cruises

Watch the sun slip away during a catamaran cruise on Grand Traverse Bay. Relax on the large nets on board while admiring homes along the Old Mission Peninsula. The Champagne Sunset Tour includes a complimentary glass of bubbly—but you can always treat yourself to the signature electric green Cat-Nip cocktail.

The River 

The outfitter rents gear (bicycles, stand-up paddleboards, tubes and kayaks) for guided or self-guided exploration.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan Traverse City
Sleeping Bear Dunes
| Credit: Tony Demin

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Lake Michigan sparkles below sand dunes and bluffs in this 35-mile-long park (26 miles northwest of Traverse City). Drive, hike, bike or paddle to take in some of the area's most beautiful vistas.

Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak 

Rent boards, kayaks or bikes in Empire. Aspiring surfers can take lessons at Empire's beach.

Traverse Tall Ship Company 

Crew members invite passengers to try hoisting the sails on the Manitou, a 114-foot replica schooner. But there's plenty of time to relax over snacks and drinks during the two-hour cruise. 

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons 

Restaurants, an art gallery, boutique shops and wine tasting rooms fill The Village, originally built as a state hospital in 1885.

Warehouse MRKT 

Boutiques share the renovated warehouse space with a coffee shop, restaurant and fitness studio. At Darling Botanical, shop for innovative container plants, or build your own terrarium. 


Wine trails on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas connect nearly 40 wineries. We especially love Chateau Chantal and 2 Lads Winery, both with great views out over the bay.

Eat and Drink

Aerie Restaurant and Lounge 

On the 16th floor, a wall of windows overlooks Grand Traverse Bay at Aerie. The food (such as salmon with poached apples) matches the quality of the Grand Traverse Resort.


The menu at this Traverse City bistro changes seasonally, but savory tomato soup served under a puff pastry shell is always available.

The Cooks' House 

Chefs at The Cooks' House work with Michigan farmers and producers to procure ingredients for meals in a simple wood-frame house.

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

Grand Traverse Pie Company

Pie Company Michigan Montmorency cherries fill the top-selling cherry crumb pie at Grand Traverse Pie Company.

Higher Grounds Coffee Bar and Roastery 

Sip on organic, fair-trade coffee on the Higher Grounds patio or buy a sampler pack of beans.

The Little Fleet
Credit: Starboard & Port Creative

The Little Fleet 

Food trucks surround an open-air beer garden and bar along East Front Street. In season, grab a boozy frozen drink and settle down at a picnic table to dig into pizza, barbecue, tacos, Chinese food and more.

Mama Lu's 

Modern takes on tacos cost just $4.50; try a couple with a mango margarita or beer cocktail.

Martha's Leelanau Table

Everything on the menu at this Suttons Bay cafe (15 miles north of Traverse City) is made from scratch. Try the Leelanau raclette, which you can order as a fondue. 

Moomers Homemade Ice Cream 

Next to a dairy farm, Moomers makes more than 150 varieties of premium ice cream every season, with more than 20 available daily.

Morsels Espresso and Edibles

Smooth coffee (Intelligentsia), bite-size tastes (cakes, cookies, brownies and scones) and river views start the day at Morsels.

Slabtown Burgers 

Picnic on a lunch in a paper sack, or stay inside for burgers, wraps and shakes.


Even the basics—chips, salsa, guacamole—win raves at this colorful cafe. On nice days, eat at one of the picnic tables outside.

Trattoria Stella 

Stone arches shelter diners enjoying traditional Italian cuisine at Trattoria Stella in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.


Boyne Mountain 

This sprawling resort in Boyne Falls (58 miles northeast of Traverse City) offers a variety of lodging and recreation options, including ziplines, an indoor water park, and the new-in-2022 SkyBridge Michigan, the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge.

Chateau Chantal 

Eleven rooms and suites at Chateau Chantal look out on East and West Grand Traverse bays or vineyards producing the wines served in the tasting room on the Old Mission Peninsula.

Crystal Mountain

Active families come to the Thompsonville resort (37 miles southwest of Traverse City) to ski, hike, bike and golf—then recover at the spa. Lodging includes cottages, condos and inn rooms.

The Homestead 

This laid-back retreat with spa in Glen Arbor (26 miles west of Traverse City) makes an ideal base for exploring neighboring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Hotel Indigo 

Unwind on a rooftop patio at Hotel Indigo, then retire to a room where accents such as sawtooth-shape mirrors reflect local logging heritage.

Tamarack Lodge

Guests staying in these 29 luxury condos along East Grand Traverse Bay can participate in beach bonfires, movie nights and wine tastings.

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