When you visit the largest city on Michigan’s Sunset Coast, you get a twofer—a bustling town with great food and drink, plus the whole glorious region around it.
kids running towards beach
Credit: Brian Confer

Bucket List

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Lake Michigan sparkles below sand dunes and bluffs in this 35-mile-long park. Drive, hike, bike or paddle to take in the jaw-dropping vistas.

Traverse Wine Coast

Two emerald peninsulas, Old Mission and Leelanau, jut into Lake Michigan near Traverse City. Together, they play host to some 40 wineries. A few faves: Mari Vineyards, Chateau Chantal and 2 Lads Winery.

Cherry Republic

Cherry salsa, cherry cookies, cherry wine—you get the drift. Stock up downtown, or for the full experience of this mega-popular store, drive to the flagship in Glen Arbor.


This epic scenic highway runs 116 miles from Traverse City up the Leelanau Peninsula and then south to Manistee. Drive to fruit stands, wineries, beach towns and hiking trails.

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Restaurants, cafes, boutiques, a brewery and wine tasting rooms fill what was originally built as a state hospital in 1885.

Free and Fab

There's a small fee to enter the Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of Leelanau Peninsula, but you can explore the grounds and enjoy free bay views with a Michigan Recreation Passport.

The Little Fleet food truck
Credit: Tony Demin

Family Hits


On a downtown corner, The Little Fleet is a food truck park with communal picnic tables. The lineup evolves each summer, but Happy's Taco Shop is a permanent fixture there.


The new Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide sends adventurers 1,700 feet down a twisty, curvy track at Crystal Mountain resort in Thompsonville.

Budget Pick

Get your sandcastle fix on one of Traverse City's numerous public beaches. Clinch Park has picnic tables, a snack bar, kayak rentals and a lifeguard on duty.

It's a Date!

Eat, drink and be cherry during Traverse City's famed National Cherry Festival (July 2–9, 2022). Sweet highlights include pie-eating contests, U-pick farm visits, a cherry farmers market and parade, plus a Blue Angels show.

Where to Eat


At Morsels Espresso and Eatables, baked goods and breakfast sandwiches come with views of the Boardman River downtown.


Seven miles from Traverse City(via bike trail, if you're feeling intrepid), Farm Club is a dreamy Leelanau County farm-to-table restaurant, brewery and bakery with an outdoor bar.


The menu changes regularly, but cozy Trattoria Stella's seasonal Italian cooking is reliably inventive and delicious.

5 Great Places to Sip Cider

Taproot Cider House

Many of the area's cideries require a (scenic) drive, but Taproot is right downtown on Front Street, with live music and an outdoor patio.

Tandem Ciders

A red tandem bike and white barn greet patrons to this welcoming Suttons Bay spot known for Smackintosh, a punchy-sweet hard apple cider.

Bee Well Mead and Cider

Buzz into this tasting room in Bellaire to try one of more than a dozen ciders and meads (a honey-based ferment).

Townline Ciderworks

The fun-loving Altonen family owns this Williamsburg orchard known for ciders and white wine.

Suttons Bay Ciders

Soak in panoramic bay views while sipping ciders flavored with hops, ginger, lavender and other aromatic herbs.

two people with wine at Tamarack Lodge
Credit: Johnny Quirin

Where to Stay

Along the beach of East Grand Traverse Bay, Tamarack Lodge exudes Up North vibes. Activities include s'mores and beach bonfires, live music, scavenger hunts, and ice cream treats. All units come with full-size kitchens and laundry rooms.

Day Trip

Accessible by ferry, South Manitou is an uninhabited island full of sand dunes and old-growth forest, with a lighthouse, 10 miles of beach and an offshore shipwreck. Because there are no services on the island, grab a sandwich from Village Cheese Shanty in Leland's Fishtown before boarding the 10 a.m. ferry, which returns at 5:30 p.m.