Traverse City, a hidden Midwestern gem in Michigan that is characterized by miles of shoreline and a vibrant downtown, is the perfect place to visit or call home. With a population of just over 15,000, Traverse City may be small, but it’s anything but boring. If you’re ready to look for a vacation or primary residence in the area, or if you’re just planning a visit, here are some of the best things to do in Traverse City while you’re there.
Places to eat in Traverse City
You’ll need an abundance of fuel to keep you going when you’re exploring the Traverse City area. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to enjoy a fantastic meal. Here are some of the best.
Celebrating 20 years in business in 2024, Trattoria Stella is the premier Italian restaurant in Traverse City. Serving dinner every evening except Tuesday, the eatery’s most popular entrees include linguini with jumbo gulf shrimp scampi and Angus beef tenderloin medallions. However, the true delight of Trattoria Stella is in its antipasti menu, which includes selections like Atlantic calamari, veal brain, and charcuterie.
A new restaurant that just opened in 2022, Modern Bird was started by two Chicago chefs who worked together, got married, and decided to start a tradition of their own. Their small, intriguing menu features options like tomato and shishito pickled shrimp, country ham toast with peas and ricotta, and the couple’s popular cheddar bread served with ranch butter.
As you’ve already got dinner covered with the above two restaurants, both of which are only open for the evening meal, you’ll need somewhere to eat breakfast and lunch. That’s where Hexenbelle comes in. This Palestinian cafe and coffee shop offers diners a number of unique coffee drinks like the Damascus Gate (rose, black cardamom, clove, and saffron) as well as teas, kombucha, and eats such as the Palestinian rice bowl and coconut curry fried rice.
Family-friendly things to do in Traverse City
Traverse City is the ideal place for families as there is plenty to do for kids of all ages. Here are some of the best activities.
Attend the National Cherry Festival
If you’ll be in Traverse City in June, you’ll have to make plans to attend the National Cherry Festival. With parades, races, eight nights of entertainment, and family activities like dog competitions, air shows, and fireworks, there is something for everyone at this wildly popular annual event.
Explore the TART Trails Network
Families who enjoy exploring the outdoors together will love biking or hiking along the paved TART trail that meanders through forests, cherry trees, and grapevines. If you want to try out something a little more structured, the trail network also hosts regular events like the Tour de Tart bicycle ride and accessible recreation day.
Check out the beaches
“Beaches” and “Michigan” may not seem synonymous to you, but the lake beaches are one of the best things for families to check out when they’re in Traverse City. West End Beach has sand volleyball courts and picnic areas, while the downtown Clinch Park beach has stand-up paddleboards for rent and a splash pad for younger children.
Visit the wineries
Another one of the best things to do in Traverse City that you might not expect is the abundance of wineries. Home to more than 40 unique wineries, the Traverse City area is a favorite of connoisseurs from all over the country. Here are just a few you won’t want to miss.
Shady Lane Cellars
Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, Shady Lane Cellars features an inviting tasting room where the community can gather, taste fantastic wines, and socialize. In addition to regular events like Friday night live music and craft classes, Shady Lanes also has a wine club and special enhanced tasting opportunities.
Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery
The 155-acre Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery not only has a tasting room and an upper deck where you can enjoy wine while looking out at breathtaking views, but it also has an amazing secret garden with 12 acres of wildflowers, lavender, herbs, and a gift shop.
Though it’s located 12 miles from Traverse City, Chateau Chantal is well worth the short drive. You’ll love the fresh air, winding roads, and beautiful vineyard almost as much as you’ll enjoy the wines. As a bonus, if you’d like to indulge but don’t want to drive afterward, this location has its own bed and breakfast.
Where to shop in Traverse City
Downtown Traverse City is the place to go if you want to browse shops and pick out new clothes, jewelry, or gourmet food and wine. Here are some shops to put on your must-visit list.
If you can’t make it to the Cherry Festival, you can still pick up some memorable gifts (for yourself or others!) at Cherry Republic. With more than 200 cherry products, including cherry wine and cherry salsa, Cherry Republic is a dream come true for every fruit lover.
Looking for engagement rings, wedding bands, and other fine jewelry? Miner's North is the place for you. With the largest selection in Northern Michigan, this jewelry shop has something for everyone, including custom design options.
Plan on exploring the great outdoors while you’re in Traverse City? You’ll need the gear to maximize your experience. Fortunately, Backcountry North has everything you need, from backpacks to kayaks to all the rugged apparel you’ll need for your adventures.
Find a home in Traverse City
Wineries, shopping, and fantastic restaurants – everything you need in a vacation destination is right here in Traverse City. If you’re ready to turn that vacation into a more permanent residence, reach out to one of the experienced local real estate agents at The Mitten Real Estate Group. They would be happy to help you find the perfect home.