Top 10 Things to Do in Traverse City

Top 10 Things to Do in Traverse City

  • Casey Kiley-Terzano
  • 09/11/23

Traverse City, Michigan is a beautiful destination known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and delicious food and wine scene. Although there is a lot of things to do in the area, here is a list to get you started if you are visiting here for the first time. We created a list of top 10 things to do in Traverse City:

Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Explore the sand dunes, hike through the forest, and take in stunning views of Lake Michigan. There are many hiking areas throughout the national park, but be careful about jumping down the dunes to the water, it can take you 45 minutes to climb back up; its further down than you think! There is also the Platte River in the national park which is great for floating down the river with tubes, kayaks, or paddle boards on a hot day! 

Go Wine Tasting

Traverse City is home to numerous vineyards and wineries, offering delicious wines and beautiful scenery. You will want to pick between Leelanau County or Old Mission Peninsula because each region has clusters of wineries close together, making it easier to visit multiple in one day. Make sure you have a designated driver! 

Enjoy the Cherry Festival

Traverse City is the cherry capital of the world, and every July during the week of the 4th, they celebrate with the week-long National Cherry Festival that includes parades, concerts, and, of course, lots of cherries. It is so much fun, and even the locals participate and take time off to celebrate this summer week! Beware, its a pretty busy and congested time of year, but it is a blast! 

Take a Sunset Cruise

Take a leisurely cruise on one of the many boats in Traverse City and enjoy a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan. Nauti-cat is a very well known catamaran that offers great sunset and happy hour cruises. Also, check out the newest cruise option at Discovery Cruises. This floating venue offers public and private charter excursions and can accommodate up to 149 people.

Visit the Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Built in 1852, this lighthouse is now a museum and offers tours of the tower and keeper's quarters. Pack a picnic, or grab sandwiches at Bad Dog Deli on your way up, and make a relaxing day up at the beach. 

Explore the Downtown Area

Traverse City's downtown area is home to many unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You can easily spend a few hours downtown wandering in shops, down to the marina, and enjoying some craft cocktails. Check out the list of shops and see upcoming events at the Downtown TC website.

Bike the TART Trails

The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail is a 10-mile trail that runs through Traverse City and offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. If you are a biker, you can park in Traverse City, and bike up to Suttons Bay for the day to explore. 

Visit the Dennos Museum Center

This museum features rotating exhibits of contemporary art, as well as a permanent collection of Inuit art. If you like art and a bit of quiet time, this might be a nice way to spend an afternoon. 

Take a Fishing Charter

Traverse City is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, and taking a fishing charter is a great way to experience it firsthand. View a list of charter options here.

Go Kayaking or Paddle boarding

Rent a kayak or paddle board and explore the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan and the surrounding rivers and lakes. Clearwater Kayaks in Torch Lake lets you kayak up to the sandbar on the Lake. There are also Kayak and paddle boar rental services downtown Traverse City at Clinch Park beach if you want to paddle board or kayak out on West Bay. 

As a lifelong resident here, I can tell you that there are so many other things to do, but this is a great start for a first-timer to Traverse City!! 

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