I thought I would start our journey through Michigan with my lovely hometown, Traverse City.

I am quite fortunate to have grown up in such a beautiful and peaceful city that is every nature enthusiast’s favorite destination in the Lower Peninsula, the pinky of the mitten! The list of outdoor activities is too tremendous to name individually, making Traverse City a remarkable tourist destination.

Speaking of tourism…

Traverse City thrives off of tourism, especially in the summer. Our National Cherry Festival and Film Festival are the main attractions.

The National Cherry Festival is an annual, weeklong festival that started in 1925 (back then it was called the Blessing of the Blossoms Festival) to celebrate Traverse City’s famous crop, cherries. The cherries grown in and around Traverse City make up 70-75% of the U.S. tart cherries, according to traversecity.com.

Like most large festivals, you can find carnival rides by the bay, parades involving all the public schools and even some college marching bands, food tents, local music, an arts and crafts fair and fireworks on the beach. I make a point every year to ride the Ferris wheel at night because you get a beautiful view of the water on one side and another beautiful view of the city on your other side. Be sure to buy some local cherries to snack on while they’re fresh and in season!

As much as I love cherries and the cherry festival, the Film Festival is my favorite. Founded by Michael Moore in 2005, there are around 12 venues to show different productions including local and short films. Although all year long you can visit our gorgeous State Theater or Bijou by the Bay, the film festival is only a weeklong.

An interesting fact about Traverse City’s State Theater, the ceiling of this theater has tiny lights representing stars. These lights were coordinated by an astronomer as an exact replica of the stars in the sky!

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The absolute best part of the Film Festival is the free screenings at the Open Space. In a big field just feet away from the bay, a 65 foot screen is inflated for the projection of movies. Both locals and tourists alike bring their blankets and their chairs down at dusk to watch the movie. If you happen to get there earlier, you’ll witness live, professional performances on stage.

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Local perks

Throughout the entire summer, Traverse City hosts a Farmers Market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers. You’ll also find beautiful flowers, soaps, lotions and even bakery products for sale.

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Friday Night Live is also a huge hit on every Friday for the month of August. Another way to publicly display Traverse City’s love for all things local and artistic, people come to Front Street for food, games, art, and live music.

We don’t just eat cherries

Speaking of local, when you come to Traverse City, do not eat at a chain restaurant! Our local restaurants cover every variety of food you can imagine, so why not eat locally and support the city?

Although I usually eat at home, here’s a list of my favorite local restaurants:

My favorite places to get ice cream:

And, of course, my favorite coffee shops:

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Mocha at the Brew

 

Rainy days?

Traverse City also has a lot to offer that takes place inside. Go to the Dennos Museum or Handz on Art for a day of relaxation at any age. Traverse City embraces all things artistic. I would also recommend going to a Horizon’s book store on Front Street. Not only do they have AMAZING coffee drinks, it’s a wonderful place to sit and read or meet with friends.

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Me, as a child, at Handz on Art. Picture by JG.

But enough of the touristy stuff. Let’s talk nature.

Although I could rant about how lovely the beaches are in Traverse City, I’m spoiled and actually prefer the beaches near, but not in, Traverse City. The Grand Traverse Bay’s are beautiful white sand beaches with clear, fresh water and you should go to them if you have the time. But I plan on publishing a blog post specifically about the best beaches around TC in the near future.

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The colors of fall

Summer might be a convenient time to visit, but I would recommend coming in the fall. The trees are soaked in raw colors and the hiking trails become a whole different world. Similar to the beaches, the best hiking trails are further outside of the city. But the preferred hiking trails in the city are the ones behind the Old State Hospital (Now called the Village Commons). These trails are beautiful and bring you such wonderful sights of the city. Besides, Higher Grounds Coffee is right next to it, so grab a cup of the best coffee on a crisp fall day before taking your hike.

 

Beware of the TC winter

Now I can’t lie, I love Traverse City during the holiday season. Partially because of the beautiful lights the city puts up and partially because of the sacred memories I have, such as ice skating at Thirlby Field or driving down an alley on tenth street that somehow manages to get every single neighbor to decorate, giving the impression that you’re in the North pole. But I don’t recommend visiting the city in the winter, our beautiful bays keep us just warm enough to melt all are snow into black ice. Our winters are harsh, long and, at times, a depression that has no end.

Are you done yet?”

I know, I know. I could keep talking about Traverse City all day. I have such pride and love for my hometown and could probably make an entire blog just about Traverse City. But I think you get the gist. If you have any questions, please comment below!

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