A Travel Guide To Traverse City, Michigan

traverse-citySurrounded by fresh water, cherry orchards and some of the best restaurants and wineries in the country, Traverse City, Michigan is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit. Thanks to its abundance of fresh water, it’s a favorite vacation spot for the summer. However, for those who grew up there, like our editor Carly Hill, Traverse City is filled with activities and must-visit spots all year round. Today, Carly is sharing what makes this Northern Michigan town so special and a favorite place to come to for so many people!


  • Get on the water: Traverse City is surrounded by beautiful fresh water, including Lake Michigan and the bays. Rent a boat, try stand up paddle boarding or just lay on the beach to enjoy the true gem of Northern Michigan.
  • Climb Sleeping Bear Dunes: This national lakeshore is composed of mouth-dropping views and giant sand dunes. It is one of the most beautiful and iconic areas of Northern Michigan.
  • See a movie at the State Theatre: Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore helped renovate this shuttered historic downtown movie house in 2007. Today, it is the ideal spot to catch a new release or classic favorite. Along with the reopening of the theatre, the Traverse City Film Fest was born. At the end of every July, filmmakers from around the world come to Northern Michigan for a week of all things movies.
  • Explore M-22: If you follow the Lake Michigan shoreline of the Leelanau Peninsula, you’ll journey on M-22. This scenic drive is composed of stunning lakeshore views. It also features adorable small towns like Suttons Bay and Leland, making it perfect for a day’s worth of adventures.
  • Drive through the cherry orchards: Traverse City is known as the cherry capital of the world (the National Cherry Festival takes place every July!). Make sure to not only enjoy all the delicious cherry treats, but take a scenic drive through the beautiful orchards.
  • Take a winery tour: Traverse City features more than a dozen local vineyards, all located along the Old Mission Peninsula. Enjoy an afternoon of relaxation and refreshing sips!


  • Red Ginger: This Asian-infusion restaurant is perfect for date night.
  • Chateau Chantal: If you’re unable to spend a whole afternoon touring the local vineyards, head to this winery for a glass (or two). It’s a favorite thanks to its amazing views and, of course, the wine!
  • Amical: When in need of comfort food, visit this eclectic European restaurant. A local favorite is the unbelievable chicken pot pie!
  • The Little Fleet: If you’re with a group of people who are all in the mood for something different, this is the place to be. This lot features a variety of food trucks and an amazing bar for a refreshing cocktail.
  • Trattoria Stella: Located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, this Italian restaurant features the freshest local ingredients and incredible meals. It’s perfect for a romantic date night.
  • Mary’s Kitchen Port: When you’re planning on spending the day at the beach, stop at this specialty market for lunch on the go. The Gobbler Sandwich is a local favorite.
  • Spanglish: This cozy restaurant features some of the freshest and most mouth-watering Mexican food we’ve ever had! It’s also a favorite of chef Mario Batali when he spends his summers in Northern Michigan.
  • BLK MRKT: Head to this chic coffee shop right across from West Bay Beach for a cup of coffee and a pastry to enjoy on your morning beach walk.
  • Grand Traverse Pie Company: You can’t visit Traverse City without having a slice of cherry pie. With locations all around the state, the original Grand Traverse Pie Company is the place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Georgina’s: Asian and Latin food combine at this downtown eatery that locals and tourists cannot get enough of.
  • 7 Monks Taproom: For a night out, head to this local taproom for a variety of local beers on tap.



  • Cherry Hill Boutique: For unique women’s clothing and accessories you can’t find anywhere else, stop in this feminine boutique for a special treat to bring home with you! And say “hello” to the store’s owner, Annie Hill, Carly’s mom!
  • Ella’s: Ella’s features a mix of some of our favorite brands, vintage finds and eclectic home pieces. You’re always guaranteed to find something you can’t resist buying!
  • The Nest: We love heading to this colorful home store for the perfect hostess gift or to help decorate the beach house.
  • Cherry Republic: If you want to bring the local flavors and favorite treats of Traverse City home with you, stop in the world’s largest exclusive retailer of cherry food creations. It features everything from cherry barbecue sauce to addictive chocolate-covered cherries.
  • M22: Show your love for Northern Michigan wherever you go by bringing home a piece of clothing featuring the iconic M22 logo, which will connect you with anyone who loves it, too.
  • Wood + Cloth: This lifestyle shop located in the Warehouse District is filled with stylish home goods, beauty products and clothes.
  • Horizon Books: Since 1961, this bookstore, which is located in the heart of downtown, is the place to go to to stock up on the newest books.
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Author: Carly Hill

Raised in Northern Michigan, she now lives in NYC and splits her time working in social media, being a GG editor & exploring the city for the next best meal! Follow on Instagram

  • Glad you enjoyed your trip “up north” as those who live down state in Michigan call it ;)

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