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August 11, 2020

Traverse City Travel Guide

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Growing up in Michigan Traverse City is a place I always heard about and how it’s known for its cherries. My family took many trips to the west and north side of Michigan but never to the beautiful place that is Traverse City. Two summers ago my now husband, then boyfriend surprised me with a trip to the Traverse City pocket of the state and actually proposed to me on that trip. Needless to say, this city has stolen my heart for many reasons and is a place we have continued to visit each year. I am so excited to share what I believe to be the best, must-see places in Traverse City and the surrounding areas that will hopefully spark some inspiration for your own trip to this charming city.


I want to note that since we visited Traverse City, MI this time in July of 2020 we did take responsible precautions to properly social distance, wear a mask in all public areas and avoid crowded areas. We felt that Traverse City did an excellent job of making sure everyone was practicing these safety precautions.

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Where to stay

Traverse City has many great options for lodging from hotels, home rentals, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts. A few places that we have stayed at, as well as a few that caught my eye, include:

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Places to eat

Nick and I are the kind of people that when we find a restaurant we love it’s hard to opt for something new and unknown instead which is why our top food recommendation for Traverse City it the Little Fleet Food Trucks because we have visited every time we go to the area. They have a handful of different types of food to choose from but our go-to is the BBQ truck. There is plenty of outdoor seating and a bar where you can order drinks from while you wait for your food. Other Traverse City restaurants that we have tried or that caught my eye include:

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Wineries to visit

If you are in the Traverse City area, visiting a winery is a non-negotiable. It’s almost unbelievable that there are so many beautiful vineyards in this corner of Michigan. You can visit the wineries individually or sign up for a wine tour with Grand Traverse Tours which is a ton of fun and a safe way to see many different vineyards in one day. On this trip, we had an awesome visit to Bowers Harbor Vineyards where there is plenty of distanced outdoor seating, super attentive staff, and rows of vines looking out towards the water. I think it would be hard to go wrong visiting any winery here but some of our other favorites include:

Traverse City Winery.jpg

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Scenic views to explore

Apart from the gorgeous vineyards and charming downtown, there are also plenty of nature trails, parks, and other scenic views to explore around Traverse City. Our personal favorite is the Empire Bluff Trail located west of Traverse City in Empire, MI. This place is extra special to us because at the end of the trail looking out over the water is where my husband proposed to me two years ago. Other scenic places in and around Traverse City that would make great options to explore include:

  • Traverse City State Parks

  • Mission Point Light House

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes

  • Boardman Lake Trail

  • Pyramid Point Trailhead

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Beaches to enjoy

Traverse City and the surrounding areas are also home to some beautiful Lake Michigan beaches. Spend a day laying in the sun or take your dog for a sunset swim like we did (just make sure the beach is dog-friendly). If you also can’t get enough of the fresh lake water add one or several of the following beaches to your Traverse City itinerary.

  • Bryant Park Beach

  • Traverse City State Park

  • Empire Beach

  • Bowers Harbor Park

  • Haserot Beach

  • Bayside Park

Empire Beach.jpg

Empire Beach.jpg

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Explore similar nearby towns

You could easily spend a week right in Traverse City without getting bored but if you are like us and enjoy driving around, there are SO many cute, charming towns nearby to explore. A few of my favorites include Leeland, Empire, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Mackinaw City, and Glen Arbor.

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Traverse City is beautiful, charming and a great option for a weekend or week-long getaway any time of year but especially during the summertime! There is truly something for everyone from the vibrant downtown to the peaceful nature areas. A trip to Traverse City will leave you will a full belly and feeling refreshed from the beautiful scenery. If you have visited Traverse City or have an upcoming trip planned and know of an attraction or hidden gem I missed in this guide, please leave a comment down below. I hope you found this Traverse City travel guide helpful and feel inspired to plan your next getaway to northern Michigan.

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