Plan the Perfect Traverse City Vacation with These Top Things to Do

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
November 3, 2020

Traverse City, Michigan treats you to an unbeatable Up North experience filled with fresh tart cherries, wine tastings, an eclectic arts scene, and adventures on Lake Michigan. Home to the annual National Cherry Festival and known as the “Cherry Capital of the World,” Grand Traverse County and the five surrounding counties account for over 40% of the tart cherry crop in the United States. While you’re here, peruse boutique shops for locally crafted goods, venture through the Old Mission Peninsula, and share countless hours of family-friendly entertainment.

Whether you’re seeking a downtown hub or a secluded escape in the small towns of Northern Michigan, we know that you’ll find your dream vacation rental by booking with us. Even better, we’ve fully researched the area so you can make the most of your vacation. Book now and start getting excited for your escape with these ideas.

Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Photo of Sleeping Bear Dunes and lakeshore waves in Traverse City

Formed by glacial activity from thousands of years back, the Sleeping Bear Dunes host endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, no matter the season. You can trek through a scenic network of hiking trails, picnic, sightsee, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and much more.

The highlight of the National Park is the famed Dune Climb. If you’re looking to spend a full day on this rare landscape, you can hike roughly 3-4 hours through the dunes all the way to Lake Michigan. Celebrate your journey by spending the remainder of your afternoon lounging on the serene beach. 

If you’re seeking a less strenuous activity, pack the car and head out on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Make a pit-stop at a visitor center so you can learn more about the park’s history and ecology during your travels.

Set Sail on East or West Grand Traverse Bay

Sailboat at sea during a sunset in Traverse City, Michigan

The Grand Traverse Bay waters are calling, whether you’re an experienced mariner or a first-time sailer. Seek out rental options from kayaks to sailboats, jet skis, and more on either the West Arm or East Arm. Popular options include Sail & Power Boat Rental or TC Watersports

Take a break from the wake and discover some waterfront family fun at either Clinch Park or Traverse City State Park. Both parks boast beautiful beaches, facilities, views looking out toward the peninsulas, and TART Trail access.

Kick back and enjoy the perks of being a passenger by booking yacht charters, day-long cruises, or an hour cruise with the sunset. The Tall Ship Sailing Company offers a variety of voyages so you can select the right adventure for your crew.   

Sample Local Cherries and Award-Winning Wines 

Red cherries on vines

The family-owned King Orchards is home to some of the highest quality harvests in the area. Stop here for cherry picking experiences, fresh fruit for sale, baked goods, and more.

Looking to bring some cherry-infused products home as souvenirs? Cherry Republic has a sister location in the heart of Traverse City with the flagship store resting in Glen Arbor and features free samples, handmade gift boxes, and a wide selection of other products. 

Fall wine tours are a favorite among Traverse City tourists, but you can enjoy world-class wine tasting throughout the year. Sip your way along the Old Mission Wine Trail or head a little further to the Leelanau Peninsula wineries.

Treat Yourself to Days of Dining and Shopping

Downtown Traverse City, Michigan storefronts at dusk

Don’t worry if wine isn’t your beverage of choice. You’ll also find several types of beer tours in town, including kayak trips, bike rides, bus drives, and more. What better way to cap off your day than with some decadent ice cream? Both MOOmers and Bardon’s Wonder Freeze are must-try stops during your stay.

Foodies will feel right at home with restaurants featuring all kinds of cuisine: Mexican, Italian, American, Chinese, barbecue, and more. Start your day with a fine roast at one of the city’s coffee shops then prepare for an afternoon of three-course meals.

Front Street lies just a few blocks from the Bay’s coast (with Boardman River running alongside) creating the perfect setting for some retail therapy. Pop in and out of the town’s small businesses or visit either the Grand Traverse Commons and Grand Traverse Mall for some bargain hunting.

Check Out Live Shows and Cultural Attractions

Founded by Michael Moore in 2005, the Traverse City Film Festival is an annual, charitable event designed to preserve the cinema art form. The organization also includes an offshoot perfect for fans of laughs: the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival. Additionally, the Film Festival owns and operates the State Theatre and Bijou By the Bay.

Learn about the history of performing arts at the City Opera House or stop by the Dennos Museum Center to witness fine-art exhibits, including one-of-a-kind Inuit Art. Downtown Traverse City hosts live music and other events throughout the year, so check the calendar and plan accordingly.

Grand Traverse Resort is a perfect spot for relaxation. Book the right spa treatment for you or make a tee time for a round of 18 holes.

Get Your Traverse City Visitors Guide

Your Traverse City adventures don’t end here. There’s plenty more to experience in this unique corner of the country — whatever your reason for visiting. Download the free Traverse City Visitors Guide and curate a getaway tailor-made for you. 

Rest Easy with Evolve

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Traverse City vacation rental, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental you book comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to help make your stay more comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created The Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right. Find Traverse City vacation rentals you can count on.

Get More Inspiration in Your Inbox

Sign up to get stunning locations, dreamy trip ideas, and exclusive offers so you can unleash your best vacation self.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive updates and marketing communications from Evolve. For more information, please read our privacy policy.

Featured Posts

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

Explore mountain towns across the U.S. with high profit potential, so you can find the perfect ski spot for your next investment.

Treat Yourself to These Top Luxury Vacation Rentals in the U.S.

Treat Yourself to These Top Luxury Vacation Rentals in the U.S.

The first-class amenities, stunning scenery, and bucket-list activities at these luxe homes check all the must-haves on your wishlist.

10 Pet-Friendly Vacations You Should Plan This Year

10 Pet-Friendly Vacations You Should Plan This Year

From Oregon to the Florida coast, these dog-friendly vacation spots get four paws way up.