Traverse City, Michigan, is loaded with fun and exciting activities from parks with brilliant cherry blossoms to outstanding shopping and dining, museums, and history. This city is the cultural and educational heart and soul of the northwestern region of Michigan, and the downtown area has been revitalized in recent years with tons of high-end dining options, boutique and independent shops, live entertainment, and theater experiences.

    This vibrant city is also home to a historic lighthouse and a wealth of art, culture, and fun. Learn about the 10 best things to do in Traverse City.


    The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

    Go shopping in a historic former sanitarium

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • Adventure

    The Village at Grand Traverse Commons offers a unique shopping and dining experience housed in historic buildings with scenic surroundings. The site showcases historical preservation, with buildings being repurposed instead of demolished.

    The complex was originally a state hospital and asylum, and now is a family destination with 63 acres of walkways, historic arboretums, broad lawns, picnic areas, and hiking and biking trails. Beyond the dining, shopping, and entertainment options, you can also take guided tours of the historic buildings. The complex is located about 7 minutes southwest of downtown Traverse City.

    Location: 830 Cottageview Dr #101, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 231-941-1900


    photo by Andrew Jameson (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Mission Point Lighthouse

    Catch a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area

    • Couples
    • History
    • Adventure

    The Mission Point Lighthouse offers a stunning view of Lake Michigan as well as miles of hiking trails, a gift shop, and hand-baked treats on some days. The historic lighthouse was erected in 1870 and is located about 19 miles up the peninsula from Traverse City.

    The scenic drive to get there will take you through gorgeous orchards of cherry blossoms and vineyards. On the same property as the lighthouse sits a historic log cabin dating to 1854, which today is open every third Sunday to visitors, and homemade treats are served to those who come through its doors.

    Location: 20500 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA

    Open: Friday–Sunday from noon to 4 pm (closed Monday–Thursday)

    Phone: +1 231-645-0759


    The Dennos Museum Center

    View a gigantic collection of Inuit, Canadian, and classic world art

    • History

    The Dennos Museum Center offers a massive collection of Inuit artwork and prints, sculptures, textiles, and drawings focused on Canadian Woodland Indian culture. In addition to the museum's extensive collection of Native American artwork, it features works of 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, Japanese prints, and artwork from all over the world.

    An on-site gift shop allows you to find the perfect keepsake, and regular guest speakers, family programs, and concerts are held to entertain and educate. It's just 7 minutes east of the downtown area.

    Location: 1410 College Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed Friday–Saturday)

    Phone: +1 231-995-1055


    photo by Cedar777 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    City Opera House

    Catch a musical, comedy show, opera, or film festival

    • History
    • Nightlife

    The City Opera House is a magnificent historic building that offers live entertainment from Broadway musicals to concerts, stand-up comedians, and opera. It was built in 1892 and has been meticulously restored to its original form, with barrel vault ceilings, gold leaf, frescoes, and Victorian charm.

    The opera house seats up to 650 people and offers some of the best acoustics in the city. It hosts both private and public events and is among the sites where the annual Traverse City Film Festival is hosted. The City Opera House is right in the heart of downtown Traverse City.

    Location: 106 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

    Phone: +1 231-941-8082


    photo by Andrew Jameson (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Bryant Park

    Go swimming or have a picnic in the shade

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Bryant Park offers a picnic area with charcoal grills under pine tree groves, a playground for the kids, and a long stretch of golden sand on the lakeshore. This is the place people go to relax and swim in Lake Michigan, take in some sun on the beach, or play some beach volleyball.

    Other options to enjoy here include having lunch with family and friends or just relaxing the day away. Lifeguards are available in the summer to keep swimmers safe in the cool lake waters, and the park offers on-site restrooms. Bryant Park is on the southern shore of West Arm Grand Traverse Bay.

    Location: 1101 Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686, USA


    Clinch Park

    Relax on golden sands or get out on the lake for some kayaking

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Clinch Park offers a beautiful beachfront escape just a few steps from the wealth of shopping and dining opportunities in the business district. This park features a 1,500-foot stretch of golden sand and cool, fresh waters for safe swimming monitored in the summer by lifeguards.

    Bike trails with bike racks attract cyclists from all over, and on summer nights you can experience free concerts by local bands. You can enjoy a splash pad, rent kayaks to get out on the water, or visit the on-site snack bar for quick eats. Clinch Park is north of the downtown area right on the lakeshore.

    Location: 111 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 11 pm


    Traverse Area Recreation Trail

    Ride 10.5 miles of paved, well-maintained bike trails

    • Adventure

    The Traverse Area Recreation Trail offers paved trails for hiking and biking as well as natural scenery where motor vehicles are prohibited. The trail extends for 10.5 miles from Traverse City's western edge to the town of Acme.

    The trail is popular not just with fitness fans, but also with those who want a serene lakeshore experience with outstanding natural scenery and a peaceful escape from the crowds and bustle of the city. It's part of U.S. Bicycle Route 35 and connects to several other multi-use trails along the way.


    Gallagher's Farm Market and Bakery

    Grab award-winning pies, wine, and honey

    • Families

    Gallagher's Farm Market and Bakery sells seasonal fruits and vegetables, baked goods, salsa, jams, jellies, local wines, cheeses, and honey. The kids can visit a petting zoo, and in the fall the farm hosts a corn maze and pumpkin picking straight from a seemingly endless pumpkin patch.

    This is a popular location for visitors to pick up outstanding local foods and produce, from award-winning pies to homemade maple syrup. The family-owned and -operated farm has been here for decades and is located just a 16-minute drive to the west of downtown Traverse City.

    Location: 5904 N Long Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49685, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from noon to 6 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 231-421-5199


    Front Street

    Walk Traverse City's central business and shopping district

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Front Street is the cultural heart of downtown Traverse City, with all the shopping, dining, culture, live entertainment, and spectacle you could want. You can enjoy everything from casual eateries to white-tablecloth fine dining. You can also catch a light opera or live theatrical performance.

    You can walk the streets during the National Cherry Festival every July, catch the annual film festival at historic movie houses, or laugh uproariously at the Winter Comedy Festival. The street also offers a regular farmers market, art galleries, and antique dealers. Front Street spans the heart of downtown Traverse City.


    Great Lakes Children's Museum

    Get hands-on with interactive exhibits about local ecology

    • Families
    • History

    The Great Lakes Children's Museum offers hands-on, interactive exhibits built for kids 10 and younger that should also thrill adults. The museum offers fun and engaging exhibits that focus on topics like the water cycle, gravity, and the Great Lakes watershed. Kids can play on a freighter, learn about a water table, build a bridge, and use a periscope.

    A puppet theater allows kids to get creative, and some exhibits allow kids to work on their motor skills. The museum also offers an on-site gift shop and presents regular classes, workshops, and a story time for kids. It's just an 8-minute drive up the western coast from downtown.

    Location: 13240 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684, USA

    Open: Wednesday and Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm, Sunday from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday and Thursday)

    Phone: +1 231-932-4526


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