From the summertime splash of Lake Michigan’s waters to the wintertime swish of snow on Mt. Holiday, Traverse City entices visitors with outdoor recreation throughout all four seasons. Combining the great outdoors with a charming small-town setting is a winning recipe for this Michigan travel destination. Plus, RVers will find delightful places to stay at Traverse City campgrounds.
Front Street Entertainment District
Traverse City pulses to the beat of its own drum, and no place is this more apparent than on Front Street. The bright lights of State Theatre are the crown jewels of this arts and entertainment district. The renovated art deco State Theatre showed silent films until “talkies” became the rage in 1929. Today, it is home to the Traverse City Film Festival, which brings over 250 acclaimed films to venues across town for a six-day extravaganza in late summer.
Front Street is home to over 150 locally owned businesses, offering specialty wares, hand-crafted items, regional foods, Michigan souvenirs and more. Stroll through charming bookstores, hip boutiques, and upscale art galleries to find everything you need—and lots you didn’t even know you were looking for. Dis
Traverse City Food and Drink
Front Street offers a taste of Traverse City and broader Michigan, thanks to the burgeoning foodie scene. Whether you want crepes or coffee, pie or pasta, dinner or dessert, you can find a top-notch selection of exceptional options downtown. Don’t miss the chance to sample a variety of delicacies made from the Great Lake State’s favorite fruit, the tart cherry.
Each July, over 500,000 people converge in Traverse City to celebrate at the National Cherry Festival. Special events and live performances fill the eight-day schedule, while visitors fill their bellies with regional fares — and all things cherry, of course.
Traverse City also likes to get its drink on. Brewpubs and wineries abound, offering tastings, farm-to-table cuisine, and live music. For a unique adventure, take a snowshoe tour of vineyards along the Traverse Wine Coast, or join a kayak tour of local breweries (yes, really!).
One of Traverse City’s most unique attractions is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. What appears to be a massive cream-colored castle was once the Traverse City State Hospital, dating to 1880. These days, instead of finding doctors and patients inside, you’ll find shoppers, filling the potpourri of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Guided tours offer a behind-the-scenes journey through local history and preservation efforts.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to climb up and then slide down mountains of sand? You can do just that at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located just 30 minutes outside of Traverse City. Take in sweeping views of the indigo waters of Lake Michigan with a journey along the scenic Pierce Stocking Drive or a hike on some of the 100 miles of trails found in the park.
While the dunes are the star of the show, there’s much more to explore within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Tubing or padding the cool, clear waters of the Platte River is a refreshing choice. Step back in time with a visit to Glen Haven, a logging village that once was a bustling spot along the shoreline. Today, it has been restored to the 1920s era.
Over 200 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan are found on the northern edge of Traverse City, providing a prime watersports playground. Paddle your kayak or canoe, hit the gentle waters of Grand Traverse Bay in a sailboat, or rent a powerboat to get further from shore.
Several historic lighthouses line the shores of Lake Michigan. Each has a distinct look and history to explore. Nearby, you might also find remnants of centuries-old shipwrecks. While scuba divers and snorkelers get treated to underwater views, some beached remains can be found on sandy shores. The tall schooner ships that once brought the industry to the region can still be explored, whether you hop on for a cruise or make an educational visit to a historic replica.
Other Outdoor Activities in Traverse City
Whether you like beaches, biking, or balls, you can find an outdoor space to enjoy in Traverse City. The beaches along Lake Michigan offer superb beauty and recreational opportunities. Clinch Park is a popular choice. Take a dip, without the worry of jellyfish or sharks. Keep your eyes open for the unique Petoskey stones found along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Bicyclists can explore Traverse City with a ride along the 10.5-mile Traverse Area Recreational Trail (known as the TART) or the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. A number of championship golf courses are found in Traverse City, including some designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Anglers will find trout, salmon, walleye, and bass in the waters around Traverse City. Lake Michigan might be the region’s largest body of water, but away from the shores, you’ll find dozens of inland lakes, rivers, and streams.
Where to Camp in Traverse City
Located right on the banks of Silver Lake, Holiday Park Campground is a prime option for Good Sam members. Once for Airstreams only, Holiday Park now welcomes all kinds of rigs. Some beautiful lakeside and wooded sites are available. Hit the swim beach and hop in the crystal-clear waters of Silver Lake.
Traverse City State Park is another option, offering urban camping right along Lake Michigan. You’ll find a gorgeous swim beach, bike trails and more, all in close reach of Traverse City Campgrounds.