Believe it or not, one month of the new year is already gone. Before you know it, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom, then summer beach days will arrive. Not long after that, fall colors will pop and we’ll be ringing in 2025 at the CherryT Ball Drop in downtown Traverse City.

The seasons go by fast. And if you’re like a lot of people, this year could zoom right by without taking all your vacation time. In fact, 46% of American workers leave PTO on the table each year, according to a Pew Research Survey. Salaried workers and those with a college degree are even worse at taking their paid time off. Among upper-income workers, more than half don’t use all the vacation they’re entitled to.

Don’t be a statistic in 2024! National Plan for Vacation Day is a good reminder to take all of your PTO this year and to get it on the calendar now.

Take a look at these 10 vacation ideas in the Traverse City area to get you excited about using your PTO on healthy doses of fun this year:

The Burrow

Playdates For Your Palate

Explore’s “Most Exciting Foodie Town in Michigan” with special menus and pricing during Traverse City Restaurant Week, Feb. 25-March 2. Use the Traverse City Uncorked digital passport to unlock savings and special offers in the state’s top wine destination anytime in May. Sample “Michigan’s Best Small Town Beer Scene,” as voted by USA Today readers, during Traverse City Beer Week, Nov. 8-16.

IRONMAN 70.3 Frankfort

Epic Athletic Endeavors

Make 2024 the year you do something incredible such as running the Bayshore Marathon on Memorial Day weekend, enduring the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in September, or biking the Iceman Cometh Challenge in November. Athletes last year voted the triathlon, held in Frankfort/Benzie County, the best Ironman race venue in North America due to a smooth, protected swim in Betsie Bay and a bike course that pedals along historic and scenic M-22. 

Close-Up of Cherry Blossoms

Tours of Natural and Manmade Beauty

May is a magical time for a drive up Old Mission Peninsula where you’ll find orchards full of cherry blossoms. The breathtaking sights and scents are the surest sign in all of Michigan that spring has arrived. At the tip of the peninsula is quaint and scenic Mission Point Lighthouse, one of a half-dozen historic beacons you can see on a leisurely lighthouse tour of the Traverse City area in any season.

Leland - Fishtown

Small Town Escapes 

Speaking of tours, a guided walk through the tunnels of the old asylum at Grand Traverse Commons is an experience to remember. It’s one of many distinctive things to do in the charming small towns and shopping districts all over TC. From historic Fishtown in Leland to the delightful galleries of Suttons Bay and iconic destinations such as the Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, there’s always something to discover in the port towns of the Traverse City area.

Summer Cherries

Summer Festival Fun 

The National Cherry Festival has been a staple of Michigan summers for nearly a century. This year’s 98th annual celebration June 29-July 6 again features a full week of family fun including parades, carnival rides, and a Fourth of July fireworks display over Grand Traverse Bay that's the best in the state, per Travel + Leisure. You can also catch the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival or any of more than a dozen other events on a 13-week schedule of Traverse City Horse Shows from June 5-Sept. 22 in Williamston. Get an up-close look at Olympic riders on some of the world’s finest horses in lively competitions including dressage, show jumping, and more.

Traverse City Pit Spitters game

Go On A Sporting Excursion 

Come see Olympic gold hopefuls when Traverse City hosts the USA Curling 2024 Mixed Doubles National Championship Feb. 29-March 3. Test your golf game on the same Crystal Mountain courses where the Michigan Women’s Open will be held in June. Scout the next Detroit Red Wings superstar at the NHL Prospect Tournament in September. Hear the crack of the bat at Traverse City Pit Spitters baseball games May 29-Aug. 6.

Sunset and skipping rocks

Beaches, Lakeside Walks, and Spectacular Sunsets 

As if neverending miles of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline weren’t enough, Mother Nature also blessed the Traverse City area with gorgeous beaches along Grand Traverse Bay as well as inland lakes both big and small. Picture the splendor of a summer sunset, the leisure of walking barefoot at the water’s edge or strolling along a city pier, and the sheer joy of splashing around in the waves, building sand castles, and skipping stones. Several beaches in the Traverse City area are dog-friendly, too.

Sailing on the Tall Ship Manitou

Set Sail on the Great Lakes

As one of Boating Magazine's "10 Best Places to Live and Boat," Grand Traverse Bay is no secret. But what many people don’t know is you can hit the open water without having your own craft. From a tall ship replica of an 1800s schooner to the largest commercial sailing catamaran on the Great Lakes, there are several opportunities to come along for the ride on a relaxing sailing adventure – and even help pilot the boat like an old-fashioned mariner.

Fall color bike ride

Fall Color Tour

Roadside fruit stands, farmers markets, and vineyards at harvest provide wonderful window dressing for the quintessential autumn experience in Michigan: A color tour through one of the country’s top destinations for fall foliage. With trees at higher elevations turning earlier and trees near the water turning later, the Traverse City area offers several weeks of peak leaf peeping from late September through October. 

Sleeping bear dunes - winter

A Visit to America’s Most Beautiful Place 

Relax on the beach. Bike the Heritage Trail. Admire the scenic beauty of Empire Bluffs. Hoof it all the way up to the top of the famous Dune Climb. With 35 miles of shoreline and more than 70,000 acres, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a variety of outdoor activities in all four seasons. To whet your appetite for the majesty of the park, check out the 12 stops along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.