When you think of Traverse City, Michigan, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many, the answer is the fruit that crowned Traverse City the “Cherry Capital of the World.” The state of Michigan produces over 70% of the national tart cherry crop annually, and the Grand Traverse region is especially suited for cherry production. This is due to its proximity to Lake Michigan, which provides a moderating effect on the local climate in addition to the area’s fertile, well-draining soil. Lake Michigan abates the icy winter winds and cools the cherry trees during the hot summer months, resulting in insulation from seasonal temperature drops and increases that would otherwise negatively impact cherry cultivation.
TC is not only known for its abundance of cherry orchards; but also, for the way the locals commemorate, honor, and represent their famous crop. The National Cherry Festival, held in early July in Traverse City every year, is approaching its centennial and draws a crowd of half a million people over the eight days of action-packed events. However, summer is not the only time to join in on the cherry festivities… February is National Cherry Month, making it the perfect time to plan a trip up north to celebrate our cherished fruit.
While planning your visit, be sure to build an itinerary that highlights all things cherry. Look at some of these sweet suggestions below.
A Traverse City staple known for providing samples that showcase a variety of their 200 cherry products. The Front Street location is newly renovated and stocked full of chocolate-covered cherries, cherry salsa, sour cherry candies, cherry jam, cherry coffee, and so much more. Don’t forget to check out the flagship location in Glen Arbor, the birthplace of Cherry Republic and their mantra, “Life, Liberty, Beaches & Pie.”
An idyllic, nostalgic restaurant and retailer that has been a pillar in the Northern Michigan community for over 100 years. The Cherry Hut is known for its classic, All-American fare, cherry-themed desserts, and popular cherry goods and souvenirs. And, of course, their adorable mascot – Cherry Jerry!
Taste Cherry Wine
The Traverse Wine Coast is filled with nearly fifty wineries and many of them boast their own unique takes on cherry wine. Chateau Chantal, located on the Old Mission Peninsula, sells bubbly cherry wine made from tart cherries. Black Star Farms, found on both peninsulas, offers a semi-dry style cherry wine made with Northern Michigan cherries.
Sip Cherry Cocktails
Traverse City Whiskey Company not only makes one-of-a-kind cherry cocktails on site (Jared’s Cherry Highball, Cherry Sparkler, Cherry Smash, etc.), but they also sell their bestselling cherry whiskey by bottle. In addition to the cherry whiskey, they sell their premium cocktail cherries, which are slow-cooked and candied local cherries. Also, check out Grand Traverse Distillery for their refreshing cherry vodka.
Eat Cherry Pie
National Cherry Month would not be complete without a mouthwatering slice of cherry pie. Head over to the Grand Traverse Pie Company and choose from twelve different varieties of cherry pie. Get it by the slice and once you realize just how delectable it is, take a whole pie home to share.