It seems like we just turned the calendar from June to July, and now we’ve changed it again to August. In just a few short weeks it will be fall, believe it or not.

As awesome as autumn is, why does summer have to go by so fast? Unfortunately, there is no pause button on life. But there is still time to slow down and soak up summer in northern Michigan before it’s too late. 

The clock is ticking, and September will be here before you know it. Just don’t let Labor Day come and go without first enjoying these five summer pastimes: 

Spend a relaxing day at the beach

Whether you prefer to lounge on the sandy shore of Lake Michigan, laze the day away on Grand Traverse Bay or splash around in an inland lake, the Traverse City area has dozens of scenic beaches to enjoy. Here are a few recommendations to check out this month:

  • Empire Beach Village Park – From Frankfort to Leland to Leelanau State Park in Northport, you can’t go wrong visiting a Lake Michigan beach in the Traverse City area. One of the many right choices is Empire Beach Village Park, located along scenic M-22. You get views of the towering Empire Bluffs. And on the east side of the parking lot is South Bar Lake, with docks for fishing and swimming and a boat launch, too.
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes – While Empire Beach is technically a village park and not part of Sleeping Bear, it sits right in the midst of the national lakeshore’s 35 miles of waterfront. Fodor’s Travel ranked the collection of Sleeping Bear beaches among the Best 15 Lake Beaches in the USA. Top options include Esch Beach, Good Harbor Bay Beach, and Platte River Point, which is a popular endpoint for tubing trips that empty into the big lake.
  • Clinch Park – For an in-town beach experience, Clinch Park offers more than 1,500 feet of sand along Grand Traverse Bay with lifeguards in the summer and access to the non-motorized TART Trail network. Other popular beaches downtown on the bay include West End Beach and Bryant Park. For a more secluded beach on the bay, visit Power Island – which is about 6 miles north of town and only accessible by boat. 
  • Taylor Park – Featuring a swimming area and shaded picnic spots at the north end of Long Lake, this township park not far from Timbers Recreation Area is one of many fine inland beaches in the Traverse City area. Another top spot is North Bar Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The shallow, sandy bottom is popular for swimming, and Lake Michigan is just on the other side of a sand dune.

Esch Road Beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Experience a spectacular summer sunset

Pick any of the beaches on Lake Michigan or West Grand Traverse Bay for a dazzling view of the sun as it sets in the west. Let the colors wash over you from a comfortable seat on the shore or paddle out into the sunset and make yourself a part of the show. 

Treat yourself to a wine-tasting (or craft beer) tour

There are no fewer than 40 destinations on the Traverse Wine Coast, and several brewpubs and distilleries as well. You really must try a Riesling in the place that makes the world’s best. Come on up this month for a wine tour (chauffeured transportation is available). There’s still time to book a seat on the TC Cycle Pub or a Kayak, Bike, and Brew Tour, too. 

  • Explore the Traverse Wine Coast
  • Discover the flavors of Traverse City craft beer
  • Raise a toast at a TC distillery

Sample one of America’s most unexpected foodie destinations

The Traverse City area is known for wine, of course. Cherries, for sure. And...diverse dining? 

Yes, definitely! The rest of the world is discovering the delightful culinary scene that complements the wine tasting and cherry pie to make the Traverse City area a foodie destination that travel experts rave about. 

Alfresco Dining

Explore the Most Beautiful Place in Michigan

When you escape for one last blast of summer this month, make it the best it can be by experiencing Travel + Leisure’s Most Beautiful Place in Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (It has even been hailed as the most beautiful place in America.) Towering sand dunes. Sparkling waters. Scenic trails for hiking and biking and, as noted above, some of the best lake beaches in the entire country.

Here are some of the top spots to visit in Sleeping Bear:

  • The Dune Climb – It’s an absolutely glorious view of Glen Lake from the top of The Dune Climb, if you can manage the sandy ascent that rises nearly 300 feet! If that sounds easy, then continue over the dunes to Lake Michigan on a 3.5-mile round trip that takes 3 to 4 hours.
  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – This is a 7-mile drive with 12 scenic turnouts including a picturesque covered bridge and dune overlooks that are simply unbelievable.
  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail – Bring your bike and cruise along this paved, multi-use pathway that runs through the national lakeshore for 27 miles. With eight trailheads, you can break the trail up into any number of smaller sections.
  • Pyramid Point – Maybe the biggest bang for your buck in the entire park. It’s just a half-mile hike to perhaps the most stunning overlook of all.

Family at Pyramid Point in the Sleeping Bear Dunes

On top of all this summer fun, there also are farmer's markets and art festivals going on this month. Scenic chairlift rides at Crystal Mountain Resort and Traverse City Pit Spitters baseball games, too.

Come during the first half of August when the Northwestern Michigan Fair is happening. Or come for Labor Day weekend and close out summer with Party Between the Lines concert featuring Joan Jett, REO Speedwagon. 

Now that you have the makings of an itinerary, go ahead and book your place to stay for an end-of-summer getaway!