The northern Michigan area is home to dozens of incredible attractions, like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and the region’s many freshwater beaches. But whether it’s your first visit or your hundredth, there’s still more to explore. Let’s get to know some of the Traverse City area’s hidden gems.
Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park: 1490 Red Drive, Traverse City
Nestled near the beautiful Village at Grand Traverse Commons, the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park are a must-visit. Wide pathways take you through the park (which is free to use) to see stunning seasonal displays native to northern Michigan and two beautifully preserved barns.
The Coin Slot: 346 E Front Street, Traverse City
Classic arcade games. Food truck fare. A full can bar. This is the Coin Slot, a laid back local hangout for hardcore and just-for-fun gamers alike. Hang on the patio with food from Archie’s Food Truck—think sliders, fries, and mac and cheese—and your favorite canned beverage, or mask up and get your game on inside.
Fantail Farm: 4700 Wallaker Road, Benzonia
Want to see the great outdoors by horse? Head to Fantail Farm, which offers horse-drawn carriage rides around the farm. (They also have sleigh rides once the snow falls!) You can also enjoy a roundtrip ride to nearby Iron Fish Distillery for drinks and wood fired pizzas!
Five Shores Brewing: 163 S Benzie Blvd, Beulah
This brand-new brewery has the best of all worlds: outstanding brews, a chill beer garden, and an on-site food truck. Five Shores is housed in the historic Quonset building in Beulah, and is just steps away from beautiful Crystal Lake.
Gwen Frostic Prints: 5140 River Road Benzonia
See the work of world-renowned artist Gwen Frostic in Benzonia. Whether you’re searching for a gift or the perfect souvenir, you’ll find home goods, cards, prints, and more that capture the essence of nature up north. (You can also shop online!)
Higher Art Gallery: 126 S Union St, Traverse City
Take just a few steps off the beaten path of Front Street, and you’ll arrive at Higher Art Gallery. Art, jewelry, and more await from over 40 artists in a contemporary space. Bonus: you’ve found a cool little nook of downtown, with neighbors like the Bookie Joint used bookstore, Millie and Pepper Crepes, Maggy’s Vintage Shop, and Low Bar.
Hotel Frankfort Restaurant: 231 Main Street, Frankfort
Think hotel restaurants are just for guests? Think again. A meal at Hotel Frankfort offers classic American dishes alongside an extensive wine, beer, and cocktail list. Be sure to ask your server about the historic hotel’s best stories, and enjoy great people watching as you look out over downtown Frankfort.
Michigan Legacy Art Park: 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville
Discover the stories of Michigan’s cultural and natural history brought to life through art in Thompsonville. The 30-acre wooded preserve offers an art experience and two-mile hiking trail that is uniquely northern Michigan.