Many things make Traverse City special, but the abundance of surrounding natural beauty is what truly defines our destination. Known for the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, natural trails, lakes and rivers, cherry orchards and vineyards, Traverse City sits at the intersection of wild and wonderful.
The sound of the rolling waves. The warm embrace of the midday sun. A farm-fresh meal. Biking or walking instead of driving. Getting off the beaten path and exploring less crowded trails. It's these simple pleasures and actions that connect us to our sense of place with respect to the natural resources that we celebrate every day. We invite you to explore, move and be moved in a place where good times and responsible adventures are in our nature.
Choose Your Own Hiking Adventure
If you want to stay close to Traverse City, explore the trails within the Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve. Within this 505-acre natural area are a marsh, pine forest, river and an active beaver pond. Also nearby is the Boardman River Nature Center an interpretive gallery that offers nature-based education programs. If you're looking for more adventure away from town, go north on M-22 and take it to Leelanau State Park in Northport where you'll find four miles of well-marked trails. One pathway runs along a stretch of Lake Michigan beach and low sand dunes to a scenic overlook with panoramic views.
If you're visiting Benzie County, don't miss the Arcadia Dunes. This is The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy's largest preserve that includes over 15 miles of trail to explore dunes and forests. Five different trails are available, including the universally accessible Overlook Trail and the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail.
Participate in an Eco-Friendly Event
Events are happening all year in northern Michigan. At any given time, you're likely to find eco-friendly events on the calendar. Take a guided hike at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or one of our conservancy trails, go for a tour at the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park, participate in a birding program and set sail with the Inland Seas Education to learn about the ecology of the Great Lakes.
Bike Your Way Around Town
This region has hundreds of miles of bike-friendly trails perfect for non-motorized transportation. Explore Traverse City on the TART in Town Trail. This paved trail system includes several point-to-point routes that allow access to many of Traverse City's attractions including Grand Traverse Bay, Downtown, Clinch Park Marina and The Boardman River. In Benzie County, the Betsie Valley Trail is made up of a scenic 22 miles extending from Frankfort through Elberta and Beulah to Thompsonville.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has over 100 square miles of land to explore responsibly. The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, located in the village of Empire, is a perfect place to start. Park Rangers are available to help plan your adventure. They can fill you in on seasonal changes, the local flora and fauna, and how to identify animal tracks. Within the park there are more than 100 miles of trails, two remote islands, a maritime museum, beaches and heritage farms. Visitors are encouraged to try different trails that may be less busy or to find a beach that has fewer people.
Park ranger tips: Please remember to stay on the trails, keep your dog on a leash, stay away from closed areas such as Piping Plover nesting spots, and take pictures instead of removing historic or natural items from the park.
Known as the Cherry Capital of the World, it's no surprise that agriculture is embedded in the fabric of this region. While cherries still reign, other crops have settled in and there's a vibrant agritourism culture throughout northern Michigan. Plan a day or two to eat local by visiting our farm markets, U-pick farms and farm-to-fork restaurants. And if plant-based eating is what you prefer, you'll find a diverse selection of options around the area. Sip sustainably throughout the area as well by visiting our wineries, breweries, cider houses and distilleries -- all of which use fruit and grains grown in northern Michigan.