All four seasons are wonderful here in Traverse City – but we cheerfully admit that most folks who come here on vacation prefer the summer. And why not, after all? There’s so much to see and do here in the summertime! Here's our top ten list of what you should do during your summer visit.
Play at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The Sleeping Bear Dunes really do live up to their reputation. Towering sand dunes overlook a breathtaking expanse of water and islands, offering countless opportunities to be awestruck. Miles of beaches and hills on the west coast of the Leelanau Peninsula -- ready and waiting to be explored, and enjoyed.
Paddle or Pedal Your Way to the Breweries
Traverse City is known as a major center of craft brewing, and a good share of the breweries are located in or around the downtown area. There are several ways to take a tasting tour, on foot, by bicycle, by kayak along the Boardman River or pedaling on the TC Cycle Pub -- a self-propelled bar on wheels. Choose your adventure and let the pints begin!
Pick Your Festival and Make Plans to Go!
There's no doubt about it, summer is festival season! From June to August, weekends are hopping in our corner of northwest Michigan. At the wine and beer festivals you can sample local libations all in one place, at the National Cherry Festival it's all things cherry (and more!), don't miss the "just great movies" at the Traverse City Film Festival and get immersed in the art scene at the art festivals and events in August.
Go to the Beach
Northern Michigan beaches – they’ve got the sand and beauty without the salt. Not to mention that every view looking out over the bay is picturesque on sunny and cloudy days alike. Stroll the shoreline, or run as fast as you can into the water, either way you will be rewarded by our fresh coast.
Eat Outside and at a Food Truck
A visit to Traverse City in the summer isn't complete without an alfresco dining experience and a meal enjoyed at the food trucks. Recently named one of the Most Under-the-Radar Food Towns in America by The Daily Meal, TC is attracting attention as one of America’s most unique culinary destinations. Local chefs are always up to something creative in the kitchen. Combine these delicious dishes with a view of the Bay, or a fresh margarita on a patio, and you'll be in a pretty great place.
Get on Board a Tall Ship
One thing that constantly surprises visitors is the sight of all the schooners and sailing vessels as they glide across Grand Traverse Bay. Our "tall ships" enchant visitors and have become our unofficial mascots. Some are working replicas of historical ships, some serve as floating classrooms where participants learn about the area's aquatic environment and some are simply meant for relaxing and enjoying the view (+ a cocktail).
Watch a Concert
Every year, thousands of concert-goers flock to the Interlochen campus for the Interlochen Arts Festival, a season of outdoor performances by international superstars. While Interlochen is one of the main venues for live music, it's not the only one. Concerts fill the week during the National Cherry Festival (at the Open Space), the Red Drive Concert Series takes place at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons and local bars pump out live music on a nightly basis.
Explore Downtown Traverse City
Traverse City’s tree-shaded, pedestrian-friendly downtown is really a destination in itself, designed on an intimate scale with over 150 fascinating boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and galleries, and lots of places to sit and relax. Hunt for souvenirs in the many one-of-a-kind shops, browse the bookstores and art studios, or just enjoy an hour or two of people-watching.
Go Wine Tasting
55% of Michigan's wine grapes are grown in the Traverse Wine Coast. That's a lot of wine to sample! Designate a driver and head to hillside vineyards that are beautifully decorated by green vines and lush landscapes. Enjoy the colorful summer views and stop into the tasting rooms to cool down and sample the award-winning wines.
Go for a Round
Of golf...and then a beer. In summer, when many of America’s golf destinations are blazing with heat, the courses around Grand Traverse Bay are cool and comfortable throughout the day. And strange as it may sound, summer days are actually longer here than they are in the South: Traverse City is situated on the western edge of the eastern time zone, so far north that the light of a midsummer day can last until nearly 10 p.m.
Check out the courses!