10 Things to Do in Traverse City for First Time Visitors

People travel to Traverse City for various reasons. It could be the cherries that the city is most known for. It could be the beautiful rolling hills that make up the backdrop of the city by the water. No matter what you may be traveling to this part of Michigan for, you’re in for a treat. This small city is gorgeous to begin with, and there are plenty of things to do here at anytime during the year. If you’re going to Traverse City anytime soon and you’ve never been before, make sure you do check out these 10 things first.

1. Front Street

This is the city’s downtown area, which has been refurbished not too long ago. It’s a great place to begin exploring Traverse City because you’ll immediately feel what the Midwest culture is like over here. Front Street is full of shops, restaurants, and different attractions to keep you entertained. The area is always hosting events as well, so keep checking the calendar for details.

2. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

The Village is one of the most unique experiences you’ll find in Traverse City. This historical location was once the Traverse City State Hospital Grounds. It’s been transformed into a prime location for shopping and dining. The Village also offers various tours that you can take, and we highly suggest the Twilight Tour for a truly exceptional experience.

3. Suttons Bay

There’s absolutely no way you can leave this city without taking a bit of time by the water. Sutton Bay is right by Lake Michigan, and this small coastal town is as charming as it sounds. You’ll find art galleries, museums, and even a casino in the area. You can dine at restaurants that source their ingredients locally or enjoy the local ice cream.

4. Old Mission Peninsula

You’ll start at Traverse City and truly end up in paradise if your destination is Old Mission Peninsula. The pristine nature you’ll be surrounded with here is something that you only see in books or pictures. You’ll feel refreshed and absolutely energized by the beauty of nature.

5. Mission Point Lighthouse

If you’re already at Old Mission, make sure you take it all the way to the lighthouse. The views alone are well worth the travel, but there’s more to see here than just the lighthouse itself. The keeper’s house is just as fascinating as the lighthouse itself, and the drive is so scenic; you’ll actually forget how long you’d been driving.

6. Traverse Tall Ship Company

You can see Traverse City from a different angle by going on a short sail on the Grand Traverse Bay. The Traverse Tall Ship Company offers a couple of different experiences. We recommend going on the Manitou, which is a replica ship of a 19th century cargo schooner. Do the overnight sail for an experience you’ll never forget.

7. Traverse City Balloon Tours

If travel by air is more your cup of tea, we recommend taking a hot air balloon tour via the Traverse City Balloon Tours. You’ll be in awe of how stunning the area truly is, and how unique Traverse City is geographically. There are plenty of sights in the area that you can only appreciate when you’re high up.

8. Chateau Grand Traverse Winery

It doesn’t matter if you’re a wine connoisseur or not; going to the Chateau Grand Traverse Winery is an experience that you shouldn’t skip. There are plenty of things you can appreciate in the attraction apart from the wine, but we’ve got to say that the wine is well worth the trip.

9. Dennos Museum Center

If you’re looking to spend some time indoors, a day at the Dennos Museum Center is a good way to go. The museum constantly rotates its exhibits, but the permanent collections alone are impressive. Make sure to check out the largest Inuit art collections in all of the US.

10. TART Trails

There’s no better way to experience Traverse City than by foot or by bicycle. Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails is a network of paved and dirt roads that will give you the best hiking and biking trails in the area. You can enjoy a quick stroll or turn it into a workout. You’ll have excellent views regardless.


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