19 Best Things to Do In Traverse City (Michigan)

Traverse City would be an excellent vacation destination for you. There are many things to do in Traverse City and places to explore. You can enjoy bike riding on scenic trails, wander around the charming downtown, sailing on the Grand Traverse Bay, explore the historic lighthouse, play adventure mini-golf, and go for exciting charter fishing. You can enjoy many fun outdoor activities with your family and friend.

To make your trip to Traverse City memorable, here is a list of the 19 best things to do, attractions, and places to visit in Traverse City.

PLACES TO VISIT IN TRAVERSE CITY:

Mission point lighthouse, things to do in Traverse City

01. Explore the historic Mission point lighthouse:

Mission Point Light was built in 1870, and it was an exact copy of the Mama Juda Light. The lighthouse is located 17 miles north of Traverse City at the end of Old Mission Point. It is open for tour seven days a week during May-October and weekends in November.

The lighthouse includes a souvenir gift shop, a historic Hessler Log Cabin, and miles of unspoiled trails that run through and around the park. With a small fee, you can explore the museum and climb the tower. And in the museum, you can learn history about the area and the people that cared for the lighthouse.

You will get access to the breathtaking lake. And during the summer, you can kayak from here or go swimming on a hot day. The lighthouse is dog-friendly, and you can go with your dog. There is free and plentiful parking available.

Overall:

Mission Point Light would be one of the best things to see in Traverse City. You can enjoy a family picnic or have a great time walking along the lakeshore.

Address: 20500 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686.
Downtown traverse city
Annaludka, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

02. Wander around the Downtown traverse city:

Downtown traverse city serves as the cultural center for the Grand Traverse Region. The downtown has over 150 shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, where you can spend a lot of time strolling around.

It would be a lovely place to go shopping. You will find many shops, including clothing stores, bags, jewelry, and the M-22 store. Also, you will love the wonderful setting of Front Street’s 19th-century Victorian storefronts.

You will also find various food trucks, a few sit-down restaurants, and fresh bakeries. If you visit downtown, try to stop by at the Cherry Republic. They have over 200 locally made cherry products. And at their Grand Café, you can eat crispy pizzas, hearty sandwiches, fresh salads, and delicious cherry pie.

In the heart of Downtown, you will find the historic City Opera House and art deco movie theatre. And the vibrant nightlife of Downtown traverse city provides a little something for everyone.

Overall:

Downtown traverse city will be one of the best places to visit in traverse city for shipping. You will also find excellent restaurants for dining.

Northern Michigan Asylum
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

03. Explore the historic former Northern Michigan Asylum:

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a former Traverse City State Hospital and Northern Michigan Asylum. In 1882, Gordon W. Lloyd of Detroit designed the Northern Michigan Asylum. The architecture of the buildings is elegant Victorian Italianate. The state-approved its demolition in 1963 after minor fire code deficiencies in the grand central administration section of Building 50.

In 2002, visionary developer Ray Minervini Sr. acquired ownership of the State Hospital and renamed it The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. He has dedicated his life to restoring and transforming the Grand Traverse Commons into all that it is today.

Now, it is a vibrant part of Traverse City’s food, shopping, and lifestyle scene. You will find many places for shopping, few cafés, and popular restaurants, including Trattoria Stella. There are also many trails where you can enjoy hiking and biking.

You can also explore The Village at Grand Traverse Commons area and learn its interesting history with a guided tour.

Overall:

Visiting the Village at Grand Traverse Commons would be one of the top things to do in Traverse City with your family and friends.

Address: 1200 W Eleventh St, Traverse City, MI 49684.
Dennos Museum Center, Things to Do In Traverse City
Cedar777, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

04. See Inuit Art at Dennos Museum Center:

The Dennos Museum Center is located on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. It’s a fine art museum and cultural center. The museum is one of the largest and most historically complete collections in the United States of Inuit Art of the Canadian Arctic.

It comprises three changing exhibit galleries, a sculpture court, and an Interactive Discovery Gallery for children and adults. The museum is notable for its permanent collection of Inuit art. And the museum’s 1,600 permanent collections of Inuit art prints and sculptures are from Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Alaska.

The museum has a 367 seat Milliken Auditorium, where the community groups host many events throughout the year. You will also love the Discover Gallery, which features interactive engagement with the arts and sciences.

The museum features rotating exhibitions of Modern and Contemporary art. Visit the official website for ongoing and upcoming exhibits.

Overall:

Visiting the Dennos Museum Center would be one of the fun things to do in Traverse City. You will have a good time with your family exploring the museum.

Address: 1410 COLLEGE DR., TRAVERSE CITY, MI 49686.

traverse city state park

05. Enjoy camping at traverse city state park:

Traverse City State Park is a 47-acre state park, and it is located on the southern shoreline of East Grand Traverse Bay. The park is only 3 miles from downtown Traverse City and has 25 miles of beautiful beach on the Grand Traverse Bay. It is used mainly as a campground and has around 350 campsites with electricity.

The beach area has a playground, grills, and picnic tables. You will also find access to a 10.5-mile bicycle trail on the south side of the campground that runs through Traverse City. The campground is loud as it is next to 4 busy lanes of traffic, and you will hear the traffic on the roads. There is a walkway which will take you to the nice beach area, though it can be very crowded.

There is no water at the campsites. Make sure you fill your water tanks before you pull into your spot. When checking out, skip the dump station as the turns are way too tight.

Overall:

Camping at traverse city state park would be one of the best things to do in Traverse City, MI. The park has a nice campground with clean facilities, and it would be one of the best places to visit in Traverse City for camping.

Address: 1132 US-31, Traverse City, MI 49686.

06. Spend time with your family on Traverse city’s most popular beach at Clinch Park:

Clinch Park features Traverse city’s most populated and the most popular beach. The beach has over 1500 feet of sand along West Grand Traverse Bay in downtown Traverse City. The park provides many recreational opportunities by featuring picnic tables, bike racks, TART Trail access, a snack bar, and a splash pad for the kids.

The park is beautiful and has dedicated swim areas to ensure safe swimming. Also, from mid-June to August, lifeguards are on duty. It has a splash pad where younger children can play and have fun in the water. You can also enjoy a family picnic in lovely natural and fresh surroundings. At the park, you can go kayaking in the clear water. The park is dog-friendly, but you have to keep your dog on a leash.

Overall:

The park would be one of the best places to visit in Traverse City. You will love spending time with your family and enjoy the beautiful beach views.

Address: 111 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI 49684.

07. Visit the lovely Grand traverse natural education reserve:

Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve is located along the Boardman River. The 505-acre natural area comprises diverse landscapes featuring bog, marsh, true swamp, level terrain, upland forest, pine forest, creek, and a river. It is home to beaver, otter, mink, fox, deer, and other animals and birds.

You can enjoy hiking on 7 miles of improved easy hiking trails that wind along the Boardman River. And along the way, you will find 1,200 feet of boardwalks, bridges, canoe portage sites, and boat launch and picnic areas. You can also go canoeing and bird watching.

The Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve also has children’s learning programs, where you can take your children for an excellent short class to learn about nature. Visit the official website for opening hours and to plan your visit.

Overall:

Visiting the Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve would be one of the best things to do in Traverse City with your family. You can enjoy hiking and picnicking with your family.

Address: 1450 Cass Rd, Traverse City, MI 49685.

08. Take your kids to Grace Macdonald park:

Grace Macdonald park is 42 acres, and it is located near the intersection of Peninsula Trail, Rasho, and High Lake roads. The park is one of the most well-known parks in Traverse City. Grace Macdonald park features a baseball field, all-purpose field, a pickleball court, tennis courts, basketball courts, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, a skate park, and an ice rink. It also has Pavilion with grills and picnic tables, a sledding hill, kid-friendly hiking trails, and playground equipment.

The park would be a great place to take your kids, as the park has many facilities for both younger and older kids. You can also hike around the park or enjoy a family picnic. And during winter, you can enjoy sledding on the large hill in the park.

Grace Macdonald park is open from dawn until 10:00 pm during the sledding season. During other seasons, the park is open from dawn until dusk. And to reserve the pavilion at Grace Macdonald park, please call the Township Office. Visit the official website if you need to reserve the pavilion.

Overall:

Grace Macdonald park would be one of the best places to go in Traverse City with your kids.

Address: 131 E Arbutus Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49696.

ACTIVITIES IN TRAVERSE CITY:

09. Enjoy sailing on Grand Traverse Bay:

Tall Ship Manitou offers sailing out of Traverse City on the sparkling waters of Grand Traverse Bay. The ship is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner and has 59 passenger capacity. You will find plenty of space for sitting and moving around the decks while under sail. Manitou offers four two-hour tours per day. During September, Manitou offers four and five-day tours to the waters of northern Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, where you can visit the islands, bays, and coastal villages of this magical region.

The summer sailing season begins Memorial Day weekend. It would be a good idea to plan for a clear day and check the weather forecast. They also check the weather before sailing, so you don’t have to worry about heavy rain.

At the moomers sail, you can go with family and enjoy a lovely afternoon. While sailing, you can enjoy homemade delicious moomers ice cream, one of the best ice creams in Northern Michigan. Tall Ship Manitou also offers evening sail where you can enjoy a romantic dinner. Visit the official website for more details and to plan your tour.

Overall:

Sailing on Grand Traverse Bay would be one of the top things to do in Traverse City for memorable experiences. You can plan for a special occasion like a birthday and wedding anniversary, or you can go with your family and friend to enjoy some great time together.

Address: 13258 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684.

10. Enjoy biking on Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation trails:

Traverse Area Recreation & Transportation (TART) Trails were constructed in 1991–95 and were extended several times in 1995–2005. The TART Trails network currently comprises several multi-use trails in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, including a cross-town bike route. The trails are consist of paved and dirt trails and provide opportunities for walkers, hikers, bikers, and skaters.

You will enjoy biking on Leelanau Trail, a 17-mile one-way paved bike trail from Traverse City to Suttons Bay. You can ride down Front Street to Hall Street, where the bus transfer station is. And the bus will bring you to Suttons Bay, and you can ride back to Traverse City. The trail is well-maintained, and it is an easy 17-mile ride back. You will get scenic views as the trail passes through many beautiful wooded areas and farmland. On your ride, you will cross over a couple of streams, wooden overpasses. You will also find several places with a big cooler of water to refill your water bottles.

It would be a good idea to pack your lunch and stop for a picnic along the way. You can go biking with your entire family, and you can rent your bike from Brick Wheels or other bike stores in Traverse City. Visit the official website for more details about all the TART trails.

Overall:

Biking on TART trails is a must-do in Traverse City. You can enjoy biking with your family.

11. Play adventure golf courses at pirate’s cove adventure park:

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park is located in Traverse City. The park offers visitors to experience the world of 18th-century pirates by featuring carousing buccaneers, sunken ships, mountain caves, cascading waterfalls, and dreaded pirate dungeons. And the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park was voted “Best in Michigan” by AAA.

The park has two 18-hole world-class adventure golf courses. And while playing the mini-golf course, you will learn about legendary pirate exploits as you wind your way through mountain caves, over footbridges, and beneath cascading waterfalls.

The Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park also offers the Billy Bones Race Track Go-Carts, where you can experience the competitive rush of car racing on an awesome 830-foot track. And at the Bumper Boats, you can battle your friends with squirt guns attached to the boats. Also, they have a game room where you can play a variety of family-oriented video and plush prize games.

Overall:

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park offers a variety of attractions for all ages. Visiting the park would be one of the fun things to do in Traverse City. You will have a great time at one of Traverse City’s favorite family destinations. Visit the official website to know the details about prices and opening hours.

Address: 1710 US-31 North, Traverse City, MI 49686.

12. Enjoy hiking at Pelizzari natural area:

The Pelizzari Natural Area is located north of Traverse City. The 62-acre Natural Area is a mix of woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and shoreline in the southern end of Peninsula Township. It also includes upland hardwood forests, which look stunning in the fall. While exploring the area, you may also spot resident foxes in the wood.

Pelizzari Natural Area features 3.2 miles of trails that wind through the forests and fields. The trail is accessibly year-round, and you will find a 2.8-mile loop with 64 m elevation gain to enjoy hiking. During winter, you can also enjoy skiing and snowshoeing.

You will enjoy hiking on the trail. The trail goes through open fields, former orchards, quiet upland forests, and lovely lowlands with giant hemlocks. Also, the trail signage is easy to follow. You can also hike during winter, and if you want to go snowshoeing, try to arrive early after fresh snowfall. The area is dog-friendly, but you have to keep your dog on a leash.

Overall:

The Pelizzari Natural Area would be one of the best places to visit in Traverse City for hiking. It’s an easy hike, and you can enjoy it with your family.

Address: 6852 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686.

13. Go fishing with Mega bite fishing charters, things to do in traverse city:

If you want to have a great fishing experience in Traverse City, Mega Bite Fishing Charters would be the best option. Charter Fishing in Traverse City is one of the best areas in Northern Michigan for Lake Trout and Salmon. You will be fishing in 32 miles long Grand Traverse Bay. The Grand Traverse Bay is an excellent place for Charter Fishing, and depending on the time of year you plan your trip, you will get a chance to catch lake trout, brown trout, king salmon, and steelhead.

They will provide you the best fishing equipment, and with Mega Bite Fishing Charters’ experienced team, it would be an excellent fishing trip. They will take you to good fishing spots where you will get some great catches. It would be a memorable charter fishing experience for you. You can go with your family and friends, and the kids will also love this trip.

Overall:

Fishing with Mega bite fishing charters would be one of the fun things to do in Traverse City. Visit the official website to plan your trip and for more information.

Address: 613 Randolph St Suite 103, Traverse City, MI 49684.

14. Enjoy skiing and snow tubing at Mt. Holiday, traverse city winter activities:

Mt. Holiday is a recreational resort area featuring wintertime skiing and tubing, and zip-lining, and hiking during summer. And Since 1949, Mt. Holiday has provided affordable skiing for families in the Grand Traverse area. It has 16 runs for skiing, from beginner to advanced level, and snow tubing with an express return lift. They also offer lessons from beginner to advanced levels and individuals and groups. And the 7 station zip line offers a 1-1.5 hour Zip Line Adventure tour.

At the Mt. Holiday, snow tubing would be a fun activity for your entire family. And it is also less expensive than other places. It’s located minutes from downtown Traverse City, and you can spend some good time with your family enjoying skiing and snow tubing. And during summer you will love their zip line course. Visit their official website for the price and to make a reservation.

Overall:

Skiing and snow tubing at Mt. Holiday would be one of the best things to do in Traverse City in the winter.

Address: 3100 Holiday Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686.

RESTAURANTS IN TRAVERSE CITY:

15. Enjoy delicious seafood at Apache Trout Grill:

Apache Trout Grill is located in a beautiful location overlooking West Bay in Traverse City. When the weather is nice, you can also enjoy the lovely bay views from the spacious patio. Apache Trout Grill will be a perfect place to go for lunch with your family and friends or a romantic evening of fine dining. If you love seafood, then the Apache Trout Grill would be a great choice as much of the menu is dedicated to seafood.

Some of the most popular dishes include award-winning BBQ ribs, homemade key lime pie, and carrot cake. And the seafood dishes include trout, salmon, crab, shrimp, and Lake Superior walleye, which are prepared in different ways. You will also love their specialty salads, such as the wedge and salmon Cesar salad.

They do not accept reservations, and seating is on a first-come basis. If you need to wait, they have indoor and outdoor waiting areas.

Overall:

You would enjoy your meal at one of the most popular restaurants in Traverse City.

Address: 13671 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City, MI 49684.

16. Enjoy homemade Italian dishes at Trattoria Stella:

Trattoria Stella is an award-winning Italian restaurant and was established in 2004. It is located in the basement of an old haunted mental hospital, which is quite an unusual place, but it’s a lovely place to go for dining, and you can also celebrate special occasions.

Trattoria Stella’s some popular dishes are Atlantic Scallops Piccata, Spanish Octopus, and delicious house-made Burrata. Much of the food is locally sourced, and the ingredients are fresh.

Overall:

Trattoria Stella is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City. You can read reviews and make your reservation with OpenTable.

Address: 1200 W Eleventh St, Traverse City, MI 49684.

17. Taste the best pizza in Traverse City at Filling Station Microbrewery:

The Filling Station Microbrewery is located in the historical railroad district of Traverse City, with beautiful views of Boardman Lake. They have indoor and lovely patio seating. And It would be one of the best restaurants in Traverse City to eat pizza.

It’s a family-friendly and pet-friendly place, and you can enjoy their delicious pizza with your family. You can also walk by Boardman Lake and enjoy lovely views. During peak season, it gets crowded, so you may need to wait a bit.

Address: 642 Railroad Pl, Traverse City, MI 49686.

18. Enjoy exclusive sunset dining at Boathouse restaurant:

Boathouse restaurant is located on the shores of beautiful Bowers Harbor, offering a lovely view of the docks and bay. The restaurant will be a romantic location for dining, and you can also celebrate special occasions. During summer, the restaurant also has deck seating available. Also, at the Boathouse Restaurant, you can enjoy exclusive sunset dining on Bowers Harbor inside the window-lined dining room.

The cuisine of the Boathouse, created with distinctive flair, is refined and contemporary with an underlying element that echoes the classical French tradition of Escoffier. Some of the most popular dishes of the Boathouse restaurant are Surf & Turf, Lobster & Shrimp Bisque, and Oysters & Poke.

Overall:

It is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City. You can read reviews and make your reservation with OpenTable.

Address: 14039 Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686.

19. Enjoy delicious European cuisine at Amical:

Amical is located in the heart of downtown Traverse City, overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay. At the restaurant, you can enjoy delicious European cuisine. It would be a lovely place for dining in Traverse City. You will get to choose from their creative and revolving menus, fresh selections prepared in an open kitchen. The restaurant has cozy indoor and wonderful outdoor seating. Reservations can only be made for the indoor dining room, and the patio is available for walk-in seating.

The restaurant is open daily from 4 pm-10 pm for dinner. Try to arrive early, especially if you want the patio seating.

Overall:

It would be one of the best restaurants in Traverse City for dining. Visit Resy to make your reservation.

Address: 229 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684.

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