Nestled along the deep blue waters of scenic Grand Traverse Bay, picturesque Traverse City is one of the most popular destinations in America’s Great Lakes region, a charming “real American small town” that serves as the cultural and social hub of northern Michigan.
Surrounded by a glacier-carved landscape of deep freshwater lakes and rolling hills, the Traverse City area has 234 miles of continuous Lake Michigan shoreline that attracts active visitors who enjoy swimming, sailing, boating, beachcombing and kayaking. Perhaps the best example of this beauty is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 64-mile curve of beaches, coves, islands and hills that was recently voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by viewers of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Anglers can fish some of the nation’s finest trout streams, while hikers and cyclists enjoy the miles of unspoiled trails in the surrounding forests. The region is also famed as a fall color destination, and winter brings a steady stream of skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoe hikers who love to explore its woodland trails and dramatic overlooks. It’s also a popular golfing getaway, and was listed by Golf Digest as one of the world’s 50 top golf destinations.
In recent years, Traverse City has also been transformed from a rustic holiday community into a charmingly sophisticated small city whose streets, parks and public spaces harmonize with the scenery that surrounds them. It is home to most of the region’s hotels, resorts, theatres and restaurants, and its tree-shaded Victorian downtown is a shopper’s delight, full of boutiques, coffeehouses and art galleries.
Shoppers are also drawn to the fascinating Grand Traverse Commons, a 130-year-old former mental asylum that has been converted into a village of shops, restaurants and studios, while nearby villages like Suttons Bay, Bellaire, Leland, Old Mission and Glen Arbor are filled with hidden byways and quaint shops of their own.
Thanks to a new generation of talented chefs, Traverse City is also becoming famous for its regional cuisine, based on fresh local ingredients from the surrounding woods, waters and farms. In 2011, Bon Appetit named it one of America’s “Five Top Foodie Towns,” and top chef Mario Batali calls it “a modern gastro-paradise.”
Best known as a fruit-growing region (it is the country’s leading producer of tart cherries), Traverse City has now established an international reputation as a wine and craft brewing destination. The nearby Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are dotted with almost 40 vineyards and wineries, and the area boasts 13 microbreweries and three microdistilleries.
With a large population of artists, craftsmen and musicians, the community has a surprisingly rich cultural life, and has dozens of galleries, studios and museums, and a wealth of performing talent. The world-renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts is nearby, and its nightlife is surprisingly vibrant.
Traverse City is an easy, pleasant drive from Chicago and Detroit, and its charming Cherry Capital Airport has scheduled service to over 300 domestic and international destinations through Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.