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Visitors' Guide to Traverse City, Michigan

Updated on May 02, 2015
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Chris enjoys photographing the places he visits. He shares these photos as travel articles and also mixes them with creative writing.

About This Article

This article will describe Traverse City, Michigan and the many festivals, and other recreational activities that make it an exciting vacation, retirement and year round destination. There are opportunities for those interested in golf, film, literature, festivals, outdoor activities, downtown shopping and much more.

Traverse City, Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay

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"Take Me There".....Listen as You Read

My Hometown, Traverse City, Michigan

When I first moved to Traverse City, Michigan thirty-two years ago, I called it the biggest, little town I'd ever seen. While it was true in 1983, it is even more true today, as Traverse City has grown to become a premier vacation, retirement and new home destination. In the years I have spent in this town, I have run on the paved path along Grand Traverse Bay, water skied on the blue waters of both East and West Bays and picnicked with my family in the grassy parks along the water. I never get tired of just walking down Front Street, where restaurants, shops, theaters and bookstores offer hours of enjoyment. This is the place I call home, and I want to share it with you.

Front Street, Downtown Traverse City, Michigan

Front Street in downtown Traverse City, Michigan
Front Street in downtown Traverse City, Michigan | Source

A Walk Along Front Street in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan is located in the northwest lower peninsula and is a favorite place in the world for tourists and residents alike. The greater Traverse City area, dominated by cherry farms, is known as the Cherry Capital of the world. The life of northwest Michigan is the downtown of this remarkable city. A stroll along Front Street in Traverse City is always an enjoyable way to spend a little spare time.

The first eye catcher is the number of people in downtown Traverse City during any time of day or season of the year. The second is the number of shops, restaurants, bookstores and entertainment venues along the eight blocks of downtown Traverse City. Restaurants cover a variety of cuisines including Mexican, Middle Eastern, French, Eclectic Southern, Thai and Greek. In addition there are multiple sidewalk cafes, micro breweries, and family style eateries.

Traverse City's Historic State Theatre

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Downtown Traverse City Entertainment Venues

The three main entertainment venues in downtown Traverse City are the State Theatre, Bijou by the Bay and the City Opera House. The State Theater and The Bijou host the Traverse City Film Festival and the Traverse City Comedy Festival, both directed by film producer, Michael Moore. The Opera House hosts a variety of talents from around the world. The Film Festival, Micro brew Festival, Comedy Festival and National Cherry Festival add even more fun to daytime and nighttime activities.

City Opera House in downtown Traverse City
City Opera House in downtown Traverse City | Source

National Writers Series in Downtown Traverse City, Michigan

Another downtown Traverse City, Michigan event that draws crowds to the City Opera House year round is the National Writers Series. The event was founded by Traverse City native and New York Times best selling author, Doug Stanton. Throughout the year, best selling authors from around the world visit Traverse City for an evening that is much more than an interview. The onstage setting, coupled with the Opera House atmosphere leaves everyone with a sense of live theatre. Authors such as Michael Connelly, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Janet Evanovich provide the entertainment.

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The Greater Traverse City Area

The outlying area enhances the experience. Grand Traverse Bay, which draws the northern boundary of downtown, provides water recreation of all kinds. Recently, the City of Traverse City carried out a long anticipated project on the city property along the Bay. For three quarters of a century, the main attraction at this location was Traverse City’s Clinch Park Zoo, which featured animals native to the State of Michigan. The zoo facilities are gone now, and the animals all have new homes. The end result of the two and a half million dollar revamp has been the addition of a concession stand and restrooms. But the feature of the expansion is lots and lots of wide open space for everyone to enjoy.

Photos Along the Waterfront

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"The Open Space" juts out into Grand Traverse Bay.  Imagine this space and more to the left, filled with thousands sitting on lawn chairs and blankets watching a free film on a 50ft inflatable screen during the multi venue TC Film FestivalOne of the many city beaches.  With the new work on the bay front, even more beach area will soon be available.Clinch Park Marina, owned by the city.
"The Open Space" juts out into Grand Traverse Bay.  Imagine this space and more to the left, filled with thousands sitting on lawn chairs and blankets watching a free film on a 50ft inflatable screen during the multi venue TC Film Festival
"The Open Space" juts out into Grand Traverse Bay. Imagine this space and more to the left, filled with thousands sitting on lawn chairs and blankets watching a free film on a 50ft inflatable screen during the multi venue TC Film Festival | Source
One of the many city beaches.  With the new work on the bay front, even more beach area will soon be available.
One of the many city beaches. With the new work on the bay front, even more beach area will soon be available. | Source
Clinch Park Marina, owned by the city.
Clinch Park Marina, owned by the city. | Source

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore NPS

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located northwest of Traverse City in beautiful Leelanau County and Benzie County. This 32 mile stretch of dunes, forests, inland lakes and Lake Michigan shoreline is the destination of well over one million people annually. The National Park service provides family events such as The Port Oneida Fair (2014) on the grounds of The Port Oneida Rural Historic Farm District.

Dried cherries from the Cherry Capitol of the World, Traverse City, Michigan

Horse Shows By the Bay

Another area event that somehow gets overlooked by the local population, but is immensely popular among certain visitors is Horse Shows By the Bay. This is a series of four, one week long competitions. Thousands of the nations most gifted horses and riders come to Traverse City to compete in hunter, jumper, and dressage riding. While its main purpose is to offer a high quality competition for riders and entertainment for spectators, the series of events is also responsible for adding fifteen million dollars annually to the local economy.

Featuring Traverse City, Michigan

You Are Welcome in Traverse City, Michigan

Now you see why I consider it a pleasure and a privilege to call Traverse City, Michigan my home. Even though it has grown over the years, Traverse City has not lost the small town feeling. I can still stroll down Front Street and see old friends doing the same. As residents, we welcome with open arms the many visitors who choose to make our hometown their hometown, if only for a short time. But watch out. One visit may just have you wanting to call Traverse City, Michigan your home for the long term.

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      tipstoretireearly, it's nice to see you again. Have you been to Traverse City before.

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

      A wonderful summertime destination with great restaurants and scenic beaches. The downtown area is wonderful for strolling!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      sounds good Cam! Thank you!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Hi Randi, Thanks for taking the initiative to find me again. I just published another hub in the middle of the night. It is the one on Congestive Heart Failure. I saw where you commented recently that you are going to be in Detroit in March or April. I am in Michigan, but I am up north. Happy Holidays. I will zip over to your profile page and see what you have been up to.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hey Chris...I don't know why I don't get notification of your hubs but I decided to come looking for them! This is great, full of so much information! I hope all is well in your world! up+

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      aviannovice, It is really a remarkable town. Small, yet feels very large. There is always something going on. And the outlying area is full of outdoor things to do. Thanks for visiting, always nice to see you.

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like a very quaint city with a number of wonderful things to occupy time. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Cool, welcome back to my hubs. How camping life. I know you have trips to Europe and Canada planned. Will you visit the U.S.? I am actively looking at travel trailers now. I will be selling my house and transitioning to full time camping by next fall hopefully. Thanks for stopping by.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Looks like a great place to visit as we love visiting wineries , exploring the outdoors etc . I will keep it in mind ! I found you while hub hopping !

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