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The Up North Guide: Things to Do in Traverse City in The Summer 2017 Update

Updated on June 15, 2017
Beaches abound in Traverse City! Visit Clinch Park Beach or West End Beach downtown or travel yonder to East Bay or the inland lakes for  a quiet afternoon with the family.
Beaches abound in Traverse City! Visit Clinch Park Beach or West End Beach downtown or travel yonder to East Bay or the inland lakes for a quiet afternoon with the family. | Source

Traverse City Cherry Festival

Though not necessarily a local favorite (we like to refer to our city as Traffic City during this particular event), the annual Cherry Festival kicks off July 1st, running through July 8th this year, and brings sweet treats, parades, concerts, and a midway to the streets of downtown Traverse City to celebrate our favorite berry (it's actually a stone fruit though).

For a full schedule of events, visit the official Cherry Festival site at cherryfestival.org


Bring

  • Cash for midway tickets and snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Good walking shoes
  • Water!

Take the kids to the midway and treat yourself to an elephant ear and lemonade.
Take the kids to the midway and treat yourself to an elephant ear and lemonade. | Source

Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair

Located between Union and 6th street, dozens upon dozens of artists and vendors unite to sell their craft from 10 AM to 5 PM on June 25th.

Cheer On the Beach Bums

Visit Wuerfel Baseball Park and enjoy hot dogs and popcorn in the grass while you cheer on the Traverse City Beach Bums as they play the away teams this summer. Don't forget the sunblock!

Fireworks Displays

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Annual 4th of July Fireworks

Once threatened by dwindling funds, the 4th of July Fireworks have been saved thanks to some firework-loving-locals! Share your appreciation by spreading out a blanket and relaxing under the stars and sparks which start at dark and will be shot over West Bay. Catch round two on July 8th, same time, same place, for the National Cherry Festival fireworks finale!

While the closest view will be found on the beaches of downtown Traverse City, those who would prefer a quieter (but equally as pretty view) can set up at Hull Park (behind the Traverse Area District Library).

Bring:

  • A large beach or picnic blanket/chairs for lounging
  • Bug spray
  • Snacks and water
  • Sparklers!

Fish on Arbutus Lake

Whether from shore or boat take in the serenity of Arbutus Lake and fish (or just relax!) for small mouth bass. Take in the fresh breeze and keep an eye out for snapping turtles, loons, otter, and of course, ducks!

Bring

  • Your fishing license (or pick one up along with sunscreen at the Facebook Famous Roy's General Store)
  • Snacks from Groleau Farm Market
  • A camera, of course.

Spot a loon or two on Arubutus Lake in the evening hours.
Spot a loon or two on Arubutus Lake in the evening hours. | Source

Scream for Mooooooomers!!

Voted as America's Best Scoop by Good Morning America in 2008, Moomers is a TC food staple! Get it fresh from the source, complete with a view of the cow pasture at 7263 N. Long Lake Road in Traverse City or stay in town and hit up Aroma's Coffee and Tea - Bayview and enjoy it with a sandwich wrap and cold brew.

Grab a Cheap Bite

And by cheap, I mean delicious and awesome. Check out these local favorites where you can eat for less than the price of a movie ticket.

Taco House-- If you've ever lived in Traverse City, or visited someone in Traverse City, you've had Taco House at some point. If not, stop what you're doing and get yourself a wet burrito and nachos.

Bardons Wonder Freeze-- Located off Garfield, claim a picnic table and watch the traffic snarls as you nurse a pineapple malt.

Little Fleet -- Located right on Front Street, in the heart of downtown TC is a sweet little drink-stop surrounded by delicious food trucks throughout the summer time. Grab a pint and a gourmet grilled cheese to savor under the rising moon.

Slabtown Burgers--Eat in or dine out on fresh grilled, stuffed burgers and locally made fountain drinks. Daily soup specials like tomato bisque are also a lunchtime favorite.

Thai Cafe--Stop in for lunch to take advantage of the lunchtime prices and feast on fresh-made curries, soups, and springrolls. Call-ahead for take out.

Paesano's Pizza--Overlooking the Boardman River, this pizza place knows how to do old school pizza-by-the-slice and side-salads. Bring your polaroid camera and ask the owners to stick your picture up on the wall!

Sweet Tartlette-- Conveniently located next door to Paesano's Pizza is this gem of a confectionery. With a frequently updated menu of freshly baked treats, you're bound to find a favorite like key lime macrons or vanilla ganache bonbons.

Hike Behind the Traverse City State Hospital

Known as the Old State Hospital to locals, this series of ominous, castle-like buildings once functioned as the only asylum in Northern Michigan. Since then, the abandoned hospital has been converted into condos, apartments, restaurants, boutiques, and offices. Carb up at Pleasanton Bakery before heading out on the gorgeous trails behind the buildings and enjoy the woodsy sites and scents of Northern Michigan.

Bring:

  • Hikin' boots
  • A camera
  • A cell phone
  • Water, water, water

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Grand Traverse 911

Stay up to date of traffic accidents, jams, severe weather, and the more than occasional horse-on-the-loose with the Grand Traverse 911 Facebook page.

Cool Off at the Library

Stop into themain branch on Woodmere and explore the amazing Sight and Sound department for DVD's, CD's, and video games, or relax at the quaint East Bay location and pick out a beach read while the kids make a craft with Ms. Rosie.

Visit the State Theater

Located in downtown Traverse City on Front Street, take yourself, a date, or the whole family down to the Traverse City State Theater. Originally the Lyric, the theater was salvaged and restored after decades of abandon. Now, run by a crew of volunteers, who pop up the best popcorn on earth, you can snag some $1 refreshments at the concession stand and catch a flick on the big screen--either from the main floor or the balcony. Just don't forget to look up! The ceiling is a starry replica of the night-sky of Traverse City.

There's nothing like the swirling glow of the State  Theater's marquee at night in downtown Traverse City.
There's nothing like the swirling glow of the State Theater's marquee at night in downtown Traverse City. | Source

Traverse City Film Festival

Traverse City will be celebrating great movies with the annual Traverse City Film Festival, founded by Michigan-native Michael Moore. The 2017 festival kicks off July 25th and runs through July 30th.

Attendees will enjoy amazing popcorn (really, it's seriously the best) and independent films at various screening locations throughout the city. Tickets to panel discussions with writers, directors, and actors are also for sale. Free, nightly movies on the bay (weather permitting) are a local family favorite.

For a schedule and tickets, visit the TCFF official site.

Bring a blanket and nestle in for free nightly movies on the really, really big screen at the Traverse City Film Festival.
Bring a blanket and nestle in for free nightly movies on the really, really big screen at the Traverse City Film Festival. | Source

Hit Up a Farmers Market

The Sara Hardy Farmers Market is located in the downtown parking lot off Front Street with a view of gorgeous Grand Traverse Bay. Here you'll find handmade soaps, baked goods, fresh veggies, flowers, and an array of other handmade/homegrown Northern Michigan awesomeness. Find it starting at 8 a.m. every Saturday + Wednesday from May-October.


On the other side of Downtown TC you'll find the market at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons open from 12-4 PM every Monday during the summer months. Stock up on fresh produce and enjoy a wholesome, local salad for din din tonight!


To brighten up the porch (or the balcony of your hotel room!) stop by Groleau's Farm Market in East Bay and pick up a hanging basket, and oh, also, a fresh handmade pie for dessert. Hours are 10 AM - 8 PM daily.


Stock up on fresh produce at one of Traverse City's awesome summer farmer's markets.
Stock up on fresh produce at one of Traverse City's awesome summer farmer's markets. | Source

Catch a Concert

Between June and August the Interlochen Center for The Arts hosts a summer concert series with shows ranging from full symphonic orchestras to classic rock and contemporary indie artists. The likes of Trace Adkins, Diana Ross, and pop masters OK GO will be gracing the stage this summer.

For tickets visit the online box office at tickets.interlochen.org

Catch OK GO in a summer evening breeze on June 30th at Interlochen.
Catch OK GO in a summer evening breeze on June 30th at Interlochen.

Tour a Museum

Great Lakes Children's Museum-- Grab the kids, or steal your nieces and nephews and head up the parkway to the Great Lakes Children's Museum where guests can splash in the water-table, have a tea-party in the lighthouse, or control the weather. Parents will be happy that this quaint little museum offers lots of activities all within eye-sight from a cozy bench or chair--though you'll probably want to get in on some of that splashing yourself.


Dennos Museum-- Located on the beautiful Northwestern Michigan College Campus, visitors will enjoy the rotating art exhibits as well as the permanent Discovery Room, and Inuit exhibits. Stop into the gift shop for unique and beautiful souvenirs.


The Music House Museum--Take a guided tour of the museum and experience the music of yesteryear with restored pipe organs, nickelodeons, and pianos. Also check out the newly restored miniature Traverse City and lobby gift shop.

Cool off with the kids by splashing in the (air conditioned!!) hands-on water exhibit inside the Great Lakes Children's Museum.
Cool off with the kids by splashing in the (air conditioned!!) hands-on water exhibit inside the Great Lakes Children's Museum. | Source

Watch the Sunset on Old Mission Peninsula

Head up Center Road for majestic views of the Old Mission Peninsula orchards, U-Picks, and wineries and stop at the roadside lookout just over Chateau Grand Traverse. #UpNorthBliss

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    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Kierstin Gunsberg 

      5 months ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Hi Chris! Maple City is beautiful! I have family out that way actually, but they come into TC almost every day since it's just a stone's throw. I honestly feel like as a TC local I think of Leelanau as part of Traverse - even though it's a unique place in itself.

      We're lucky to live surrounded by so much beauty although I'm definitely ready for this late-April snow to go away.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      5 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

      Kiersten, Forgive me if we had this discussion before, but we both live in Traverse City. Well, my family and I used to, but now our home is in Maple City in Leelanau County. I travel for my work most of the time, so I am rarely home. But I will be back eventually. My son, Scott, lives in the house in Maple city. Nice job on the article yours is much more up to date than mine.

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