My Top List of Summer Events, Activities & Things to See in Traverse City, Michigan
There are so many fun things to do in the summer in Traverse City, Michigan. As a Traverse City native, I’ve spent every summer here, and I have a running list of favorite summer-time events and activities we do every year.
Winters are long and cold, so when summer finally rolls around, we know how to soak it up and pack in the fun!
Traverse City is a hidden gem in Northern Michigan, and has so many fun outdoor things to offer during the summer! If you’re looking for a great getaway or fun family vacation this summer, Traverse City has some amazing scenery and lots of good family fun.
If you’re thinking about making Traverse City your vacation spot this summer, here’s my list of top activities and events to do during your visit – from a life-long Traverse City native!
Events & Activities:
- National Cherry Festival – The National Cherry Festival is a local favorite, and every summer thousands and thousands of visitors come to Traverse City from all over the country to experience it. It falls during the first week of July every summer and always includes the week of the 4th of July. Activities during Cherry Festival include parades, concerts every night, an air show (every other summer our air show features the Blue Angels and is ALWAYS a festival favorite!) a mid-way with lots of rides, and TONS of free activities during the day- like events for kids, pie eating contests, and a 5K & 10K. The week ends with fireworks that are set off over Grand Traverse Bay. For a full list of events, check out cherryfestival.org
- Friday Night Live – Every Friday night in August, downtown Traverse City hosts Friday Night Live. Front Street is closed to vehicles, and local vendors and entertainers line the street. It’s a fun time for adults and kids to try local food and see the local talent.
- Great Wolf Lodge – Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge is a local favorite with a huge indoor water park that kids (and adults!) LOVE! Call their toll free number at 888-479-0732 or visit greatwolf.com to make reservations.
- Pirates Cove – Pirate’s Cove is an awesome miniature golf course in Traverse City. They also have a zip-line, high ropes course, bumper boats, go-carts, and an arcade. For hours and activity pricing information call 231-938-9599, or visit piratescove.net
- Clinch Park –Clinch Park is right downtown in Traverse City. It’s one of Traverse City’s most popular parks, and has a splash pad for kids, a snack bar, public restrooms, and 1,500 feet of sandy beach with a lifeguard on duty from mid-June through August. It’s also adjacent to the Clinch Park Marina for boaters and fishermen, right on Grand Traverse Bay.
- Parasailing – I went parasailing for the first time a few years ago and loved it! Grand Traverse Parasail is Traverse City’s top rated parasailing location, and is right on Grand Traverse Bay. For more information or to make reservations, call 231-929-1755 or visit www.gtparasail.com
My friend Elise at TheCherryLife.com always has an up-to-date list of local events and activities in Traverse City and the surrounding areas – be sure to check it out for a current look at what’s going on!
Traverse City Scenic Hot Spots:
Traverse City has a lot of beautiful scenery to experience. There’s really no end to the lakes and rivers in Traverse City, including the Grand Traverse Bay, and Lake Michigan to the west. Here’s a list of some of my favorite scenic destinations and activities just outside the city limits.
- Pyramid Point – Pyramid Point is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Pyramid Point has a 2.7 mile hiking loop, or an easy 0.6 mile hiking trail that dead ends at a scenic lookout with one of the most breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. It’s just outside of Traverse City off of M-22 and Port Oneida. Our favorite time to visit Pyramid Point is at sunset, but it’s beautiful any time of day.
- Platte River – One of my favorite local things to do in the summer is to go on a tube float down the Platte River. The Honor Trading Post supplies the tubes and drops you off at the launching point. All you have to do is sit in your inner tube and float all the way to the mouth of the river at Lake Michigan. Honor Trading Post waits at the other end to pick you up and take you back to your vehicle. It’s such a fun and relaxing activity for all ages. Call the Honor Trading Post at 231-325-2202 for reservations, or visit their website at canoeplatteriver.com
- Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes – The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes is a favorite local attraction and is a MUST see if you’re visiting Traverse City in the summertime! The dunes are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and include a 300-foot dune climb to climb up and run back down. The sand dunes are located off of M-22 between Empire and Glen Arbor.
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a 7.4 mile scenic drive through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. At different points during the drive you can park and walk to different scenic lookouts with beautiful views of Lake Michigan. In 2011, both the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and the Pierce Stocking Scenic drive were named as the “Most Beautiful Place in America”.
All 4 of these scenic destinations/activities are either free or very inexpensive, and definitely worth making part of your trip!
Make a day of it and hit each of these hot spots – climb the dunes in the morning while it’s cool, visit the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, float down the Platte in the afternoon sun, then hike up Pyramid Pointe in time to see the sunset.
- Mission Point Lighthouse – Mission Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse that is located at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City. It was built in 1870 and was a functioning lighthouse until 1933. It is a beautiful place to visit, and you can even take a tour of the building. Mission Point Lighthouse is just a few hundred yards south of the 45th parallel north, which is exactly halfway between the North Pole and the equator.
Favorite Local Hot Spots:
If you’re visiting Traverse City during the summer months, here are a few places you have to visit while you’re here!
- Grand Traverse Pie Company -The GT Pie Co. opened on Front Street in Traverse City in 1996, and since then has opened several other locations in Michigan and Indiana. They have several different flavors of pie (blueberry crumb is our favorite!) and lots of different options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu includes quiche, soups, sandwiches, pot pies, pasties and several different pies and sweets. Visit gtpie.com for the full menu and list of locations!
- Cherry Republic – This is another local crowd pleaser. Cherry Republic has every cherry product you can imagine, and they are the BEST. They have chocolate covered cherries and other cherry candies, cherry salsa, cherry jam, cherry juice, and every other cherry product! The original Cherry Republic store is located in Glen Arbor, and they also have a shop on Front Street in downtown Traverse City. The Traverse City location has a café, a wine/soda tasting bar, homemade ice cream and a cherry climbing tree for kids. Cherry Republic has on-site shipping so you can ship all of your favorite cherry treats home. Visit cherryrepublic.com for a list of all their cherry products and locations.
- Blue Tractor – The Blue Tractor is a restaurant located on Union Street and has a really fun atmosphere. They’re known for their BBQ and mac & cheese, and are a local favorite! Visit bluetractorcookshop.com for their full menu.
- Hop Lot Brewing Co. – Hop Lot is in Suttons Bay, about a 15-minute drive out of Traverse City along Grand Traverse Bay. They have live music and a family friendly environment. Visit hoplotbrewing.com for their menu and list of events.
- Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream – Moomer’s is a local ice cream shop that was built on the edge of a dairy farm, and was named the nation’s best ice cream stop on Good Morning America’s Ice Cream Challenge. By far and away, Moomer’s is a local favorite, and such a fun place to visit in Traverse City!
Whether it’s local events and activities, or outside scenery and adventures, Traverse City has so many great things to offer during the summer for a fun family vacation!