Traverse City is the largest city in Northwest Lower Michigan, and the first of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments
A combination of Wikipedia’s Traverse City, Michigan entry and the Traverse City CVB the Grand Traverse Bay got their name from 18th century French voyagers who made la grande traverse or “the long crossing” across the mouth of the bay Grand Traverse Bay. In 1853 the only post office in the region was located at Old Mission, then known as “Grand Traverse.” While in Washington, D.C. in 1852, Tracy Lay convinced the U.S. Post Office to authorize a new post office at his newer settlement across the bay. The village was known as “Grand Traverse City,” but at the suggestion of a postal clerk the “Grand” was dropped to limit confusion.
The Grand Traverse region earns the nickname of “Cherry Capital of the World,” producing an estimated 360,000,000 pounds of cherries annually. It’s not just cherries though – the wineries of the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula have risen quickly to the top due to a conducive micro-climate for growing grapes. You can enjoy the region’s agricultural bounty through a wide array of farm markets and food producers like Shetler Family Dairy, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream (named America’s Best Scoop in 2008) and Carlson’s of Fishtown. There are also at a number of great restaurants in the city and scattered throughout the area. Just a few of these to not miss are Fusion, amical, Trattoria Funistrada, The Old Mission Tavern and (of course) the Cheese Shanty.
Traverse City, in pictures
The photo above is titled Sunrise, East Arm, Traverse Bay and it was taken by Joel Dinda, who has several more from Traverse City and this set of Leelanau County photos (slideshow). As you can see from Joel’s photos, the countryside and shoreline surrounding Traverse City is some of the most beautiful in Michigan. In addition to Traverse City, some things you might want to look at include Old Mission, Sleeping Bear Dunes and of course photos of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford.
But what is there to DO in Traverse City?
If you enjoy the outdoors, Northwest Michigan is the place to go. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is among the most beautiful natural areas in the nation, offering miles of untrammeled Lake Michigan coastline, hiking, camping and cultural opportunities and the world’s largest shifting sand dunes. There are many more beaches offering swimming and fishing on the area’s many inland lakes like North and South Lake Leelanau and Torch Lake. You can also hike the trails of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, bike on the many backroads and trails including the TART Trails and the Betsie Valley Trail and enjoy golf at a dizzying number of golf courses.
If the outdoors isn’t your thing you can experience shopping in downtown Traverse City and at villages across the region. The State Theatre – home of the Traverse City Film Festival – has been beautifully restored and shows a variety of independent and classic movies every day. The region also boasts some excellent museums including the Dennos Museum, Music House (private museum), and Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City, the Manistee County Historical Museum, the Empire Area Historical Museum, Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Guntzviller’s Spirit of the Woods Museum (private) and the Carl T. Johnson Hunting & Fishing Center in Cadillac.
Where do I go for more?
You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee & Wexford and also try the pages for Traverse City, Manistee, Cadillac and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the Traverse City Visitors Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, MyNorth, Kalkaska County Michigan Online, the Benzie County Visitors Bureau, and our own Leelanau.com and betsiebay.net.