Best known for boutique shopping and numerous wineries, but also popular for its beautiful location and a vibrant dose of slightly urban sprawl, we might argue that Traverse City truly has it all. And whether you’re planning a destination wedding weekend, a minimoon, or are one of the fortunate Michiganders who happens to live in the lakeside city, we have a few essential items to place on your Traverse City agenda.
Called the “cherry capital” of the state, Traverse City is known for its dense orchards and, recently, for its vineyard-covered hills, too. But the town’s fascination with fruit doesn’t stop at scenery (although we’d wager that vineyards and orchards alike make for beautiful Traverse City wedding venues). The National Cherry Festival, held annually as a weeklong celebration, is worth making time for – as is the boutique shop Cherry Stop. Filled to the brim with cherry pie, jam, cherry-scented candles, and a tangy cherry-chipotle sauce, the shop is sweet, savory, and locally-sourced. Fruit on an adult-friendly tangent can be found in the form of another area favorite: Traverse City wine. The Leelanau Peninsula is home to more than a dozen wineries and acres upon acres of vineyards. Black Star Farms puts out a particularly tempting tasting spread, including samples of pinot noir and brandy alongside a variety of cheeses.
When you’ve tired of wine country, look to another of Traverse City’s attractions: the coastline. Traverse City State Park and Bayside Park are close to town and filled with sandy expanses perfect for picnicking, swimming and sunning, while nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is well worth the thirty minute drive. The area’s 400-foot dunes (try taking on the Dune Climb for a beautiful view of Lake Michigan) and beaches have been called one of the most beautiful places in the nation.