Traverse City, Michigan

When we were considering spending our summer in Michigan there were a couple of towns that kept coming up as places people strongly recommended that we go to.  One such city was Traverse City and the other was … that will be revealed in a later post just to let excitement build.  Traverse City is known for their celebration of cherries and holds the Annual National Cherry Festival that is talked about many thousands of miles away (we first heard about it in Florida by numerous people).  It is only fitting that they are awarded such a festival since they produce 75% of the tart cherries in the U.S.  After our visit, we are here to tell you that there is more to this city than cherries.  Bring on the beer, lots of live music, festivals, plenty of outdoor activities (especially water-related ones), a great food scene, and lots of family fun.  Who wouldn’t want to visit Traverse City? 

This city is eclectic and vibrant.  They turned an old insane asylum (sorry let’s be politically correct … a hospital for the mentally ill) into a myriad of interesting shops, restaurants, bakery, brewery and winery all mixed in with businesses and condos and surrounded by a string of walking trails near the old mental hospital (that’s the pretty white building in the center picture below).  Want to hit a bunch of breweries and sample some of Michigan’s hoppy side?  Go ahead, there are nearly a dozen.  Booze more your thing?  Don’t worry they have a distillery downtown.  Their minor league baseball team is called the Beach Bums.  Their mascots are Sunburnt and Suntan.  Hilarious!  Traverse City celebrates summer’s bountiful harvest with not just one weekly farmers market but two.  


We parked the rig at Traverse Bay RV Resort on the recommendation of our friends Stacey and Don who own a lot there.  They generously offered their lot to us for a minimal cost since they would be away traveling.  The resort is located on the east side of town which is a great location for visiting other charming towns like Elk River, Acme, and Bellaire (to be described in a later post).  Our week-long stay quickly turned into two which kept us on the go and taking advantage of all that the city had to offer.

Downtown Traverse City is a great place to stroll the streets for shopping, eating, and drinking.  It is the size town that we like … small and intimate.  We ventured into Georgina’s Fusion Cuisine for lunch which is a wild mix of Asian and Latin foods, both of which were delicious and creatively executed.  As we wandered around town, we noticed that there were lots of ice cream places that were vying for being the best … Milk and Honey, The Cherry Republic, and Moomer’s are all local ice creams that are quite delicious.  We sampled Milk and Honey and The Cherry Republic in their downtown locations but decided it would be better to head to the farm where we could eat our Moomer’s ice cream on the patio overlooking the cows.  I have to say that it was the best chocolate ice cream I have ever had.  

The Wednesday and Saturday downtown farmers markets are great.  Saturday has more vendors but we hit it both days because a nearby asparagus farm has the most delicious asparagus we’ve ever tasted.  It is sweet and not woody so it is perfect raw as a snack or shaved in a salad.  Another great market is Burritt’s Fresh Market located on the west side of town.  I fell in love with this place whose wine and cheese selection would make the French envious and the meats couldn’t be beat either.  Any store that has pork belly and tomahawk ribeyes in the meat case is on my list of favorites.  Another reason to venture to the west side of town is the Grand Traverse Pie Company (and right next door to Burritt’s).  Pies here are made fresh and come out of the oven all day long.  Before leaving the area, cross the street to The Cheese Lady shop where an amazing array of cheeses awaits.  They are happy to cut samples from their selection of 130 cheeses that run the gamut from all over the world and every different animal milk that there is.  On our way home we had to stop at the Bay Bread Company where 43 artisan varieties of bread tempted us beyond our imagination.  Yes, part of our goal was to eat our way through Traverse City!


If beer is your thing then you are going to love Traverse City.  There are nearly a dozen breweries around and plenty of ways to access them in this outdoorsy city.  Sure driving is one way but how about biking to them on the designated bike trails.  Or a fun ride on the Cycle Pub which is a 14-passenger bike bar used to tour Traverse City’s breweries and eateries that is basically a bar on wheels.  You peddle and drink to your next destination.  For those wanting to make brewery-hopping a water-related activity then plop down in a kayak and paddle the Boardman River stopping along the way at nearly half a dozen breweries.   Yep, this town has a beer paddle trail.  Best to wear your life jacket if you plan on hitting all of them.

Now that we have discussed the food and drink aspect of Traverse City, do you want to hear of ways to burn off the calories we encouraged you to consume?  (Rhetorical question I ask as I am drinking a fine Michigan porter and not 20170607_085504even thinking about exercising.)  Actually, this city makes you want to get out and move.  The air, the water, the weather are all very conducive to being outside.  There is a great paved bike path called the Tart Trail that spans 10.5 miles through the city and up to the towns of Sutton’s Bay on the west and Acme on the east.  Parts of the trail offer views of Lake Michigan and a great way to venture out of the city.  We prefer hiking the woods as opposed to biking so Spirit can come and are impressed by the number of nature preserves that are in this area. 

The preserves are usually small in size (under 500 acres) but have very well marked trails and designated parking areas.  Most of the trail systems are divided into numerous pathways so you can make your walk as long or short as you like, depending on whether you bought the slice or whole pie from the pie company.  Water sports abound in this area.  The Boardman Lake Trail takes you from the east side of Boardman Lake thru the river and into Lake Michigan (which is also the beer paddle trail).  With so much waterfront available to visitors you will be lured into the beautiful Lake Michigan waters whether it be for a swim, to kayak, or rent a boat. 

We had a great time getting to know Traverse City and exploring the area.  We did not stay for the cherry festival in July as we needed to move on to see more of Michigan but we certainly have been enjoying cherry everything along the way!  


Just thought we would leave you with that view.


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