Naturally, many of the town’s celebrations revolve around food and drink. They include the National Cherry Festival in July, the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, two Microbrew & Music festivals (one in summer and another in midwinter), and a plethora of wine trail events.
For nearly a century artists, craftsmen, and musicians have made their homes in and around Traverse City, giving the community a surprisingly rich cultural life and providing near endless opportunities for shopping and browsing in its many galleries and studios. For a real treat, step into Traverse City’s tree-shaded, pedestrian-friendly downtown or the nearby Village at Grand Traverse Commons, where the castle-like buildings of a 19th century mental asylum have been restored into the perfect destination for an unforgettable shopping excursion.
Thanks to the region’s wealth of performing talent, nightlife in Traverse City can be an evening of cool jazz in a local restaurant, some cutting-edge rock in a Union Street bistro, or a symphony concert at the renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Of course, there are all those scenic views and recreational opportunities that brought me here in the first place. There’s probably no single place in the Midwest that evokes the spirit and magic of the great outdoors quite as perfectly as Traverse City. This special place is often referred to as “the Caribbean of the North.” a bit of hyperbole that becomes understandable once you’ve watched the sparkling waters change from transparent aquamarine to deepest cobalt, or walked these wide golden beaches.
Some of the nation’s finest trout streams are located here, and the nearby lakes and rivers are perfect for sailing, boating, swimming, and canoeing. There are hundreds of square miles of state and national forests, dozens of nature preserves and wildlife refuges for hikers and backpackers. Perhaps the best example of this beauty is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 64-mile curve of beaches, coves, islands, and hills that was voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by viewers of Good Morning America.