MI Hidden Gems in Traverse City

Top things to do in Traverse City, Michigan

Phil and I travel to Michigan every summer. All of his extended family lives there so it is great time with family with a little adventure sprinkled in. If you haven’t been, add Traverse City to your bucket list. It is the cutest little town known mainly for it’s cherries! They have a cherry festival every year that brings cherry lovers from around the world to the cherry capital of the Midwest. We usually go in late July and the weather is perfect for a hike up the sand dunes or a day to relax on lake Michigan. Here are my musts when you visit.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450’ above Lake Michigan, lush forests and clear inland lakes make up the world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is a national park so it does cost $20/car, but it is so worth it. You can climb up the dunes all the way to the lake or just climb up the first dune and take in the incredible views. Either option is stunning. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America so you know it has to be worth the short trip out of Traverse to see it. They also have a camp ground along the dunes which is on my bucket list!

Cure your sweet tooth at Cherry Republic

Head into downtown Traverse and there are plenty of shops and fudge locations to cure anyone’s sweet tooth. My favorite is Cherry Republic. They are so creative in how they use cherries. There are samples and samples of cherry salsa, cherry BBQ sauce, cherry candles, cherry pie, cherry ice cream and so much more, all cherry themed of course. And the best part is that you get to taste it all! They have samples all over the store.

Enjoy a drink at The Franklin

After all your cherry tasting, stop into The Franklin and head up to their rooftop bar. On the roof you will take in incredible views of downtown Traverse City and Lake Michigan. You can spot sailboats sailing along the cost of Lake Michigan while you sip on a sweet cherry wine or cider (local of course).

Take in the Wineries along the Old Mission Peninsula

There are about 8 really great wineries along the coast of Old Mission peninsula, you could spend the entire day winery hopping. We checked out two of the more popular wineries and quickly realized why they were so popular. We started at Black Star Farms and the wine was fantastic. We did the $7 tasting where you get to keep the glass at the end and there were over 100 wines to choose from for the tasting. I tasted 5 different wines, each better than the last. My favorite would have to be the cherry dessert wine, when in Rome right? Next we headed up to Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery. This one was beautiful with incredible deck seating and views of the lake. The wine wasn’t as good as Black Star but the views and food menu was definitely better.

Instagram worthy mural

New this year in downtown Traverse City was a mural, the perfect spot to snap a photo for you Instagram feed. The artist did an incredible job of capturing all the magical details of TC, Michigan. You can spot the cherries, sailboats, helicopters and more. It’s right across the street from Cherry Republic!


This area is such a fun getaway for a day or two and is the definition of a Michigan hidden gem. There’s so many fun things to do in Traverse City MI and the surrounding area – especially in the spring and summer. Happy exploring!

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