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  • Writer's pictureDesirae-Haunted Traverse

Top 10 Things To Do Visiting Traverse City, Michigan

Updated: Apr 25

Top 10 Things To Do!

FOMO is a real thing even when taking vacations. Sometimes guests to Traverse City only have a few days to take it all in. What to do? Where to go? What to eat? All those questions to find answers to when visiting.

As a local, born and raised, I have watched my community change so many times. New restaurants come in as old ones pass into our flavored history. With all this change, it can be difficult to create that perfect itinerary for your visit to Traverse City. So, I have taken some of the guesswork out for you and hopefully, these cool off-the-beaten-path suggestions make it on your itinerary. Good Luck! Have Fun! And welcome to Traverse City!



This is a newly renovated 4-mile trail in the heart of Traverse City. Our community added in a few trail alterations and a bridge to be able to provide this loop. Give yourself plenty of time to hike or bike this trail because you can stop for snacks and dining like The Filling Station and Right Brain Brewery. Plus, at Logans Landing, you can stop to view wildlife like swans, ducks, and more! I suggest starting at the Traverse City Library on Woodmere Avenue. Just down the street, you can rent a bike at Brick Wheels if you want to opt-in to biking this trail. Have fun!

9. Catch a Movie!

I know what you are thinking on this one. Anyone can catch a movie. The State and Bijou theaters are landmarks in downtown Traverse City. A few hours out of the sun in a cool theater may be just the ticket to rejuvenate the batteries for some late-night excursions in the area. And trust me, you will want to stay up late when visiting. So catch a movie in these historic theaters.

8. Old Mission Peninsula

Dining, Wining, Sunsets, Constellations, & Northern Lights

This one is 100% reliant on the weather, but if you do find yourself with a night with no cloud cover, hop in a car and head out of town to a site where you can take in the view of the Milky Way, Northern Lights, and the Arctic Circle Constellations (Big and Little Dipper, Draco and more).

Some great spots may include heading out on Old Mission Peninsula and stopping at the Center Road Scenic Overlook. This view will give you a stunning sunset over West Grand Traverse Bay. Plus, the drive-up will give you views of East Grand Traverse Bay. Word of warning. Traverse City businesses do not do big city hours. We close early so pack late-night snacks and fuel up before heading out.

Another option is to participate in a public viewing with the NMC Astronomy Club at the Grand Traverse Observatory.

Turn this into a day trip by planning an earlier dinner at an Old Mission Peninsula restaurant then stop in for a wine tasting at one of our Wineries.

7. Lighthouses

Visit our area’s two lighthouses on a road trip! These are definitely half-day trips with shopping, dining, and opportunities for excursions along the way!

The first is the Mission Point Lighthouse located at the very northern tip of Old Mission Peninsula. ( You might add this to your 8 option and make a day trip to Old Mission Peninsula).

The second is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau County. This trip will take you past Suttons Bay where shopping and dining opportunities can be enjoyed.

6. Music To Your Ears!

Head east out of Traverse City and you will stumble across The Music House Museum. This museum is known for its unique collection of instruments including a large organ. It is in the heart of rolling cherry orchards that dot East Grand Traverse Bay. It will be scenic for sure and maybe just music to your ears. While out that way, stop at one of the many farms stands as you drive toward Elk Rapids to grab local farm produce!

5. GT Butterfly House & Bug Zoo

Combine number 6 with this one and you can make a day trip to the eastern side of Grand Traverse County. The GT Butterfly house is located only a few minutes drive from the Music House Museum. This is an attraction that provides exactly what it sounds like. So get ready to be enthralled by the beautiful winged buggies that this GT Butterfly House is so passionate about.

4. Hamburgers, Right!?

Roll up your sleeves and stop at some local favorites including Bergstrom’s Burgers, Dons Drive-in, Bubbas, and Oakwood Proper Burgers.

Dons Drive-In is going to give you that 1950’s feel with milkshakes and beefsteak fries galore.

Bergstrom’s Burgers are reinventing the burger and is located in Chum’s Corners just south of Traverse City.

In the heart of downtown Traverse City is Bubbas Burgers-which Dear Reader- your writer of this article feels she gets the best fries in the whole town. I have never finished my fries with a burger order…until I came here. Try the sweet potato fries too and live dangerously!!

Last is Oakwood Proper Burgers. Do not expect dine-in here. This is a grab-and-go burger joint that is going to bring the flavors big time.

You do not have to choose wisely. Every stop on this list is author approved for eating a good ‘ol, delicious hamburger.

Bonne Petite!

3. High Rollaway

Officially named the Manistee River High Banks Rollaway, this scenic overlook is 200 feet above the Manistee River Valley. The views throughout the year are incredible, but if you come up here for fall foliage, do not skip this scenic view. It is one where you can bring your camera, but this scene will impress your eyes more. It’s quiet out there and not easy to find, but worth the visit.

2. Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market

This is an event that happens Wednesday Evenings and Saturday mornings from late spring-early fall. Here is my advice dear reader, go and stroll through all the offerings. Maybe grab an apple pie or treat to go. Grab some cherries, homemade goodies, blackberries, or peaches. Then head north across Grandview Parkway and go visit the Clinch Park area and explore. There is a fun waterplay area for kids and a sandy beach for swimming or just taking in the sailboats off of Grand Traverse Bay. Seagulls abound and a marina will have moored in its rented slots beautiful, expensive yachts to view too! To the west of the marina, look over into the waters and you can see an artesian well bubbling up (water escaping from the deep depths underground). Keep heading west and you can walk a paved trail to continue to explore the views of West Grand Traverse Bay. Enjoy!

1. Have you thought of taking a tour through downtown Traverse City?

Not to toot my own horn too much. But when you first get into town taking a tour is a great way to get your bearings on what are the must-dos! Plus, a tour gives you insight into the community you are visiting and gives you a quick way to submerge yourself into local culture.

Not just ghost tours, I have designed a Snack Tour, Cemetery Tour, and more to give so many different views into what it is like to live…or have lived 😉 in Traverse City.

Additional tour companies provide vehicle wine tours, kayak tours on the Boardman River, and ship tours in WGT Bay! I know what you are thinking! Desirae, please design my visit for me, please! There is so much to do. I don’t know where to begin.

I would be happy to! I am expanding my tour company to provide affordable, concierge services for designing your Traverse City area visit from arrival to departure. Please just email me at or call me at 2316451447 to get started.

Thank you so much for visiting. If you have questions I am happy to help answer them.

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