5 Ways Traverse City Makes Other Towns Jealous

By Trevor Meers, Mid West living

Among getaway destinations, Traverse City is like that neighbor who not only has the gall to add athleticism to good looks, but shamelessly piles on with intelligence, charm and good taste. Really?, other towns are probably thinking. You couldn’t get by with any ONE of those?        

But for travelers, TC’s embarrassment of riches provides no greater stress than an overstuffed weekend. Here are five reasons other destinations may feel like frenemies of the town nestled at the base of a Lake Michigan bay—and why visitors fill it up in summer. (We’re fans of coming after Labor Day, when the crowds drop to more manageable levels.)

[post_ads]1) Two waterfronts Downtown TC sits along the lower edge of Grand Traverse Bay’s West Arm, a long finger of Lake Michigan. That means boating, paddleboarding, beach and all else you’d expect of a northern Michigan waterfront. But just a couple of hundred yards inland, the clear Boardman River winds through downtown, connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Boardman a few miles away. In town, boardwalks, restaurants and residences line the waterway that would dominate the tourism brochures in most places. Here, it’s a sidebar to the big lake. 

2) Two classic theaters Half of Front Street seems to light up at dusk when the State Theatre’s marquee starts doing its thing. The theater, owned and operated by the famed Traverse City Film Festival, shows a well-curated lineup that includes kids’ films and classic movies targeted at seniors (admission to each is 25 cents) as well as documentaries and first-run films that skew to the arthouse taste. But if the State’s show isn’t your style, about a block way is the Bijou on the Bay, a former museum converted into another small theater.
3) Endless restaurants You might eventually eat your way through every option in TC, but it would take a pretty solid month of dining. In this town filled with chefs and farm-to-table dining, it’s work to find a meal that’s merely average. For breakfast, we like the sleek coffee shop Morsels, which sits along the Boardman River. (And has a view of Lake Michigan; see why other towns get cranky?). At lunch, swing by Little Fleet, an open-air bar surrounded by food trucks (pictured). For dinner, try Red Ginger’s Asian fusion served with—wait for it—views of the Boardman and Grand Traverse Bay.

4) Past-meets-future vision An abandoned asylum on the edge of town has a lot more potential for horror films than economic development. But the soaring Victorian campus of the 1885 Traverse City State Hospital is catching national attention as one of the most compelling adaptive reuse projects anywhere. The arboretum-like campus, filled with trees by a forward-thinking doctor who believed “beauty is therapy,” includes massive brick buildings topped with cupolas. About a decade into a rehab project, developers from the Minervini Group have converted significant parts of the buildings into the Village at Grand Traverse Commons with restaurants, a bakery, a winery, shops and condos. Dinner and a stroll here are musts if you’re in town.

5) Land-of-milk-and-honey-style agriculture You get the picture when you learn that the area’s biggest annual event is the National Cherry Festival, which draws about 500,000 people each July. The region’s sandy soil and lakefront climate support an epic fruit harvest each year. A weekend drive during growing season becomes a roving farmers market as you stop at roadside stands to buy fresh-picked fruit from the people who grew it. And where there’s fruit, of course, there’s wine. Wine trails lead up and down the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas that bracket Traverse City. We know: One wine trail or one peninsula would’ve been enough for most places.

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Travel Magazine: 5 Ways Traverse City Makes Other Towns Jealous
5 Ways Traverse City Makes Other Towns Jealous
Travel Magazine
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