Old Mission Lighthouse dates back to 1870
Mar 10, 2021 at 11:15 AM
Lights, camera, action–this is what you can enjoy in Traverse City, Michigan all year long. Of course during the renowned Traverse City Film Festival there’s more of a show but this is a happening place every season of the year.
Often voted as one of the most pleasant places to live, retire to and, of course, visit, Traverse City appeals to all kinds of people, young and old. A quick look at your Discovery Map reveals that water plays a big part in the attraction to this northern Michigan destination and since it’s freshwater, that means the area is made up of fertile ground, one that has produced beautiful farmland. This – plus its agreeable climate and most certainly lots of hard work – has made Traverse City the tart cherry capital of the United States. With the majority of our country’s tart cherries grown here, it might even rank as the tart cherry capital of the world. It’s no wonder the name of its airport is Cherry Capital Airport (TVC). How sweet is that!
Their National Cherry Festival, which takes place in the early part of July, draws hundreds of thousands of people for all kinds of cherry-centric fun and eats. And then by the latter part of July, another big wave of visitors embarks for the Traverse City Film Festival. Surely, many “festivate” at both, so if you’re lining up lodging for the whole month of July, plan ahead.
Founded in 2005 by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, the Traverse City Film Festival brings in films and filmmakers from all over the world to celebrate films that make a difference or as they say, “Great movies that can change you.” It has been a huge success among film aficionados of every ilk as well as members of the general public. You can bet they all love a good slice of cherry pie while they’re here, too.
This festival has breathed new light into two historic movie theaters in Traverse City: State Theater and Bijou by the Bay. Both have been restored to their original splendor and are a delight to experience whether you’re there to attend the film festival or not. (Bijou is French for gem and both rate as glittering jewels to behold.) The State Theater, one of the cultural hubs of Traverse City, also offers many free and low-cost events throughout the year.
Culture and historic charm definitely form the bedrock of a vibrant city center and with this comes wonderful restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Many of these fine establishments are featured on your Discovery Map; know that you’ll discover a bushel-full of others as you make your way around the city center and beyond. Downtown Traverse City is laid out in a classic grid-like pattern, so it’s easy to find your way around.
You’ll notice that Boardman River cuts a big loopy swath through the center of town, an idyllic riverway bordered by the West Grand
Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan to the north and Boardman Lake to the south. These waters provide endless sources of recreation year-round and to walk or bike along them also contributes to the good life of Traverse City. From the Boardman Lake and Tart (don’t you love that!) Trails to Clinch Park and West End Beaches and lots of parks in between, the city has done a wonderful job creating and maintaining a network of trails and open space where you can relax and have fun. If you want to take it up a notch, line up a cruise on a sailboat, a charter fishing trip or rent a kayak or paddle board to embrace the area’s beauty out on the water. If you just want to zip about on your own, you can also rent an electric bike or scooter. One way or another, Traverse City is best experienced from a vantage point that allows you to soak up its natural allure.
Since this is northern Michigan, land of hearty people, know that there’s still a lively culture on the water in winter. From fishing to skating to just walking about on a frozen lake, it’s great to weather winter with lots of outdoor recreation. As we all know, rosy-cheeked winter enthusiasts enjoy fireside mugs of hot chocolate even more. Go ahead and add a little Bailey’s to that, too.
Come spring, however, people from these parts and visitors alike are always delighted to see the posies popping up and the green re-emerging. As of April, the Botanic Garden at historic Barns Park presents itself in blooming glory. And ah yes, you have the cherry blossoms, too. Those delicate pink petals always delight one and all.