I grew up in Traverse City. And I never tire of visiting in the summer.

Summer is the time when Traverse City is ripe with things to do with kids. Beaches, fruit, festivals, you name it, it’s probably happening in Traverse City in the summer.

With endless options on where to go and what to do with kids in TC during the summer, I thought it would be helpful to have a list of the best things to do in Traverse City with Kids. Of course, this is all my based on my personal experience and opinions, so if you have something to add feel free to leave a comment.

Traverse City



By far, if the weather is nice, hit up a beach.

With East and West Grand Traverse Bay, you are blessed with miles and miles of sheltered Lake Michigan shoreline that provides a superior swimming experience. If you want to enjoy concessions and a splash pad along with your beach, visit Clinch Park downtown. Traverse City State Park is located on East Bay and offers a lengthy sandy swimming beach with a nautical-themed playground.

If you want seclusion, drive a bit and find one of the many public access points that dot the lake shore.

Clinch Park Splash pad Traverse City

Clinch Park Beach Traverse City


Over the past two decades, the Traverse City TART Trails group has been working hard building a network of trails and bikeways across the region. Right now there are over 60 miles of trails just waiting for bikers, walkers and in-line skaters.

Most visible is the TART trail, but there are plenty of other trail options to keep you busy. If you need to rent bikes, stop at Brick Wheels, conveniently located on the TART trail on 8th Street. They carry kids bikes, bike trailers, trail-a-bikes and more.



Bring your own or rent water toys to play on. Stand Up Paddle Boards are a great option for the oft-calm Grand Traverse Bays. Or choose to kayak in the Boardman River or in the lake – either option will cool you off. If you need to rent equipment, check out The River Outfitters. They’re located in the heart of downtown Traverse City and offer all sorts of rentals.


Yes, my brother owns a Fishing Charter in Traverse City. I’m proud of little brother for his top-notch ratings on Trip Advisor for Daydreamer Fishing Charters and my kids can attest to how awesome it is to fish – and catch! – with Captain Uncle Ben.

Hint – book a trip for August. That’s when most of the out-of-state visitors have gone home (their schools start before ours do) and the salmon has started biting in the bays. It’s an experience you will never forget!

Daydreamer Fishing Charter Traverse City

Daydreamer Fishing Charter Traverse City


Mix up your golf game by bringing along a soccer ball. At Elmbrook Golf Course in Traverse City, you are welcome to kick your soccer ball around the course. Plan on two hours for a round of 18 holes. Bring your own ball or rent one there.


It’s no secret that the State Theatre has $0.25 kids matinees every Saturday at 10 AM (and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the summer.) Watching a film on the big screen in the renovated, historic State Theatre is a treat. Bonus: $1 candy and $2 kiddie combos are well priced, too! Hint: Buy your tickets online to ensure you get seats. It’s easy and that way you won’t arrive at 9:46 AM to find the show sold out.


Zipline at Mt. Holiday. Waterslide and mini-golf at Pirate’s Cove. Bowling and arcades at Lucky Jack’s and Incredible Mo’s. Play at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum or grab lunch and get out the wiggles at Eat Learn Frolic.


The road closes down for this popular community block party, held the first four Fridays in August. With a full slate of music, entertainment, food, demonstrations and family activities along the 100 and 200 blocks of East Front Street, this is the place to be on a Friday night. Friday Night Live runs from 5 – 9 pm.

Traverse City Friday Night Live


Most people have heard of the National Cherry Festival, held in downtown Traverse City the first full of week of July. But that’s not the only festival around. Chances are, if you’re visiting Northern Michigan in the summer, there’s a festival nearby.

2018 Festival Roster:


Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, there are a lot of great places to eat in Traverse City with kids!

  • Red Mesa Grill – kid-friendly restaurant with Mexican food.
  • Spanglish at The Commons also has great Mexican fare.
  • Chef’s Inn – Perfect place to grab that sandwich before you hit the beach.
  • Little Fleet – Food truck mecca with lots of foodie options. Yummo!
  • Moomer’s Ice Cream – Drive out to see the cows that give the milk to make your Ice Cream. The wait is worth it.
  • The Original Grand Traverse Pie Company – The hardest part is picking a flavor!


There are a multitude of places to stay in Traverse City with kids. These are the few that I have personal experience with and can heartily recommend:

  • Grand Traverse Resort – Condos to accomodate all family sizes. Includes pools, beach and activities to keep you hopping.
  • Great Wolf Lodge – Big suites for families plus the perk of an indoor water park.
  • Cherry Tree Inn – Family-friendly lodging right on the beach.

Traverse City with Kids in Summer

Click on our sponsors!

By | 2018-05-24T22:51:06+00:00 May 24th, 2018|Categories: General, Guides- travel, Summer, Travel, Travel Michigan, Traverse City MI|Tags: , , |9 Comments

About the Author:

Melody V
INFJ. Mom of three. Idea chaser. People believer. Inspiration seeker. Together, we make this city amazing. Let's go!


  1. Amanda August 14, 2016 at 7:04 am - Reply

    Bright Blooms is a great place to play for all ages! There’s even a massage therapist there a few days a week during open play!

    • Elise July 25, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Bright Blooms is now closed :-(, but they are holding a summer day camp every Wednesday at Twin Lakes Park in TC.

  2. Sara A. July 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget Elf Cafe! An incredible kid friendly spot with healthy food and kids play areas.

    • Elise July 25, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      ELF is now closed :-(. The Fairy Trails behind where ELF was have grown though!

  3. Matt July 12, 2016 at 8:57 am - Reply

    New since you were a kid, but one of the most fun things happening in TC, TC Bubble Soccer. We have tons of happy customers and cater primarily to family fun.

  4. Melinda July 6, 2016 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Somehow Bright Blooms KinderPlay was left off the list!! It’s a wonderful indoor themed play space with rooms such as a Pirates themed room, a train table, a kitchen and a farm, a dress up and puppet theater room, a veterinarian room and more!! Children’s music classes and drop off parties are held weekly!

    • Melody V
      Melody V July 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for letting us know about this place- we haven’t heard of it til now!

  5. Rebekah Pullen July 5, 2016 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Any tips for Cherry Festival with kids?

  6. Mary Finch June 30, 2016 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Nice job Melody. Glad I got to see this.

Leave A Comment