TC Tourism helped with trip planning and passes for some of the activities mentioned below. All opinions are my own.
TRAVERSE CITY WITH KIDS IN SUMMER
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.
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN 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 lakeshore.
BIKE THE TRAILS
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.
KAYAK AND SUP FUN
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 my 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 have started biting in the bays. It’s an experience you will never forget!
PLAY FOOTGOLF AT ELMBROOK
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.
STATE THEATRE MATINEES
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.
AMUSEMENTS AND ATTRACTIONS
FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE
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.
FIND A FESTIVAL
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.
2019 Festival Roster:
- Cedar Polka Fest – June 20-23
- National Cherry Festival – June 29 – July 6 (Traverse City)
- Great Lakes Equestrian Festival – July 3 – August 11(Williamsburg)
- Venetian Festival – July 20-27 (Charlevoix)
- Traverse City Film Festival – July 30 – Aug 4 (Traverse City)
- Elk Rapids Harbor Days – July 31 – Aug 3 (Elk Rapids)
WHERE TO EAT IN TRAVERSE CITY WITH KIDS
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 – A 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!
WHERE TO STAY IN TRAVERSE CITY WITH KIDS
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 accommodate 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.