How to Rock a Traverse City Spring Getaway
1) Get out and Explore, Explore, Explore
One of great things about Traverse City is that, while it’s grown a lot over the years, it still has that small town, friendly feel.
It’s very easy to get in and out of places. Parking, traffic, and way-finding aren’t overwhelming.
With that said, here are a few stops to put on your Traverse City spring trip list:
Downtown Traverse City
There are a ton of unique shops to explore in Downtown Traverse City. Boutiques, specialty shops, toy stores, restaurants, and more make up the businesses you can visit here.
Be sure to stop in for samples at the Traverse City Cherry Republic location. Here, adults can do a little wine tasting while kids taste test soda pops in the Cherry Republic Winery.
Other sample stations offer cherry candies, jams, salsas, trail mixes, and more. After you’ve made your selections, eat lunch in the Cafe at the back of the shop.
Next, grab an ice cream cone at Kilwin’s (their caramel apples are pretty wonderful, too!).
Traveling with an adult crew? A cooking class at Fustini’s is a treat.
Book a spot in an interactive cooking class and you’ll experience a cook-as-you-go dinner experience, learning new cooking tips and techniques along the way.
Pro Tip: Sign up for TC’s FREE Spring Into Activity Pass before your visit.
Use the pass as a guide to your Traverse City adventure, and don’t forget to check in along the way.
Checking in gets you closer to earning prizes!
Grand Traverse Commons
Once a state mental asylum, many of the historic buildings have been reclaimed. Definitely peruse the cute shops in the Mercato!
Restaurants, shops, and residences have popped up across the campus. There are also hiking trails in the woods here, too.
Adults will also want to sign up for the Guided Historic Walking Tunnel Tour or the Asylum Flashlight Tour to get the inside scoop on this historic place.
Pencil in time for a stop at Left Foot Charley. If you have kids along, they can enjoy the outdoor patio while adults do a little wine & hard cider tasting.
Sugar 2 Salt is a delightful breakfast adventure. Arrive early to snag a table. Will it be the Bread Pudding with crisp pork belly and hollandaise or the Risotto with Bacon and Basil Walnut Pesto?
One of the Top 100 Wine Restaurants in America, Trattoria Stella specializes in house-made pastas, fresh cheeses, charcuterie, breads and desserts. A perfect choice for date night or a trip with the girls.
If bike riding is up your alley, check out the TART Trail system.
The main TART trail stretches from East Bay into downtown Traverse City and runs up the Leelanau Peninsula, making it easy to access with bikes, rollerblades or strollers.
You can even rent bikes and do a pedal-powered wine tour if you’d like.
Ride the trail and you’ll roll past sweeping bay views, parks, playgrounds, ice cream shops and more.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located west of Traverse and along the shores of Lake Michigan, is a treasure to behold.
Majestic lake views, fantastic hiking, and sweeping dune panoramas await you.
A national park pass is required for entry to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
The Empire Bluff hiking trail is probably my favorite hike, especially at sunset.
It’s an out-and-back 1.5-mile hike that starts with a climb and then takes you over a rolling, wooded pathway. Once you reach the Lake Michigan overlook, there’s a boardwalk with great photo ops all around.
Visit the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb – open 24 hours a day – for a one-of-a-kind experience.
During the day, climb the dune, run down as fast as you can, and then do it again.
This 7-mile scenic driving route takes you to spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, Glen Lake, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Two picnic areas are also on the route. Get a brochure at the entrance to the drive and be sure to stop at #9, the Lake Michigan Overlook (photo below).
And yes, you can bike the route if you’re looking for outdoor adventure!
2) Discover Incredible Restaurants – TC is a Foodie’s Delight!
Looking for an excuse to hunt down delicious eats and fun activities? Here’s your invitation!
Head to Traverse City to explore the growing number of restaurants popping up all over the Cherry Capital and taste your way through the city.
Here are some of the greats in the Traverse City restaurant scene that we hope you get to try:
This is the spot for guac in Traverse City.
And the word is out about Mama Lu’s. Arrive early to get a table or be ready to wait a bit.
Once you’re seated, fill your table with tacos (Pescado and Beef), guacamole & the deliciously salty tortilla chips, and finally, the infamous Street Corn.
Once home, you’ll be dreaming of this meal for months to come.
One thing that I crave when it comes to an amazing date night experience? Ambiance. Give me the linen tablecloths, candles, quiet conversation…I want it all.
And count on Amical to deliver a beautiful, warm space to relax. And cook up unique dishes, like Jerusalem Artichoke soup and Miso-Marinated Hanger Steak, from the NOPI Middle Eastern cookbook, to take you on a fun culinary adventure.
The Low Bar is where I want to be every Friday night. And if you’re in town for a romantic escape or a girlfriend’s getaway, we think you’ll want to be there, too.
A speakeasy under 7 Monks Taproom, the Low Bar is a swanky place to cap off your evening. We loved sitting in one of the small, intimate seating areas they have scattered all over the Low Bar.
The extensive menu had my Bourbon-loving husband doing a happy dance. And I was thankful for our bartender who made narrowing down my choices easier. I’ll be back for the upscale vibes and the Cerberus cocktail soon.
Sleder’s is the oldest restaurant in Michigan! Opened in 1882, Sleder’s has been serving up family food for generations.
This is where you go when you want a great burger. Big portions all around ensure that no one leaves hungry. Count on down-to-earth friendly service that you’d expect from a place like this.
3) Squeeze in Late Season Snow Fun
Snow is often still king in Traverse City in spring. It’s a great opportunity to get a few more thrills out of winter.
There’s also a good chance you’ll find snow at the ski resorts.
One of the most favorite snow activities in Traverse City, though, is snow tubing.
Sign up for daytime snow tubing spots or get energized at one of their special nighttime glow tubing events!
Another snow tubing location local to Traverse City is Mt. Holiday.
It’s a great place for kids to learn to ski and snowboard and go snow tubing as well.
You don’t need special equipment to go snow tubing. Just dress for the weather and it’s something almost everyone can enjoy.
4) Book a Hotel With a Pool or Hot Tub
If you’re traveling with kids for a Traverse City spring getaway, make sure to book a hotel with a pool.
If you’re an adult group, check out the hot tub situation.
I loved the Cherry Tree Inn’s pool – it’s right next to the hot tub, so I could leisurely unwind while keeping one eye on the kids. We brought our youngest’s life jacket along and that gave even more peace of mind.
The Cherry Tree Inn was great for our family, not just because of the pool, but because it had enough room for us to relax and unwind.
Rooms at the Cherry Tree Inn were spacious enough for all five of us; we could get a studio room with two queen beds and add a roll-away bed without any difficulty.
There’s a nice little waiting room in the lobby area with a fireplace and a wonderful selection of coffee and tea available all day long, as well.
Great Wolf Lodge is the only Michigan Hotel Waterpark in Traverse City.
It’s a fantastic place to stay if you have kids along and are looking for a family spring break getaway.
Bonus: Kids of all ages love trying to master the MagiQuest game here.
Stay at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa with or without kids. Kids will enjoy the water play areas. Adults will savor the outdoor, adults-only hot tub.
The resort has a variety of rooms, suites, and condos available, plus onsite restaurants and shopping.
Choose to stay at Crystal Mountain in the late spring for skiing, friendly staff, a variety of activities, spacious accommodations, and amenities that provide what your family needs to relax and have fun together.
5) Find Indoor Fun
Any parent knows things don’t always go as planned.
Once you have your hotel in place, craft a loose agenda and then go with the flow. Traverse City is such a fun place to explore and discover it’s hard to go wrong.
Here are a few more places that are fun for families in Traverse City:
Indoor entertainment is also on tap at the COGnition Discovery Center where little kids get hands-on at this fun museum.
Older kids will have a blast trying to conquer the Grand Traverse Resort’s multi-chamber Pharoah’s Revenge Escape Room.
- Great Lakes Children’s Museum. Small, but good for the little ones.
- Incredible Moe’s. Large entertainment center with restaurant, bowling, bocce, arcade, laser tag, kid zone and more.
- Lucky Jack’s. Family entertainment center that offers bowling, laser tag, arcade, and a full restaurant with a bar and grill.
- Ice Skating. For just a few dollars, rents skates and have fun!
Have you spent spring break in Traverse City? What were your favorite things to do?
WIN a $500 Spring Getaway from Traverse City Tourism
Enter to win a $500 TC getaway courtesy of Traverse City tourism! The winner will receive a gift certificate good for lodging at any of the 80 fantastic properties listed here.
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