Breathtaking views from the nearby Dunes and impressive restaurants give this Midwest destination the summer seal of approval.
I’ve never been anywhere near Cape Cod, but for some reason, I keep telling people that Traverse City is Michigan’s version of the Northeastern summer town. There must be something about the getaway’s lakeside and bay views, paired with quaint shops decked in vintage camping knickknacks, that makes me imagine couples dressed in seersucker, chomping down lobster rolls. You may not find a clambake this far west, but if you have a few days on your hands, Traverse City makes an excellent summering spot.
And you’ll need at least a few days. Plan to spend three at minimum — you’re actually heading to several peninsulas and bays, all worth their own visit. Add to that travel time; Traverse City is a good six-hour drive from Chicago, or a few-hours flight (into the Cherry Capital Airport) if you’re coming from either coast. But it’s worth the effort when you hit the tree-lined hillsides and shockingly bright blue lake waters that make Michigan the Great Lakes State.
You could easily spend your entire vacation just enjoying the lake, by way of Traverse Bay. On the drive into town, notice signs for boat, jet ski and pontoon rentals — they’re actually fairly affordable and a great way to spend a relaxing morning. If you’d rather stay of the water, catch some rays on the public beaches that line the roads heading into Traverse City and around the nearby Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.
Charming bed-and-breakfasts also fill the area, but Traverse City offers the most central location (both peninsulas are only each a thirty minute drive away). Hotels and inns dot the highway into town for several miles, including chain lodges and more luxurious options like the Antiquities’ Wellington Inn (230 Wellington St., Traverse City). In town, the Oviatt House (244 E. 8th St., Traverse City), is a charming, affordable bed-and-breakfast only a few blocks from the town’s main street.