Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Grand Traverse County, MI

  • Published 2022/12/16

If you want to experience a peaceful vacation surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful lakes, visit Grand Traverse County in Michigan.

Located in the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the county is named after the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.

It is home to 95,860 people as of July 2021.

The county seat Traverse City has 13 townships, and two villages form the Grand Traverse.

Visitors will also enjoy a temperate climate in the area because the surrounding bodies of water have moderate weather.

A wide variety of crops also grow in the area because of its overall environment, so you’ll find fresh and high-quality products in the county.

With its rich agritourism, shorelines stretching for miles, and scenic views, Grand Traverse County is the perfect spot for travelers seeking solace.

For future reference, save this list of the best things to do in Grand Traverse County, Michigan!

Try Wine Tasting at Chateau Chantal

People at Chateau Chantal


Chateau Chantal combines vineyards, a winery, and a French-style bed & breakfast.

The family-owned establishment has been providing the best of local hospitality since 1993.

The estate is situated on a 75-acre estate in Old Mission Peninsula, a narrow finger-shaped land that extends to Grand Traverse Bay, just north of Traverse City.

From here, you’ll have fresh air, the most stunning views of the Great Lakes, winding roads, and a peaceful panorama of the vineyards.

Exterior of Chateau Chantal


The place, of course, serves a variety of Michigan wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Franc, among others.

Explore their winery and tasting room to get the full experience.

Enjoy sipping wine while having the most fantastic views in Michigan when you visit Chateau Chantal.

Interior of Chateau Chantal


Pick Up Fresh Produce at the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market

Stop by the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in downtown Traverse City and shop for the highest quality farm-grown produce from local farmers.

The farmers market started operations with no more than 10 vendors.

Today, it is known as one of the largest markets in Michigan, with over 115 local farmers participating.

Named after one of the area’s well-known philanthropists, Sara Hardy, it is run by the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority.

Don’t miss the chance to get local and sustainable food from the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market!

Buy Some Treats at Cherry Republic

One of the best places to get your cherry products is the Cherry Republic, specifically its second flagship store in Traverse City.

Dubbed the “Cherry Capital of the World,” Traverse City is the perfect spot for sourcing products made of fresh cherries.

You can’t leave the city without trying out its very own cherries.

From pies and jams to hot cocoa and candies, the place has a wide variety of cherry-based products that are perfect for gift-giving or even just for stocking up at home.

You should also try Cherry Republic’s different wine offerings, all with a touch of cherry!

Support the local cherry industry and get yourself some of the best cherry products you’ll find worldwide when you visit the Cherry Republic.

Taste Local Wines and Spirits at Black Star Farms Old Mission

Black Star Farms Old Mission is one of Traverse City’s premier wine and culinary destinations.

If you want to try and taste local cuisine, you should visit the place.

You won’t just be satisfied with their award-winning drinks and farm-fresh dishes, you’ll also get a remarkable view of the surrounding nature.

Black Star Farms Old Mission offers a wide selection of wines and spirits from locally-grown fruits.

If you want to stay longer, the place offers cozy accommodations at its inn.

Black Star Farms Old Mission is the perfect escape from bustling urban life.

Tour The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Rainbow over The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Gary R Ennis Photos /

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a residential community with a rich history.

Learn about the significant role of The Village in the history of Traverse City when you join one of its walking tours.

The Village is home to historic institutions in the county, including the former Traverse City State Hospital.

Among the tours you should participate in are the two-hour guided Historic Tour of The Village campus, the Twilight Tour, or the 90-minute Explorer Tour, among many others.

A building at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

ehrlif /

If you want a little thrill, you should try the newest addition to the tour offerings: the Asylum Flashlight Tour.

Here you’ll have a peek at the past of the Northern Michigan Asylum, where many stories have gone around through the years.

There’s so much to taste and see at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, so save an entire day to explore the campus!

Interior of a building at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Gary R Ennis Photos /

Go Hiking at the Hickory Meadows

Hickory Meadows is a popular urban trail in the area, located on the western side of Traverse City.

The 112.5-acre preserve offers two miles of unpaved hiking paths perched above the city’s neighborhoods and surrounded by hills.

When you hike Hickory Meadows, you’ll pass through meadows and woodlands.

It is a generally easy trail, but you’ll have the option to climb the 230-foot Hickory Hill if you want a little more challenge!

This place is a great spot for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and dog walking, depending on the season.

Hickory Meadows welcomes everyone who wants a quick escape from the city life below.

You can also go hiking at Hickory Meadows.

Spend a Day Outdoors at South Long Lake Forest Natural Area

Get closer to nature when you visit the South Long Lake Forest Natural Area, a wooded recreational area managed by Long Lake Township.

The 228 acres of land can be accessed from South Long Lake Road, where parking and information are available for visitors.

The property comprises wetland and upland areas like northern shrub thickets, dry-mesic northern forests, and coniferous swamps where you’ll find native wildlife.

You should explore the trail if you want to experience the beauty of nature up close and personal.

The South Long Lake Forest Natural Area is evidence of Grand Traverse County’s winning efforts in nature conservation.

Hang around the Historic Barns Park

The Historic Barns Park in Traverse City is an important area in the region that serves as a gathering place for the community with its love for recreation, agriculture, environmental design, and horticulture, among many others.

The park is known for its two large historic barns that were supposed to undergo demolition but were rescued by the community.

The 56-acre farm in Grand Traverse Commons used to be operated to feed the patients and staff of the former Traverse City State Hospital.

Today, it is undergoing rehabilitation but is already an in-demand facility for hosting meaningful events.

There are several hiking trails, scenic landscapes, and restaurants in the area, all waiting for you to explore!

Explore the Reffitt Nature Preserve

Another outdoor adventure awaits you at Reffitt Nature Preserve in Traverse City.

Over 100 acres of the land are protected and open to the public.

You may hike the 1.7-mile trail that passes through lush forest and wetland areas, all playing a major role in protecting the area’s water quality.

You’ll get closer to nature without having to go very far from the urban area because this nature preserve is near Traverse City State Park.

Reffitt Nature Preserve is also home to various animal and plant species, so feel free to explore but be respectful of the environment.

Stop by the Mission Point Lighthouse

Front view of the Mission Point Lighthouse

Robert Stone /

Visit one of Michigan’s historic lighthouses, the Mission Point Lighthouse.

Built in 1870, the lighthouse stands on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City.

It was constructed to light the way and warn ships against the dangerous shoals near the Grand Traverse Bay.

People at the Mission Point Lighthouse


Today, it remains a local landmark and an important attraction among tourists and locals.

You can’t miss out on the Mission Point Lighthouse, as it is a significant part of the state and the county’s history.

You should also catch a tour that includes the lighthouse if you want to learn more about its role in the past.

Facade of the Mission Point Lighthouse

Richard345 /

Experience a Piece of Ireland at Kilkenny’s Irish Public House

After exploring the area, drop by Kilkenny’s Irish Public House to grab some food and drinks.

Known as an authentic Irish public house, Kilkenny’s offers a variety of Irish drinks and food like ales, corned beef, and shepherd’s pie.

You will enjoy live entertainment and music while drinking or socializing here.

It’s also great for bringing along friends because it houses games and a pool table.

On top of all that, Kilkenny’s Irish Public House also has a fireplace to complete the cozy atmosphere of the bar.

Taste Authentic Michigan Drinks at the Grand Traverse Distillery

Grand Traverse Distillery is the state of Michigan’s oldest craft and grain-to-bottle distillery.

Visit one of the distillery’s two tasting rooms in Traverse City, and you will surely not regret it.

The place boasts world-class liquors that have been distilled over 30 times, all using local ingredients from the rye to the fruit flavors.

Among the drinks available for tasting are a wide variety of vodka, whiskey, bourbon, rum, and gin.

Stop by Grand Traverse Distillery and figure out what the local liquor industry is all about!

Stay and Play at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa will make your experience what Michigan hospitality is all about.

If you want an escape from your everyday life, the resort and spa can give you that and more.

The place has everything from top-tier accommodations and spas to entertainment hubs and casinos.

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a world of relaxation and fun when you stay here.

For golf fans, there’s also a renowned golf course available in the resort called The Bear Golf Course.

Feel free to book your tee time if you want to spend a day roaming and playing around The Bear’s links-style course.

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is located in the township of Acme.

Go for a Swim at West End Beach

Go for a swim or play volleyball and frisbee when you visit West End Beach.

It is a popular spot among locals as it has sandy shores and grassy areas.

Located in Traverse City, West End Beach is easily accessible, so you may visit anytime you want to swim.

The huge park has a bayfront overlooking the West Grand Traverse Bay, providing a picturesque view.

Public restrooms and parking are also available, so bringing a car won’t be a problem if you plan on visiting the place.

Go Sunbathing at Clinch Park’s Beach

Beach chair at Clinch Park

Paper and Lens Co /

When you visit Grand Traverse County, you can’t miss out on its beaches.

One of the area’s most popular beaches is at Clinch Park in downtown Traverse City.

With more than 1,500 feet of shoreline stretching along West Grand Traverse Bay, Clinch Park has a perfect spot for you.

Kayaks at Clinch Park

Paper and Lens Co /

Bring your friends and picnic or play on the beach sands!

The park also has picnic tables, lifeguards, a snack bar, and bike racks.

Sunset over Clinch Park

David Lingholm /

Go Camping at the Everflowing Waters Campground

If you want to get in touch with nature, stay at the Everflowing Waters Campground.

It is located in the unincorporated community of Williamsburg in Whitewater Township.

The area is the perfect escape from the city as it is a secluded campground where you can hear the relaxing sound of nature, including the flowing waters of Yuba Creek.

You’ll find solace in nature without going too far away from urban conveniences because Traverse City is nearby.

Whether you bring a tent or arrive with an RV, you’ll be welcome to stay here.

While staying here, feel free to enjoy nearby spots where you can go boating, fishing, hiking, or swimming!

You’ll easily find a home away from home when you stay at the Everflowing Waters Campground.

Explore the Music House Museum

One of Michigan’s top tourist attractions, the Music House Museum is a local spectacle you can’t miss.

Located in the community of Williamsburg, the museum will take you back in time with its historic collection of musical instruments.

You’ll learn about music’s history and instruments’ evolution, dating back to the 18th century.

Phonographs, organs, orchestrion, and music boxes are among the instruments you’ll see here.

Expand your knowledge and appreciation for the culture and arts when you visit the Music House Museum.

Catch a Show at Interlochen Center for the Arts

Watch a concert or two at the renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts when you’re in the area.

It is situated in the community of Interlochen within the Green Lake Township.

The center, which offers arts and humanities education to people of all ages, features different events in its theater.

Here you may watch dance, music, or acting performances of the most talented art students in Michigan and the country.

A respected institution and venue for artists since its establishment in 1928, the Interlochen Center for the Arts will show you exactly what local talent is all about.

Final Thoughts

Escape the city life when you visit Grand Traverse County in Michigan.

It has the charm of a small coastal town and the tranquil atmosphere and greeneries of rolling hills in the valleys.

Grand Traverse County has something for you, whether you’re craving an outdoor adventure or a quiet and peaceful stay.

Bookmark this list of the best things to do in Grand Traverse County, Michigan, for your next trip!

© All rights reserved.