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Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Key Info

E Front Street

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Cafes, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation, Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The beating heart of Traverse City is its downtown and Front Street is where it all happens. You can find just about everything along Front Street or adjacent, including plenty of hotels and local shops, restaurants and entertainment options. A handful of the city's hottest beer spots can be found along this thoroughfare too. Plus, you are just blocks away from the lake as well as city beaches, including Clinch Park and Volleyball Beach.

The area is home to a variety of boutiques selling everything from fudge and cheese to custom jewelry and dog treats. Dining options are just as diverse with everything independent coffee shops to seafood spots, burger joints and international cuisine. Don't skip the Grand Traverse Pie Company, where you can sample pie made from locally grown cherries. For entertainment, there are two movie theaters, an opera house and the Old Town Playhouse, which features shows by local performers. If fun and games are more your speed, hit up The Coin Slot arcade bar and end your night at the 123 Speakeasy.   

Recent visitors said a trip to Front Street is a must. Many enjoyed strolling the quaint streets, perusing the boutiques and enjoying the area's seasonal decoration (travelers in particular enjoyed Front Street during Christmastime). Some did note that parking can be frustrating due to the limited spaces available on Front Street, as well as the fact that parking meters only accept coins. For more information on all that Downtown Traverse City has to offer, visit the tourism board's website.

 
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#1 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the few places in the world that visitors can see perched dunes. The lakeshore's towering dunes, which stretch 35 miles long Michigan's eastern coast, were formed by glaciers. The slopes left behind by the glaciers turned into dunes as a result of Lake Michigan's tide pushing sand up onto the shore overtime. It's this unique phenomenon that garnered the park National Lakeshore status in 1970. 

Today, Sleeping Bear Dunes is enjoyed by more than a million visitors per year, who flock to the park to experience the dunes and enjoy an eyeful of the lakeshore's vibrantly colored waters, forested hiking trails, beaches and bevy of outdoors activities. First-time visitors won't go wrong starting their journey with the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7 1/2-mile drive that takes travelers through forested landscapes and along sand dunes to various overlook points. For hiking, you're spoiled with more than 100 miles of trails. For an easy trek, check out the Empire Bluff trail, a 1 1/2-mile round-trip hike that takes visitors directly to the edge of the dunes. The Pyramid Point trail is a more moderate, hilly option, while the 9-mile Alligator Hill trail takes hikers away from the dunes and higher up to provide sweeping views of the lake and the forests that flank it. If you're looking to do more than just hike, know that you can also bike, kayak, canoe and even scuba dive here. During the winter, the park is open to visitors for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and more. 

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