In the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula sits Traverse City, a.k.a. the cherry capital of the world. A hotspot for summer tourism, this quaint city is surrounded by some of America’s most beautiful scenery: stunning coastline, epic sand dunes and millions of fruit trees. If you’ve just got one day to enjoy it, here’s what we think you should do.
Fuel up for the day at The Omelette Shoppe, a longstanding breakfast spot with two locations in the city. Alongside more than 10 varieties of omelette on the menu are daily-baked goods, including the popular pecan and cinnamon rolls.
Head west of the city, where the highlight of the region for many is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America in 2011. Its 35 miles of coastline feature towering sand dunes to climb, scenic drives, two rugged islands to explore and inland lakes and rivers for watersports.
With only a couple of hours, you can’t go wrong with cycling the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from Empire to Glen Arbor, stopping along the way to do the Dune Climb.
Heading north from Sleeping Bear, there are two peninsulas above Traverse City: the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula, famous for being hubs of Michigan’s celebrated wine industry. There are more than 20 wineries in the area to check out, so stop in for a tasting to sample the many award-winning wines.
Both peninsulas also offer beautiful drives, with rolling countryside, cherry blossoms and coastal views. At the top of the Old Mission Peninsula there’s the Mission Point Lighthouse, a picturesque lighthouse that dates from 1870. You’ll also find sandy beaches, hiking trails and a restored turn-of-the-century log cabin to explore.
On your way back down the peninsula, stop at any of a number of orchards or farms to pick some fresh fruit. The area is known for its tart cherries in particular, producing three quarters of the country’s tart cherry crop. There’s no better way to try them than to pick them yourself.