Traverse City, Mich.

Known for its downhill and cross country skiing and snowmobiling during winter, Traverse City is also a top summer destination. National Geographic lists it as one of the Top 10 Summer Trips, and Family Fun says it’s one of “America’s top 10 tourist towns.”

The magazines point to the areas quaint port villages, sandy beaches, historic lighthouses, rolling orchards, and family-friendly festivals, as key reasons you should make a visit.

Dubbed America’s Cherry Capital – about 70-percent of the nation’s tart cherries are grown here – the city is hosting the weeklong National Cherry Festival, now in its 89th year, June 29-July 6. USA Today calls it one of the Top 10 Festivals in the Nation.

It’s the city’s signature event and annually draws around a half-million attendees from around the country. Everything is located conveniently within walking distance, and since almost all events are free, it offers more than a week of affordable family fun. Festival’s music shows include, among others, Styx, Montgomery Gentry, Foreigner, Aaron Tippin, Jana Kramer, Edgar Winter, and Rusted Root.festival goers find cherry delights each day along with parades, family and kids events, and entertainment. In all, there are more than 150 events along the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay and concludes with a huge fireworks show on Saturday night over the bay.  

If that isn’t reason enough to plan a visit, consider that Bon Appétit calls Traverse City, “one of America’s top five Foodie Towns.”

“When people who have never been here and have no idea what the area is really like visit for the first time, they are blown away,” the Traverse City Convention Bureau’s Mike Norton told “The Pure Michigan Campaign’s beautiful images, many of them shot in our area, have been a big boost to tourism.”

An added benefit for lower Midwest residents is the area’s normally low humidity and pleasant summertime temperatures. A jacket or light sweater often feels good at night. I’ve lived here since 1979 and wouldn’t trade it for any other area of the country.        

Photos: Traverse City Convention Bureau 

Traverse City, Mich.