The Grand Traverse–Cherries and Treasures of Michigan

It was a smoldering summer day as we left base camp, i.e., home sweet home, and headed for the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Destination:  Traverse City.



Now I have to confess, I’d been to many places in my life but it never dawned on me to vacation in the Wolverine State.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the grand traverse bay and I opened the window:  the temperature had dropped  10 degrees, the bay seemed a sparkling oasis from the valley of the sun, and the tree’s — Oh, the tree’s — tall and lush, gleaming and swaying in the coastal breeze, applauding our arrival.

All this talk of tree’s, reminded me, of a story in the book of Jeremiah about tree’s planted by the waters;   how their roots spread out towards the source and their leaves are always green……never worrying in times of drought.

The tree’s there seemed full of life and most majestic;   In fact, they seemed to trump even the blue waters that kiss the smooth sandy shores of Lake Michigan.  But apart from the grand sugar maples, oaks and yellow birch, there remains in the area another type of tree:  The cherry tree.  With its scintillating ruby-red fruit, the cherry season is celebrated in early July with one of the most notable food festivals in the county:  The National Cherry Festival.


The week-long event includes a marathon where participants run through beautiful cherry orchards dripping with fruit — mind your shoes.  There are parades, rides for the kids and lots of food vendors dishing up everything cherry:  from cheery salsa to chocolate covered cherries to cherry turnovers – you get the idea.  Also on the venue is an air show, a cherry idol competition (think American Idol here), an arts and crafts show, and an opportunity for wine excursions — sampling everything from locally made cherry wine to port.    For the music lovers in the group they also have a significant concert line-up each summer.

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy for a week, Traverse City also provides plenty of other activities for family fun.  One of the most unique, is taking a day sail on the the Tall Ship Manitou which provides  a two hour cruise on the West Grand Traverse Bay.  Sail the high sea’s in an 1800’s cargo schooner replica.  You can do an afternoon ice cream sail, an evening sail or indulge in the “Floating Bed & Breakfast Package”.   Check out their website for more details.


For the ladies in the group who love to shop, there can be countless purchases made on Front Street to The Village at Grand Traverse.  For history buffs, head on over to the Mission Point LightHouse where you can learn about how lighthouse keepers lived and worked during the 19th century.  Last but not least, if you’re a foodie or just love a great meal, visit the absolutely best restaurant in town:  The Apache Trout Grill.

I had the Apache Whitefish, fresh out of Lake Superior and my family and I loved everything we tried.  Truly, the food is amazing.

Just a side note if you happen to be the spontaneous type, everything in Travers City books up early during the Cherry Festival.  This was a vacation on the fly for us, and we had a difficult time securing a condo for the few days we stayed, because we booked so last-minute.  Try and rent a room or condo well in advance and enjoy your stay in “Pure Michigan” where there are plenty of cherries and hidden treasures.