Tra­verse City, Michi­gan

Timber Home Living - - Contents - – Clare Martin

From cherry-pick­ing to wine-tast­ing, snow­shoe­ing to kite­board­ing, there’s a lit­tle some­thing for ev­ery­body in this mid­west­ern town.

To the res­i­dents of Tra

verse City, a small but cul­tur­ally rich metropo­lis on the northwest edge of Michi­gan’s Lower Penin­sula (if you think of the state as a mit­ten, Tra­verse City rests be­tween the ring fin­ger and the pinky), Lake Michi­gan is many things. It’s a venue for sum­mer­time swim­ming, sail­ing and kite­board­ing. A beau­ti­ful view to be ad­mired from vis­tas at the South Man­i­tou light­house or the Sleep­ing Bear Dunes Na­tional Lakeshore. Not to men­tion a tem­per­a­ture-tamer.

“The lake takes a long time to warm up in the sum­mer,” ex­plains Mike Norton of the Tra­verse City Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tor’s Bu­reau, “and by the win­ter, it’s be­come a heat sink that helps mod­er­ate the weather.”

This phe­nom­e­non, known as the lake ef­fect, also en­sures that Tra­verse City gets plenty of pow­dery snow, per­fect for the area’s fa­vored win­ter sports of snow­shoe­ing, cross-coun­try ski­ing and snow­mo­bil­ing. But it’s not all snow, all the time: In the sum­mer, bik­ers take over the area’s ex­ten­sive trail net­work, as sun­bathers and vol­ley­ball play­ers crowd the 181 miles of shore­line on Lake Michi­gan and Grand Tra­verse Bay.

Sum­mer also her­alds the city’s most no­table event: the Na­tional Cherry Fes­ti­val. Now in its 87th year, the cel­e­bra­tion draws as many as 500,000 vis­i­tors to the area each July for events such as the Cherry Pit Spit Con­test.

But even those who miss out on the Cherry Fes­ti­val aren’t likely to es­cape the area’s fer­vor for all things cherry. A trip up the win­ery-dot­ted Old Mis­sion Penin­sula will net you a bot­tle of cherry wine from Chateau Chan­tal, while on Front Street, Tra­verse City’s main shop­ping drag, you can pick up any­thing from a slice of mouth-wa­ter­ing cherry pie at the Grand Tra­verse Pie Com­pany to cherry-based dog bones for your pooch at The Cherry Shop.

And the fu­ture could bring even more cherry of­fer­ings. Down­town Tra­verse City is boom­ing, with new bou­tiques, restau­rants and gal­leries con­sis­tently be­ing added to the eclec­tic mix al­ready found on the tree-lined streets.

“We seem to be go­ing through a growth spurt right now,” ob­serves Norton, adding that the area, which has al­ways been a pop­u­lar spot for fam­i­lies with va­ca­tion homes, is now draw­ing a fair amount of re­tirees as well.

Perhaps that’s be­cause, despite the city’s in­creas­ingly chi chi pro­file, it still main­tains a laid-back at­mos­phere. “You can en­joy a cer­tain amount of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and en­joy be­ing out in the great out­doors with­out re­ally switch­ing gears,” Norton says. “It’s the kind of place where peo­ple wear hik­ing boots to work.”

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