13 Things To Do In Traverse City With Kids

Updated On November 7, 2023

If you’re looking to travel to Northern Michigan, we highly suggest Traverse City.

It’s a positively delightful town that celebrates diversity and has been named the best small town in the state by Livability.

With a population of just over 15,000 Traverse is known as the cherry capital of the United States and welcomes over 500,000 visitors to its annual cherry festival each July.

That same month also attracts folks to the yearly Traverse Film Festival, one of the biggest in the country.

Now throw in the amazing beaches, lakes, orchards, vineyards, food, shopping, and water sports, and you’ve got yourself one fun getaway.

Did we mention the awesome microbreweries in the area?

They use the crisp, clean water from mountain lakes to make the beer, and it gives it a distinctive taste.

This wild and wonderful town is a far cry from the conservative pastor that settled the town and simply wanted a quiet place for his family to live.

Today, Traverse City is the place to go for outdoor activities, inclusivity, arts, festival, and great dining.

If you want to bring the kids, read on for some fun and educational activities to do with them.

13 Things To Do In Traverse City With Kids

Clinch Park
Clinch Park

1. Clinch Park – Traverse City, Michigan

This 10-acre park on Western Traverse Bay is a popular spot among families.

The spit offers a large beach with pristine water that’s great for swimming and floating.

There’s a splash pad for the kids, a marina, fishing, and plenty of concessions.

Kids can visit the playground and restrooms are available.

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer and the entire park is handicapped accessible.

Everything is free to access, but you may need to pay for parking.

Front Street
Front Street

2. Front Street – Traverse City, Michigan

This 3 block area, is the center of Traverse’s vibrant downtown.

Loaded with eclectic food choices, shopping for every budget, and great architecture, it’s a must-visit while in town.

The kids will love the ice cream shop and colorful bookstore.

There’s always some entertainment happening, and it’s where the festivals are held.

Grand Traverse Bay
Grand Traverse Bay

3. Grand Traverse Bay – Traverse City, Michigan

Located on the Leelanau Peninsula, the Grand Bay is 32 miles long, and offers a superb white sand beach, with clear, cool waters and gentle waves.

Walk along the wooded trails and enjoy the views and wildlife.

Visitors can also flush, swim, float, or kayak.

There are plenty of places to stop for a bite along the way.

Great Lakes Children's Museum
Great Lakes Children’s Museum

4. Great Lakes Children’s Museum – Traverse City, Michigan

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 AM until 4:30 PM, this children’s museum caters to the younger kiddos (1-8 years old).

Everything is hands-on, interactive, and informal.

The goal is to help children explore and discover in the most fun way possible.

The 3 and under crowd can enjoy exhibits like The Hatchery, The Water Cycle, and a skill-building station.

Older kids can take part in Waves of Gravity, Building Bridges, and Shore Prints. Daily programs include story time, craft labs, and the first steps to science.

Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge

5. Great Wolf Lodge – Traverse City, Michigan

Great Wolf Lodge has several spectacular locations throughout the country.

They offer an amazing indoor water park that’s fun for the entire family.

During the summer months, they have amazing outdoor activities as well, including a huge pool, obstacle course, mini golf, and more.

There’s always entertainment, ice cream, and juice bars on hand.

When the day is done dine in one of the awesome kid-centered restaurants (don’t worry there’s adult food too, and it’s delicious).

When it’s time to rest your head, you can do so in one of the themed suites that have a separate area for the kids.

Timberlee Hills
Timberlee Hills

6. Timberlee Hills – Traverse City, Michigan

If you’re looking for something to do in the snow, a winter wonderland awaits at Timberlee Hills.

Take to the hills for a fun day of snow tubing.

Turn the winter blahs into “ahhs” as you race down the hills in tubes big enough for the whole family.

No experience is necessary, and all equipment is included.

When you’re done tubing, go warm up around the fire in the lodge.

Order a pizza, chili, or nachos to round out your day.

Tall Ship Manitou
Tall Ship Manitou

7. Tall Ship Manitou – Traverse City, Michigan

Yo ho ho, climb aboard this replica of an 1800s cargo schooner, and learn the history of the sailors the navigated the Great Lakes long ago.

Kids will have a blast sailing through the waters on this 114-foot, 58-passenger ship.

The knowledgeable guides will relay fascinating stories as you eat a delicious meal and see the sights.

Traverse Bay Parasailing
Traverse Bay Parasailing

8. Traverse Bay Parasailing – Traverse City, Michigan

With 25 years in business, and a perfect safety record, you can rest easy as you take to the sky over the Grand Bay, for a once in a lifetime adventure.

Climb aboard the 31-foot boat for the 60-minute ride.

Your parasailing excursion will last 10–12 minutes, see the sights from an exciting vantage point.

Your landing will end with a dip into the bay.

Parasailing is a great bonding experience for parents and kids.

TC Water Sports
TC Water Sports

9. TC Water Sports – Traverse City, Michigan

Nothing says summertime in Northern Michigan like spending the day on a boat.

At TC Water Sports you can choose from pontoon, speed, fishing, sport, or ski boats.

Rent them by the hour or for the day.

A concierge is there to help you every step of the way.

You can also rent jet skis or go parasailing while you’re there.

Paddleboards and kayaks are also available.

TC Water Sports is located at the Sugar Beach Resort Hotel.

Fruit Picking At The Secret Garden
Fruit Picking At The Secret Garden

10. Fruit Picking At The Secret Garden – Traverse City, Michigan

Experiencing a working farm and picking fresh fruit is not only fun for kids, but educational as well.

Traverse City has some of the best fruit in Michigan, and The Secret Garden Farm invites all to pick away.

In July there’s cherries galore, August brings raspberries and blueberries, and fall begins the ever-popular apple and pumpkin picking.

Fresh flowers can also be picked from Spring to Fall.

Mt. Holiday Zipline
Mt. Holiday Zipline

11. Mt. Holiday Zipline – Traverse City, Michigan

If you’re looking for some heart-pounding adventure, check out Mt. Holiday’s 10-station zip line course.

With experienced instructors that are great with kids, you sure to feel at ease.

The course takes about 90 minutes and gives you great views of the mountains and bay.

No experience is necessary.

Moomer's Ice Cream
Moomer’s Ice Cream

12. Moomer’s Ice Cream – Traverse City, Michigan

For ice cream lovers, no trip to Traverse would be complete without a stop at Moomer’s.

This family-owned shop has over 150 flavors, made by hand.

Though they change flavors daily, if they don’t have what you want, they’ll make a batch just for you.

The milk comes from their very own dairy, which you can watch in action as you eat your tasty treat.

Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes

13. Sleeping Bear Dunes – Traverse City, Michigan

Last but not least, you will want to take a day to explore the wonderful Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The miles of white sand and crystal clear water actually take a bake seat to dune bluffs that tower 450 feet above the lake.

The high dunes give a spectacular view of Lake Michigan and beyond.

See coastal villages, farms, and lighthouses, which will give you an idea of what it was like hundreds of years ago.

You can hike or bike the trails and observe some unique flora and fauna.

Swim in the lake or relax on the beach. You can also stay over and camp for the night.

Traverse City Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Traverse City Safety Review

Safety Index:
Traverse City

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best time to visit Traverse City?

Based on the weather, price of flights, and accommodations, the best time to visit Traverse is September and October.

However, if you don’t mind crowds and higher prices, July is popping with festivals.

What should I pack for kids when visiting Traverse City?

Always pack sunscreen and a hat, even in the non-summer months.

A hoodie and rain jacket are also essential.

Make sure to bring some rainy-day activities (books, puzzles, board games) in case you’re stuck inside.

Bring a pair of hiking boots in case you decide to go on a trek.

Why do people travel to Traverse City with Kids?

Many families enjoy Traverse City because of its beautiful beaches, parks, and outdoor activities.

Children are welcome everywhere and often given special treats.

Is there a lot of crime in Traverse City?

Tourists should not fear visiting Traverse City at all.

The downtown area is well-patrolled and safe.

Tourist areas are safe as well.

As with anywhere, you should always keep an eye on children and your belongings.

Is Traverse City expensive?

Honestly, it is the most expensive destination in the Midwest during peak summer months.

The average hotel is about $238 for the most basic accommodations.

1 Comment on 13 Things To Do In Traverse City With Kids

  1. Traverse City is a delightful town with diverse attractions, including beautiful beaches, orchards, vineyards, and microbreweries that use crisp mountain lake water to make their distinctive beer.

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