Traverse City is a lakeside town in northwest Lower Michigan. Recent population growth has resulted in recent classification of the four-county region around the town as a micropolitan area.
The downtown district nestles at the southern end of the twin Grand Traverse Bays, extensions of Lake Michigan.
Traverse City long has been a regional shopping hub. It has been a vacation destination for nearly a century. It’s beaches, forests, lakes and rivers attract visitors from throughout Michigan, the Midwest and increasingly the world. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 20 miles west of town, is one of the most scenic areas in the region.
The area long has been known for its many vineyards and wineries, mostly on Old MIssion Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. The area’s proximity of water has given it a microclimate in which wine grapes thrive. That’s also why both sweet and tart cherries have been grown in the region for decades. Apples and other fruit add to the Traverse City’s agricultural flavor.
Gourmet restaurants and microbreweries have blossomed in Traverse City in recent years. Art galleries abound. Smaller towns surround Traverse City, some along the shore and some inland.
But nature and outdoor recreation remain the lifeblood of Traverse City. Tall ships sail the bay. Windsurfers and wind kite enthusiasts navigate the lakes. Hikers explore the woods. Kayakers and canoeists paddle the rivers.
It’s a vibrant small town nestled between forests and the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. Traverse City was a native American crossroads for centuries before the town was established in the 19th century.
Traverse City has grown since I arrived – the surrounding townships have seen rapid growth, and the four-county micropolitan population now totals about 143,000. Traverse City proper is home to about 14,000 souls, but the immediately surrounding townships bump the effective town population to around 38,000. The town today functions as a regional hub for commerce, manufacturing, health care and recreation. It has recently developed a national reputation as a hotbed of good food, good local beer and good local wine.
Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula, separated only by a narrow arm of Grand Traverse Bay, are the two closest American Viticultural Areas in the country.