August 12, 2018

Where To Stay In Traverse City

We had two days to explore Traverse City, Mich., this summer. The itinerary included dune climbing, drinking craft beer, and gazing dreamily at lakes (that last two things were just on my schedule – the kids had other plans). Given what we wanted to do, we wanted to find a hotel in Traverse City that got us close to the water but still had a convenient location.

Since we loved the idea of a place with a view, we ended up at at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City. What a view!

Disclosure: Our stay was hosted by Visit Traverse City. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

About Cherry Tree Inn & Suites

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites has a lot going for it: Private beach, themed play set, and an outdoor pool. Plus, their complimentary shuttle takes you all over the city (though, really, it’s pretty easy to navigate on your own).

There are more than 20 room and suite options at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City. Our room had two queen-size beds, a little kitchenette with fridge, and a balcony.

The hotel has several different room options. Whatever you pick, request water view. I spent more mornings on the balcony writing and watching the sunrise. 

And the sunset view was lovely too, though, it’s better to be down on the beach for them, in my opinion.

Pretty sunset at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City
Sunset at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City, Michigan.

Cherry Tree is located in a touristy strip of hotels on one side of the street, while on the other side, you’ve got chain restaurants, putt putt, and gas stations. We did find a bike rental shop within walking distance of our hotel, making for an easy bike ride excursion with the kids.

A complimentary hot breakfast at a hotel is always a nice amenity. It wasn’t the best complimentary breakfasts I ever ad, but it got the job done.

The hotel has a complimentary hot breakfast, as well as a little sweet shop where you can buy candy and pints of Moomers. Moomers, if you haven’t read about it, is a very well-known ice cream shop in Traverse City. I recommend going there since it is on a picturesque dairy farm, but if you can’t, might as well buy the ice cream at your hotel, right?

What the kids love at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites

They rope kids in with cookies on the counter and then from that point on, they have made fans of your kids. 

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites outdoor pool
The Cherry Tree Inn & Suites’ outdoor pool and hot tub had a nice view of the bay. My kids preferred it to the indoor pool.

The biggest hits for my kids were obviously the pools – one indoors and one outdoors. The outdoor hot tub is nice, too, especially at sunset.

The the second popular spot to find kids is on the pirate ship swing set. 

Pirate ship playground at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City
Cherry Tree Inn & Suites has a pirate ship playground on its private beach.

The kids attempted to play in the lake, but it was not the best experience. The water was cold and full of weeds that creeped the kids out. 

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites has a private beach. It’s not bad for playing in the sand, but my kids weren’t fans of the water. Too much seaweed, they tell me.

If we had more time, we would’ve considered renting some watercraft, which is available on the property (for a bit of a hefty price, though).

If you have older kids, try staying up late for the bonfire each night.

What’s near Cherry Tree Inn & Suites

Read up on our two days in Traverse City for a list of things my family did while visiting Traverse City. The closest thing on that list (besides the private hotel beach), was ride bikes on the nearby trail. 

From the hotel, you’re also within walking distance of Pirate Cove Adventure Park, which has putt putt, bumper boats and that sort of thing.

Front Street and the surrounding streets were my favorite places to window shop in Traverse City. Besides restaurants, the shops were almost all closed when we visited one evening.

For food, I’d recommend heading downtown for great dining and breweries. I talk about restaurants, breweries and the best place to get ice cream this post.

If you go

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites

Where: 2345 U.S. 31 North, Traverse City, Mich.

Website

Where to stay in Traverse City - Review of Cherry Tree Inn & Suites, a waterfront hotel in Traverse City #Michigan #review #famllytravel

Plan a Traverse City vacation

I started planning this vacation in the form of a bucket list. Check out the Traverse City Bucket List to begin your plans. This stop was part of a larger road trip through Michigan.

Family-friendly things to do in Traverse City, Michigan

Read more about some of the things we did in Traverse City:

48 Hours In Traverse City With Kids

Taking Kids to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (TBD)

Get Travel Inspiration Directly In Your Inbox

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

July 12, 2018

48 Hours In Traverse City With Kids

Traverse City, Michigan, is the kind of lakeside town that will have you planning your return visit before you even leave. My family visited for two days during our epic Michigan road trip. We were reluctant to move on when it was time. Blame the lakefront view from our balcony. Blame the proximity to gorgeous parks. Blame MOOmers.

Disclosure: My visit was hosted by Traverse City Tourism. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Family-friendly things to do in Traverse City, Michigan USA

What to do in Traverse City with kids

Traverse City isn’t a very large city, but it packs in quite a few city offerings. It blends familiar convenience:

– Costco and Walgreens near our hotel

– Local specialties, like microbreweries, charming locally-owned stores, and the famous MOOmers Homemade Ice Cream

– And natural beauty. Not only is it near Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, the city itself is on the West Traverse Bay, with a river passing through it.

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites, a Traverse City hotel with a view
My daughter enjoying the view from our balcony at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City, Michigan.

So, what’s a family to do? Our kids are 6 and 8 so we were beyond playing in the sand at the hotel. Though between you and me, they sure did enjoy the playground at our hotel, Cherry Tree Inn & Suites.

Pirate ship playground at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City
Cherry Tree Inn & Suites has a pirate ship playground on its private beach.

Anyway. Away from the playground, the most memorable outing was about a 30-minute drive from Traverse City, actually – Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

The view from a sand dune at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
There’s a 450-foot sand dune at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, and some people thought it would be wise to run down it. The climb back up takes a few hours.

It’s a picturesque area run by the National Park Service. Be prepared to climb some sand dunes. Also, do take the time to do the scenic drive, and do not skip the scenic drive and stops No. 9 and No. 10. The views are stunning.

Scenic overlook at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in MIchigan
We stopped at a few of the lookouts as we drove the scenic route around Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Talk about cruising in style – we drove the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD during the road trip.

Be warned: There are people who run down the 450-foot sand dune at the Lake Michigan overlook and spend hours crawling their way back up. Your kids will want to do this, too. Don’t let them.

Also, note that while it is a lakeshore, there isn’t much swimming going on at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. My kids were disappointed. Luckily, there are a few beach options nearby.

Sandy beach at Glen Haven Beach in northern Michigan
Glen Haven Beach is picturesque but when we visited, the water was freezing cold and the waves were surprisingly strong.

We tried swimming nearby at Glen Haven Lake. The water was frigid for June. And check out the waves in the picture. For a lake, it had quite the possible rip tide.

Back in Traverse City, there were better lake swimming opportunities. Clinch Park seemed to be the most popular. We checked out the private beach of our hotel, Cherry Tree Inn & Suites, but decided the outdoor pool and hot tub were more of our liking. The lake had a bit of a seaweed thing going on that my kids didn’t deal with well.

The private beach at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City, Michigan
The kids were excited about staying at a hotel with its own beach. Problem was, the water was super cold and there were weeds that clung to the kids’ feet.

There is quite a trail system in Traverse City, so we decided to rent some bikes from Einstein Cycles, which was within walking distance of our hotel. We took the T.A.R.T. toward downtown Traverse City, stopping for lunch at The Filling Station Microbrewery before turning back around. The trails do cross some streets, and if you’re kids aren’t confident with stopping and starting, it may be nerve-wracking.

Bike riding on the T.A.R.T. in Traverse City
We biked along the T.A.R.T. in Traverse City. There’s a great, family-friendly brewery known for its pizza on the route called The Filling Station.

Our hotel had some watercraft rentals available, but were a bit out of our price range. Just know that people could boat, jet ski, kayak and SUP out on the water.

Where to stay in Traverse City with kids

Hotels line the bay of Traverse City, and the lucky ones who have the water-facing rooms are in for a treat. We stayed at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites, and the view at sunrise was worth waking early for, and sunset drew every guest out on to the beach each night.

Pretty sunset at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City
Sunset at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites in Traverse City, Michigan.

While you’d think having a lake at your back door was enough, the kids were excited that the hotel had both an indoor and outdoor pool/hot tub area.

Cherry Tree Inn & Suites outdoor pool
The Cherry Tree Inn & Suites’ outdoor pool and hot tub had a nice view of the bay. My kids preferred it to the indoor pool.

There are different room options at the hotel (I think they said 25 types), and we were in a room with two queen beds, water-facing balcony, and a mini kitchenette. It was just the right size.

It’s conveniently near a pharmacy and within walking distance to putt putt golf and bike rentals. The hotel will also offer free shuttle service, which is helpful if you feel like trying one of the many microbreweries.

Where to eat in Traverse City with kids

Near the strip of hotels, you’ll mostly find chain restaurants with a local restaurant or two hidden among them. Our happiest dining experiences were far from that. Try heading into the downtown area around Front Street for food. Our first dinner in town was at 7 Monks Taproom, which has a kids menu and what my husband swears is one of the top 5 hamburgers he has ever tried. The Bacon Jam Burger may be $16 but he wanted to return the next night to have it again.

Lunch at The Filling Station Microbrewery was also wonderful, and right on the T.A.R.T. Trail, so a lot of biking families were there. Small kids can play in sandboxes while you wait. They mostly serve flatbread pizza and salads, and the beer is excellent.

Outdoor bar at Filling Station in Traverse City, Michigan
Food and drinks were ordered at the Filling Station’s outdoor bar. The family-friendly brewery/restaurant was located along the T.A.R.T. Trail in Traverse City.

I heard a lot of talk about Moomers, whose ice cream was ranked as some of the best in the nation in recent years. So, we had to go, right? It’s a working dairy farm outside of the city, and apparently, everyone makes the drive. We went on a Monday night and there was a line for scoops. This place is efficient, though, and we had our ice cream in no time. The view is worth the drive, too.

Moomers ice cream in Traverse City
You can enjoy Moomers ice cream while looking at dairy cows in the distance.

We had a miss or two on meals, and our breakfast was complimentary at the hotel, so I have no recommendations for that.

Plan a Traverse City vacation

Planning a family vacation to Traverse City, Michigan? Here are kid-friendly things to do, places to eat and a tip on where to stay if you want a private beach. #puremichigan #familytravel

I started planning this vacation in the form of a bucket list. Check out the Traverse City Bucket List to begin your plans.

Read more about some of the things we did in upcoming posts:

Staying On The Lake in Traverse City

Taking Kids to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (TBD)

Get Travel Inspiration Directly In Your Inbox

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

May 30, 2018

My Traverse City Bucket List

This summer, my family is visiting Michigan for the first time for an amazing road trip. I’ve already started my epic Michigan bucket list. We’ll stay a few nights in the beautiful coastal community, Traverse City, exploring the area, and of course, getting some beach time in. Some people know Traverse City for its proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shore, but it turns out, this little city is a cultural destination. USA Today named Traverse City one of the top 10 great places to combine “big-city art and small town feel,” and it was the only Michigan city to rank in a study by the National Center for Arts Research about the U.S.’s “most art-loving cities.”

Wish list of things to do in Traverse City

I’ve started dreaming up what all we could do in Traverse City (and nearby) if time and money were unlimited. So, here’s my Traverse City Bucket List:

Hit the dunes – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is technically not in Traverse City, but it’s close enough you’d better visit while you’re in the area. These incredible dunes and gorgeous blue water defy the visions of what others must think the Midwest looks like. If we ever return to the area in the winter, there’s the option of snowshoeing the park’s trails.

beach near Traverse City

The view from Empire Bluff at Sleeping Bear National Seashore. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Hit the beach – There are six city beaches to choose from in Traverse City, as well as a ton of others nearby. I wish we could try them all. If we’re staying downtown, there’s even a beach there (Clinch Park).

Cruise on two wheels – I’m working getting the kids steadier on their bikes, so we could rent some bikes in Traverse City. There are several trails to check out, especially some easy, paved trails for families. The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trail is in-town, while the Little Traverse Wheelway links Charlevoix, Petoskey and Harbor Springs, with pretty views of the gorgeous Lake Michigan.

bike ride in Traverse City

The trails around Traverse City wind through cherry blossom orchards, which bloom in May and are harvested in July. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Try something with cherries in it/on it – If there’s one fruit I’ve come to associate with Michigan, it’s the cherry. Traverse City seems to their cherries. Most likely, I’ll just have a cherry pie or some sort of dessert. If I feel crazy, there’s the TC Cherry Burger at Slabtown Burgers, some sort of magical burger with cherries and blue cheese on top. Traverse City is also home to the National Cherry Festival, held each year in at the end of June and early July.

The National Cherry Festival is held in Traverse City, Mich, every June and July. Photo courtesy Pure Michigan

Eat all the foods – Beyond cherries, though, there’s a ton of food to try there. Traverse City is one of those places that I sorta, kinda, really wish I was visiting without the kids. There are so many wonderful farm-to-table, European-inspired eateries in Traverse City and nearby. And I know my kids will not enjoy them. I’ve heard marvelous things about Martha’s Leelanau Table, Alliance, Boathouse, The Cooks’ House and Trattoria Stella. And the views some of the have! These will probably wait until my kids are older and tolerate longer meals. We may have to try The Little Fleet, where there are food trucks to suit most any taste. I’ve heard there are good kids menus at Sleder’s Family Tavern, one of Michigan’s oldest, continuously-operated taverns since 1882, and Jolly Pumpkin, a restaurant and brewery. There’s even a burger stand that has carhops: Don’s Drive-In, which dates back to 1938.

The Little Fleet is a collection of food trucks in Traverse City. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Have a maritime adventure – My son has a vast knowledge of ships. Like startlingly vast. No doubt a sailing experience would be epic for him. We could try sailing (and even hoisting the sails) on the 114-foot replica double-masted schooner, Manitou. The cruise is offered by Traverse Tall Ship Co., who has a float bed and breakfast as well that sounds perfect for a couple’s getaway.

Traverse Tall Ship Co. offers sailing excursions on the double-masted schooner, Manitou. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Try the Riesling – There are more than 50 wineries in the area, and is considered by many to be the “signature grape” of the Traverse Wine Coast. The winery that’s been around for decades, Chateau Grand Traverse, sells a lot of it. Side note for future trips sans kids: Chateau Grand Traverse was named one of the best coastal wine vacations!

See the Traverse City Film Festival – If it were just Mr. Wonderful and I, and we were in Traverse City at the end of the summer, we’d definitely attend a screening during the Traverse City Film Festival. The State Theatre, connected to the festival, has been named one of the top 10 movie theaters in the world by Motion Picture Association of America. The restored 1918 building looks beautiful inside. And, bonus, it has 25-cent weekly kids and classic matinee shows.

State Theatre is a restored, state-of-the-art cinema in Traverse City and ranked one of the best in the world. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Night ski – Skiing in the moonlight has a charming ring to it, doesn’t it? Of course, first, I need to learn to cross-country ski, but then, once I do that, I can try it out at one of the ski resorts near Traverse City.

Try one of the world’s best vodkas – How could you resist a vodka that’s ranked among the Top 6 in the world. True North Vodka can be found at Grand Traverse Distillery. My husband’s partial to whiskey, he can try one of the whiskey varieties.

Grand Traverse Distillery has a variety of whiskeys as well as one of the top ranked vodkas in the world. Photo courtesy Traverse City Tourism

More Traverse City bucket list inspiration

Need more ideas? Start at the Traverse City Visitors Bureau.

Then check out these posts I’ve written about Traverse City:

48 Hours In Traverse City With Kids

Taking Kids to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (July 27)

Staying On The Lake in Traverse City (Aug. 13)

Get more Michigan road trip ideas that are great for families on my Pinterest board:

Get Travel Inspiration Directly In Your Inbox

Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.