Traverse City with Kids: Tips For Your Next Family Adventure

Sleeping Bear Dunes

(Sleeping Bear National Park)

by Jill P

Summer is an extraordinary season for kids and familes who visit Traverse City! This is one of our favorite places to visit during the summer.

Sugar sand beaches make for ideal sandcastle building, and the crystal clear waters of Grand Traverse Bay and the area’s many inland lakes are perfect for watersports. There is so much to do and see and eat!

See our top picks for our favorite places to discover, play, dine and stay.

Traverse City

Discover: Explore downtown Traverse City, where you will find great shopping and amazing restaurants. You kids will love the samples at Cherry Republic (along with the fun play area). No trip to the Traverse City area would be complete without a visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. The park covers a 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou islands. The Junior Ranger program is a fun way to learn about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and engage the kiddos. Bonus, Sleeping Bear Dunes was named in 2017 one of the best beaches in the world by National Geographic. Sleeping Bear Point in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park was one of only six beaches in the U.S. to make the list.

Cherry Republic-2

(Cherry Republic)

Dine: Some of our favorite dining places include Jolly Pumpkin Old MissionNorth Peak Brewing CompanyCherry Republic Grand Cafe, The FranklinBlue Tractor, and Slabtown Cafe and Burgers. Traverse City is known for its great food and there are tons of family-friendly dining options. The hard part is choosing which place to try.

Of course, for dessert, you’ll need to check out Moomers Homemade Ice Cream which is known for “the best ice cream in America”. During the summer months, Moomers offers tours of both the dairy farm and the ice cream store. Reservations are required and you should plan in advance as tours are only offered on certain days.

Peace Love Little Donuts

Want to check out a fun, little donut shop? Your kids will love the variety of funky donuts at Peace, Love and Little Donuts-Traverse City. The hippie themed donut joint offers upwards of 40 far-out varieties to choose from, all made to order right in front of you. 

(Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park) 

Play:  Great Lake’s Children’s Museum is a great place to explore and will keep the younger kiddos engaged. Another favorite hangout for the kids is Incredible Mo’s with bowling, arcade, laser tag, mini mo’s playroom, a restaurant, and more! We love to play miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove. They have two 18-hole mini golf course, go-carts, a zip line, ropes course and an arcade. Your kids will love the State Theatre Children’s Matinee in downtown Traverse City. Click here for their current movie lineup.

(Cherry Tree Inn and Suites- photo courtesy of Chery Tree Inn and Suites)

TCDylans interior

(Dylan’s Candy Bar-photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort)


(photo courtesy of the Great Wolf Lodge)

Stay: Our picks for staying in the area include: Cherry Tree Inn, Great Wolf Lodge, or Grand Traverse Resort. See our full review from our recent stay at the Cherry Tree Inn & Suites here

What insider tips do you have about visiting Traverse City? We want to know! Leave us a comment in the comment section below.