The Holidays in Traverse City

Traverse City offers a unique and magical holiday experience for families. Here, Traverse City Tourism offers tips on planning your trip 'up north' this winter.

The holidays are indeed the “most wonderful time of year” – especially in Michigan.

The frozen lakes, snow-kissed trees, flittering wildlife and beautiful sunsets make for a magical scene out of a Charles Dickens story, and Traverse City is the perfect place to take it all in with the kids.

“Traverse City has a very different landscape and it makes enjoying winter a little easier,” Jenny Jenness, the public relations and media manager for Traverse City Tourism, says. “It’s prettier in the north and whether you want to cozy up in a coffee shop or if you want to go out, there’s more opportunity to enjoy your life.”

One of the best spots to enjoy life during the winter months is Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, which offers unique views in the wintertime that you just won’t get during the summer months.

“If you’ve never been to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in the winter, that is No. 1,” she says. “In the winter, those mountains of sands start to look like real mountains and the water turns to this really dark, crisp cobalt blue.”

Families can also take a walk around the downtown area to see more than 150 local shopfronts that have been decorated for the holidays or go snowshoeing to the many local breweries and wineries.

And since the weather is a bit colder, Traverse City as a whole won’t be as full of tourists as it would be during the summer, which gives visitors more of a chance to really kick back and experience the area.

Of course, outdoorsy fun isn’t the only fun to be had.

“Traverse City is great for outdoor enthusiasts but we have a fun indoor culture,” Jenness explains. “Families can see movies at the State Theater, the Dennos Museum has great exhibits for kids and a fun one for the whole family are the igloos at Hop Lot Brewery. Families can bring a deck of cards and sit in there, play a game and see the outdoors while feeling cozy inside.”

And that still isn’t all. There are also plenty of family-friendly events happening this December, too.

Dec. 19 is a special shopping night in the downtown area and the big New Year’s Eve celebration happens on Dec. 31.

This annual event supports the local food bank and attracts hundreds of people for a three-hour street party and a giant, lighted “cherry drop” at midnight.

“There’s really a feeling of Narnia throughout the land (during the winter months),” Jenness says. “It’s just a great time to visit.”

For more information on Traverse City and tips on how to best plan your trip, visit Traverse City Tourism online at


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