August 09, 2021

What to Do in Traverse City with Kids

What to do in Traverse City with kids, what to eat and where to stay! For an family that loves to adventure together, this guide will help you have a great vacation.

It's been 4 years since we were in Traverse City with the kids and I was so happy to take them back! Traverse City is a family-friendly town and there is SO much to do. We love hanging out in Traverse City as well as the surrounding towns which I will tell you all about. I'm going to share the best place to stay in Traverse City, where to eat and most importantly, what to do in the area. We also went to Traverse City a couple weeks ago for a couple's getaway and I shared tons of tips there so check that out as well (most things are kid-friendly in that post too).

Where to Stay in Traverse City

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Wow, if you want a gorgeous hotel with all of the amenities, choose Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. It is breathtaking with 17 floors, the most beautiful golf course, delicious restaurants, fun things to do and multiple pools (indoor and outdoor). We have stayed here before and I highly recommend it. The rooms are super modern with the largest showers I've ever seen.

The views from the rooms are amazing overlooking the golf course and the water. We got two rooms since our kids go to bed 7-8:30 PM and we do not. The rooms were connected and we just left the doors in between open the whole time. The kids were so thrilled to have their own room!

The resort has a huge fitness center which my crazy husband Troy was happy to hit up even after hiking and exploring all day. It is huge and very well maintained. Grand Traverse has lots of dining options which we took full advantage of which I will share under what to eat.

There are indoor and outdoor pools which are beautiful and really fun. There is an indoor water slide that the kids really enjoyed as well as a hot tub, a lily pad obstacle course, a splash pad and water basketball nets. 

We had so, so much fun at the pool! The kids had the option to go to the beach or to the pool and they all wanted the pool. The water slide is super fast and thrilling and the best part is that there was no line the whole time.

Adalyn and I got to do something really different than our normal life which is to visit the Spa Grand Traverse. It is a large spa with lots of different treatment options available. There is a relaxation room, a hair salon and many treatment rooms. 

We decided to get a hairdo for Adalyn and get a pedicure. Fun fact: this was the first pedicure that I EVER got in my life! It was super relaxing sitting in massage chairs, the staff were very friendly- especially to Adalyn which made it very special for her, and we had a blast. She really wanted to get her hair washed and blow dried since she didn't get that at a salon before and loved that.

What to Eat in Traverse City

The Grill at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Let's just say yum! This was my kids first time to a sit down restaurant since the pandemic and it was a bit of a learning curve (for us and them- the restaurant was amazing). We ate outside overlooking the golf course. We re-learned nice table manners that we may have forgotten over the last year and a half. Grand Traverse focuses on using the freshest local ingredients around and I totally agree with that after enjoying their food.

We had the bruschetta which was Troy and I's favorite thing on the menu. Order it and you will not regret it! We also had the pretzel bites with cheese sauce which is perfect for kids. I had the steak with truffle fries and asparagus. Do not skip ordering the truffle fries!! The kids and Troy had burgers which they all loved. The food is very fresh and everything was delicious!

Sweetwater American Bistro

Great breakfast options in the lobby of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. When we visited, they had a buffet which works really well with kids because you grab what each kid likes and you do not have to wait a long time. Adalyn had a lot of fun ordering her own omelet with tons of toppings which was delicious. The buffet had scrambled eggs, fruit salad, potatoes, bacon, sausage, French toast, waffles, yogurt and more. It was a great selection!

Cherry Public House in Glen Arbor

I wrote about it all in my last post linked above how we loved Cherry Public House. We knew that when Troy and I visited, we had to bring the kids back. We took them for a cherry pop tasting and for some ice cream. Sugar overload! Haha. 

The kids loved the cherry root beer and the cherry ginger ale especially. We all had the cherry soft serve ice cream which is naturally dairy free and more like a cherry sorbet. It was absolutely delicious!! I will get that every time that we visit.

Marketplace in Grand Traverse

We grabbed cherry chicken salad croissants at Marketplace in Grand Traverse Resort and they were delicious! Great to take to the beach or eat in your room.

What to Do in Traverse City

The Den

At Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, they have the coolest place called The Den with axe throwing, an escape room, arcade games and bowling. It is super fun and helps make the resort truly an all-inclusive place that you would never have to leave if you didn't want to! We had a blast bowling and can't wait to bowl more in the future. The kids really enjoyed the arcade games as well.

Visit Elk Rapids

This was brand new to us and oh my goodness, we will add this to every trip. Elk Rapids is about 10-15 minutes from Traverse City and has the most gorgeous sandy beaches with water that is not too cold. It is my favorite beach that is nearby Traverse City. You must hit up Elk Rapids Memorial Park for the beach, playgrounds, nice bathrooms and river that feeds into the bay that is amazing for kids. Then visit the Elk Rapids Day Park for a short trail with lots of outdoor sculptures. I couldn't believe how much the kids loved the little trails including running up and down hills and viewing the sculptures. 

Blueberry Picking

If you visit West or Northern, Michigan, you are likely to find fruit farms! The family and I had a great time picking blueberries at Bulldog Berries. A simple but fun and delicious event for the kids to see where their food comes from.

Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes

For my family, visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes was 2 out of 5 days of our trip and is always my favorite part. Hiking and beautiful views is what makes Troy and I the happiest. This Traverse City travel post I wrote has more specific info for visiting these places. 

I recommend: Pyramid Point trail, Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, visiting Glen Arbor (Cherry Republic especially, the playground and the beach), Empire Beach and Empire Bluff Trail. Visit them all if you can- they're all the best!

Grand Traverse County Civic Center

A huge playground with really up to date equipment that the kids had so much fun on. The best part was the zipline type equipment. It seems to be a hidden local gem.

Sunflower fields

If you happen to drive by sunflower fields, do yourself a favor and stop to take a picture. They're gorgeous. These were in between Traverse City on the way to Elk Rapids.

Greilickville Harbor Park

A fun beach area with a nice playground and marina that is always almost completely empty. They have bathrooms and

Shop the Gallery of Shops

Grand Traverse Resort has a bunch of shops to shot at including a great candy and ice cream shop called Whirligig's Candy and More. There are lots of clothing stores, a Michigan store, a toy store and more. For those who love to browse, you will enjoy this. They sell Moomers ice cream at the candy store and it is delicious with lots of different flavor options.

Thank you to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for a fantastic partnership that my family will remember forever!

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