For many years, Traverse City has been known as the "Cherry Capital of the World." However, over the past decade, the lakeside community has evolved into a place with much more to offer than just their cherries.
"Like Marquette, we're primarily an outdoor recreation hub," said Mike Norton, media relations manager at the Traverse City Convention and Visitor's Center. "We get a lot of visitors who stay here in the city and kind of (branch) out to use the water and Sleeping Bear Dunes and the hiking and biking trails that are all around here. But what's happened over the last decade or so is that Traverse City has become known more and more as a destination for arts and culture, and especially for culinary trips.
"There's a lot of people coming up now to visit our wine country - we have almost 40 wineries in the area around Traverse City - and to enjoy our restaurants and get into our whole craft brew scene."
West End Beach, one of several sugar-sand beaches on West Grand Traverse Bay in downtown Traverse City is shown. (Photo courtesy of Mike Norton)
Norton said that Traverse City currently has 13 craft breweries in the surrounding area and the city was named one of the top five fooding towns in the country by Bon Appetit Magazine.
"It's kind of a happening place, and there are a lot of events," he said. "But what really keeps bringing people here, is the stuff that's brought them here for 150 years - the fact that we're on Grand Traverse Bay, we're surrounded by beautiful forests, and we have one of the most beautiful places in the country about a half an hour away at Sleeping Bear Dunes."
There is a variety of events taking place in Traverse City this summer, including their Wine and Art Festival on June 21, the National Cherry Festival July 5-12, and the Traverse City Film Festival July 29-Aug. 3, and Taste of Traverse City Sept. 13-15.
For more information on events taking place in Traverse City, visit www.traversecity.com.
To the north is Harbor Springs, which rests on Little Traverse Bay. The city is bookended by two popular resort communities in Harbor Point and Wequetonsing, which draws a variety of people to the quaint, historic community.
Daniel Dewindt, executive director of Harbor Springs area chamber of commerce, said that the city officially kicked off the start of summer on Memorial Day weekend, and they have a host of events that will continue into the fall season.
"We've got activites ranging from watersports and beach-going to restaurants and dining experiences, and we're just a great all-around vacation destination," he said.
Dewindt said that in addition to outdoor activities, Harbor Springs also has an array of art galleries and studios.
"We have a Night of Arts in Harbor Springs on June 26 that has about 15 different galleries participating," he said.
The city takes full advantage of their location on the Fourth of July with fireworks lit off over Little Traverse Bay that correspond with Petoskey's fireworks, which are just across the bay.
Dewindt said that every Thursday night through June, July and August, Harbor Springs holds what is called "Street Musique," which features outdoor performances from various musicians and groups playing around town, on the waterfront, or on storefronts.
"We've also got face painting and a magician or some kid's act that usually shows up at night," he said. "The town is lively, and there's live performances."
For more information on events taking place in Harbor Springs, go to www.visitharborsprings.com.