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Kid-Friendly Travel Guide to Traverse City

    The ultimate family-friendly travel guide to visiting Traverse City and Northern Michigan with kids. 

    Traverse City Travel Guide

    Last month my husband and I packed up the kiddos and drove two hours north to Traverse City for a little family getaway. While most people think to visit northern Michigan in the summer (especially during Cherry Festival!), we love to head up there in September when the weather is still nice but the crowds have died down a bit.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Asher Throwing Sand

    Our boys are now three and six but we try to travel with them as much as possible. While our last family vacation was a bit more of a journey (we took them with us on an Alaskan cruise!), we also love exploring in our own backyard here in Pure Michigan.

    West Bay Beach Resort Outdoor Patio Beach

    Home base for our weekend away was the family-friendly West Bay Beach Resort. While there are many hotel options throughout the area, this is the only full-service resort located directly on the water in downtown Traverse City. Mama was also happy to see Starbucks coffee available in the lobby but that’s a side note.

    Jolly Pumpkin Brewery Asher Kids Menu

    When it comes to kid-friendly dining in Traverse City, there are no shortage of options. That said, I’m excited to share a few of our top picks for places to eat with your family. First up? Jolly Pumpkin Brewery! As you can see, my oldest gave the food two thumbs up.

    Jolly Pumpkin Brewery Lentil Salad

    Not only do they have classic comfort dishes, burgers and pizza but they offer quite a few healthy dishes like this incredible lentil and kale salad I enjoyed with my hopping IPA. Balance, right?

    Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

    And the best part, the brewery is right on the Old Mission Peninsula with gorgeous water views in every direction.

    Hop Lot Brewing Traverse City

    If you find yourself near Sutton’s Bay, be sure to check out Hop Lot Brewing Company!

    Hop Lot Brewing Suttons Bay

    We immediately felt right at home when we saw all off the open air seating and plenty of other families juggling a cold one in their left hand and a kid with their right. It’s an art, really.

    Hop Lot Brewing Rich and jacob

    Pro Tip: Order a dish from their smoker! Featuring brisket, pulled pork and more – this brewery has it going on when it comes to good eats.

    Downtown Traverse City

    For dinner I have two great options – both of which are located in downtown Traverse City.

    Georginas Traverse City

    The first, Georgina’s, is more on the upscale side and came highly recommended from my sister and brother in law who visit Traverse City once every month or so to visit family.

    Georginas Taquitos

    Since my kids love both Mexican and Asian food, I knew this fusion restaurant would be a hit and it was. Pro Tip: order the taquitos for the table.

    The Little Fleet Food Trucks

    If you want to keep dinner on the casual side, head to The Little Fleet, an outdoor food truck lot. Similar to the food truck park I experienced recently in Boulder, this is the spot where you can find something for everyone.

    The Little Fleet

    Featuring outdoor fire pits and twinkle lights, there were families everywhere which we always love to see.

    The Little Fleet Traverse City Bar

    Even better? There’s a bar in the middle for the adults. Win win.

    Moomers Traverse City

    Of course, no trip to Traverse City with kids is complete without a stop to Moomers Ice Cream.

    Moomers Sunset

    Located directly on a dairy farm, you really can’t beat the sunset view from this iconic ice cream shop.

    The Towne Plaza

    The next morning, head to The Towne Plaza for breakfast. Just a short 5 minute drive from the hotel, all four of us loved this breakfast spot that came highly recommended from my friend Kirsten, a blogging friend based in Traverse City.

    The Towne Plaza Grilled Romaine

    Since I tend to go savory at breakfast, I was immediately drawn the the grilled romaine with pancetta and a poached egg. The smoky romaine was the perfect compliment to the creamy yolk and salty pancetta.

    The Towne Plaza Jacob

    My three year old loved the blueberry pancakes but he ate them too fast for me to grab a photo so I took one of his precious face instead. Equally delicious.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Bluff

    Now that I’ve showed you all our favorite family-friendly eats in Traverse City, I’d like to recommend a few fun activities to do during your visit.

    Mission Point Light House Lookout Asher

    One of our favorite pit stops was Mission Point Lighthouse located at the tip of the peninsula. My oldest had so much fun climbing up the tiny staircase to the lookout tower.

    Mission Point Beach

    The beach at the lighthouse really can’t be beat.

    Mission Point Beach Rich and Boys

    PS: Trying to get great photos of three and six year old boys isn’t for the faint of heart.

    Brys Estate Winery Traverse City Vineyard

    Fortunately, you’re never very far away from a family-friendly winery in Northern Michigan!

    Brys Estate Drone Photo

    Brys Estate Vineyard immediately won over my heart when they handed my kids juice boxes.

    Brys Estate Winery Asher

    The frose was refreshing and my kids loved their hummus. If only every winery was this family-friendly!

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Bluff with Trees

    Our final recommendation for what to do with kids in Traverse City is explore Sleeping Bear Dunes.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Birch Tree

    With over public 100,000 votes, it’s no surprise why Sleeping Bear Dunes was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Asher

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling with small boys, outdoor time is essential for everyones’ sanity.

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Asher Birch Tree

    Can you believe this is Michigan? I can’t either. Shh…it’s our little secret.

    Mission Point Beach in Traverse City

    Disclosure: Traverse City hosted our hotel accommodations, meals and activities during our stay. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts are my own. 

    Check out more of my travel destinations on my Pinterest board!


    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:


    1. Do you think it’s odd to travel to TC the first week in November? People have looked at me a little crazy when I mention that plan. I saw no crowds? :)

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