Pristine beaches overlooking glistening blue water. Rolling vineyard hills peeking out over massive sand dunes. And wait, is that Foreigner on stage?
Yes, it’s Foreigner. And yes, it’s Traverse City, Michigan, our number 1 choice this 4th of July.
With beach volleyball tourneys, an air show, and more fireworks than a Breaking Bad episode, the weeklong National Cherry Festival is the place to be. Take a break from dominating the cherry-pie-eating contest to take in nightly '80s bands from STYX to Foreigner at one of USA Today’s top 10 fests.
Sat Jun 29 thru Sat July 6. Various locations. (231-947-4230).
Fireworks: 10:30p Thu Jul 4. Grandview Parkway & Union Street. Free.
First thing you’re gonna want to do is hit the water. While parasailing and jetskiing are options, it’s hard to beat Nauti-Cat Cruises — especially when they’re doling out local New Holland microbrews beside Jack Daniels and Patron shooters on their happy hour cruises. Step up to the “shot-ski” (an old wood ski with four built-in shot glasses) and make three new best friends.
Daily 3-5:30p. 615 E. Front St. (231-947-1730). $28 here.
Sure, you could tour nearby vineyards or climb towering sand dunes, but we recommend taking in a ball game at the beautiful mini Churchill Downs-style Wuerful Park, home of the Frontier League’s Traverse City Beach Bums. Set up shop in the Budweiser Party Deck, a slightly tamer version of the Wrigley bleachers where a buffet of burgers, brats, and “hawg dogs” awaits.
Tue Jul 2 thru Thu Jul 4. $6-16 here.
In-room Jacuzzi? Check. Private beach and balcony? Check. Panoramic view of Grand Traverse Bay? Oh, check yes. A couple nights at the Pointes North Beachfront Resort Hotel is exactly what you need to jumpstart July. Admiring the sunset with a bottle of local wine on secluded beach chairs is one of the reasons why.
2211 US 31 North. (800-968-3422). $209 and up per night here.
Mario Batali is a frequent guest to one of America’s coolest lakeside food scenes, and when he comes here he heads straight to The Cooks' House. Known for packaging locally sourced farm-to-table cuisine in unconventional pairings, they serve up walleye with ratatouille, followed by roasted rabbit with chocolate and hops. Try them both, toast the long weekend, then curse your boss for ever making you leave this town.
115 Wellington St. (231-946-8700).