Smooth beaches and striking bay views help make lively Traverse City, the favourite in-state resort for Michigan natives. A town of fifteen thousand year-round residents, it was saved from the stagnation that overtook many communities when their lumber mills closed down, because the stripped fields proved to be ideal for fruit-growing. Today, the area's claim to be "Cherry Capital of the World" is no idle boast. Thousands of acres of cherry orchards envelop the town, their wispy, pink blossoms bringing a delicate beauty each May. At the National Cherry Festival, held during the first full week in July, visitors can watch parades, fireworks, and concerts, while sampling every imaginable cherry product.
Traverse City's neat downtown rests along the bottom of the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay, below the Old Mission Peninsula. This slender seventeen-mile strip of land, which divides the bay into two inlets, makes for a pleasant short driving tour along narrow roads with tremendous simultaneous views of the bay on either side. Five sandy public beaches and a small harbour can be found around the town itself. Various companies offer boat, windsurfer, jet-ski, and mountain bike rental. There are 36 golf courses in the immediate area, as well – some of them among the most beautiful in the country.