Grand Traverse County, Michigan, is home to the city of Traverse City. The county seat, Traverse City is part of the Northern Michigan region and has a population of 15,678. It is the largest city in the region, which comprises 21 counties. The population was 153,448 in the Traverse City micropolitan area in 2020.
The tart cherry industry is the largest in the Traverse City area, which has a National Cherry Festival that takes place in July every year to celebrate the fruit’s harvest season. Visitors to the festival number around 500,000 annually. It attracts visitors from around the world to sample the tart cherries grown in the area. Grapes are also grown in the area, one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest. It’s an ideal spot for wine tasting and vineyard tours. In addition to a variety of natural attractions, the Traverse City area has downhill skiing sites, vineyards, and a National Lakeshore. U.S. News & World Report listed Traverse City as one of the top places to retire in 2012.
Tourism makes up the majority of Traverse City’s economy. The Traverse City Visitors Bureau, Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport, and local companies sponsored a video to be broadcast on all Delta flights to and from Cherry Capital Airport in June 2011 to advertise tourism. In addition to the National Cherry Festival (typically held the first week of July), the Traverse City Film Festival (which takes place at the end of July) draws hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals to the region, as does the Traverse City Film Festival. It has become a focus of the craft brewing trend in recent years. During November Beer Week, craft beer samplings, meals, and workshops are served.
The City Opera House, a performing arts venue in downtown Traverse City, presents plays, movies, and other programs. It has grown from a tiny group of volunteer musicians to a paid, professional group of 60 musicians. It was founded in 1952 as the Northwestern Michigan Symphony Orchestra by Elnora Milliken, a community leader. The Interlochen Center for the Arts provided teachers and students for many years, resulting in a core of conductors and musicians. Until 1985, it was known as the Northwestern Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The Dennos Museum Center on the Northwestern Michigan College campus houses Inuit art, including sculpture, drawing, and prints. In addition to the interactive gallery and ongoing exhibitions in their large exhibition space, the center houses various exhibitions.
Front Street in downtown Traverse City serves as the central business district. Besides the Grand Traverse Mall, which is located on US 31 just outside of town and has several big-box stores such as Target, JCPenney, and Macy’s, there is another shopping district on US 31 southwest of town. The Buffalo Ridge Shopping Center is located on US 31 about one mile northwest of the Grand Traverse Mall. The Cherryland Center is located on Garfield Avenue on the south side of town; Big Lots is one of its tenants. Meijer, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Target, Menards, and a number of local grocery chains are just some of the grocery and other options available at big-box stores.