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Traverse City Film Festival

233 E Front St, Traverse City, Michigan

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: July 2013 | Submitted: Aug 5, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Kids' Fest at the TC Film Fest a great time

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The TC Film Fest proper would probably be best for those with teens, but the Kids' Fest portion is great for young kids. It runs for 4 days during the film fest and there are $1 kids movies in the mornings followed by lots of activities and water play on the huge lawn outside the building. The movie portion are not the usual movies, but a nice variety of foreign and independent kids movies.

Tips for Families

Parking at the auditorium is for people with disabilities but there is on-street parking in the neighborhoods surrounding the venue. There is also free parking in several lots around town with shuttles looping to all the venues including this one. Also, don't forget sunscreen!

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National Cherry Festival

Traverse City, Michigan

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: July 2012 | Submitted: Jul 22, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Cherry Fest is The Big One for area festivals

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Being a huge region for cherry growing, Traverse City is home to the annual National Cherry Festival. It runs for 7 days in late June, early July coinciding with the annual cherry harvest. It takes up the whole waterfront area in downtown Traverse City and it's one of the must-do summer rituals. We took two 4-year-olds with us and had a blast. We spent most of our time in the Midway doing rides and games which is, of course, a big draw for families and kids. You'll find all the things you'd expect at a carnival midway in terms of rides and food. There are lots of things going on throughout the week though at various points around town. There's a big concert series at the water front to catch shows, kid-centric activities at area parks, an air show at the waterfront, fireworks over the water, and tons more. With kids as young as ours we don't get to do as much as we'd like but as they get older we can.

Tips for Families

Check out what's going on at F&M Park. There are lots of young-kid friendly events going on there during Cherry Fest. Parking can be an issue as there are LOTS of people down there. There are shuttles running on the hour from various parking points around the city. Check the Cherry Fest website for locations and times of these. If you're not one for dealing with big crowds then you better avoid this or at least try to heading down during a week day when there won't be as many people. If it's hot, there are several beaches along the water where you can take a dip in Lake Michigan or you can let the kids run through the splash pad at Clinch Park at the waterfront.

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Wuerfel Park

333 Stadium Drive, Traverse City, Michigan

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: July 2012 | Submitted: Jul 22, 2013 | I traveled with little kids (3-5)

A ball game is an essential summer to-do

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Traverse City has it's own minor league baseball team, called the Traverse City Beach Bums. Catching a game is a must-do summer activity. It's a quaint little stadium with a bit of a Victorian exterior. My father-in-law and I took my 4 year old to a game. There really isn't a bad seat in the place. You'll have a good view of the game, no matter where you sit. They always have different deals going on for either discounted tickets or discounted concessions and either way the prices are pretty reasonable. You can even skip the seat tickets altogether and set up some chairs or a blanket in a large grass berm beyond the outfield. In addition, there is a nice little playground in that area for kids to take a break from the game if they want. When we went, we drifted back and forth between our seats and the playground since a 4 year old isn't likely to sit through a whole game. The place is clean and the staff were all friendly. After the game, when we were leaving, an usher came up and gave my son one of the foul balls which he was really psyched about. I would definitely recommend a family catch a game if they're up in Traverse City in the summer.

Tips for Families

Check the Beach Bums website for what deals are going on. These change from season to season and chances are you'll be able to snag some tickets for a discount. If you shoot for a Friday, there's a fireworks display every Friday.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Traverse City, Michigan

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Visited: July 2013 | Submitted: Jul 16, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

This is a glorious summer destination - beauty, history and beaches.

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No trip to the Traverse City region is complete without visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is truly the region's gem. The Dunes sit on the west coast of Leelanau County, the next one over from Grand Traverse County, about a 30 min. drive. There are lighthouses, museums, river trips, and plenty of hiking and biking trails, not to mention the miles and miles of sugar sand beaches on the coast of Lake Michigan. My family has spent a lot of time at the Lakeshore over several seasons. There is so much to do, you will have to pick and choose depending on the length of your visit. Here are a few of our favorites: The Beach - There are no shortages of them and almost all in the Lakeshore and nice white sand. If you want your own private patch, you'll have to do some exploring but there are plenty of spots where you'll probably be the only one. The Dune Climb - A huge section of the dunes dedicated specially for open hiking, a good place for kids to burn plenty of energy climbing and tumbling down the dunes. Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive - A good place to catch great views of the landscape, lakes and of course Lake Michigan. Trip on the Platte River - You can get canoes, kayaks or tubes at Riverside Canoe Trips in Honor, MI and float down the Platte River all the way to Lake Michigan. The river is slow and great for families. Glen Haven - A historic lumber town on the Lake Michigan shore. It has museums about the history of the area and another fantastic beach. Port Oneida - Another historic town with lots of old homesteads and barns. There are meandering roads for driving or biking as well as good trails for hiking. This is only a small sample for the things there are

Tips for Families

For beach trips with kids your best bet is the public beach in the tiny village of Empire. It has a playground, pavilions, tables, grills, good parking with extra nearby and it's a short walk to stores, restaurants, etc. The beach itself fronts both Lake Michigan AND a small lake called S. Bar Lake which is great for younger kids when the Big Lake is too cold or rough.

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The State Theatre

233 E Front St, Traverse City, Michigan

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Visited: February 2013 | Submitted: Jul 16, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

A Treasure of a Movie Theater

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The State Theatre is a true Traverse City treasure. It is a non-profit dedicated to one of America's few indigenous art forms, the cinema, the theater is a great place to catch a show with the family. They show all the best new movies plus a large variety of independent movies, documentaries, classics and more. They are completely staffed by volunteers and have the best prices of any theater you're likely to find including concessions. I got a pop and popcorn for $2. There are lots of specials where you can get a really good deal. The theater puts on the Traverse City Film Festival each summer. If you are in Traverse City during the festival, there are tons of options for families.

Tips for Families

By far our favorite special is the 25 cent kids' movie Saturday mornings. Plus, candy is only $1 during these shows! There are also booster seats for young kids so they can see over the person in front. You really can't go wrong with the State!

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Great Lakes Children'S Museum

13240 S West Bay Shore Drive, Traverse City, Michigan

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: March 2013 | Submitted: Jul 15, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Excellent stop for those with young kids

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The museum is a great place for those with young children (5 and under I would say) to spend a morning or afternoon. It is a hands-on, play-based facility with a Great Lakes theme. There are freighters & sloops to pilot, a big climbing structure where kids become a drop in the water cycle, a lighthouse/keepers quarters, and a big water table to play on. In addition, they do an Interactive Storytime, Toddler Time and several other special programs depending on the day and season. My kids love going there and it's one of our regular spots for rainy days or when winter weather is bad.

Tips for Families

The museum isn't huge. You usually get a half-day out of it because you will have to leave for a mealtime. Downtown Traverse City is a short drive and there are plenty of options there. You should also bring a change of clothes; Play at the water table can lead to wet shirts and pants.

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