Experience the National Cherry Festival in One Day

Experience the National Cherry Festival in one day by visiting the best festival attractions. If you’re on a tight schedule the following Northern Michigan travel ideas will make the most out of your day long Northern Michigan vacation to Traverse City’s favorite festival. While there are many wonderful cherry-themed events to enjoy, we’ve selected the ones that you just can’t miss.


National Cherry Festival Open Space — Required time: 1–2 hrs.

Begin your jam-packed day by starting out at the Open Space down by the bay in Traverse City. Sample foods from local vendors including the Grand Traverse Pie Co. and pick up a carton of cherries from one of the Northern Michigan farms. Then head over to the souvenir tents and grab souvenirs like chocolate covered cherries and wine to take home to friends and family.

Arnold’s Amusement Midway — Required time: 1 hr.

After you’re done shopping and snacking cross the street to the glowing lights of the Midway (pictured above). Take a ride to the top of the Ferris Wheel where you can glance out over the glory of Grand Traverse Bay. Fly high on the swings, try to keep your breakfast down on the Tilt-A-Whirl and, if you feel up to it, go for a ride on the famous Zipper. When your stomach settles and it’s close to lunch, grab an order of Gibby’s Fries.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere: Beer Tent — Required time: 1 hr.

Get ready for the evening with a beer or glass of wine over at the Beer Tent. Festival-goers 21 years of age and older who are wearing a commemorative pin (look for employees in red shirts selling them) can head into the tent for some ice cold local drinks.

Rock Out at a Concert — Required Time: 3 hrs.

There are eight nights of concerts at the National Cherry Festival. Ranging from All-American rock like George Thorogood to country music star Justin Moore, there is a genre for everyone at the Bay Side Music Stage. You’ll be rocking out to good music right next to the water. Let a breeze off the bay cool you down as you enjoy the sounds of one of the eight nights of music.

Click for More Information on the National Cherry Festival Concert Line-Up

Specific Events You Can’t Miss 

If you happen to be visiting the Festival for the 4th of July, don’t miss out on the opening fireworks which start at 10:30. If you are visiting the festival during the first weekend then you will want to head down to the beach to catch the spectacular U.S Navy Blue Angels Show on July 5th and 6th. If you’re attending the festival during the closing weekend then pack up a cooler and grab some lawn chairs and watch a parade. The Jr. Royal Parade happens on July, 10th at 6:30 pm and the DTE Cherry Royal Parade is July, 12th at 11:15 am. Heading down to the festival on the last day? Then close it out with the Festival Fireworks Finale over West Grand Traverse Bay.


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