Traverse City National Cherry Festival Vacation Planner

In 1968 the Traverse City National Cherry Festival officially became a week-long Northern Michigan event, and it’s been a growing Northern Michigan festival ever since. With over 150 events ranging from music to Northern Michigan food and drink tastings, the Traverse City National Cherry Festival has been ranked as a USA Today Top 10 Festival for several years running. Plan your Northern Michigan vacation for the National Cherry Festival with our travel ideas that will take you from a Blue Angels Air show, to a 90’s rock reunion, and back around to beer and wine tours.


Katy JoeWeek Long Family Fun

Pack up a cooler and car full of kids and head to downtown Traverse City to enjoy a day filled with activities at the Traverse City National Cherry Festival. Camp out on front street while you watch the flags twirl and the bands play during one of the two parades. Or spend the day browsing the souvenir tents and munching on some food at the Festival Open Space. For a really memorable experience, don’t forget to check out the Blue Angels Airshow at 12:30 pm on Saturday, July 5th and Sunday, July 6th.

Bay Side Music Stage

Eight nights of music, all on a stage that is located right next to West Bay. The National Cherry Festival concert series is bringing you artists of all genres. Traverse City’s very own Ryan Whyte Maloney will be opening for country star headliner Justin Moore. American rocker George Thorogood and 90’s Reunion tour “Under the Sun” will also be performing. Catch a breeze right off Lake Michigan while your rock out at the eight nights of shows.

More Than Just Cherries—Foodie Events

While there are plenty of cherries to taste and buy at the National Cherry Festival, there are also numerous other dishes being served up by local Northern Michigan restaurants and chefs. Grab a bite at the Open Space, or purchase tickets for one of the food events.

Adults Only

Maybe you’re the parents who just crave a night out, or a couple looking for Cherry Festival date-night ideas. Either way, grab a sitter and put on your best walking shoes and head over to the festival for these adult-only events. Act like you’re eight again and try your hand at a Cherry Pie eating contest. Or, enter the exclusive beer tent and enjoy some cold beverages while looking out at the bay and listening to the sounds of the Bay Side Music Stage.

RunnerCalling All Runners

Lace up your running shoes and start moving at one of the classic races in Traverse City:

  • Meijer Festival Of Races: The original Traverse City footrace since 1973 has seen over 50,000 participants cross the finish line. Join in for the 5k walk/run, 10k, 15k, or Half Marathon. Learn more at CherryFestival.org.
  • Fifth Third Bank Golden Mile: The Golden Mile is back in 2014. Open to High School and elite runners, the Golden Mile will take place on July 10th at 5 pm. Learn more at TCGoldenMile.blogspot.com.
  • Third Annual Carter’s Kids Fun Run: Traverse City’s own celebrity TV handyman, Carter Oosterhouse, will start off the one mile race for kids of all ages along the National Cherry Festival’s Touchstone Energy Junior Royale Parade route and meet them at the finish line. The run will precede the parade on July 10th at 6 pm.

One Day, Weekend, and Week Long Vacation Outline

Only visiting the festival for a day? Maybe for the weekend or the entire week? We outlined the events you can’t miss no matter how long your vacation is:

Cherry Festival Lodging

While there are plenty of amazing Northern Michigan hotels to chose from, we’ve mapped out the ones closest to the downtown festival.

Parking and Public Restrooms

With much of Traverse City’s front street being reserved for Festival activities, parking is limited. And if you’ve got little kiddies in tow, it’s important to know where the closest public restrooms are.


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