Top Ten Traverse City Memorial Day Activities

This Memorial Day weekend, you can go at a sports event, take a bite from the Northern Michigan food and drink scene, watch a film at the State Theater, enjoy Northern Michigan’s outdoors…there’s so much for the whole family to do in Traverse City on Memorial Day!  Here are 10 travel ideas to fill your calendar during your Traverse City Memorial Day weekend.

1). Run or Watch the Bayshore Marathon

Whether you’re a runner or just providing moral support, the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City is a great way to get Memorial Day Weekend in Traverse City off to a running start. The races—there’s a 10K, half, and marathon—course the Old Mission Peninsula, so joggers enjoy the beautiful scenery as a distraction from their athletic exploits while observers can just drink it all in.

The runs take place on Saturday, May 23rd. Learn more at

2). Check Out the Bums

The Beach Bums, that is.  Traverse City’s own professional baseball team takes on the Windy City Thuderbolts for a three-game home stand over Memorial Day weekend.  Get a seat at the club’s stadium—located 10 minutes south of downtown Traverse City—for as little as $15 a pop, and enjoy a Michigan-made craft brew while watching the game.  Fireworks after Friday’s game (which is also the home opener), and a rousing commemoration to veterans in attendance on Saturday.

Find ticketing information here.

3). Shop Locally at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market

Experience local foods during your Traverse City Memorial Day weekend! Located next to Traverse City’s Boardman River and between downtown Traverse City and Clinch Park, the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market offers the best in local produce, hand-crafted baked goods, jams and other delicious wares. The Saturday market is open from 7:30 am until noon, giving you the perfect opportunity to grab a warm croissant and some fresh fruit for breakfast as you stroll through vendors’ stalls.

4). Mountain Biking and Fine Dining at the Grand Traverse Commons

Perhaps a weird pairing, but between the ‘Conquer the Village’ mountain bike sprint race and the lineup of excellent dining options at the Grand Traverse Commons, you can have the best of two rather distinct worlds on Saturday, May 30th.

To conquer the Village, bikers must navigate a short, strenuous loop in a time-trial style race.  Open to kids, novices and elite bikers, this race is a whirling dervish.  Visit for more information.

Meanwhile, the restaurants and eateries will be buzzing nearby: Trattoria Stella is a star among the fine dining scene in Traverse City as well as the Sicilian restaurant Pepenero, while Higher Grounds, Left Foot Charley, Underground Cheesecake Co. and Pleasanton Bakery all offer artisanal specialty creations—those being coffee, wine, cheesecake and baked goods, respectively.

5). Have a Traverse City Memorial Day Picnic

Dine al fresco at one of the picnic tables placed along Grand Traverse Bay or at one of the many parks in downtown Traverse City, such as Hannah Park on Sixth Street. To keep things simple, pick up some delicious sandwiches at Folgarelli’s Italian Market (might we suggest their most popular sandwich, the Godfather) or go to Oryana Co-Op‘s Lake Street Kitchen, which features healthy organic cuisine for dine-in or to go!

6). See a Movie at the State Theatre

Re-opened in November 2007, the historic State Theatre combines the very best of old and new! Operated by the Traverse City Film Festival, the theater retains its original classic touches despite state of the art sound and technology systems. See the stars on the ceiling—as in lights mimicking an August’s night’s sky—inside this recently renovated Art Deco style theater.

View the State’s movie schedule at their website.

7). Go for a Memorial Day Weekend Bike Ride in Traverse City

See TC from a bicycle! Rent bikes for the entire family at McLain’s Cycle and Fitness on Eighth Street. In addition to providing you with a local map, McLain’s is located adjacent to the TART trail, a paved, non-motorized, multi-purpose path. The Tart Trail spans 10 miles, extending from the west to east sides of Traverse City, and is connected to the Leelanau Trail, which connects Traverse City to Suttons Bay. Ride along the Leelanau Trail for superb views of West Grand Traverse Bay.

Visit for trail maps and suggested routes.

8). Hang at The Little Fleet

Spend a few hours eating, drinking and enjoying the company of some friends and family. Play ping pong or sip on a local brew. The best part? There’s such a variety of food, from sushi to tacos, that everyone will be happy. On Sunday The Little Fleet is hosting a Summer Launch Party to kick off summer! Stop on by for music, whip up a margarita at the margarita station and more!

9). Shop Till You Drop

Traverse City’s many clothing, home and souvenir shops have what you’re looking for.  Outdoor gear?  Try Boyne Mountain Sports on West Front Street.  Southwestern chic?  Glitz & Spurs.  Shoes?  Don’t even get me started…

…Okay, fine! Golden Shoes, Plamondon, Ella’s, Running Fit, Robert Frost…you get the idea.

Read about all the shopping options in Traverse City.

10). Orchids by the Bay Show779-2012Orchidshow

The Orchids by the Bay Show at the Traverse City Civic Center is open to the public Friday through Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend and features many orchids in bloom, artistic displays and educational exhibits, including a display on native Northern Michigan orchids.  There will be orchids available for purchase.  No admission fees, however, donations for this education, non-profit are welcome at the door.

More Northern Michigan Vacation

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    I find it very disheartening and unpatriotic that NOWHERE on your list do you include HONOR OUR MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY FOR THEIR SERVICE–the whole point of this holiday weekend. Either living living or dead, they deserve our respect. It’s amazing to me how so many of our holidays, especially those in which we “get an extra day off”, become more about what “fun” we can have than actually honoring the holiday for which it was intended. May I suggest you post the days/times of all the area Memorial Day services and encourage people to take time out of their “fun” weekend to treat the holiday the way it should be treated?

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I have been looking for Memorial Day service times and thought for sure it would be on this list. Memorial Day is NOT National BBQ day. Disappointing.

  • Anonymous

    What do you expect from a city that relocated its veteran’s park because they wanted to turn the prime real estate it sat on into a doggy park. Oh, I forgot, they said it was so that veterans can have a quiet place to reflect. BS.


  • Bill Strong

    Coast Guard City, VFW, American Legion, myriad other service-related organizations; thank a vet today, Traverse City.