Traverse City National Cherry Festival: It’s been ranked one of the country’s top 10 festivals several years running, so you already know the National Cherry Festival is the real deal offering plenty of things to do (yep, more than 150 events to be exact during the weeklong extravaganza, set for July 7–14). Alas, where to start? Our picks for this year’s must-experience activities:

Explore the Open Space to sample all things cherry—from burgers and brats to sauces, dips and smoothies—while taking in the sights. Think scenic bay views, live music and good ol’ people-watching.

Make your own cherry pie—and bake it to take home with you. A $3 donation supports Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center.

Sign on for the Festival of Races, where you can burn off those extra oh-so-worth-it festival calories in the 5K run. Feeling especially ambitious? Sign on for the 15K. (We hear that spectators get a workout—cheering on runners takes lots of effort, too, right?) Register at

Escape the heat and crowds—and experience the intimate atmosphere of a National Writers Series event—by attending An Evening with Janet Evanovich. The Cherry Festival partnered with the National Writers Series to bring the New York Times best-selling author to the City Opera House July 9. Tickets: 231.941.8082 or

Ooh and aah over final festival night fireworks from your shoreline seats. Settle in like a local: scout out a spot on the beach near the volleyball courts, dig a small hole in the sand, and lay a towel over top for an instant reclining seat.

This was a feature in the July 2012 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, to order a copy click here!