It’s never been easier to get on the water in Traverse City. Set sail on a historic schooner, speed into the sunset on a jet ski or test your balance on a paddleboard. See for yourself why this bayside town got voted number one boating town in the nation by also made the top 10 list for best beach towns.

Just look at that blue! Now do you understand why TC is the best beach/boat town?!


A sunset cruise aboard this catamaran tour boat is by far one of the most memorable ways to experience the bay. The Nauti-Cat offers four cruises daily, or rent the whole boat for you and up to 45 of your closest friends. Cash bar and bathroom on board. 231.947.1730.


Float up to 80 feet above Grand Traverse Bay for a seagull’s view of one of the biggest, cleanest, freshwater bays on earth. Try East Bay Parasail (231.633.3327) or Traverse Bay Parasailing (231.929.7272) for solo and tandem flights.


If you love speed and don’t want to miss an inch of Grand Traverse Bay’s 300 square miles, a powerboat is a must. Sail & Power Boat Rental has ski boats, pontoons and jet skis—plus all the kneeboarding, tubing and waterskiing paraphernalia you’ll need for a perfect afternoon. 231.922.9336.


A sailboat is still one of the most nostalgic and romantic ways to experience the water. Great Lakes Sailing Co. has a fleet of more than 20 yachts you can rent— the largest fleet on Lake Michigan. Not a captain? You can hire one there too. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. 231.941.0535.

Tall Ship Manitou

This 114-foot-long, 1800s-replica schooner seems to have cruised straight out of a Great Lakes history book. The deck beneath your feet, the sails billowed above: unforgettable. Choose from three daily tours (noon, afternoon Moomer’s sail and the popular evening cruise), each two hours long., or specialty cruises such as the wine tasting and entertainment cruises. 231.941.2000.

get on the water, kayak traverse city

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Paddling the shoreline of Traverse Bay is a summer classic. Whatever your paddling pleasure, The River (231.883.7890) on Boardman Lake can connect you with rentals by the hour or day—canoes, tubes and rafts also available—for a trip from the lake to the bay. Paddle TC (231.492.0223), located in Clinch Park, offers kayaks and paddle boards and shore-to-shore delivery pretty much anywhere in Northern Michigan. And don’t forget about the crazy popular Paddle for Pints—a brewery pub paddle on Boardman Lake and River and West Grand Traverse Bay with stops at up to six breweries.

Charter Fishing

For the outdoorsmen and women, there are few thrills like chasing game fish on the Great Lakes. Traverse City offers options right at the docks, with the bonus that fishing amid the protection of Grand Traverse Bay offers more assurance of smooth waters. With nearly 300 square miles, a depth of 600 feet, and an abundance of lake trout, brown trout, steelhead and salmon, the bay offers fisherman all the species of desire. Charter fishing need-to-know: All bait and tackle are usually provided, a typical half-day trip runs about four hours and anyone over 17 who plans to fish will need a valid Michigan fishing license (day licenses run about $10). Three charters to try in TC: Big Kahuna, Daydreamer and Reel Fun.

For more summer vacation ideas in Northern Michigan, grab the FREE Traverse City Vacation Guide!

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