Sometimes you just need a little inspiration for summer fun with the kiddos. There are endless opportunities for outdoor fun, so we’ve created this list of 10 healthy and affordable Northern Michigan summer activities to keep your family moving. 


Before the sun goes down, pitch a tent in your backyard—even if it’s a bed sheet tossed over some kitchen chairs—and teach your kids all about constellations. Using mini marshmallows (or star fruit!) and pretzel sticks, build the big dipper. Later on, look for their craft in the sky.

Petoskey Stone Search and Polish

It’s a classic Northern Michigan activity to stroll the shores for the state’s legendary Petoskey stones. After your family trip to the beach, take your findings and polish them up to display for years to come. Watch this video to learn how to Polish Petoskey stones at home.

Yoga in the Park

Every child and adult can benefit from mindfulness. Especially at a location with a beautiful view! Join Little Minds Yoga and Well-Being for a Saturday session of family yoga in Traverse City’s Open Space along West Grand Traverse Bay (this is a donation-based class). 

1-Mile Fun Run

Lace up your running shoes. Get that energy out. Reap the rewards of running. Sign your family up for a 5K or 1-mile fun run this summer. Train in advance or “wing it” on race day. Either way, it’ll be a memorable family experience.  

Blueberry Picking

U-pick berry picking is a pastime loved by all. Have you had your annual trip to the blueberry fields yet? What a great way to get outside and encourage healthy habits. Here’s a list of Northern Michigan berry farms

Photo by Tess Crowley

Downtown Alden // Photos by Tess Crowley

Splash in the Lake

Take a day trip to your favorite watering hole to sift through the sand and linger in the lake. Can’t decide which lake to go to? Pull out a map, have your kiddo close their eyes and randomly point. Location chosen!

Explore a Farmers Market

Teach a little agriculture. Talk to a few farmers. Try a new recipe with your vegetable finds. Appreciation for Northern Michigan agriculture is a lesson that can be learned at any age. (Try these tips to sneak more veggies into your meals!)

Do the Dune Climb

If your kids are known for finding hills and rolling down them, just wait until they see the dune climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes. They’ll love climbing the giant sand hill, or your family can take the trail all the way to Lake Michigan (3.5 miles roundtrip). The iconic views of the dunes won’t disappoint. (You’ll need a national lakeshore park pass.) 

Visit a Summer Festival 

With the bountiful variety of Northern Michigan summer festivals, there are endless fun possibilities. Want to try one that brings families from across the country to Traverse City? Take a look at these free and fun National Cherry Festival family events

Cherry Pit Spitting Contest

Speaking of cherries, why not host your own cherry pit spitting contest in your backyard? Invite the neighborhood kids, cousins and their parents to participate in the ultimate cherry pit spit contest. 

Written by Courtney Jerome

Photo(s) by Shelby Soberalski