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If one of life’s major quests is for balance, it’s no surprise that Traverse City keeps topping national ”best” lists. Here, visitors and locals come for the life balance: the serenity offered by the lapping of waves along hundreds of miles of sandy beach, a dark sky just made for wishing upon stars, the simplicity of picking up dinner at a roadside farm stand or from a chef who got her start at one. There’s a balance, too, of the simple and the elevated, as local chefs get noticed on the national stage, wineries scoop up international competition awards, and galleries attract acclaimed artists. There’s an old legend claiming that a dip in the waters of the 45th parallel, which passes through the region, will cure all that ails you. Others think simply a visit with the right mindset and at least one beach bonfire before you go might do the same.