This post was produced in partnership with Traverse City, Michigan. 

Ask anyone from Michigan, and they’ll tell you that Traverse City is their best-kept secret. Leave Michigan, and almost no one knows the place even exists. I am so thankful to now know that TRAVERSE CITY IS FREAKIN INCREDIBLE. And now, I want to spill the tea with you, queens, and tell you all about it.

Traverse City, nestled at the top of northern Michigan, blew every expectation I had about the Midwest and the outdoors out of the water (and good thing, because there’s so much of it surrounding the whole place!). Travel 30 minutes up the road, and you’re at The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on some of the largest sand dunes in North America, travel another 10, and you’re next to rocky shores that look like Hawaii in the middle of the Midwest, then step out any hotel room in the city and have views of the gorgeous bay. 

What’s even better is if you travel down any street and enter in any store or restaurant you’re greeted by unbelievable hospitality, kindness and warmth. Not only that, but the city is unbelievably LGBTQIA+ friendly and supports it’s queer community with year-round events. I also quickly became aware that the city has incredible things to do year round, too — from cross-country skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer to wine tasting and cozy goodness in the fall and a lush green wave of a spring. So, I know I’ll definitely be coming back to cross country ski this winter and see what else the city has to offer when it’s the opposite of the 75 and sunny week we had.

During my trip, I spent my time paddle boarding and kayaking through the Boardman River that runs through the city, exploring the downtown local small businesses and eating unbelievable food (like truly just so great). My favorite thing we did though was experience all the nature that you have access to — right outside the city. Whether I chose to hike in the forest or on the sand dunes, every hike was breathtaking.

What made Traverse City so special to me was how much the city isn’t trying to be the “cool kid” or the “next hot spot.” They’re just trying to do “them” the best they can and do so by celebrating their unique character, the outdoors, and the people that make up their city just as much as the people who come to visit. I truly felt this everywhere I went and felt like I left better and with a cup more full than I came. Truth is, that’s really hard to come by these days and rarely do places ever live up to their reputation, but Traverse City did in every way.

So, no matter who you are, I just can’t recommend a visit to Traverse City enough. You’ll be greeted by an unbelievable city, nature, and people who are just so glad you’re there.