The fourth of July weekend is a wonderful time to go to northern Michigan. I am fortunate that my mother-in-law resides in Interlochen (just outside Traverse City) so my husband and I always have an invitation to visit with a free place to stay. We drove up the morning of the fourth with our two dogs, Gucci & Tucker, full of excitement.

It is about a three and half hour trek to Mom’s and we arrived in the afternoon to celebrate the holiday. Spent a relaxing time working on a puzzle, visiting and after dinner we made s’mores around the firepit. S’mores are one of the best summer treats of all time. If somehow you have not had a s’more before then you better add it to your bucket list right now (unless you are allergic to chocolate). Around 9:30 that evening, we headed to Traverse City to watch the fireworks.

The National Cherry Festival (7/4-7/11) started during our visit and is a week long event not to be missed! Unfortunately, we only had the day to check it out this year, however I believe we picked one of the best activities to attend which is the Arts & Crafts Fair. This featured over 100 artists from across the midwest and there was a nice selection of crafts, jewelry, pottery, attire and unique Michigan themed treasures. The number of artisans did seem smaller than the previous year that I visited, however I still found some keepsakes. Gucci and Tucker now have a unique rock covered water bowl that stays up north for when they visit. I also started my Christmas shopping with a fun present for my mother in law. I can’t link to the site for fear she will spoil her surprise!

We checked out the rides and my 11 year old sister-in-law had a blast. If you have kids in attendance, this is something they are sure to enjoy. We also visited the souvenir tent, heard some music though we did not view a concert this time and ate yummy fair food before leaving. The dogs came too and Gucci tried to eat my watermelon snowcone which was quite funny.

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In 1910, cherry growers in the Grand Traverse area began to hold informal “blessing of the blossoms” ceremonies each year at blossom time in May. In 1925, the first-ever Cherry Queen was crowned which still happens today and the official festival began.  It was suspended during World War II (1942-1927) but has been held every year since. It grew in length, size and number of activities over the years and became a week long event in 1968. Learn more about the National Cherry Festival and plan your visit for next year!

Monday, the 6th, was beautiful sunny day in northern Michigan so we went to check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I had not been to there in many years since actually camping with my husband (who I was dating at the time). First, we stopped in Glen Arbor for lunch at Boonedocks and enjoyed our refreshments on the outdoor patio. We then visited some of the local boutiques in town. Glen Arbor is a really cute town with fun shops to browse.

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Sleeping Bear is actually a National Park (named Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park) not a State Park- a fun fact I did not realize until this visit. We paid $10.00 to enter the National Park at the Dune Climb, however the entrance pass is actually valid for 7 days. They also have an annual pass for $20.00 (increasing to $15 and $30 effective 1/1/16).

The Dune Climb itself features multiple dunes to hike. It is best to take your shoes off to navigate the sand. If you have never climbed sand dunes before-they are actually quite steep and a great workout. We made it to the top of the biggest dunes (110 feet) but still could not see any water. We were unsure from this viewpoint if you would eventually reach water to climb down to if we kept going. We decided it was best to turnaround after snapping a few photos. I researched after our visit and discovered the hike to Lake Michigan is 3+ miles from the Dune Climb. There is also an air-conditioned Dune Center that features souvenirs you can visit. However,  I am very glad we turned around but someday may venture to make the Lake Michigan trek when I have bottled water and sunscreen with me.

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I really wanted to see the water and have my toes in wet sand before we left so we drove a couple miles down the road to the historic town of Glen Haven. There was a boat museum and a historic General Store with products for purchase in barrels. We walked to the beach near the museum and enjoyed dipping our toes in the cold Sleeping Bear Bay water. Summer is having your feet in the sand and water!

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About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.