Try Michigan’s True North-Traverse City-for Spring Break

Every spring, millions of Americans head south in search of warm weather and sunny beaches.

Not Meranda Lamoreaux.

2015 Traverse City Great Wolf Lodge WaterparkShe and her 20-member family are heading in the opposite direction–to Traverse City. All three generations of the family will be spending their break splashing and socializing at the local Great Wolf Lodge.

“We’ve done this several times already,” says Lamoreaux, a Grand Rapids area resident. “It’s a great place where we can all be together–and since there are a lot of different things for everybody to do, nobody gets bored.”

2015 Traverse City Traverse City Spa GetawayIn Traverse City, where the beaches and golf courses are still shaking off the chill of winter, spring break vacationers find a quieter, less congested experience. And since spring is the off season in Northern Michigan, vacationers not only can save themselves the expense of a long drive or a fistful of airline tickets–they can also take advantage of seasonal rates and discounts. 

The “True Escape” package from Traverse City Tourism combines special rates at participating hotels and resorts with a wide range of deals at some of the area’s best restaurants and discounts on shopping, spa services, movies, wine tastings and outdoor recreation.

2015 Traverse City Tasting Craft Beers at Right Brain BreweryOnce known largely as a summer resort area, Traverse City’s recent emergence as a wine-growing and culinary hotspot (promoted by such luminaries as Iron Chef Mario Batali) has substantially broadened its year-round appeal. The vineyards and wineries of the nearby Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas consistently bring home awards from regional, national and international competitions, while the local craft brewing and micro distillery scene has been recognized as one of the most vibrant in North America.

2015 Traverse City Downtown Shopping at EllasMeanwhile, shoppers love the town’s tree-shaded and pedestrian-friendly downtown and its scores of fascinating boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and galleries. (Another popular attraction: the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a complex of shops, apartments and restaurants built in the castle-like buildings of a 19th-century Victorian mental asylum.)

Nearby villages like Suttons Bay, Leland and Bellaire are filled with hidden byways, cozy cottages, and quaint shops. The community’s museums, concert halls and artists’ studios provide some added spring diversion, too. (The National Center for Arts Research recently named Traverse City one of the Top 20 “Arts Vibrant” Small and Medium Cities.)

2015 Traverse City Cozy Family Meal at Jolly PumpkinAnd families who head for Traverse City find their youngsters are more than contented with the chance to swim indoors–whether that’s in the 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge or the more modest pool at a downtown hotel like the 120-room Bayshore Resort.

“It’s usually more of a last-minute decision with most of our Spring Break guests,” says Bayshore manager, Melissa Bonham. “We’ll start getting calls around the first week in March. A lot of people even ask if there’s anything open up here in spring. We tell them, yep, everything’s open!”