Things to do on Memorial Day > Traverse City

7 Amazing Activities to do in Traverse City on Memorial Day

Memorial Day Weekend in Traverse City

Home of amazing The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, The Dennos Museum Center, Front Street and lots of things to do in Traverse City on Memorial Day. We've compiled some of the best activities to do in Traverse City on this Memorial Day holiday.

Memorial Day Weekend in Traverse City

Memorial Day The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

If there’s one thing Traverse City, Michigan is impressively good at, it’s preserving and repurposing history.

That’s exactly what The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is all about.

A site for historical preservation, The Village has transformed old buildings that could have been demolished into modern amenities and locations.

It uses the site of an asylum built in the 1800s to house salons, eateries, boutiques, stores, exercise studios, and even offices.

The buildings used are delightful in architecture, designed in a Victorian-Italianate style with a gorgeous 63-acre complex on a 480-acre preserve.

It was crafted to be beautiful according to the beliefs of the old Traverse City asylum’s medical superintendent, who strongly thought that a lovely environment would help the recovery of patients, both physically and mentally.

In fact, patients were served food and drink in gorgeous China dinnerware and artwork and flowers decorated all the halls and some rooms!

Today, this is one of the most famous Traverse City attractions during Memorial Day, a reminder of the way we can take tradition and bring it with us into the future.

A walking tour will take you around the grounds and allow you to learn about the place’s history.

There are plenty of other spots to check out near The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, too!

The Dennos Museum Center

The Dennos Museum Center is one of the best things to do in Traverse City on Memorial Day because it’s one of the location’s most prominent and prestigious cultural institutions.

An extension of Northwestern Michigan College, it is an art gallery that houses a huge collection of artwork dating back to the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Perhaps what the Dennos Museum Center is most famous for among its extensive 3,000 works is its Inuit art collection, sourced from Nunavut’s Baffin Island in Canada.

Over 1,600 pieces are a part of this array, including drawings, textiles, prints, and sculptures by indigenous Inuit artists, mostly of the modern era.

Another one of the things to see at the Dennos Museum Center is the Canadian Woodland Indian collection, another permanent collection of art.

There is also a compilation of works by famous American artist Jozsef Domjan, renowned for his unique woodcut art with detailed and intricate patterns.

For more fun activities, look out for events, performances, concerts, and film screenings that are held at this lovely cultural attraction.

Front Street on Memorial Day

No trip to Traverse City is complete without a stop on Memorial Day at Front Street, the heart of the city.

It’s a true testament to the way that the city has grown and evolved over time, adapting its historical heritage to modern yet culturally relevant businesses, education centers, and more.

Located in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, Front Street is all about shopping, culture, and food.

It is home to vibrant annual festivals, such as the Winter Comedy Festival that is nationally revered and the much-loved National Cherry Festival.

A mix of galleries, markets, antique stores, and more add to its atmosphere, appealing to locals and tourists alike.

The Hippie Tree

The Hippie Tree might have a bit of an unassuming name, but it’s easily one of Traverse City’s most unique and fascinating places to visit on Memorial Day weekend.

It is situated near the grounds of the Old State Hospital, in the wooded area around.

Following a steep path will lead you to a clearing where you will find the remnants of an old willow tree.

The tree’s heart is technically dead, rotted away long ago, but its branches still boast some life, and its entirety is brightened up with bright, neon paint that coasts its formerly pale trunk.

Local painters have come to this quiet corner of Traverse City, Michigan for generations to mark the tree with vibrant colors, resulting in layers of hues of the rainbow coating the Hippie Tree.

The result is something out of a storybook – a twisting growth, somehow persisting through all these years, shrouded in local folklore.

Legend has it that spirits who once roamed the old hospital walls took residence in this tree, leading to painters and spiritual individuals adorning it with colors and creativity to gently ward away the worst of the “ghost” energy.

Many rumors are still attached to the Hippie Tree of hauntings and the supernatural, and some even claim that a portal to Hell opens beneath the roots if you walk encircling them the right way!

The Fairy Trails

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a fairy tale forest, you’d be surprised to find out that one of the best tourist attractions during Memorial Day for such an experience lies in Traverse City, Michigan!

Known as one of the most beautiful places in America, the Fairy Trails is part of the Historic Barns Park, spanning a dirt trail that winds through a portion of Northwoods forest.

The Fairy Trails consists of approximately 40 little houses, mostly made from natural materials, each one crafted to resemble fairy abodes by locals.

The project began with Heather and Jay Harrington, a couple that sought to bring a little more joy and celebration to the great outdoors of the state.

Anyone at all can work on creating houses for the trail, and they’re changed every year in the summer and early fall, replaced with new designs.

If you’re a resident of the surrounding area, you can design a fairy house and submit it to be put up, so it’s a wonderful and beautiful community effort!

One fixture of the Fairy Trails that is permanent is a gigantic bird’s nest sculpture made with tree limbs and sticks, repaired yearly so it’s always as good as new.

It began as an Eagle Scout project back in 2015 and has become a staple of the trail ever since!

Memorial Day Mission Point Lighthouse

Mission Point Lighthouse is located nineteen miles up through a drive from Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan.

It was used between 1870 and 1933 and has always been a beautiful place, flanked by beautiful luscious nature and led through orchards and vineyards.

The lighthouse was built as a result of a collision when a ship crashed into a reef of coral close to shore and sank before it could make its way to safety.

It served a practical and crucial purpose, but even when the lighthouse’s keepers were still active, Mission Point Lighthouse was known as a hotspot for sightseers thanks to its beauty.

Today, that’s even more true, as many tourists travel here just to climb its stairs and enjoy the stunning view from its top.

Mission Point Lighthouse is on the National and State Historic Register and is outfitted safely for visitors to get to it.

You can take a self-guided tour of its grounds, climb its stairs, or head to a small beach right ahead.

There is also a little gift shop that’s great for souvenirs.

The lighthouse is open to the public between May and November and is one of the top things to do in Traverse City during Memorial Day!

TC Flyboard

TC Flyboard, or Flyboard Traverse City, is one of the top 10 ways to have fun in the water within this vibrant urban space in Michigan on Memorial Day.

Flyboarding is a kind of water sport that combines jet skis, wakeboards, and skateboards into a single concept.

In order to work, a house measuring about 55 feet is attached to the front of the board and it is powered to allow users to soar upwards, even to forty feet in the air!

It’s an amazing experience and a great place to have such an experience is right here in the city.

Whether you’re a beginner, expert, or somewhere in between, TC Flyboard has you covered.

You’ll be provided with a wetsuit, life jacket, and helmet and will receive adequate and dedicated supervision and instruction.

All instructors are licensed and trained for utmost safety so you can have peace of mind while you get your thrill!

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