#9. Traverse City
Few small towns have picked up as many accolades or gotten as much press as Traverse City, Mich. It’s been named one of the most beautiful places in the country, one of Livability’s best foodie cities, a top vacation destination and an “emerging beer town.” Those are just the proverbial cherries on top of a town that is consistently praised by the people who matter most, the people who live here. Great schools, a stable economy, captivating natural attractions, lively community festivals, low crime and high home values make Traverse City a highly desirable place to live. See where Traverse City ranked on the Best Small Towns 2013 list.
Residents enjoy well-defined seasons, each of which bring opportunities to engage in a variety of recreational activities and cultural events. Located at the base of two bays, Traverse City offers a beach-like atmosphere during the summer months when thousands of residents take to the waters of Lake Michigan in ski boats, sailboats and on Jet Skis. Hikers explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which includes freshwater beaches, forested islands and historic farmsteads. Snowfall turns Traverse City and the surrounding area into a winter playground with opportunities to snow ski, snowshoe, snow tube, cross-country ski and snowmobile.
A large collection of art galleries, music venues, museums and nightclubs provide a sophisticated blend of cultural amenities rarely found in small towns. Local chefs use fresh-caught fish, mushrooms gathered in nearby woods, cherries and apples grown in local orchards, and vegetables grown in neighborhood gardens to create mouthwatering menus. Restaurants in Traverse City receive rave reviews for serving both complex dishes and simply tasty morsels. Among the most well-attended events in Traverse City is the National Cherry Festival. This celebration of the region’s top crop is attended by more than 500,000 people each year and helps pump money into the local economy, which is bolstered by tourism.