Traverse City, Michigan: Cherry Capital of the World

Food & Drink, Michigan

As summer approaches in Traverse City, there is no better time to indulge in the city’s tastiest cherry delicacies. Recognized as the Cherry Capital of the World, Traverse City will host its highly anticipated National Cherry Festival from July 1 to 8, 2023 showcasing the region’s agricultural heritage, cultural richness, and stunning natural beauty.

The cherry-picking season in Michigan begins in early June and extends until mid-August, offering visitors many opportunities to indulge in the freshest cherries. While the harvest won’t be until July, I had a chance to enjoy the Traverse City region in May, when it had transformed into picturesque fields of fluffy cherry blossoms. The area contributes nearly half of the tart cherries produced in the United States and 83 percent of the state’s sweet cherries.

From Cherry Republic’s renowned cherry salsa to Moomers Homemade Ice Cream’s delightful cherry-flavored ice cream, there is something to intrigue everyone’s taste buds.

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Cherry Republic Traverse City

Cherry Republic in Traverse City, Michigan
Cherry Republic in Traverse City, Michigan
Photo Credit: Traverse City Tourism

Cherry Republic is an iconic establishment that has become a mecca for cherry enthusiasts seeking a taste of Michigan’s famous Montmorency tart cherry. After all, Traverse City isn’t called the world’s cherry capital for nothing. With multiple locations across Northern Michigan, Traverse City houses the flagship store downtown. For an immersive cherry experience, visitors can explore the Glen Arbor location, which features a tasting room.

The store showcases an impressive selection of over 200 cherry-based products, from chocolate-covered cherries and BBQ sauces to salsas, baked goods, and condiments. Their Original Cherry Salsa is a must-try specialty among their celebrated products, featuring a balanced blend of sweet and spicy.

Traverse City Whiskey

Traverse City Whiskey Company, a small batch distillery based in Traverse City, Michigan, takes great pride in its connection to the Cherry Capital of the World and strives to infuse the essence of the region’s renowned cherries into its spirits.

The founder, Chris Fredrickson, and his team go the extra mile by directly incorporating more than ten pounds of Montmorency sour cherries into barrels of aged whiskey immediately after harvest. As a result, Traverse City Whiskey Co. is known for its Barrel Proof Cherry Whiskey. Whiskey aficionados appreciate this cherry-flavored whiskey for its exceptional quality and flavor.

Cherry and Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae at Moomers in Traverse City, Michigan
Cherry and Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae at Moomers

Moomers Homemade Ice Cream

I recently visited Moomers in the cherry capital for the first time. When it comes to cherry-based delights, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream doesn’t disappoint. They have over 150 flavors in their rotation, with 20 available daily. Moomers has earned a reputation as a beloved ice cream parlor recognized for its tasty desserts and picturesque surroundings. We loved sitting out on their patio and enjoying the view on the warm sunny May day.

Located on a farm in Traverse City, Moomers takes pride in producing its ice cream using milk processed on the premises in their creamery. The parlor offers a rotating selection of flavors. The availability of specific cherry flavors may vary depending on the day and season. “Cherry Moobilee,” a fan-favorite flavor, gained popularity after Moomers won America’s Best Scoop on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Moomers also has several other cherry flavors in its offerings—creamline cherry almond, black cherry, cherry cheesecake, cherry praline pecan, cherry explosion, very cherry, and amaretto cherry. As a special treat, I’d recommend getting an ice cream flight, a sample size of five flavors of your choice.

For more information on Traverse City, check out this article:

Grand Traverse Pie Company in the Cherry Capital

Grand Traverse Pie Company excels at capturing the rich, natural flavors of Traverse City’s cherries in their pies. The company’s original shop on West Front Street provides a charming and inviting setting with an open-air design, allowing customers to witness the pie-making process firsthand as the kitchen operates in full view.

I love that I can get Grand Traverse Pie Company pies in my hometown of Lansing. They have two locations in the area—one in Okemos and one in downtown Lansing.

The Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb is the company’s top-selling pie, made with tart Michigan Montmorency cherries and a toasty crumb topping. It is known as the signature pie of the National Cherry Festival each year. Another popular flavor is the Cherry Vernors Pie, which mixes cherries, ginger, and the famous Vernors flavor and one topped with a lovely lattice crust.

Last summer, I became addicted to this Cherry Vernors Pie, which features two characteristically Michigan flavors in one pie. The Vernors gives the cherries a little added zing, which I loved.

Whether it’s the classic cherry pie, creative variations like cherry crumb pie, or cherry streusel pie, Grand Traverse Pie Company offers a range of options to satisfy every cherry lover’s cravings. Don’t worry if you can’t eat a whole pie. They offer these in the minis too.

Pin this to your Michigan Bucket List board!

Pinterest Pin for Traverse City, Michigan - The Cherry Capital of the World
Piper
Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.

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7 Comments

  1. Michael Hodgson

    I fondly remember the Traverse City Cherry Festival from many many years ago. All the cherry stands along the country roads. It was a tasty delight for a young man. I need to go back!!!

    Reply
    • Piper

      You definitely do! I’d be happy to show you some of my favorite spots if you plan a return trip. So many great restaurants there!

      Reply
  2. Ivan Kralj

    That sundae pic made me salivate! Cherries in Croatia are extremely expensive when they first show up in spring, I hope it’s more accessible in the cherry capital 😉

    Reply
    • Piper

      They definitely are very reasonably priced. They are everywhere and super delicious.

      Reply
  3. Linda Fasteson

    Those pies sound delicious! Would love to be there for cherry season.

    Reply
  4. ROXIE YONKEY

    Please add this to our summer itinerary.

    Reply
    • Piper

      Will do!

      Reply

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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in luxury and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.

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