Address: 1132 U.S. 31 Traverse City, Michigan 49686
Phone: (231) 922-5270 or 1-800-44PARKS (Reservations)
Traverse City State Park is located in the two miles outside of downtown Traverse City. The beach (Traverse Bay) is located directly across the street and can be accessed by using the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 31. The campground is made up of mostly pine trees that create a “nature” setting near an urban environment. Yet, it is challenging to enjoy the great outdoors with noise of the nearby U.S. 31 and the airport. The campground is located near many city attractions including restaurants, putt-putt golf, grocery stores, carry outs, wineries, and much more. Although Traverse City State Park Campground is not as secluded and wooded as many other Michigan State parks, it offers many perks. The campground is divided into three loops: East, West, and Central Loops. There are a total of 343 sites varying in length and proximity to the restrooms and shower houses. There are also cabins for rent, a group camp section, and a teepee to rent. There are designated sites for pets and those that are no pets. Sites include 20/30 amp hookups Water spigots are located sporadically throughout the park. There are no full hookup sites but a dumping station and a water filling station are located at the front of the campground. Beware! Some sites have electrical boxes that are set back further. You may want to bring an extension cord. Campsites are priced a reasonable $27/night, however, you must purchase Recreation Passport. Cell phone coverage was good for both Verizon and AT&T. The camp store is limited to ice and firewood. Nothing more, nothing less. However, there are plenty of convenience stores, grocery stores, and carry outs nearby with camping supplies.
This is a fairly wooded campground right in the heart of Traverse City. It is located on the northernmost tip of the main drag. This is both a blessing and a curse. While the campground is very convenient to many tourist locations (see below), it is also located on a very busy road. Many of the campsites back directly to this heavily traveled road. While there is a tall fence, you will hear a lot of road noise. It is very difficult to turn out of the parking lot onto the road as well. especially if you are trying to go left.There is also a regional airport nearby, so there are numerous planes throughout the day and evening. The campsites are decent in size, although in peak seasons, it feels cramped. There are often long lines for the dump station during busy times. There is only one dumpster located outside the main entrance. Many of the sites are shaded, with mostly pine trees. The roads are paved and the sites are dirt. The roads are long and are nice for jogging, bike riding. There are some flower beds but not really much to speak of. The sites are maintained fairly well. many of the sites have electrical boxes that are in awkward locations or at a long distance.
Rating: (1-5 lanterns with 5 being the highest)
The campground is pet-friendly and there are ample places to walk the dogs including the pet walk located on the front fence line of the property that runs parallel with the highway. Dog cleanup bags are provided and the trail is well blazed, however, the sense of nature is lost to the highway noise. All pets must be leashed. There is no fenced dog park area which is very disappointing. A paved bike trail is located behind the campground and lasts for miles. This is another excellent source of exercise for dogs.
There is one, small, outdated metal playground located near the pedestrian bridge. There is no pool, basketball court, game room, or etc. However, Traverse Bay is located immediately across the street. There is a beach and excellent swimming area. This part of the park includes restrooms and limited vending machines. Dogs are not allowed on this beach. This beach has a nice playground and fun water play area for kids.
The restrooms were pretty nice. There is an older shower front closer to the front of the campground. It is kept clean and has nice shower stalls with hot water (not push button) and good water pressure. The older shower house actually has larger mirrors that is nice for women especially. There are private dressing areas and ample hooks to hang your clothing an towels. There is also a nicer, very new shower house toward the back of the campground that has individual shower rooms with lots of space. When this campground is packed in the peak season (July) these showers often have a wait. In this case we just opted to use the other shower house.
The Traverse City area has a ton of tourist activities to enjoy and this state park sits right near the heart of it all. There are numerous family friendly things to do from beach/water sports (several rental locations are within walking distance) to Pirate’s Cove (just a short walk) and numerous other Putt Putt courses. Ruby Tuesday’s and Dairy Queen are within walking distance. There is no shortage of fun for adults as well, with several winery tours, shopping, restaurants, and Lighthouse tours. Be sure to check out Front street for unique local shops. While you are here, be sure to check out Cherry Republic and M22. There are also many local bars that serve craft brew selections. We liked the Mackinaw Brewing Company. It is also worth a visit to Black Star Farms winery a 30 minute drive north just before Sutton’s Bay. This is a nice, first class winery that even has a petting zoo for the kiddos. If you are looking for a true adventure drive to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and enjoy the dune climb.