Where to go and what to do while waiting for your next TCFF screening
By Alexandra Dailey | July 23, 2022
Joyfully called “The Return,” the annual Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) is back in action July 26-31. The festival will host numerous film screenings featuring black and white classics, cult films, foreign films, short films, documentaries and immersive masterpieces.
With dozens of film screenings spread across the city’s various theaters throughout the six-day festival, the logistics of where to eat and what to do before the next show could get as sticky as a July afternoon. But never be afraid—Northern Express got you covered.
State & Jewel
The State and Bijou Theaters are located in bustling and scenic downtown Traverse City, the former on Front Street and the latter overlooking the bay on Grandview Parkway, surrounded by delicious restaurants and unique shops to explore.
To eat: Need to refuel before watching the next movie? Throw in a cherry pit and you’ll come across an amazing restaurant. For quick turnarounds, try Mackinaw Brewing Company, Sparks BBQ, 7 Monks, or Mama Lu’s Modern Day Taco Shop. like Poppycocks, Red Ginger, Friendly or Taproot Cider House. If you’re up for a longer leg stretch, The Little Fleet is a fun food truck hotspot with options for everyone, including pizza, street tacos, barbecue, and burgers. Plus, they have live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Pro tip: If a restaurant offers a reservation, make one. The city center is busy with the combination of locals, tourists and moviegoers, and you don’t want your stomach growling through your next movie.
Candy: If you haven’t had your fix of popcorn by the end of the day, you may need a good pick-me-up after the credits. Enter: Pop-Kies Gourmet Popcorn on Front Street. You can’t bring it back into the theater, but that just means you can eat the whole bag…no problem in our book! For cooler treats on a hot day, we recommend stopping by Kilwins for some of their “Original Recipe” ice cream or popping into Milk & Honey, which offers local, natural ice cream. , organic and non-GMO, as well as vegan ice cream. cream selections.
Activities: Front Street is full of shops to check out, including a variety of clothing stores like M-22, Eleven, Yana Dee, Ella’s and the Diversions hat shop. There’s also Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, a place for kids of all ages (adults too), and the three-level bookstore, Horizon Books. And speaking of kids and kid-like adults, the slot machine is a proven winner for anyone who loves old-school arcade games and pinball machines.
For a more outdoor adventure, Clinch Park offers excellent views of Grand Traverse Bay, restrooms and a snack bar, playground equipment, a wading pool, and access to the TART trail, another location ideal for taking your steps before settling back into your seat theater.
The Cherry Blossom AMC CLASSIC 14
At the south end of town, you’ll find the AMC CLASSIC Cherry Blossom 14 theater on Marketplace Circle. New to the festival this year, this movie-watching spot features multiple screens, an IMAX theater, and rocking seats for extra comfort. Nestled in the more industrial, big-box part of Traverse City, the area surrounding the AMC offers familiar chain restaurants but also outstanding outdoor venues.
To eat: If you don’t want to stray far from the theatre, MacGuffins Bar, named after Hitchcock’s forward propulsion plot device, is hosted on-site for movie-themed drinks, which put a fun twist on the alcoholic refreshments. . (And of course, the theater has a full concession stocked with popcorn, fountain drinks, and assorted candy.)
In the same plaza as the theater are well-known produce like Qdoba and Outback Steakhouse, or you can grab organic and vegan alternatives at popular Oryana West, an outpost of the Oryana Community Co-op in downtown TC. Within a five-minute drive, you’ll also find a Pizza Hut, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Panera, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
Crossing US-31 will bring you to the Grand Traverse Mall for strolling and shopping in an air-conditioned mall, as well as world cuisine options, such as Agave Mexican Grill, China Wok, Food Arabia, Taste of India and the ever-classic food court staple, Sbarro.
Activities: For a nice respite from your big screen time, take a stroll on Kids Creek Park’s 3/4 mile trail system, which runs along US-31. The trail features wooden bridges and boardwalks that children and adults can enjoy, and are behind Kohl’s. More trails await across the street behind Books-A-Million in the Miller Creek Nature Preserve, with 3.5 miles to explore.
When you have a bit more free time, a change of scenery can be a visual palate cleanser, so another activity on this side of Traverse City is visiting the village of Grand Traverse Commons (a 7-minute drive away). On the site of a former state hospital turned arts community, you can stroll through historic buildings and breathe in the fresh air, grab a caffeine at Higher Grounds or a glass of wine at Left Foot Charley, take part in many restaurants and shopping in the Mercato basement range of local shops and boutiques. Or, if you’re brave and have the time, consider signing up for a historical tour of the estate, which is informative and a bit eerie…especially in the century-old tunnels beneath the property.
Then, between AMC territory and State/Jewel territory is a site for all Traverse City fans to visit: the World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan! Traverse City is known for its cherries (you’ve heard of this cherry festival, haven’t you?), and in 1987 the world’s largest cherry pie was baked and recognized by the Guinness Book of world records. The pie that weighed 28,350 pounds is long gone, but the pie pan is a monument to baking feat.
Fun fact: TC’s record was actually broken in 1990 by a group from Oliver, BC, but a strong team of locals plan to reclaim the title this summer…with a 50,000 pound pie!
It’s a Wrap
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring Traverse City. TCFF itself offers musical performances before many films, free industry panels, a children’s festival, and other official parties and events. You can also find more things happening around town by heading to northexpress.com/calendar or flipping to the back of this issue.