The city of Traverse City, MI is one of those places that always has a positive vibe to it. The downtown area is brimming with cute boutique shops and yummy restaurants. There is a healthy turnover to keep it fresh. People who have visited Traverse City (TC) are aware of the downtown district but the city is spreading the word about the other districts, like the warehouse district with its kitschy brewhouse, cafe, and art, and Old Towne that is bursting at the seams with new business. The furniture and decor shops congregate there amongst the bevy of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars in Old Towne; Central District with its historic homes and Slabtown with its sleepy local dining hotspots.
It's pretty easy to get around, especially on bike. TC has trails branching out from downtown as far as 15 miles away for easy commute from many areas.
Loads and loads of festivals like the National Cherry Festival and the TC Film Festival which take place in the summer. The city doesn't roll up and hibernate in the winter time either! ... Comedy Arts, Winter Fest, and Microbrew Fest and more! I love the winter crispness and clean snow. Freezing rain is rare which is why you can't compare the weather of Detroit to Northern Michigan.
The beaches and nature attractions are second to none. Dozens of public beaches are within minutes of downtown (including the ones on the north end of downtown!). The Sleeping Bear National Park is a favorite spot to visit with its Dune Climb and 1.5 mile dune hike to Lake Michigan.
Need a hotel? There is no shortage of them, especially lining the East Grand Traverse Bay.
My wishlist for TC? -- cheaper flights into and out of TVC ($400 to Chicago? ridiculous!), TRADER JOE'S (badly needed!) and a 4-year university.