On spring days the air space over Traverse City is dotted with the bright colors of kites aloft. Follow their strings to earth and you'll find most end at the Traverse City Open Space—a huge grassy area on the edge of West Grand Traverse Bay in downtown Traverse City.
If you live or vacation out Leelanau County way, head to the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb in Empire for liftoff—there's simply nothing between the rolling sand and sky to provide interference. Just remember you'll need to purchase a visitors pass at the kiosk on the way in. $10, good for a week; $20 for the year. 231-326-5134, nps.gov/slbe.
In the Petoskey area, kite fliers find the breeze and wide-open skies they need at the west end of Bay Front Park (near the base of the breakwall).
Where to buy kites in Northern Michigan:
Toy Harbor, 221 East Front Street, Traverse City, 231-946-1131
Rocking Horse Toy Company - 3 locations:
326 E Lake St, Petoskey, 231-347-0306
154 East Main Street, Harbor Springs, 231-526-7236
325 Bridge Street, Charlevoix, 231-547-5258
Leland Toy Company
201 North Main Street, Leland, 231-256-7575
Build Your Own Kite:
Click on this link for easy-to-follow directions for kite making so simple kids can do it. allfreecrafts.com/kids/paper-kites.shtml
Tips For a Successful Liftoff:
1. It's a common misconception that you should run with a kite to get it up in the air. Not only does it not work very well, but many a child or adult has run headlong into something while craning their neck back at their kite. The best way to get a kite into the air is to have your child hold the line while you stand about 80 feet downwind. Ask your child to give it a pull (not too hard) as you lightly push the kite up into the air.
2. To teach your child how to launch their kite on their own, suggest that they stand with their back to the wind. Have them hold the kite up into the wind until they feel the wind taking hold. Have them let it go and start letting out the line.
3. Take a minute to see if your kite came with suggestions for the level of wind force it can tolerate. The right kite in the right wind can make for a great outing, for you and your child.
4. If your child falls in love with kites, it might be worth the drive to the Great Lakes Kite Festival at Grand Haven State Park May 22-23. mackite.com/news.htm#GLKF