Northern Michigan’s nickname, God’s Country, may be a slight exaggeration. But not by much. The area includes million-acre Huron-Manistee National Forest (hiking, mountain biking), the 22-mile-long Old Mission Peninsula (kayaking, cycling), and hundreds of miles of Blue Ribbon trout streams. But it’s also full of depressed towns with restaurants that offer kill-and-cook specials. Traverse City (pop. 14,300) is the exception. Its acclaimed film festival (founded by rabble-rousing documentarist Michael Moore), a national writers’ series, and the nearby Interlochen Center for the Arts provide plenty of culture. The city’s 150-store downtown and five microbreweries take care of the commerce.