I’ve been a bit quite over on the blog for the last few weeks, but I have a good reason. We’ve been traveling throughout Michigan (my home state) with my kids, showing them all my favorite spots that I loved as a kid. One of my favorite places in the world, yes…the world is Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Sleeping Bear Dunes is a National Park with 35 miles of sandy shoreline and has 70,000 of protected wilderness. It’s HUGE, 3 times bigger than Manhattan so it could take weeks to see everything. Most of the time when traveling you are making quick stops so you can cover a lot ground so you can see as much as you can. Last year when we went to SBD it was rainy, windy and very cold so we wanted to revisit since the weather was going to be picture perfect. We spent just 1 day at the Dunes and wanted do as much as we could within that time. We were fortunate to have my cousin with us that has a summer home on Duck Lake to be our tour guide. Showing us some hidden gems, that I am now sharing with you so when traveling to the dunes can be stress free and fun. Even if you only have 24 hours.
5 Things To Do At Sleeping Bear Dunes
Climb the Dunes – This is always our first stop after picking up our park pass at the Visitor Center. It’s like a giant sandbox and young and old can enjoy. No need for shoes when climbing so kick them off and start your climb to about 300 ft. Trust me the view will be worth it and the kids love to run or roll down the dune afterwards.
Empire Bluff Trail – There are so many trails that you can hit while visiting the Dunes but the Empire Bluff Trail is my favorite. The views are amazing and most of the trail is covered by a canopy of trees. It’s a very easy walk for kids to do as it’s only a mile and the incline is gradual but goes to about 400 ft above the dunes which gives you some of the most beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Dunes.
Platte River – If you only have a day to experience the dunes then you will not have time to tube or kayak the Platte River but you can still enjoy it, even if it’s just for a short bit. Head to Platte Point Beach and experience how the river flows directly into Lake Michigan. The river is crystal clear and like bath water then you step one foot into the lake to experience something VERY different. My boys couldn’t believe it. Make sure you pack bath suits and towels and a picnic lunch so you can relax and enjoy the water before heading to the next attraction.
Running from the Platte River into Lake Michigan
Glen Arbor – Everyone needs to eat right? Glen Arbor is just a short distance from the Dunes with some of the best restaurants and shops around. Take a break and head to Art’s Tavern for what my son calls “the best burger he has ever had” with great outdoor seating. Everything is within walking distance so take a stroll and hit some of the fun shops too.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – This was something we did last year since the weather wasn’t the best. Of course you can do it anytime, and I think if you are only making a quick stop or know that you might not make it the Sleeping Bear Dunes again the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a MUST TO DO! It’s a 7.4 mile circuit that you can do in your vehicle. The scenic drive has 12 informational stops including #9 which is an overlook 450 feet above the water and can see the Manitou Islands. Great for the end of the day when you have tired little ones because you get to see the highlights and discover the ecosystems of the dunes. Make sure you stop at Picnic Mountain for a snack or even a meal.
That’s it folks! My top picks if you have a very limited time at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Don’t forget sunscreen, jacket (it can get chilly especially in the evening) maps of all the attractions (which you get at the visitor center) cooler with lots of foods and drinks (no one wants cranky kids) bathing suits and towels so you can fully enjoy the river/lake and a umbrella just in case. Throughout my Michigan I will be sharing some of my favorite spots over on Instagram so follow me over there to experience my version of Pure Michigan.