Northern Michigan Attractions: 10 Things You Gotta Do Memorial Weekend

Northern Michigan Attractions: Ten Things to Do on Memorial Weekend

Paddle the Mighty Crystal through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Grab a life jacket, hop in a canoe and soak up the sun on the pristine Crystal River as you wind leisurely through the woods outside of Glen Arbor. Paddling at a comfortable pace will fill the majority of the afternoon, allotting ample time for a picnic in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along the way. Crystal River Outfitters provides transportation to the river for $8 and its livery is located across the street from the endpoint. Prices vary from $21 for a three-hour kayak ride to $39 for a canoe. 231.334.4420, crystalriveroutfitters.com.

Eat a (Really Great) Burger in CharlevoixJust south of downtown Charlevoix, the unassuming Dairy Grill sits by the roadside. Step up to the window and order as the aroma of fresh deep-fried mushrooms, French fries and cheeseburgers (Dairy Grill grinds beef daily) linger in the air. Grab your bag full of burgers and find a nearby picnic table or head down to the beach. 1111 Bridge Street, Charlevoix, 231.547.9771.

Devour a Double-Scoop in Traverse City
It’s a well-known fact that Moomers, located outside of Traverse City, makes some of the best ice cream around so bring the whole family for the first cone of the season. Try a new flavor like Lemon Poppyseed Muffin, Peanut Butter No Bake, or Raspberry Truffle. Moomers has over 100 flavors, can you try them all? 7263 N. Long Lake Rd.Traverse City 231.941.4122 moomers.com.

Pedal the Planets in Traverse City
Bike through a six-mile long interactive model of the solar system on a portion of the TART trail in Traverse City. Hand-crafted sculptures of each planet and plaques sharing details about each planet dot the trail according to an accurate scale of the solar system. Beginning at the Sun directly outside the Traverse Area District Library, bikers of all ages can travel to the far reaches of Pluto and back again on wide paved trail that make the trip smooth and simple. Traverse Area District Library is located at 610 Woodmere Ave Traverse City. traversetrails.org.

Jump Down the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes
Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by way of Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, located between Glen Arbor and Empire. Drive up and down rolling hills, through the woods and dunes in what is truly one of the most “scenic” areas around. Make sure to get out of the car at the overlook stop. Within 100 feet of the parking lot is one of the most breathtaking views imaginable. Dare to leap and jump all the way down 450 feet to the shoreline, but don’t forget you have to climb back up. Park entrance passes begin at $10. nps.gov/slbe.
 
Take in the Leelanau Furniture Show in Traverse City
Almost 10 years since their last show, established artisans of the region have collaborated once again to create the Leelanau Furniture Show. Located at the Artisan Design Network’s gallery on Front Street in Traverse City, the show incorporates sculpture, metalwork, rustic furniture, fibers, and many others, ending May 28th. Stop by this weekend before it closes. 118 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49684. 231.935.1955. artdesignnet.com.

Swine and Dine on the Leelanau Peninsula
Stop by Gill’s Pier Winery in Northport for its annual Swine and Dine event. The vintners of Gill’s Pier roasts a pig for feasting, and their new wines will be released as well. While dining, guests can enjoy the musical talents of singer Miriam Pico and pianist David Chown. Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Gill’s Pier 5620 N. Manitou Trail Northport, MI. 231.256.7003, gillspier.com.

Race Across the Mackinac Bridge
The annual Mackinac Memorial Bridge Race will take place on Saturday, May 28th beginning at 6:00 AM.  Race your friends across the bridge to the finish line while soaking up a beautiful view of the water. The course is 5.6 miles long and begins at Bridgeview Park at the North End of the bridge and will end in Mackinaw City. Check-in begins at 4:30 a.m. and all runners must be able to run at least a 12-minute mile. Registration is $45 or $50 online. 231.436.5664. mackinawcity.com/2011-mackinaw-memorial-bridge-race–43/.
Feast Local in Cedar
Pick out some famous Plevalean burgers and sausages from Pleva’s Specialty Meat Market in Cedar, go next door and grab a six-pack of cold local IPA from Cedar City Market and heat up the grill. Stop by the farmer’s market and grab some tasty local treats. If you’re lucky, you may have some morels to fry up too! 231.228.5000. plevasmeats.com.

Island Camp Out in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Climb aboard the ferryboat and set out for South Manitou Island. Running on a daily schedule through Memorial Day weekend, hikers and campers have the perfect opportunity to spend a day or the entire weekend on the Lake Michigan island in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The ferry, docked in Leland, safely transports passengers on an hour and a half ride to the islands. Daytrippers can spend the afternoon on the island and return around 5:30 PM. Food is not provided on the island so be sure to pack accordingly. Reservations are highly recommended. Roundtrip tickets are $18 for children and $32 for adults. 231-256-9061. manitoutransit.com/manitou.html.

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    I am surprised you are encouraging visitors to run down the dune at the Pierce Stocking Dr. The National Park Service does not encourage this! The following quote is from their website: http://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/psscenicdrive.htm

    “Although going down the bluff is not prohibited, you are encouraged not to do so. Running down to the lake can be dangerous for yourself and for others below you, and erosion of the bluff face is obvious as you look down to Lake Michigan where others have climbed the bluff.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised you’re recommending so much meat eating. The region has a bounty of fresh local produce from Memorial Day to the Fall. In fact, one of the greatest aspects of this area is how great you can eat from the land without harming animals.

  • Anonymous

    What a great bunch of things to do — glad we have the whole summer to do most of them! For those looking for alternate dune leaping experiences, there is always the Dune Climb, just a little north (I think) of Pierce Stocking . . .

  • Anonymous

    Pierce Stocking Down and up is EPIC – definitely do it if you are in shape – it is not illegal and the wind pushes sand back up the dunes – undoing any man caused erosion.

    Better yet – we did this last year – have friends drop you off – go down at Pierce Stocking Overlook then turn Right (North) and walk along the beach of Lake Michigan. It is a long flat walk, but beautiful. Your feet are caressed by the breaking waves, you find interesting rocks, flotsam and curiosities. The firm wet beach is easy to walk on. You see almost nobody else. Eventually you reach Glen Haven where your friends can pick you up. Take water, sunscreen, and foot protection (some sections of beach are rocky).