Destination: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Photographers: Aaron Peterson
There’s arguably no place on the Great Lakes where the region’s geologic history is more dramatic—or more beautiful—than Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula. The boat cruises that depart daily from Munising are a popular way to explore the 40-mile lakeshore park, but a guided kayak trip gets you closer to the breathtaking juxtaposition of Lake Superior’s emerald waters and Pictured Rocks’ colossal, multicolored sandstone cliffs. “The best parts of the park can only be seen from the water,” swears Aaron Peterson, a photographer and avid kayaker. Northern Waters’ full-day excursions will have you exploring caves, picnicking on secluded beaches, and threading along the rugged shoreline to landmarks like Lovers Leap, pictured right (906.387.2323, northernwaters.com). EAT: Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore is a warm, eclectic spot with locally roasted coffee, ice cream and fresh, simple fare (906.387.3008, fallingrockcafe.com). STAY: Hurricane River Campground is a magical spot where the mouth of the river meets Lake Superior. Get there early, as its 21 sites are first-come, first- served (906.387.2607). In Munising, the waterfront Sunset Motel on the Bay is a squeaky-clean mom-and-pop establishment; some rooms have complete kitchens, and a few are even pet-friendly (906.387.4574, sunsetmotelonthebay.com).
Destination: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Photographer: Angela Brown
First-time visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes often can’t believe their eyes when they see this fresh-water ocean, all shades of blue and green, set against a striking landscape of sheer sand cliffs and pristine Northern woods. But this place has the kind of beauty that causes even locals and longtime visitors to lose their breath. Whether it’s your first trip or your hundredth, make this the summer you discover a new side of Sleeping Bear: like finding a secluded swimming spot (see the tucked-away beach at the end of Peterson Road) or climbing to a new vantage point (try the lookout from the top of Empire Bluff Trail, pictured). For something really special, head out to Good Harbor Beach around dusk, when campfires pop up along the darkened shoreline like a string of twinkling lights. Lying back in the sand and watching the stars emerge is a Sleeping Bear experience few seek out, but one you’ll never forget. EAT: Three words: Village Cheese Shanty. At the height of summer there’ll probably be a line, but the pretzel-bread sandwiches at this Leland stalwart are worth the wait (231.256.9141, villagecheeseshanty.com). STAY: Sleep in the heart of Sleeping Bear at rustic D.H. Day Campground (231.334.4634); or, if you’re looking for something plusher, find comfy suites plus a spa, golf and other amenities at The Homestead (231.334.5100, thehomesteadresort.com).