Set in the middle of the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the beaches, water and snow sports in Empire, Michigan, make for a legendary Northern Michigan vacation. In the summer, while away a day on miles of secluded sugar sand beaches or set out in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard for a leisurely tour of the gorgeous dune-lined shore.
Whet your appetite for a Sleeping Bear Dunes vacation with this video:
Within Empire itself, the village-owned Empire beach on Lake Michigan is a mecca for sunbathers and surfers—both body and board. There’s a boat launch on the big lake and just across the parking lot find tiny South Bar Lake with warm kid-friendly water. The Empire beach complex is just a walk or bike away from Empire’s downtown where you’ll find everything you need for a beach day.
In the winter, snow-covered dune and forest trails in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakehore beckon skiers. Advanced skiers should stop into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center in Empire for trail maps to adventure. All skiers, novices included, can head for the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail, a groomed trail that leads from the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, 3 miles north of Empire on M-109, through the historic village of Glen Haven to Glen Arbor.
Cornerstone: Beaches, Water and Snow Sports in Empire, Michigan