However momentary your stay may seem, you can cover a lot of ground at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore during a two-day vacation. Beyond visiting the major attractions like the Dune Climb and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, the rest of your vacation can take any number of shapes, but a few attractions are indispensable if you have a few extra hours to really get your hands dirty in the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Here are the things to do at the Sleeping Bear Dunes in a weekend.
Bike the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail — Required time: all day
- By early July of 2014, this paved, multi-purpose trail will officially connect Glen Arbor and Empire, spanning a total of approximately 10 miles. Between the two towns, the trail intersects the DH Day Campground, the Glen Haven Historic District, and the Dune Climb. Duck off the path to access a number of hiking trails, such as the Sleeping Bear Point Hiking Trail, or beaches, like the Glen Haven Beach. If you start in Glen Arbor, grab a morning coffee at the Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., lunch in Empire at Joe’s Friendly Tavern (or pack a lunch for a Dune Climb picnic), and eat dinner back in Glen Arbor at Blu. If you start in Empire, coffee at Gemma’s, lunch at Boondocks in Glen Arbor, and dinner at the Empire Village Inn in Empire.
Hit a Trail — Required time: 2 hours
- The hiking trails throughout the Sleeping Bear Dunes offer unmatched solitude and great views. Three trails are standouts for a morning walk with a stellar view: Pyramid Point trail, Alligator Hill trail, and Bay View trail.
Road Trip — Required time: 2–4 hours
- Hop in the car and drive along M22, Northern Michigan’s most iconic road. Travel north to Leland and visit Fishtown and its quaint shops and eateries, or travel south to Frankfort and swim at its mammoth beach.
Lake Michigan Sunset — Required Time: 1–2 hours
- Savor your last moments of vacation at a bluff overlooking a Lake Michigan sunset. Park the beach chairs at Empire’s municipal beach, or hike up Empire Bluff Trail for an elevated perspective.