Paddle the Crystal River
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 starting point and rentals.
Eat a (Really Great) Burger
Just south of downtown Charlevoix, the unassuming Dairy Grille sits by the roadside. Step up to the window and order as the aroma of fresh deep-fried mushrooms, French fries and cheeseburgers (Dairy Grille 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.
Devour a Double-Scoop
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. Moomers has more than 100 flavors, can you try them all?
Pedal the Planets
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 a wide, paved trail that makes the trip smooth and simple. The Traverse Area District Library is located at 610 Woodmere Avenue.
Explore Sleeping Bear 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. Park entrance passes begin at $20.
Feast 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!
Island Camp Out
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. Manitou Island Transit, 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 p.m. Food is not provided on the island so be sure to pack accordingly. Reservations are highly recommended. Roundtrip tickets are $20 for children and $40 for adults.
Go on a Wine Tour
Northern Michigan has three wine trails: Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, and the Petoskey Wine Region. Each area offers incredible vino and equally tasty views of Caribbean blue lakes, stunning vistas, and thick forests.
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).
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 . . .
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.
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: https://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.”