Race up a huge dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and let the arms and legs flail coming down. Get creative. Reach out and touch some of the Great Lakes infamous invasive species. Who needs school when you’ve got a summer in Leelanau County?

Climb a dune

The mountain of sand aptly called the “Dune Climb,” within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, can look a bit daunting at first, but seeing the joy of toddlers, teens and grownups alike as they sprint back down makes the huffing and puffing of the ascent worthwhile. Follow the tradition among campers at nearby Interlochen Arts Academy, who earn the moniker “dune goon” by climbing to the top and rolling or tumbling to the bottom at least twice. Picnic tables, restrooms and water fountains wait at the bottom of the sand mountain. Rest at the top long enough to take in the stunning panorama of the Glen Lakes below. (NPS.GOV/SLBE)

Unleash the creativity

Let the natural landscape that has inspired countless artists spark your own family creations, at children and family programs offered all summer at The Old Art Building and Community Cultural Center in Leland (OLDARTBUILDING.COM), or in Glen Arbor, where the Glen Arbor Art Association (GLENARBORART.ORG) offers art classes for kids and adults. Drop-in classes at Glen Arbor’s Smock Paper Scissors lets imaginations soar.

Education that feels like fun

Kids will never know they’re visiting a museum, not at historic Glen Haven, where marine history is taught through a historically accurate surf rescue (of a doll), a blacksmith who forges tools from molten iron, and an old-time general store stocked with vintage candy (NPS.GOV/SLBE).

In Suttons Bay’s Inland Seas Education Center, the popular touch tank and Zebra Bike exhibits, or the chance to look up-close at critters like Spiny Water Fleas, offer a fun, hands-on way to learn about Great Lakes invasive species. Watch underwater life and diving birds through the under-dock camera that sends images into the building. (SCHOOLSHIP.ORG).

For more summer vacation ideas in Northern Michigan, grab the 2013 MyNorth Vacation Guide!

Your Guide to Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Benzie & More

From the same people who produce Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, this is a colorful, easy-to-use guide to Northern Michigan vacation ideas from Ludington to Traverse City, from Charlevoix to Mackinac Island and everything in between. It is filled with ideas, tips and hundreds of websites that connect you to fun, food, activities, lodging and recreation in every part of Northern Michigan.

  • More than 140, full color pages with stunning photography and travel stories
  • Maps of each region
  • Hundreds of resources

Be sure to also check out our free online area-specific vacation guides!

Traverse City

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Traverse City, Acme, Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, and Williamsburg


Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Mackinac Island, and Boyne Country

Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Charlevoix, Alden, Beaver Island, Bellaire, Central Lake, Easst Jordon, Elk Rapids, and Torch Lake


Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Cedar, Empire, Glen Arbor, Lake Leelanau, Leland, Maple City, Northport, Peshawbestown, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Suttons Bay, and Omena

Benzie & West Shore

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Benzie, Manistee, West Shore, Beulah, Benzonia, Crystal Lake, Frankfort, Ludington, Onekama, and Pentwater