Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is known worldwide for stunning beaches, spectacular trails and out of this world views. The iconic Northern Michigan attraction was even named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by ABC’s Good Morning America in 2011 (watch the MyNorth video below and you’ll understand why).

With so much glorious land and water to explore, planning a vacation to the Dunes can feel daunting. Yet, like any vacation hotspot, there are certain must-see spots. Be sure to add these seven places to your next vacation to take the best photos at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

1. Empire Bluff, Empire

A rolling 3/4 mile hike through an enchanting, shady forest to one of the Great Lakes’ epic vistas 400 feet above the big water.

2. Pyramid Point, Glen Arbor

Another 400-foot-high perch and 3/4-mile trail. From here, the Manitou islands rise to the west, Fox Islands to the north, and the mainland shore unfurls to the northern horizon.

3. Pierce Stocking Lookout Platform, Glen Arbor

The pinnacle attraction of the drive through the dunes. Park the car, amble on over to the overlook deck and prepare to be amazed.

4. Esch Road Beach, Empire

Keep the family in bliss all day where Otter Creek runs into Lake Michigan. Swim, build sand castles and take a hike on gentle trails, all right there.

5. Glen Haven Village, Glen Haven

Wander the restored historic village, circa 1920. Boat museum in the old cannery, a general store and historical Coast Guard lifesaving station.

6. Platte Bay, Empire

Cattails cluster along the Platte River’s shores, alive with butterflies and dragonflies, then give way to sugary sands and photogenic waters at the mouth of Platte Bay.

7. Port Oneida Rural Historic District

Explore turn of the century farms and imagine what life was like for early Leelanau County farmers.

See the Sleeping Bear Dunes photo that ranked third in the world on World Tourism Day. 

More Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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Photo(s) by Jeff Smith