Beach read and fluffy towel in hand, head for the red umbrellas by Lake Michigan at The Homestead, a Northern Michigan resort in Glen Arbor. Now, settle in for a perfect summer day.

A fleet of 28 red umbrellas, with beach chairs beneath, line the wooden pier at The Homestead’s guests-only Beach Club. Jutting out over Lake Michigan, it feels like the deck of a cruise ship and has one of the best panoramic views of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore I’ve ever seen. (I make a mental note to come back sometime at sunset.)

To the left, the mouth of the Crystal River bumps up to the pier. Then comes Glen Arbor’s sandy beaches full of Petoskey stones, the Coast Guard Museum and Sleeping Bear Point. Ahead, South Manitou Island and its gleaming white lighthouse welcome day-trippers and overnight campers heading over on the ferry, Mishe-Mokwa. North Manitou Island and The Crib anchor the view to the right. Oh, and behind you, the Beach Club’s pool and hot tub are waiting if you want to jump in.

Photo by Andy Wakeman

But back to that Great Lake. Count the different shades of blue—seafoam and turquoise near the shore where warmer waters wait, cerulean when you wade out a little, a darker streak where it meets the river … say ahhh.

The hardest decision you’ll face on this relax-to-the-max day is where to sit. Should you grab a seat next to the Crystal? Front row on the bay? In the back closest to Café Manitou and the walk-up window for ice cream and snacks? (The café bar is open from 12–9 p.m. for drinks and lunch is offered from 12–2:30 p.m.)

I go to the front row, the chair just inches from the water, and spread out my towel to officially claim my spot. It’s early September, but if the red umbrellas are out, it’s still summer at The Homestead. And with the sun shining and temps in the 70s, it feels like a secret season here in Glen Arbor.

Photo by Andy Wakeman

Photo by Andy Wakeman

Three women on the sandy beach next to the pier decide to test out the water, holding their hands above it and laughing before committing and diving under, letting out a “Whoop” when they resurface.

A couple from Holland, Michigan, sits behind me. They talk about driving up to Maine, or down to Nashville, but both agree, “There’s nothing prettier than this.”

Photo by Tim Hussey

If you want to stretch your legs you can walk the beach, or rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from The Homestead and head out into the big lake (if it’s a calm day) or up the Crystal. I decide to just listen to the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the waves and soak in that view.

An hour passes, maybe more. It’s getting late in the afternoon, time for me to head out, but I promise myself that I’ll return another time to pair dinner at Café Manitou with what must be an epic sunset.

Read Next: Dinner at The Homestead’s Cafe Manitou in Glen Arbor



Photo(s) by Andy Wakeman