If you’re looking for a peaceful place to visit with your family, with breathtaking views of nature and lots of fun activities like camping, rafting, or just hiking through the beautiful dunes, then you should definitely visit Sleeping Bear Dunes.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the most beautiful place in America on ABC’s Good Morning America. It has sandy beaches, bluffs that rise over 450 meters above Lake Michigan, green forests, clear lakes and shifting sand dunes. This and the legend behind it, as well as the annual entertaining events, make this place a popular tourist attraction for people from all over the USA and the world.
In this article, I will introduce the different places and the cool things to do when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes. Read to the end if you like the Answers to the frequently asked questions about this place.
The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes are located in northwestern Michigan along the northeast shore of Lake Michigan. The area includes the South and North Manitou Islands.
The story behind the Sleeping Bear Dunes
The reason why they are called so Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is due to a legend about a mother bear and her two cubs. The mother bear was able to climb a high cliff to watch and wait as her cubs climbed the cliff. However, the bear cubs did not make it and drowned near the shore.
To commemorate them, the Great Spirit created the two islands representing the cubs and the dunes representing the mother bear. So when you visit the national park, take a minute to remember the mother bear and her cubs.
Pages to visit
There are several places in Sleeping Bear Dunes that you should not miss:
- Dune Climbing: It is a sand-filled mound that you can climb to have a picnic at the top and enjoy the sun. You can let your children play in the sand while you enjoy a nice sunbath that will make you feel all your worries melt away.
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: If you are traveling in your RV and want to experience beautiful landscapes with dunes, Lake Michigan and Glen Lake, you should definitely visit this Scenic Drive. You can stop at any of the 12 viewpoints along the way to take stunning photos of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail: This paved trail is great for biking. This trail is about 22 miles long, from Empire to Bohemia Road.
- Palmer Woods Trail: This is the perfect place for mountain bikers. It is the perfect place to take and share beautiful photos.
- Pyramid Peak: About 5 miles from the trailhead is Pyramid Point. From here you have the best view of the Manitou Islands and the Passage. This is a point not to be missed for taking photos that people will capture on their social media profiles.
- Crystal and Platte Rivers: These rivers are great for tubing or canoeing. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery by following the course of the river through the beautiful forest. It is a perfect place for families who want to have an unforgettable time.
- Inspiration Point: This is the perfect place to take your loved one. The romantic atmosphere and enchanting views of Lake Glen, Alligator Hill and North Manitou Island will surely inspire you for the future.
Activities you should not miss
If you don’t believe me that there are a million things to do at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, then you should read on.
Whether it’s on the lakefront, in the woods, at Platte River Campground or in the Manitou Islands, there are some excellent campgrounds where you can enjoy the beautiful views and have a memorable time. There are also some ideal sites for RVers, like the Indigo Bluffs RV Park & Resort.
One thing you may not have considered about Sleeping Bear Dunes is the shopping opportunities. There are great stores along every street, and each has some amazing items that are truly unique. From clothing, jewelry and accessories to authentic home furnishings, delicious local produce and beverages, you can get anything you want in Leelanau County.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers an excellent dining experience. You can get it all here, whether it’s fine dining, hot dogs, ice cream or something from the café. In addition to booths, cafes and wineries, there are over 60 restaurants, so you definitely won’t go hungry during your stay here.
Visit the museums
If you are interested in history like I am, then you should already pack your bags and head to Sleeping Bear Dunes. There are several museums where you can admire artwork or learn about the history of the first people in the area and the first European settlements.
Art and culture
In my opinion, the arts and culture aspect is one of the most underrated features of Sleeping Bear Dunes. This place has a lot to offer with the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Traverse City Film Festival and the National Writers Series. You will have great learning opportunities while experiencing the beautiful culture.
Explore the Manitou Islands
These Manitou islands are just a short boat ride away. For all nature lovers, this is something not to be missed. These islands offer breathtaking views, abundant wildlife and birdlife, and are ideal for hiking.
North Manitou Island is home to a historic village, while South Manitou Island is home to the historic lighthouse and keepers’ quarters. There are 16 shipwrecks and seven docks in the Manitou Passage, all of which can be explored.
Hotels to stay
If you are planning an extended stay and want a mix of camping and a luxurious hotel stay, there are many places near Sleeping Bear Dunes to consider. Fortunately, numerous hotels near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offer comfortable surroundings at reasonable rates.
Here are some of the best Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore hotels you should try. All of these hotels are:
- Are very popular and most frequently booked
- Highly rated (over 8 out of 10) on credible websites
- Within 5 km from Sleeping Bear Dunes
- Located in places with great views
- Offer great facilities such as TV, fridge, WiFi access and self catering if required.
This place offers some great options for couples and families while being reasonably priced. If you want to visit this place with your loved ones, you can get a nice cozy room with a fireplace, refrigerator and a king size bed. For families, there are rooms with a king size bed and a sitting area or two queen size beds.
Other amenities include a pool, biking, golfing, skiing, a spa, WiFi, restaurants, air conditioning and more. Rates range from $83 to $268 per night, depending on the room and season.
Empire Lakeshore Inn
Empire Lakeshore Inn is located near the coast in Empire, Michigan. Just 3 km from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this is an ideal place to stay. You’ll get a comfortable atmosphere, beautiful scenery, great hospitality and amenities like WiFi access, a garden, a patio, a flat-screen TV, a mini-fridge and air conditioning.
A stay at the Empire Lakeshore Inn costs about $100 to $150 per night.
The Homestead is a four-season resort just one mile from Lake Michigan. Within the resort you can indulge in many activities such as swimming in the pools, playing tennis or golf, skiing, snowboarding or visiting the spa, salon or fitness center.
Within the resort you have a choice of small hotels, a lodge, a large inn or cottages. This is one of the best places to stay near Sleeping Sand Dunes. You can choose the package that suits you best and have a great time with your family.
Stony Brook Lodge
This is a Northwood-style lodge. Each room has a king-size bed, a sleeper sofa, and amenities such as a kitchenette, pool, and laundry facilities. There is also a fitness room, conference room and sauna on the lower level.
This place is popular with tourists because the beach is nearby and the rooms offer great panoramic views of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Lake Michigan and the Crystal River Valley. I’ll put my head in the sand and say you won’t be disappointed if you choose this hotel. A stay at Stony Brook Lodge costs between $114 and $611 per night.
Should you visit Sleeping Bear Dunes in an RV?
If you want to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park by RV, this place is has a lot to offer. The area is accessible by road and offers beautiful views that can be enjoyed when visiting the Lakeshore.
Also, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a great place for you to visit because there are many RV stops where you can take a break and soak in the beautiful atmosphere. So if you are traveling by RV, you will not be disappointed.
In summary, there are a lot of great places to visit in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, including the Dune Climb, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail, Palmer Woods Trail, Pyramid and Inspirational Points, and the Crystal and Platte Rivers.
In addition, there are many fun activities to do, including shopping, camping, dining, and exploring the Manitou Islands. At Sleeping Bear Dunes, you can spend an unforgettable time with your family and loved ones. This is one place that should be on the top of your list for your next vacation.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. what are the main attractions at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore?
The main attractions at Sleeping Bear Dunes are the Dune Climb, an elevated sand-filled area; the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, where you can take tons of great photos while enjoying the breathtaking views; the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail and Palmer Woods Trail for those who enjoy hiking and biking; Pyramid and Inspirational Points, which offer some of the most spectacular views; and the Crystal and Platte rivers, where you can raft, tube or canoe.
2. How can I find hotels near Sleeping Bear Dunes?
There are some great hotels near Sleeping Bear Dunes, some of which I have mentioned above. You can find hotels by simply doing a Google search for hotels near Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can also make a reservation through booking.com, hotels.com, or Kayak.com.
You can also call the hotel directly for reservations, rates and other questions. You can find the contact information for each hotel on Google or on their websites.
3. What are the popular activities to do at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes?
You can visit the main attractions in Sleeping Bear Dunes. In addition, you can go shopping or eat out at various restaurants. You can visit the various museums or enjoy the art and culture of the area. You can canoe on the Crystal and Platter rivers or bike on the Palmer Woods Trail. Other activities include skiing, snowboarding, golfing, tennis, spa and sauna.
4. Are guided tours offered at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park?
Sleeping Bear Dunes Tours offer guided tours, including bus tours and heritage tours, so you won’t miss any of what Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park has to offer.