Top Indoor Things to Do near Sleeping Bear Dunes
“Never change your plans based on the weather” is always our advice to guests when visiting Northern Michigan. The closeness to Lake Michigan makes it really difficult to predict weather patterns and very often weather systems break up as they cross the lake.
In the unfortunate event of a rainy day, there are lots of interesting places for the kids and adults to explore. Traverse City is only 15 miles away where you will find unique shopping options, historic buildings to explore and indoor activities for the kids.
Top Shopping Spots
Downtown Traverse City
Downtown Traverse City is home to lots of excellent restaurants, art studios and unique shopping options. The main downtown shopping district is located on Front Street and covers three blocks between Union Street and Boardman. The West End shopping district is also on Front Street between Union and Division and the Old Town shopping district is located on Union Street a few streets south of Front Street. There are several parking lots and structures close by. We usually park in Lot B accessible from M72/Grandview Parkway between Union and Cass Streets. For indoor parking, we recommend the Hardy Parking Garage accessed from either Front Street or State Street. Click here for more information about downtown Traverse City shopping.
Grand Traverse Commons
The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is one of the largest historic preservation redevelopments in the country. The Commons was formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital, and previously, the Northern Michigan Asylum. The shopping and retail section of The Commons is called the Mercado. Click here for more information about shopping at the Grand Traverse Commons.
Suttons Bay sits along the west shore of Grand Traverse Bay. It’s located along the M-22 Scenic Highway 17 miles north of Traverse City. It’s a popular vacationers’ shopping destination. The retail district is located right on M-22 where you’ll find a wide variety of unique stores. Unique science and nature toys, books, clothing, home furnishings, gourmet foods and Michigan-made products are just some of the things you’ll find in Suttons Bay. Walking distance from the downtown district is a beautiful beach located in the municipal park. Suttons Bay is a great stop on your M-22 circle tour around the Leelanau Peninsula. Click here for more information about Suttons Bay shopping.
Frankfort – Elberta
The town of Frankfort is best known for it’s beautiful public beach. There’s a walkway along the pier taking you out toward the “Frankfort Light”. The town of Frankfort sits on the north side of the Betsie Bay and Elberta sits on the south side of the Bay. Both towns sit on the shores of Lake Michigan. Frankfort got it’s name from it’s early German settlers that compared it to the beauty of Frankfurt Germany. Frankfort is also known for its fishing charters and its charming downtown district. Just north of Frankfort is the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse which is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Michigan. Click here for more information about Frankfort – Elberta shopping.
Glen Arbor is a very popular summer vacation destination. The town is hopping with tourists and with good reason. Glen Arbor is located along the M-22 Scenic Highway and is flanked by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on it’s east and west sides. To the south is the beautiful Glen Lake. To the north is Lake Michigan’s Good Harbor Bay. While in Glen Arbor, make sure you visit Cherry Republic, The M-22 Store and grab a bite to eat on the deck at Boonedocks. Click here for the Glen Arbor Visitors Bureau.
Leland is located on M-22 along the western shore of the Leelanau Peninsula. It’s best known for it’s historic district called Fishtown. This is another very popular summer vacation destination with a unique and charming downtown district. While in Fishtown, enjoy a meal or a drink on the deck at The Cove, stop in Harbor Town Trading Company for an ice cream cone and stroll along main street and stop into one of the many unique shops. For an upscale memorable dining experience, try the Riverside Inn. They have very nice outdoor seating with a view of Lake Leelanau. Click here for more information about Leland Shopping.
Northport is located near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. This picturesque town has a marina along a beautiful waterfront, unique shops, art galleries and good restaurants. While in Northport, make sure to check out the park and marina and walk through the downtown district to see some of the local artisan’s work. The kids will enjoys Tuckers of Northport and the adults will appreciate the Mitten Brewing Company. When you leave Northport, head north to the Leelanau State Park at the very tip of the peninsula and check out the lighthouse grounds. Click here for more information about Northport shopping.
Spas and Massage
Living Light Massage
Located downtown Traverse City, Living Light has 15 skilled massage therapists that offer relaxation, deep tissue, sports and other specialty types of massages. They are open 7 days a week and require advance reservations. Click here for a link to their website.
Located at Crystal Mountain Resort, the Crystal Spa is an elegant retreat with heated floors, steam rooms, infrared saunas and an outdoor mosaic garden with a hot tub. From Swedish massage, aromatherapy baths and body wraps, to facials, manicures and pedicures, Crystal Spa offers a wide range of treatments that relax and rejuvenate. Click here for a link to their website.
Tuckers in Northport
Opened in 2014, Tuckers has a beautiful state of the art six-lane bowling alley and game room. This is no ordinary bowling alley and restaurant! This gorgeous entertainment venue focuses on family and fun. The kids can play in the arcade and bowling alley while the adults can supervise and enjoy refreshments nearby in the lounge or restaurant. Click here for their website.
Located on US 31 just west of Chums Corners, this family fun mecca has state of the art bowling alleys, lots and lots of arcade games for all ages, laser tag along with a restaurant and lounge. They also have live music on weekends. Click here for their website.
Handz on Art
This is a “paint your own pottery studio”. You choose a ceramic piece you’d like to paint and Handz on Art provides all the necessary idea books, stencils, stamps, and sponges to use. It’s fun for all ages. Click here for their website.
Great Lakes Children’s Museum
Voted “Red Hot Best 2016” place to take kids on a rainy day. The museum was designed with children ages 1 – 10 in mind. They offer hands-on, inquiry-based, educational fun for people of all ages. There’s a collection of permanent exhibits, rotating exhibits, programs and special events to bring out the wonder of learning for guests of all ages. Click here for their website.
Movies and Cinema
The State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay
These beautifully remodeled theatres present the very best new movies, with world-class picture, screen, and sound – right downtown. The State Theatre is owned and operated by the Traverse City Film Festival, which completely renovated the shuttered historic downtown movie house, and reopened it in November 2007. The seats are incredibly comfortable! The festival also renovated the City-owned historic building on the Grand Traverse Bay movie house called Bijou by the Bay. Click here for more information.