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Planning Your Trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, tucked away in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, won the title of Good Morning America’s “Most Beautiful Place in America”. This hidden gem stretches 35 miles along Lake Michigan, two islands, 26 inland lakes, more than 50,000 acres of land, and the monumental sand dunes from which it gets its name.

The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center is a great starting point to get your park pass, maps, brochures, and learn about the dunes’ history and the surrounding area. For local recommendations and insights, check out our favorite things to do in Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Best Things To Do In Sleeping Bear Dunes

Best Hiking Trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes

The Sleeping Bear Dunes region, the Leelanau Peninsula and Benzie County have some of the most best hiking trails in the Midwest. Sleeping Bear Dunes has 13 trails, the Leelanau Conservancy has 17 natural areas and preserves and the Grand Traverse Conservancy has 58 nature preserves and trails.

Best Biking Trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Biking is a great way to get exercise during your vacation and explore Sleeping Bear Dunes. The bike pathways throughout the area provide a scenic backdrop. Explore the best biking trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes to find one that you like!

Best Kayaking Rivers in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Rent a kayak or bring your own to enjoy a day out on the water in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our favorite kayaking rivers are the Lower Platte River, Upper Platte River, and Crystal River. The Lower Platte River is a 2 hour trip at the most. It’s an easy family friendly paddle that begins near M-22 at Lake Michigan Road and goes through Loon Lake. The Upper Platte River is a 4 hour more aggressive trip, good for intermediate level and experienced level kayakers. Crystal River is 2 – 3 hour family friendly trip that begins in Glen Arbor and runs through a beautiful section of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

Best Beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to some of the best fresh water beaches. We like the Esch Road Beach, Frankfort Beach, North Bar Lake, and Traverse City Beaches for an all day beach day. Vans Beach in Leland is a great spot for a beach day too but it’s a little farther of a drive from Sleeping Bear Resort. For long walks on the beach to look for Petoskey Stones we like County Road 651 Beach.

Best Small Towns near Sleeping Bear Dunes

There are several charming small towns near Sleeping Bear Dunes that are perfect to visit on a day trip from Sleeping Bear Resort. We recommend visiting Suttons Bay, Glen Arbor, Empire, Leland, Northport, Lake Ann, Frankfort, Beulah, Cedar, Maple City, Burdickville, and Honor!

Top Indoor Activities Near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Don’t let a rainy day in Northern Michigan get you down. There are plenty of fun things to do on a rainy day near Sleeping Bear Resort. We recommend going shopping, booking a massage, or seeing a movie!

Top Winter Things To Do Near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a great place for winter activities. Our proximity to Lake Michigan and the topography of the area are conducive to lots and lots of lake effect snow.

Within a 20 mile radius of Sleeping Bear Resort are four ski resorts, nine cross country ski & snowshoe trails, two snow tubing destinations and over 135 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. In addition to the marked public trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is open all winter. Stop into the Welcome Center and one of the rangers can direct you to several snowshoe and x-country ski destinations that are off the beaten path.