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Day Trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes

Friday, March 11, 2022 8:53 AM


Sleeping Bear Dunes is a unique and tranquil destination that millions flock to each year. With the iconic dunes perched over 400 feet above Lake Michigan, the views will delight visitors of all ages. This stunning National Park has a little something for everyone! Here are a couple of activities to choose from to make your day trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes a trip to remember.

If you are new to Sleeping Bear Dunes, you may want to start your trip at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan. There you will find gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, great hiking, local history, and, of course, incredible dunes. Rangers at the welcome center can help to give you suggestions to match your interests.

Hike the Trails

Enjoy the park on foot, take in the high vistas overlooking lakes and dunes, or trek through the wildflowers and enjoy the fields and forests. There are about 100 miles of designated trails in the park. Each trail has a trailhead with a parking area and is marked by blue-tipped posts.

Enjoy the Beaches

There are plenty of opportunities to jump in and take a swim along the Lake Michigan shoreline! Visitors enjoy walking the beach, playing in the waves and sand, and the refreshing feel of the water. The park also boasts inland lakes, such as Glen Lake, which has been called one of the most beautiful lakes in the world by National Geographic.

Climb the Dune Climb

Located about five miles north of Empire, the Dune Climb hosts pure, wind-blown sand for visitors to climb and play. A good family destination, the area is equipped with a picnic area, modern restrooms, and a bookstore.

Bike Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Travel around Sleeping Bear Dunes by bike on this 27 mile, hard-surfaced, handicap accessible trail that connects many of the park attractions along the way. With trailheads located at Bar Lake Road, Pierce Stocking, Dune Climb, Glen Haven, Alligator Hill, Crystal River, Bay View, and Port Oneida, you can ditch your car for the day and enjoy traveling in the open air on your bike.


Throughout Sleeping Bear National Park, you can visit four notable lighthouses. These beautiful and historic pieces of history stand tall on some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Michigan. Remember to pack warm clothing and stay awhile at these locations.

  • Point Betsie Lighthouse
  • Frankfurt North Pier Head
  • Grand Traverse Light
  • South Manitou Light

Manitou Islands

If you are a more adventurous water lover, head to Leland and take a ferry to the Manitou Islands. The Manitou Passage has a rich history, which makes the area appealing to many scuba divers. The ruins of shipwrecks and the colorful fish inside offer much to explore under the surface. Camping opportunities are available on North Manitou Island for the most adventurous visitor.

Match your interests to your activities for your day trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes, and you are guaranteed an incredible experience. On your way, you will surely be looking for a one-stop shop for fuel, beverages, and picnic items; make sure to add Bunting’s Cedar Market to your day trip itinerary. Come in and visit our butcher shop for featured smoked meat products or pick up a stone-baked pizza, hot subs, chicken wings, homemade salads, and more!

Bunting’s Cedar Market is your friendly small-town market and gas station, with an extensive selection to offer! We have a full line of groceries, fresh produce, and a deli with so many things to offer it’s hard to list them. Bunting’s is the only gas station in Leelanau County that offers Rec Fuel for all your recreational needs. Call us at 231-228-7460 or visit our new website today!