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Exploring the Lake Michigan Dunes

See trip details for the Lake Michigan Dunes, one of 30 suggested family trips from National Geographic.

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At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, waves and wind constantly remake miles of dunes.


On the northeastern shore of Lake Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, totaling over 71,000 acres (28,730 hectares). There are over 100 miles (160 kilometers) of trails in the park; a couple with great views are Pyramid Point and Bay View. This area of Michigan produces the most tart cherries in the U.S. Pick up a batch from the roadside for a picnic. Speaking of which, don’t miss out on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a loop with lots of picnicking opportunities.

Tour the Port Oneida Rural Historic District—north of Glen Haven—which contains more than 20 farms, two cemeteries, a school, and barns spread over 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares). Kayak or canoe Glen and Loon Lakes. You may see muskrat, otter, and even foxes. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, climb the dunes, some of which are 400 feet (122 meters) tall.

Open from late April through late October, Pirate’s Cove in Traverse City is a great place for the family to end their evening. There are go-karts, a putt-putt golf course, and a game room. Check www.piratescove.net for hours and more info.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Traverse City, Michigan. For local lodging, go to www.visittraversecity.com. One option is the Lakeshore Resort, where you can rent a cottage or condo on the beach.

For park information, visit www.nps.gov/slbe.

Based on articles from National Geographic Traveler and compiled by Stephanie Robichaux

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