Reader feedback: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mich.

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1 - 16 of 16 Comments Last updated Aug 12, 2008

Since: Aug 07

Chicago, IL

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#1
Dec 19, 2007
 
Have your own suggestions for visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mich.? Share your tips with other readers.
Adam from Oswego - IL

Boca Raton, FL

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#2
Mar 12, 2008
 
In the summer months, you MUST go to Glen Arbor and do the following:

1. Relax on a boat in Glen Lake. Seriously, you have to see the water to believe it. Its Caribbean clear.

2. Visit Art's Tavern and order a burger. They ground the meat on-site, creating the 2nd best burger in all of the Midwest.(Redamak's is #1 in my opinion). Their chili is also amazing. Oh, and make sure you order tater-tots!! Also, its cash only, so remember that :)

Also recommended is spending the afternoon drinking cold beverages and listening to live music at Boone Dock's, then grabbing some ice cream right next door. Also next door, is a nice boutique shop for women called Queen of Couture. Then, later in the day, have some dinner at the Western Avenue Grill.

I stay in Glen Arbor for a week every year during 4th of July week, and I look forward to it every year.
Bill G

Avon, NC

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#3
Apr 17, 2008
 
Don't forget the great beaches from Frankfort all the way to Leland. Also, try the nature trails for hiking. They are listed in the National Park Service trail guides. Remember,these are all user fee areas- you must purchase a weekly pass and have it on the dashboard of your car to use these areas. The ranger will ticket you if you don't have one.
Ellen

United States

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#4
Apr 17, 2008
 
Stop in at the Sleeping Bear Dunes visitor center and pick up a booklet that shows the self-guided Pierce Stocking Senic Drive. It's a stunning route that circles through the woods and dunes along the shoreline...brief but gorgeous, and you can get out of the car or stop at various overlooks and points of interest if you wish. A wonderful way to spend maybe 45 minutes... you will love it.
Ashley Ann

Gibsonia, PA

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#5
Apr 18, 2008
 
This area is so beautiful that we purchased property nearby to build our retirement home. People think we're nuts because of Michigan winters ... but ... the beauty of winter has its own breath-taking moments. This part of Michigan is quickly becoming like Oregon/Washington ... they welcome tourists for a brief visit but really aren't interested in having you stay permanently ;-)~ they fear it will be "over built". GREAT spot for a getaway not too far from Chicago ... take the ferry over from Manitowoc to Ludington and drive north ... great excursion for the kids! There are houses and cabins to rent by the week in surrounding communities; many right on one of the smaller lakes (of which there are tons). Gets crowded during Cherry Festival Week (around the 4th of July) so consider an "off" week.
Melissa

Cambridge, MA

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#6
Apr 18, 2008
 
I highly recommend checking out the Italian restaurant Funistrada while in the area.
Manoj P

United States

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#7
Apr 18, 2008
 
A word of advice. If you are not healthwise fit dont go down the sleeping bear dunes. Coming up is going to be such a problem. Trust me I have been there done that. It took me 5 mins to go down and 3 hours to get back up with 2 others assisting me.
johnny b

Valparaiso, IN

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#8
Apr 18, 2008
 
The camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes is outstanding, particularly if you do a walk-in site. They are much more secluded than the drive-up sites, require a little more effort since you have to carry your gear in, but well worth it.
Don

Chicago, IL

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#9
Apr 19, 2008
 
The Leelanau peninsula has some of the best bicycle riding roads in the midwest, and the drivers are usually very considerate and good at sharing the road.
Ann

Grand Haven, MI

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#10
Apr 19, 2008
 

Judged:

1

(1) Thanks for mentioning Art's Tavern. My neighbor owns it.

(2) Next door to Glen Arbor (terminally cute tourist trap and anyone who lives here avoids it like the plague during the summer) is Empire where the National Park Headquarters is located.

In Empire there are 2 restaurants: Village Inn and Friendly Tavern (renown for it sburgers and does full meals.)

There are NO FAST FOOD PLACES. McD's is not gonna happen.

(3) To go into the Dunes, you MUST buy a park pass.

(4) You CAN NOT CAMP on the beach - don't even ask and don't do it unless you want a ticket or arrested.

(5) There are NO chain hotels here. There are 2 small 12 room hotels (1 in Glen Abor and 1 in Empire) and a few B & B's

(6) DO NOT COME without reservations.

Park has 2 campgrounds - 1st come, 1st serve so you take your chances.

Empire Township Campground takes resevations and opens May 1. Call information.

Vacation Trailer Park in Benzonia (4 star campground) takes reservations and has a website.

(7) Don -you are WRONG! The locals loathe the self-centered tourists who think are roads are their personal bike paths. Those of us who live here have regular lives, things to do and places to go. Self-centered 'entitled' twits riding in the traffic lane on a 40 or 55 mph road and impeding traffic are cursed at regularly.

Just because someone hasn't (yet) put you in the ditch) doesn't mean we think that riding down the road is just fine.

Stay on the berms. They are wide and flat enough that I use them with my 3 speed and 10 speed.

(8) Nothing is open 24 hours. If you don't get what you need by 9PM at the grocery or 10/11PM at the convenience store, you wait until the next day. Also you will NOT pay at the pump or prepay for fuel - not worth the cost of such equipment for a year round population of less than 2000.

(9) Do NOT speed. The hordes of deer wander across the road in mid-day as well as at night.

(10) BUY A MAP. Mapquest and Google send you on roads that the locals would never use and just get you lost.
Ann

Grand Haven, MI

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#11
Apr 19, 2008
 

Judged:

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Ashley Ann - you write "This part of Michigan is quickly becoming like Oregon/Washington ... they welcome tourists for a brief visit but really aren't interested in having you stay permanently ;-)~ they fear it will be "over built". "

You make that sound negative. And the issues is not 'overbuilt'- the issue is 'overpriced because of the greedy 'gotta have it all' 2nd home people.

Will you kindly explain how those people who live here and work here are to afford some place to live when people like you want a 'vacation' place?

What do you think jobs in a tourism and farm economy pay? Where are the employees of local business supposed to live? In a tent?

The starting price for rent will consume over 60% of the take-home pay of those esssential employees - and they still have to pay utilites.

Prices are so high that our Emergency Services (EMTs and fire) can not afford to live here.

So yes - we DO NOT WANT 2nd home people. They drive up the prices and make it impossible for those who live here and work here.

It has reached the point that such things as (1) impact fees on 2nd home owners and (2) impact fees on those who rent out properties on a weekly basis in the summer thus taking them out of the year-round rental market and (3) limiting the number of vacation rentals in a community or banning them completely in residential areas are being serioulsy discussed.

You may being planning on coming here after retirement, but with that attitude, I can pretty much guarantee you won't stay.
Nancy

United States

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#12
Apr 20, 2008
 
My goodness. Although Ann provides some helpful tips, her comments about Glen Arbor are about as negative as they get. Her feelings are not shared by everyone. My family started vacationing in Glen Arbor 61 years ago, and my husband and I have owned a home in Leelanau County since 1985. We also own a business in Glen Arbor. We love the visitors and summer residents who choose to make Glen Arbor their special getaway place. Of course that brings more traffic, but it also stimulates business and provides more creative energy for the artistic ventures that abound here. Glen Arbor was a sleepy, but charming little community 60 years ago, but it is even more attractive and vibrant now.

Indeed, the home prices in the area have risen - mostly the prices of the homes on Glen Lake or Lake Michigan. The fact that the National Park Service owns approximately 70% of the land in the township contributes to the high prices (most homes on the lakes are now worth a million dollars or more). But the countryside in Leelanau County is as spectular as the clear blue lakes, and there are many affordable homes in that area. Many of the local business owners, firefighters, and of course township officials live in Glen Arbor. And others live in the surrounding countryside close to the Glen Arbor community.

So visitors, come on up; we welcome your presence!
Manda

UK

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#16
Apr 30, 2008
 
Hi there, can anyone help?
We're travelling from the UK in August to Chicago and are looking to do a mini road trip along Lake Michigan (about 5-6 days). If we have time to get as far as Sleeping Bear Dunes then we will, but does anyone have any recommendations on good towns/villages to stay for a night or two?
Thanks for your help!
Manda
Dean

Des Plaines, IL

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#19
Aug 11, 2008
 
Manda,

If you get a start out of Chicago before the sun gets very high in the sky, you can easily drive around the southern tip of Lake Michigan on Interstate 94 into Michigan, and then follow US Highway 31 from Benton Harbor/St. Joseph to Holland and north to Traverse City. Traverse City is a great home-base for excursions to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, the rest of the Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula, and points farther north as far as Petoskey. You can spend a few days seeing the natural scenery, shop, dine, enjoy the wineries, and even rent a canoe at the M-22 Bridge over the Platte River in the National Lakeshore (next to the Platte River Campground) for a relatively short paddle down to the rivermouth on Lake Michigan. Check http://www.visittraversecity.com/ for ideas.

On your way back, I'd suggest Saugatuck/Douglas, a pair of little harbor towns at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River that also happens to have a beautiful public beach (Oval Beach) to take in some sun and swimming, and it also home to several art galleries and the Art Institute of Chicago's Oxbow School. There are lots of bed-and-breakfasts there, lots of small shops to browse in a very walkable downtown Saugatuck, and many good restaurants. You can't go wrong there. More information at http://www.saugatuck.com/index.asp

Hope this gives you some ideas...please enjoy your visit!
jliams

Springfield, IL

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#20
Aug 12, 2008
 
We just got back from Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville. The comment about the beautiful lakes (Crystal Lake, Glen Lake, Lake Michigan) is totally accurate. The dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes that is tough to climb up once you go down was scary to me. I'm such a wimp that I had to leave because I didn't want to witness some kid tumbling head over heals to the lake because of its pitch downward. Don't forget your camera. My brother, a strong guy, had a tough time coming back up. The beauty of the area rivals the landscape of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia--the trees are truly spectacular and the lakes are clear and green/blue.
clik212

United States

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#21
Aug 12, 2008
 
How about more photos of the dunes and the area.

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