Build a Northern Michigan vacation around the spectacular Lake Michigan dunes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City, the Silver Lake Dunes near Pentwater and Wilderness State Park outside of Petoskey. Majestic wonder, spectacular vistas and lots of sandy fun to be had. Before you go, check out the dune book list included in this article.
Stand 400 feet high in the warm wind overlooking Lake Michigan and you can feel the Sleeping Bear breathing underfoot. The coastline’s crown jewels, the Sleeping Bear Dunes (231-326-5134, NPS.GOV/SLBE), have inspired stories and, more important for you, relaxation, for generations. Lodge in summery splendor at The Homestead (231-334-5100, THEHOMESTEADRESORT.COM, $85–$592), where the Crystal River joins Lake Michigan right on Sleeping Bear Bay. Dine in
simple elegance on authentic French country fare at La Bécasse (231-334-3238, RESTAURANTLABECASSE.COM), on the south side of Glen Lake.
Sands still moving, Silver Lake Sand Dunes (231-873-3083, THINKDUNES.COM) offer hiking, beachcombing on both Lake
Michigan and Silver Lake, and a separate area for off-road vehicles. Make the short drive to Victorian-themed Hexagon
House B&B (231-869-4102, HEXAGONHOUSE.COM, $119–$259), built in 1870 and surrounded by gardens in the summer-bustling burg of Pentwater. Enjoy peach schnapps–stuffed French toast and lemon coffeecake at the B&B, then venture north a bit to Ludington for waterfront dining at P.M. Steamers (231-843-9555, PMSTEAMERS.COM) and a microbrew at Jamesport Brewing Co. (231-845-2522, JAMESPORTBREWINGCOMPANY.COM).
Vacation au naturel at Wilderness State Park ($60/CABIN, $10/PARK, 231-436-5381, dnr.state.mi.us) in Emmet County. Not referring to the sun seeker kind—although people are known to go sans suits on the remote park beaches along Sturgeon Bay—we’re talking about rugged lodging in Wilderness’s waterfront log cabins. Daytime, picnic in the dune bowls and search for fossils on the low hills. The state park’s shoreline provides the best habitat in Michigan for the endangered piping plover, so bring your binoculars—for the plovers, of course. Evening, dine at Legs Inn (231-526-2281, LEGSINN.COM) in Cross Village, where the authentic Polish cuisine and heavy-on-the-fiddle entertainment might tempt you to stay indoors—but the sun dropping into the lake will have you on the restaurant’s garden swing before long.
Michigan book recommendations from the well-read staff at McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey (231-347-1180, MCLEANANDEAKIN.COM).
• The Michigan Roadside Naturalist, by J. Alan Holman and Margaret B. Holman
• Seasons of Sleeping Bear, by Terry Phipps
• The Legend of Sleeping Bear, by Kathy-jo Wargin
• The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, by Jerry Dennis
• Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, by Michael Schumacher
• The Wreck of the Carl D.: A True Story of Loss, Survival, and Rescue at Sea, by Michael Schumacher
• Death’s Door: The Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder, by Steve Lehto
Lisa Doublestein writes from Petoskey. firstname.lastname@example.org