Seeping bear dunes lakesore, glen arbor, Michigan. Panoramic view.

Glen Arbor Lodging is located near all the best activities in the area. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, nestled in Michigan, beckons with its vast expanse of dune formations, beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Ideal for a range of activities including kayaking, beach exploration, and biking. This treasure trove, crowned ‘The Most Beautiful Place in America’ offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and history waiting to be explored. Making it a prime destination for those seeking the beauty of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and the pristine beaches of Michigan.

Your adventure at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore could include climbing majestic dunes, embarking on scenic trails, or delving into the rich tapestry of the area’s cultural features. Tailoring itineraries that encapsulate the essence of Michigan’s pristine wilderness, this guide walks you through must-visit attractions and activities to complete your journey, highlighting the top things to do near Sleeping Bear Dunes and the various Sleeping Bear Dunes activities available.

Explore the Dune Climb and Scenic Trails

Sleeping Bear Dunes Glen Arbor Michigan

Embark on the iconic Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a must-do for every visitor. Situated about 5 miles north of Empire, this 284-foot tall dune offers a vigorous challenge and a rewarding panorama of Glen Lake from its summit, making it a standout among the dunes in the area. Here’s what to expect:

  1. Preparation and Duration Climbing the Dune Climb can take about 10 minutes to reach the first plateau. For those aiming for Lake Michigan, prepare for a 3.5-mile hike, which involves climbing seven dunes and takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. Ensure you wear sturdy hiking shoes, apply sunscreen, and carry plenty of water, making it one of the more challenging yet rewarding hiking trails in the area.
  2. Amenities at the Dune Climb At the base, the Dune Center provides modern restrooms and a bookstore. A picnic area offers a spot to rest and refuel after your climb, making it a perfect spot for picnicking. The Dune Climb is accessible all year round, 24/7, with a valid park pass required for entry.
  3. Trails and More Beyond the Dune Climb, explore over 100 miles of trails like the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, which starts from the base of the dune. Each trail offers unique landscapes, from forested paths to sandy dunes, enriching your adventure with diverse flora and scenic vistas. These trails cater to both hiking and bike trail enthusiasts, offering something for every type of adventurer.

Water Adventures: Kayak, Canoe, and Swim

Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Glen Arbor Michigan, Sunset view

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a haven for water enthusiasts, offering many activities that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re an experienced kayaker eager to explore the towering dunes from the water or a family looking for a gentle river adventure, this destination has something for everyone, with its beautiful beaches and a variety of lakeshore activities.

  • Kayaking and Canoeing Options:
    • For the Adventurous: Paddle beneath the 400-foot cliffs along the lakeshore or explore the secluded beaches.
    • Family-Friendly Waters: The Crystal and Platte Rivers offer serene environments perfect for less experienced paddlers, with canoe and kayak rentals available from local outfitters like Crystal River Outfitters and Riverside Canoe Trips. This makes it an ideal spot for those interested in camping and exploring the waterways at a leisurely pace.
  • Guided Kayak Tours: Crystal River Kayak and Canoes provides safe and informative guided kayak tours.
  • Equipment Rentals: At Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak, and other local shops, you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and even surfboards to enhance your water adventure.
  • Safety and Preparation: When planning to kayak on Lake Michigan, be prepared for variable conditions including cold water, strong winds, and fog. It’s essential to check weather updates and equip yourself with the necessary safety gear.

Enjoy the unique perspectives and tranquil waters of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, making your visit both memorable and exhilarating.

Step Back in Time to Historic Sites

Step back in time at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by exploring its rich tapestry of historic sites, each telling unique stories of Michigan’s past. Here’s a closer look at some key historical attractions, showcasing the area’s local history and cultural sites.

  • Port Oneida Rural Historic District Discover a preserved agricultural landscape that showcases the farm life of Northern European settlers with well-maintained farmstead buildings and traditional landscape features.
  • Historic Farmsteads and Landscapes Visit Tweedle Farm to see specialized agricultural buildings, or explore the Bufka/Kropp/Eitzen Farm Landscape near Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church for a glimpse into small rural farm life.
  • Glen Haven Historic Village Learn about the region’s logging and farming past in this quaint village on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Empire Michigan. Don’t miss the Manitou Island Association Historic District, where Michigan’s last steam-powered sawmill stands, a nod to the state’s significant logging history.

Dive deeper into the area’s cultural heritage by visiting lighthouses that guided past sailors, or take a tour of the South Manitou Island lighthouse. For those interested in more immersive experiences, participate in events like Log Cabin Day or the Port Oneida Fair, hosted by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear, to truly appreciate the efforts in preserving these historical treasures.

Night Skies and Seasonal Activities

Sleeping Bear Dunes Michigan- fire at night on the beach.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore transforms into a celestial wonderland with its array of night sky viewing programs, perfect for astronomy enthusiasts and families alike. From April through October, the park hosts monthly Summer Star Party Events, offering a unique opportunity to gaze at stars, planets, and meteor showers under the guidance of park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society. Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Luxury Condos has a great nighttime beach adventure package with everything you need to enjoy stargazing on the beach, build a fire, make S’mores, and relax under beautiful night skies.

Essential Tips for Attendees:

  • What to Bring Ensure you pack a flashlight, bug spray, binoculars, a blanket for sitting, and some water for your camping adventure. Temperatures drop in the evening, so dressing warmly is advisable.
  • Parking Instructions Park in the designated row furthest from the dunes with headlights facing M-109 to minimize light pollution and maximize your stargazing experience.


Through the exploration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s diverse attractions—from the physical challenge of the Dune Climb and the serene water adventures on its lakes and rivers to stepping back in time at historical sites, beaches, and lighthouses—this article has highlighted the unique blend of activities that make it a must-visit destination. Each activity detailed herein not only amplifies the natural beauty and historical significance of the area but also underscores Michigan’s commitment to preserving its pristine wilderness and cultural heritage for all to enjoy.

The essence of what makes Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore ‘The Most Beautiful Place in America’ is not merely its scenic landscapes or its recreational opportunities, but its ability to offer visitors an immersive experience into both natural and historical worlds, including its stunning glacial features. The significance of these findings lies in their capacity to inspire further exploration, suggest conservation efforts, and encourage a deeper appreciation of the natural and cultural resources that define this stunning lakeshore. It behooves visitors to tread lightly and explore deeply, ensuring this treasure remains vibrant for generations to come. Plan your trip today and reserve your room or condo now.

All Accommodations

5 bed & breakfast suites and 3 luxury condos


Bed and Breakfast rooms Glen Arbor Michigan

Bed & Breakfast Rooms

5 bed and breakfast suites with new bathrooms and amenities


Condo Rentals Glen Arbor Michigan

Luxury Condos

3 completely renovated luxury condos with everything you need


Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Luxury Condos

Our Property Amenities

From a perfect location to everything you need for a memorable stay.


Explore Glen Arbor Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes

Explore Glen Arbor Michigan

Get out and explore all the great activities and fun things to do in Glen Arbor, Michigan


Walking map of Glen Arbor Michigan

Glen Arbor Walking Maps

We are located in the heart of Glen Arbor. Just steps from Lake Michigan beaches and local shops and restaurants.


Join our Glen Arbor newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Be the first to find out about our latest deals, special offers, and local area happenings.


Glen Arbor Add-on items

Special Add-On Items

Make your trip more memorable by adding these great items.



Glen Arbor Lodging specials and packages.

Our Specials & Packages

Make your trip more memorable with our special offers and packages.


Glen Arbor On-site Events

Our Inn Events

Make your trip more memorable by participating in one of our on-site special events.



Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Luxury Condos gift certificates

Gift Certificates

Give yourself the gift of travel. Buy one of our convenient gift certificates today.


About Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast

Meet Your Hosts

We are third-generation business owners in Glen Arbor. We grew up here and hope you love it as much as we do.


Contact Us

Contact Us

We are located within minutes of Lake Michigan beaches and Glen Arbor area shops.


FAQ about Glen Arbor Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions

We are here to make your trip to Glen Arbor more memorable. Do you have questions or have special needs?