Located a little over two hours north of Grand Rapids, Sleeping Bear Dunes is family friendly, adventure oriented gem that everyone can enjoy this summer. Mother Nature is on full display within this national park. With massive sand dunes and sparkling lakes, Sleeping Bear Dunes will have you hooked on its serene vistas and never ending beauty. Save this blog post to help you plan your Michigan bucket list adventure!
This article will help you plan the ideal itinerary for a summer weekend in Sleeping Bear Dunes. I’ll cover where we stayed for our weekend in Sleeping Bear Dunes, places to eat, what to pack for a summer trip, as well as spots to explore.
We spent a weekend in Sleeping Bear Dunes to celebrate my childhood best friend’s wedding. The wedding was small and intimate, and we all stayed together in one amazingly large log cabin located in Crystal Mountain Resort. Chalet Crystal Mountain is the name of the cabin that we rented and it slept all 22 of us under one roof.
Chalet Crystal Mountain has 6 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, two large family rooms, a wraparound porch, a huuuge mudroom that we used to store all of the wedding florals, as well as a washer and dryer. The cabin is perfectly situated along a golf course, so the back deck is a great place to hang out and watch the golfers drive by.
One thing to note, if you decide to rent the cabin through a third party company, as opposed to using Crystal Mountain Resort, access to the resort amenities are limited. The resort itself has an onsite fitness center, spa and indoor pool, however, we did not have access to these as we did not book the cabin directly through the resort.
Crystal Mountain Resort offers several onsite restaurants – a small coffee shop, Wild Tomato and Thistle Pub. The truffle fries at Thistle Pub were such a good snack! There is also a small market grocery shop just a short walk from the cabin which has tons of snacks, beer and wine, and lots of other essentials.
When we first arrived to the cabin, we drove to Costco in Traverse City (about 45 minutes away), and stocked up on groceries and snacks for the week. While the food from the resort’s restaurants was okay, I would definitely recommend bringing your own groceries to cook at the cabin as a way to save money and have tastier meals. Dining options aren’t too expansive in this area unless you drive quite a ways outside of the resort.
Thistle pub: We stopped for truffle fries after a morning walk, and they were super tasty. The menu can be found here.
Wild Tomato: a good option for breakfast within the resort. We ordered takeout and took it home to enjoy on the porch.
The Fusion: Asian fusion restaurant located in Frankfort, MI. We stopped here for dinner after hiking at Green Point Dunes. While the food was absolutely incredible, the service was less than subpar. It seems as though this restaurant is under new management and is still working out the kinks. It took two hours for us to receive entrees and when they did arrive, one of the dishes contained chicken after the menu stated it was a vegan option. If dining here, just be aware that it could be a longer wait time than usual due to being short staffed and under new management. The food was still divine, despite the unfortunate service.
The Cool Spot: endless flavors of homemade ice cream, acai bowls and soft serve. They also had several vegan/dairy free ice cream flavors.
Iron Fish Distillery: Featuring locally produced spirits, whiskeys, craft cocktails and more, Iron Fish Distillery is a must see when spending a summer weekend in Sleeping Bear Dunes. During the week, Iron Fish has an amazing menu with brick oven pizzas and more. We went on a Sunday when they had a King Wubbz food truck with smashburgers, fries and vegan tacos. Iron Fish has a stunning property with outdoor games and free whiskey tastings. Everyone was so friendly and knowledgeable!
With lots of forests and shade, the weather is definitely a little chillier for this Florida gal in Sleeping Bear Dunes, even in the summer. Whether you are lounging on the deck, exploring one of the many trails, or admiring the views along the scenic route, I would definitely recommend packing layers.
I mostly wore my favorite leggings from this post, my denim jacket, my all-time favorite linen pants and lots of jeans. Mornings were cooler and the afternoons were sunny and warm, but wearing layers helped me be prepared for any kind of weather as it changed throughout the weekend.
Check out my insta post to see what I wore to the wedding in a national park!
Green Point Nature Preserve + Dunes: WOW this hike was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen! It’s about a one mile, moderately challenging hike to a small private rocky beach. I could not get over how stunning the views were from the lookout points throughout this hike. The water is absolutely crystal clear and the forests were lush and peaceful. The trail is well marked and there are a few maps as you go along, so it’s very simple to navigate through the woods.
Inspiration Point: walk up the 210 steps to panoramic views of Lake Michigan. This lookout point is just a few miles down the road from the green point dunes. The views are absolutely incredible!
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: take this 7 mile drive thought lush forests and jaw dropping vistas. It costs $25/car to enter this part of the park, unless you have a national parks annual pass, then it is free. This was one of my favorite parts of our summer weekend trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. Be sure to stop at stop #3, Picnic Mountain, to enjoy the overlook and use the charcoal grills for an outdoor lunch. Continue along the wooded drive to stop #9 + 10 to watch the sunset over the lake. I promise the views will take everyone’s breath away. I’m still in shock that places this beautiful exist in Sleeping Bear Dunes. I could’ve stayed there forever. Finally, enjoy stop #11 for another overlook view. This spot was where we had the wedding!
How much time do I need at Sleeping Bear Dunes? I would say at least 3-4 days is enough time to explore everything. Dedicate one day to hiking, one day to explore Traverse City nearby, one day to do a food tour through Arcadia and one day to spend exploring the Pierce Stocking scenic drive. There are so many cool things to see and a long weekend is the perfect amount of time.
Which airport should I fly into when visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes? We found that flying into Grand Rapids was our cheapest option. There is also a smaller airport in Traverse City, which is about 30 minutes away, but this was the most expensive option.
What else is there to do around Sleeping Bear Dunes? Besides all of the hiking, beach walks, and scenic views, there are also tons of breweries and distilleries with locally crafted spirits and delicious food. I would recommend spending a day or two hopping around the tour the breweries in Sleeping Bear Dunes, Frankfort and Arcadia.
I’d love to hear about any of your recent travel experiences! Shoot me a DM on insta and lets chat all things summer travel!
Hi there, I'm Anna
Brunette Collective is a lifestyle blog focused on creating happiness through an intentional life, founded by Anna Fenstermacher.