©National Park Service The steep sand slopes are just one of the attractions at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Family Vacations: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

These steep slopes of sand rise as high as 460 feet above the blue waters of Lake Michigan. The dunes are among the largest in the world, matched only by those in Colorado, the Sahara, and Saudi Arabia. You'll huff and puff your way to the top -- it’s quite a climb -- but it's worth it to tumble, run, or cartwheel down the soft, sandy slope.

Enjoy a picnic lunch and relax after your climb. You'll probably spot some hang gliders who like to launch from the dunes' peaks. The waters of Lake Michigan are a very short walk from the bottom of the dunes and are a great place to linger for a swim or a picnic until you muster the energy to go up ... and down again.

While the dunes are a popular attraction in this protected area, the entire 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands, are worth a visit.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Information

Address: 9922 Front St., Empire, MI

Telephone: 231/326-5134

Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

Admission: $10 per vehicle or $5 adults

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Michigan State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Michigan, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.