’Tis time for another Life Lately post! Last weekend Drew and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by taking a little trip up to Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City. I had actually never been to either – which is crazy because both of those places are iconic Michigan vacation spots. Sleeping Bear Dunes is located in the northern lower peninsula on the west side of the state right along Lake Michigan, and Traverse City is just a ways east of there along the Grand Traverse Bay, which connects to Lake Michigan as well. My fellow Michiganders know how gorgeous our Great Lakes are so even if you’ve never been you can understand why people love it up there so much. To people outside of Michigan, plan your next summer vacation along the coast of Lake Michigan because it is pretty incredible up there.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore
The first day of our trip we spent in the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore– Starting in Empire, MI to check out the Empire Bluff Overlook. It’s just a short hike to get to this spot and you get a really great view of Sleeping Bear Dunes and Manitou Island from here. There was actually a couple getting married as we were hiking! I thought it was just a little fun pre-ceremony hike but then they started the official ceremony and fellow hikers got quiet and we all watched.
Because we were short on time, and the weather forecast was looking dreary as the day went on– we then opted for the scenic drive around the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore. It is a great way to see the landscape with different pull-offs so you can see better views of Lake Michigan and the dunes. I totally would have been for riding our bikes but we didn’t bring them with us… next time.
We got out for the Cottonwood Trail hike which was pretty awesome. And tiring… We thought, “If we’re short on time we should probably do the shorter hikes… 1.5 miles, easy…” But then when you are walking through dunes and sand for 1.5 miles it is actually quite exhausting! It was pretty windy during the hike but turned out to be perfect. Traveling to Sleeping Bear Dunes is typically thought of as a summer vacation spot, but Drew and I were saying how hot it would get on those trails in the dead heat of the summer. So if you’re thinking about doing a lot of hiking around Sleeping Bear Dunes, I’d definitely recommend doing a late spring or fall trip.
The final stops on the drive was the overlook and drop-off of Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is pretty intense! Some people were climbing down but we were already tired from our Cottonwood Trail hike.
But just check out these pictures…
After we finished the hike and scenic drive, we went back to our hotel for the rest of the evening like a couple of old-timers. Seriously I think we were in our room at 6pm 😀 But in our defense it was getting colder and started to rain. We did think about camping but with it being such a short trip we opted for a hotel instead.
The next day we spent over in Traverse City. We really just walked around, checked out the shops, and ate (duh). I always spend so much time looking up different restaurants to check out. I find so many I want to visit but there is never enough time to get to them all. Or enough room in the belly… I had so many recommendations via Instagram that I wanted to scope out! We didn’t even make it up to Sutton’s Bay or Leelanau, which is another part to travel to while you’re in the area. But we really only spent one day in Traverse City, and there was no way we could try everything.
So where did we end up? Peace, Love, and Little Donuts to start off our morning. I was determined to find us cinnamon rolls but none of the places recommended were open on Sunday. So I came across the donut place and thought we’d give it a go. It is unlike any other donut place I’ve been to. The donuts are in fact little, AND they create the flavor combinations for you right there. Super fun.
Next we parked our car on the main drag and walked around while our donuts settled, before continuing on to our brunch place: Famous Frenchies
Famous Franchise is a teeny tiny (really really tiny) place. I *believe* it is a place locals frequent. They open at 10am on Sundays… We were there at 10:10 and there was one table left… out of four tables total. Yes, it is that small. I got the gyromelette and Drew got the French’s American. Which I forgot to take a picture of his but I did capture mine 😀 It was delicious.
After brunch we came across an estate sale on our walk home and decided to rummage through. We actually both walked out with some great deals. Everything was half off on Sunday. I basically bought food props and spent a total of 11.50 😀 We walked about 3/4 of a mile back to our car with all of our stuff – we didn’t plan that part out very well.
Before we knew it was pushing 2pm and we needed to start the 3-hour drive back home. It went by so quick and like I said, we didn’t even get a chance to check out Sutton’s Bay or Leelanau – AKA wine country. It is just so pretty up this way in Michigan, you could easily spend at least three or four days exploring just this area.
Have you been to Sleeping Bear Dunes or Traverse City?
Any summer vacation spots you’re looking forward to this year?