Sleeping Bear Dunes #1 Most Beautiful in America
The honor was announced on the air a few years ago by the “Good Morning America” hosts, who called Sleeping Bear “one of the nation’s best-kept secrets” and said they were amazed at its beauty. That came as no surprise to Brad Van Dommelen, president of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, who hears similar comments almost every day.
“When people discover our area, their prior perceptions of Michigan are shattered,” he said. “The natural beauty of our area is breathtaking. When you add to that the quaint character and charm of our towns and villages, our amazing culinary product, and our four-seasons of recreation, people fall in love with us and become repeat visitors. It’s an easy sell.”
Located 20 minutes east of the park in a glacier-carved landscape of deep clear bays and rolling hills, Traverse City is the gateway city to Sleeping Bear and a significant recreational, culinary and cultural destination in its own right. The Traverse City area is known for its splendid restaurants, fascinating shops and galleries, fine lodging, championship golf, miles of beaches, and a vibrant arts & music scene.
Viewers were able to cast online votes for 10 locations selected by the program’s producers from hundreds of nominations. Sleeping Bear Dunes, the only Midwestern location to make the list, was nominated by Grand Rapids resident Jim Madole, who said he went there often to "sit in awe and wonder at the perfection of Mother Nature."
A trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will certainly take your breath away. The lakeshore takes in some 35 miles of Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline. A hike through the area will take visitors through forests, along beautiful sparkling sand beaches, and of course there are those magnificent sand dunes. Carved by wind and water and always shifting, some dunes tower as much as 400 feet into the air.
Two islands, South Manitou and North Manitou, sit off the coast line. Both islands can be accessed by private boat or passenger ferry. The South Manitou Island Lighthouse is open for tours daily during the Summer. The 100 foot lighthouse tower, active from 1871 to 1958, marked the location of the only natural harbor between here and Chicago. Ships took refuge here during storms and steamers stopped at the island to refuel with wood for their boilers.
The Philip A. Hart Visitor Center is located on M-72 just east of the intersection with M-22 in Empire, MI. You will find a wealth of information about the park and the natural and human history of the area. Park passes, brochures, and maps are available at the Information Desk.
Operating Hours for the park are: Memorial Day to Labor Day (Summer) -
8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Rest of Year - 8:15 AM to 4:00 PM
Closed - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Phone: 231-326-5134 ext. 328
For more info on Sleeping Bear Dunes visit:www.sleepingbeardunes.com
For more info on Traverse City visit: www.traversecity.com
For more info on visiting Michigan visit:www.michigan.org
The beautiful photo of Sleeping Bear Dunes was provided by the Traverse City Visitors Bureau.
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