Located 25 miles from Traverse City in northwestern lower Michigan, this national lakeshore boasts shady forests, crystal-clear inland lakes, a lighthouse, pretty coastal villages and farms, and giant sand bluffs that tower 400 feet above Lake Michigan. For more on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, click here.
While you're there
If your kids love to scramble and play, challenge 'em to the Dune Climb, a 1.5-mile ascent of one of the soaring sand dunes that made this park famous. Come evening, the natural darkness and starry night skies make Sleeping Bear Dunes an astronomer's paradise. This summer, join park rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for a series of guided explorations of the night sky and storytelling. Young maritime buffs might also want to check out the historic boats at the Boathouse Museum, housed in a 1920s cherry cannery.
Where to stay
The very popular full-service Platte River Campground keeps nearly 35 percent of its shady campsites open on a first-come, first-served basis each day; from $15 a night. Canoe rentals are also available at nearby Platte River Point.
* All hotel prices are approximate.
"I love walking the Pyramid Point Trail to Lake Michigan. It's so high above the lake, you feel like you're flying," says fifth-grader Jocelyn Baughman, 10, of Lake Ann, Michigan.
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