Local attractions within 20 minutes of our park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

On the northwestern shore of Michigan’s lower peninsula lies Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a hilly region fringed with massive coastal sand dunes and dotted with clear lakes. It is a diverse landscape, embracing quiet, birch-lined streams, dense beech-maple forests, and rugged bluffs towering as high as 460 feet above Lake Michigan. The Sleeping Bear Dunes were even voted the “Most Beautiful Place in the Country” by ABC News!

Leland’s Historic Fishtown

Go back in time to the Historic Fishtown in Leland. You can see the catch of the day slowly smoked to perfection, charter a fishing boat to go and catch your own, or you can order the freshly prepared fish at The Cove Restaurant as you site atop the Leland River Falls. From eating to shopping to fishing… Leland is a must see!

North and South Manitou Island

North Manitou Island lies in Lake Michigan west of the Leelanau Peninsula between sunrise and sunset. It is twelve and one-half miles from the port of Leland. The island is seven miles long and four and a half miles wide, with approximately 25 miles of shoreline. It is comprised of approximately 15,000 acres or twenty-two square miles of land area. The island is blessed with a varied terrain of hills, dunes, forests, lakes, meadows and beaches. Lake Manitou is a treasure nestled in the center of the island. Visitors who yearn to return have been claimed by the spirit of the Manitou.

National Cherry Festival

The Traverse City region is known for its world-record tart cherry harvest! Since 1926, the National Cherry Festival has celebrated this harvest each summer. The festival has grown to showcase more than 150 events along the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, including an air show, music stage, midway, parades, fireworks, and tons of cherry-themed events for the whole family. The festival has even been named in USA Today’s list of top ten festivals for many years running.

Leelanau Sands Casino

The Leelanau Sands Casino is just a short drive from the park! It is located in Peshawbestown and features over 450 slot machines and a grand selection of table games including craps, roulette, poker, blackjack, and the latest in virtual table games. If bingo is more your game, they also feature a bingo hall. The Leelanau Sands Showroom is also known for the many wonderful music acts it brings to our area.

Leelanau Peninsula Wineries

If the delightful smells and taste of wine tickle your senses then the area has some of the best wineries and vintners around! The Leelanau Peninsula is the oldest and largest Michigan wine trail and is currently home to over 25 wineries. Spend an afternoon, a day, or a weekend exploring these treasures!

Breathtaking Beaches

Leelanau County has breathtaking sandy beaches that sprawl Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Leelanau, and many inland lakes. If sun and sand are what you desire, then we have a beach for you! In addition to our park being directly on South Lake Leelanau, we also suggest you visit the following:

  • Van’s Beach – Turn left at Van’s Garage in Leland and walk down the sandy trail to Lake Michigan. 
  • Good Harbor Beach – A magnificent beach along a stretch of Good Harbor Bay. This beach offers clear views out to the islands and has a long sandy beach. Just a few seconds walk south is a stream running from the woods into Lake Michigan. The stream is great for kids to play in, fun to follow into the woods, and nice to just stand in the warmer waters of the stream after a cold dip in Lake Michigan!
  • Cold Brook Beach –On the south end of Lake Leelanau, near the town of Fouch.
  • Elmwood Township Park – Off M-22 on West Grand Traverse Bay, a mile north of M-72. This beach includes an updated playground, picnic tables, and restrooms.
  • Empire Beach – Lake Michigan Beach and Cannon Park. Located just west in Empire, this stop Includes a beach on Lake Michigan and a beach on South Bar Lake. From here, you can walk either north or south on the beach for miles. It includes a playground, picnic tables, historical marker, and restrooms. There’s a dock on Bar Lake that’s perfect for diving.
  • Leelanau State Park – 15310 North Lighthouse Point Road, north of Northport. This beach is rocky and perhaps more suitable for hiking and wading than for swimming, but make sure to wear water shoes, the rocks are sharp! There is a playground and picnic area near the lighthouse and parking area. Follow the trail to the beach. This spot includes coastal dunes, hiking trails, and rustic campsites.
  • North Bar Lake – In the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, north of Empire. Access is via an unpaved Bar Lake Road. There are restrooms at paved parking area. It’s a short hike over the dunes, past North Bar Lake, to Lake Michigan shore. Swimming is possible in both lakes.
  • Haserot Park – Located in the village of Northport, along the breakwater on West Grand Traverse Bay and adjacent to city park and marina. The beach area includes a playground, picnic tables, and restrooms.
  • Sleeping Bear DunesNational Lakeshore – The mother of all beaches! This stop is part of the National Park system and the lakeshore includes miles of beach. For a parking permit and specific directions, stop by the visitors center in Empire. Popular spots include Good Harbor Bay, Pyramid Point, and Glen Haven Beach. If you have lots of energy, tackle the dune climb south of Glen Haven, then slog through miles of gorgeous dune trails to the isolated Lake Michigan beach (if you do, allow several hours for the journey, use lots of sunscreen, and bring shoes to protect your feet from the hot sand). Also part of the national lakeshore, North and South Manitou Islands (access by passenger ferry from Leland) are ringed with miles of secluded beaches. Off South Manitou, snorkelers and scuba divers can view the shipwreck of the Three Brothers, a 162-foot wooden lumber hooker that was stranded in 1911, which sits in water from eight to 45 feet deep. There are more national lakeshore beaches listed in the Benzie County section of this page.
  • Suttons Bay Municipal Park and Beach – Located in Downtown Suttons Bay. This beach includes a picnic area and adjacent marina. It’s the site of several summer special events.

Beautiful Golf Courses

No matter how good or bad your swing is, Leelanau County has a golf course for you! With the sprawling hillside, breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, orchards, and surrounding wildlife anyone can get lost in this game.

  • Dunes Golf Club – The Dunes Golf Club has 18 holes for your enjoyment. It’s a casual and friendly course featuring 5,730 yards of relaxing golf. They are located in the Glen Lake – Sleeping Bear Dunes Area where it gives you many opportunities to enjoy all of Northern Michigan outdoor activities.
  • Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms – The Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms features spectacular views of Suttons Bay and Lake Michigan. With a varied terrain of hills, woodlands, water, and strategically placed bunkers it offers a memorable round of golf.
  • Sugarloaf – The Old Course – Sugar Loaf is steep with golf tradition! Feel the history as you navigate your way around the rolling hills of the golf course. The unique structures and windmills have withstood the test of time and now pave the way for a great Northern Michigan golfing experience.
  • Mistwood – Mistwood Golf Course is legendary for fast greens, bent grass fairways, extraordinary beauty, and a great restaurant and bar. Since opening in 1993, Mistwood has established a reputation as one of the finest public golf courses in Northern Michigan.
  • Manitou Passage Golf Club – The Manitou Passage Golf Club is an Arnold Palmer Signature golf course located near the spectacular Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and Lake Michigan.