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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Five Leelanau Tours

by Dune Blog

The National Park Service provides some excellent resources for park visitors, including a map, brochures and bulletins. At the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau we wanted to help our visitors experience attractions both inside and outside of park boundaries, so we created an Area Guide and Map. It contains things to do in beautiful Leelanau County as well as five driving tours that will take you to the best Leelanau has to offer.

National Lakeshore Tour 1: The tour begins at the Philip A. Hart Visitors Center in Empire where you can pick up park literature or speak with park rangers. The driving tour winds through the Sleeping Bear Dunes and includes stops in some spectacular locations including the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, The Dune Climb, the historic town of Glen Haven, and finally to a Lake Michigan beach. The tour can be done in one day or spaced out over two or three days.

National Lakeshore Tour 2: The tour takes you north, up the coast on M22 through some charming small towns. The first stop is through the historic town of Port Oneida, a historic settlement with remnants of life as it was in the late 1800’s. The next stop is Pyramid Point with a hike to the top of a 260-foot bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands. Over-heated hikers can stop for a swim in Good Harbor Bay or dip their toes in Shalda Creek. The tour continues to the small town of Leland, where historic Fishtown has been persevered as it was 100 years ago. From Leland, travel through rolling hills and orchards to the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Travelers have the option of stopping at the Leelanau State Park to hike short trails to Lake Michigan or to stop at Peterson Park for a picnic and spectacular views of the Fox Islands.

Winery Tour: No trip to Leelanau County would be complete without a tour of the vineyards and wineries that make up the Leelanau Peninsula. The tour includes up to 18 wineries, each with something unique to offer, including award-winning wines and postcard-perfect scenic views. Tasting room design and ambiance varies from grand to chicken-coup quaint, and many have scenic views worthy of a stop. A Wine Trail Map with winery GPS locations is available from the Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association.

Shopping Tour: Shopping may seem out of place with so many natural wonders to see, but that is far from true. Leelanau towns are not only quaint and charming, but are situated along the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay and inland lakes. The shops sell everything from small-town sweatshirts to fine art, ice cream and home-made pottery. Be sure to stop at roadside fruit stands that supply locals and visitors with fresh, locally-grown produce and fresh baked goods.

Wayfaring Tour: The final tour takes the adventurous on four hikes to spectacular overlooks of Lake Michigan, the Manitou Islands and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Hikes range from .75 miles to 2.7 miles and take the hiker through hilly terrain to Empire Bluffs, Bay View, Pyramid Point, and Whaleback. For those who have an extra day, we highly recommend taking the ferry to North or South Manitou Island to hike the island trails, camp over night, or relax on an untouched beach with the Sleeping Bear Dunes mainland as a backdrop. We guarantee it will take your breath away.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau Area Guide and Map also contains a list of art galleries, golf courses/schools, museums, ice cream stores, restaurants, a spa, wineries, fishing shops/schools, boating/canoeing vendors, lodging locations and wedding venues.

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