Five Places to Discover Amazing Sand Dunes in Michigan

It’s no secret that Michigan is home to some beautiful places – from sandy beaches and amazing forests to crisp, blue water and massive sand dunes! Michigan has more than 300,000 acres of sand dunes that offer breathtaking views or thrilling experiences across the state, some of which have been getting national acclaim for their beauty.

Take a look at the roundup below and watch the Dunes in Michigan video from our summer video series to learn more about some of the many sand dunes across the state. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Empire
Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore encompasses a 60 km (35 mi.) stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations and ancient glacial phenomena. Named by Good Morning America as “The Most Beautiful Place in America” and voted one of America’s Top 10 Family Destinations by Family Fun magazine, the Sleeping Bear Dunes are a must see destination. More information about tours, trails and more can be found here.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Saugatuck
The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a day-use park along a secluded strip of Lake Michigan shoreline, Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers 2.5 miles of shore line. The park has fresh water coastal dunes that are over 200 feet tall. The park’s terrain varies from steep slopes to rolling hills. Visit the website for more information.

Grand Sable Banks and Dunes
Munising
Located about one mile west Grand Marais; the best place to view is from the trail beginning at the Sable Falls parking area. Another access point for the dunes is from the North Country Trail, one-quarter mile east of the Log Slide. Please stay on the trail as the dunes vegetation is fragile. Five square miles of Grand Sable Dunes are perched atop the 300-foot high Grand Sable Banks. Left by enormous glaciers, the Grand Sable Dunes dwarf comprehension. A portion of the Grand Sable Dunes is set aside as a Research Natural Area. For more information visit the website here.

Warren Dunes State Park
Sawyer
Warren Dunes has three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails and is open year-round. It also has a dune formation that rises 260 feet above the lake with spectacular views and 1,952 acres of recreational opportunity. We have 221 modern & rustic campsites and three modern mini cabins. Visit the website for more information.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Hart, Mears and Pentwater
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a beach paradise! These massive dunes are nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake —the only sand dunes in Michigan where you can drive your own ORV—and miles of pristine shoreline beaches designed for pure family fun. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes encompass the towns of Hart, Mears, and Pentwater making it the perfect spot for a family vacation with miles of tree-lined bike trails, historic towns, a lighthouse and more. Spend the morning on the dunes, the afternoon in the water and finish the day in one of the charming villages for a relaxing dinner at a locally owned restaurant. Visit the website to plan your trip.

Where’s your favorite place to visit the dunes in Michigan? Share with us below and learn more on michigan.org.

Take A Summer Lighthouse Tour in Pure Michigan

Did you know that Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state? With the official start of summer just days away, it’s the perfect time to plan a Michigan lighthouse tour. More than 115 lighthouses are scattered up and down the coasts of Pure Michigan, guiding sailors and capturing imaginations. Some still shine for ships, others share their stories with us first-hand as museums, as bed and breakfasts and as Michigan history in the making.

Take a look at the listing below for a sampling of what you can discover while touring Michigan’s lighthouses, and learn more in the following video from the Pure Michigan summer video series.

A complete listing of Michigan’s lighthouses can be found on michigan.org.

Au Sable Light Station
Grand Marais
The AuSable Light Station is listed on the national register of historic places. It was built in 1874 to warn mariners of a dangerous reef off of the AuSable Point. Now automated, the light station is being restored to its 1910 appearance. Guided tours are offered July and August. The grounds are always open, but access is limited by snow from November – April. Visit the website to learn more.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
Big Bay
One of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, guests enjoy a half-mile of Lake Superior shore, viewing tower, sauna, library and fireplaces. Enjoy biking, waterfalls, skiing and snowmobiling nearby. Summer lighthouse tours  and booking information are available here.

Point Betsie Lighthouse
Frankfort
The Point Betsie Lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Benzie County. The lighthouse was built in 1858, and marks the all-important entrance to the southern end of the Manitou Passage, a once-vital maritime shipping channel. Learn more on the Point Betsie website.

South Haven Lighthouse
South Haven
An image of maritime heritage, South Haven’s Lighthouse on the south pier still stands today as a vision of seemingly magical qualities. Built in 1903, this distinguished landmark has welcomed travelers for more than 100 years. Start planning your trip here

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Harrisville
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is located five miles north of Harrisville on Lake Huron and was completed in November 1870. The tower is 70 feet, 9 inches tall and is 16 feet in diameter at its base. The light is 3.5 order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. The light is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper’s house is now a maritime museum which is open to the public from Memorial Day to mid-September. The lighthouse tower and the grounds are also open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Port Huron
The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was established in 1825 and rebuilt in 1829 and 1861, at the time it was also the first lighthouse on Lake Huron and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan. It helps keep watch over Lake Huron at the entrance to the St. Clair River. The 86 ft. light stands above the lake level in a conical stone tower, overlaid with red brick that has been painted white. The keeper’s cottage and fog whistle house are red. Tower climbs and tours are available during business hours, weather permitting. See the Port Huron Museum website for information on tours and group overnights in the restored Duplex building for 20+ people.

How many Michigan lighthouses have you visited? Share with us below!

Explore Pure Michigan’s Wineries this Season

Michigan Wine Month might be coming to an end, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to get out and experience Michigan’s wineries this year. And with more than 100 wineries nestled among 15,000 acres of scenic vineyards, Michigan truly is wine country.

With wineries being one of the features in the Pure Michigan summer video series, we spoke with Linda Jones of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council to get the inside information on what visitors to Michigan’s wineries can expect this spring and summer.

Learn more in the video below and in the questions from Linda that follow. For more information on wineries in Michigan or to plan your summer vacation, visit michigan.org.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to support the growth of the Michigan wine industry through my job as the Executive Director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.  I came to Michigan from Ontario in 1997 to accompany my husband Mike who came here to take a job in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Michigan State University.  We LOVE Michigan! The state has so much to enjoy – wonderful people, the fabulous natural resources connected with the Great Lakes, great locally produced foods and beverages, including wine, of course! 

Q: Wine Month in Michigan might be coming to an end, but the remainder of the spring and summer months have plenty to offer visitors to our state’s wineries. Do you there’s a best time of year for wine tasting in Michigan?

A: We’ve had a fabulous time during April Wine Month this year, with so many exciting events to celebrate the contributions that the industry is making to our state’s economy and quality of life – festivals, winemaker dinners, new releases, media tours, etc.  It’s been a tremendous kick-off to the wine touring season.  But the fun never stops with Michigan wine!

Spring really is the ideal time to visit Michigan winery tasting rooms.  The wineries are not as crowded as in the summer and fall months, so visitors can have a more leisurely experience when they visit before mid-June. Michigan wineries welcome more than two million visitors to their tasting rooms each year.

Also in spring and early summer, the wineries are releasing their newly produced (mostly white) wines from the previous fall harvest. Red wines are usually left to age at least 6 months longer than whites.   Most winery tasting rooms are open year round, but some have limited hours in the winter months, so it’s a good idea to check hours before heading out to a winery destination.  

Q: If someone had never been wine tasting in Michigan before, where would you recommend they go first?

A: Comparing and contrasting a few small samples of different wines at any winery tasting room is the best way to start to learn about wine.

Wine appreciation can sometimes overwhelm the novice with jargon and descriptions that aren’t always readily obvious to those with limited tasting experience.  Winery staff know that many of the people visiting have never visited a tasting room before.  A skilled staff person will ask the guest questions about their likes and dislikes about wine as they guide the guest through a series of small samples designed to highlight the different characteristics of the wines produced by that winery.  You should let the tasting room staff know that it’s your first tasting experience and that you would appreciate lots of guidance. Don’t be afraid that the staff or other guests will embarrass you because you don’t know much about time. The staff are trained to ask you a series of questions that will help you learn more about your tastes in wine, so that you can more easily find wines you are likely to enjoy when you select wine at a restaurant or at a retailer, when you don’t always have the benefit of being able to “try before you buy”.   

Q: What makes Michigan wines unique?

A: Every wine producing region of the world produces wines that taste a little different from the wines of other regions because of the varieties of grapes grown there, the climate and soil of the region and the styles of wines that winemakers in that region enjoy producing.  It’s really the diversity of wines produced in Michigan that make the industry so interesting to experience. Over 50 varieties of grapes are grown in Michigan for wine production. The top eight grape varieties grown in Michigan for wine are Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Merlot.  

Because Michigan is located along the 45th parallel, the same latitude of many of the fine wine regions of Europe, Michigan wines are considered to be “cool-climate” wines.  These tend to be crisp, elegant wines that go better with foods than some of the heavier full-bodied, oak aged wines from warmer climates like California.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about Michigan wine or wineries?

A: I think people would be surprised about the many different styles of Riesling (Michigan’s most widely planted wine grape variety) wines produced in Michigan from very dry, to semi-dry, late harvest and dessert wines like Icewine.  Some wineries produce a sparkling wine (champagne) from Riesling.   

Q: What’s your favorite Michigan wine?

A: I enjoy many Michigan wines – there are so many now, I can’t possibly keep track of all of them!  And they change from year to year. I particularly enjoy the world class quality dry white wines that are produced by several wineries. For a special occasion, my “go-to” wine is usually a dry sparkling wine from Michigan. I find it fascinating to explore the year to year variation in the grapes used to produce the wine that comes through in the finished product. A Dry Riesling from one vineyard might taste quite different from a 2011 year to a 2012. The opportunity to learn more and develop a deeper understanding of wine never ends!  That’s one of the things that makes is so interesting to follow the Michigan wine industry.  The other aspect of the industry that I really enjoy is getting to know the people who own and operate the wineries and vineyards.  They are hardworking entrepreneurs with a passion for their craft and a long term vision for their business with a solid future here in Michigan.  The diversity of personalities in the industry is as diverse as the wines themselves. 

Q: Where can people go to learn more?

A: Visit our newly re-launched website at www.michiganwines.com for lots of great information and links to Michigan’s 100+ winery websites.  Attending the many festivals around the state is another great way to learn about wines and have an enjoyable time with friends and family. Michigan’s wine industry is contributing significantly to Michigan’s agricultural and tourism economies, with over $300 million annually in estimated economic impact.

Linda Jones is the Director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.  The Council is a program housed within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  She has a diverse background in Food Science, Marketing and Tourism, gained from experience in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada before moving to the great state of Michigan in 1997.