Get out of Detroit – 4 Day Trip | Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Take a break from the Motor City and explore beautiful Michigan. The mitten state holds so much beauty. Take a trip to the west coast and experience Lake Michigan. This 4 day camping trip in the Sleeping Bear Dunes is packed full of adventure and fun. Search for Petoskey stones, climb sand dunes, visit Fishtown, and an insane asylum! Eat at great restaurants and shop til you drop. Get out of Detroit on this fun-filled, camping, road trip!

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Detroit, Michigan

Depart: 8:00am

Before you leave make sure to eat breakfast, pack all of your camping gear, food, gas up the car, and start your GPS. It’s time for a road trip!

Photo Courtesy of Dow Gardens

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Dow Gardens, Midland

Arrive: 10:00am Depart: 12:00pm

Take a break from driving and explore Dow Gardens 110 acres of annual and perennials. As well as the nation’s longest canopy walk. This beautiful vast gardens is mesmerizing to tour. Grab a map and go exploring! Let the kids burn off some energy at the canopy walk, a truly awesome feature; you won’t want to miss. Have some fun and when you’re ready let’s go have some lunch.

Photo by Brittany Butters

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Herrick House and The Mulberry Cafe, Clare

Arrive: 12:30pm Depart: 2:00pm

Visit this beautiful victorian home shop and cafe. The food is fresh, homemade, and delicious. Enjoy your lunch and do a little shopping before you get back on the road.

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Arrive: 4:00pm

You made it! Time to get camp set up. Put the tent up, build a fire, make some dinner, and when you’re done walk down to the beach for sunset. Nothing beats a Lake Michigan sunset, and no camping trip is complete without smores! Enjoy the campfire before hitting your sleeping bag.

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Depart: 9:00am

Good morning! Let’s get ready to explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes today! Michigan’s west coast is gorgeous and you’re gonna see why today. Eat breakfast, pack the cooler with drinks and snacks, grab your National Park Pass, gas up the car, turn on your GPS, and hit the road!

Photo By Brittany Butters

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Dune Climb

Arrive: 9:05am Depart: 10:30am

Hope you had a good breakfast, because your gonna need it. Make sure to bring some water on this one. The Dune Climb Challenge is a Michigan staple and your worst nightmare. haha. It’s not that bad, it’s just a straight mountain of sand. It’s fun though, I promise. When you arrive you will be intimidated, but hey we’re here to conquer this challenge! Once you reach the top of the first sand mountain you will see sand dunes as far as the eye can see, to the opposite direction is a beautiful view of the water. If you decide to conquer the whole 3.5 mile walk to Lake Michigan it will take you 3-4 hours to complete. My bet is you’ll feel accomplished after the first mountain. Have fun running back to the car!

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Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Arrive: 10:35am

All roadtrippers love a good scenic drive, and this is one of the best. This almost 8 mile loop has some amazing pull offs and views! Take your time, traffic does move slowly. For a self-guided tour guide download the National Park Service app.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Arrive: 11:00am Depart: 11:45am

One of the great stops along your scenic drive. Make sure to get out and take a look.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Arrive: 12:00pm Depart: 12:30pm

The whole reason we are here is to see the gorgeous Lake Michigan Lakeshore. Take in the view.

Photo by Brittany Butters

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Inspiration Point

Arrive: 12:45pm Depart: 1:15pm

We’re done with the official scenic drive but lets drive along the coast to Inspiration Point. It’s just a roadside pull off with an amazing view! Climb the stairs to look over beautiful Lake Michigan.

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Glen Lake Narrows

Drive Through 1:20pm

On your way back to camp drive through the narrow channel where Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake connect. It’s a beautiful sight to see.

Photo by NPS

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Arrive: 1:30pm

Enjoy the rest of your day back at camp. Make some lunch, go swimming down at Lake Michigan. Go for a bike ride on the miles and miles of local bike trails. Grab the fishing poles and go fishing at one of the nearby inland lakes, or the Platte River. Take a nap if you’d like, read by the fire, whatever your heart desires. Be ready to leave by 9am.

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Depart: 9:00am

Good morning! Let’s get ready to explore the Leelanau Peninsula! Eat breakfast, pack the cooler with drinks, snacks, and a picnic lunch, grab your State Park Pass, gas up the car, turn on your GPS, and hit the road!

Photo by Brittany Butters

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Fishtown, Leland

Arrive: 9:30am Depart: 11:00am

The first stop on your scenic Leelanau Peninsula drive today is Fishtown. You’ll know when you’ve arrived, as you drive through town look for a place to park. Walk down to the water, take in the view of the waterfall, and walk around the little shops. Get some famous smoked fish, maybe some artwork from a local gallery, a couple souvenirs, and when you’re ready let’s hit the road.

Photo by Brittany Butters

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Leelanau State Park, Northport

Arrive: 11:30am Depart: 1:00pm

You’ll need your State Park Pass to enter the Leelanau State Park but the rock filled beaches are worth it. As you walk to beach make sure to keep an eye out for Petoskey stones, you may get lucky! Take a tour of the lighthouse, and enjoy your picnic lunch.

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Suttons Bay

Arrive: 1:30pm Depart: 2:30pm

As you drive around the Peninsula you will go through Suttons Bay a super cute quaint town. Find a parking spot and walk around the shops, grab some ice cream, and check out the art gallery before hitting the road.

Photo by Brittany Butters

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The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Arrive: 3:00pm Depart: 4:30pm

Welcome to Traverse City! Before you head Downtown check out the old insane asylum. The former Traverse City State Hospital is being preserved and redeveloped into The Village. When you arrive head inside to see the start of the renovations, where they are turning the old state hospital halls into cute little shops, and restaurants. They also offer tours of the old insane asylum through the underground tunnels and everything. These tours do charge but you can wonder the hospital grounds for free and check out all the old condemned buildings. Behind the hospital is also a trail head, if you wanted to go for a hike you could walk to the Haunted Reservoir, or the famous Hippie Tree.

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Hardy Parking Garage

Arrive: 4:40pm Depart: 7:30pm

Traverse City parking can be challenging, for an easy parking space pay to park at Hardy Parking Garage. If you can find free parking near Downtown Traverse City take it! Spend some time walking downtown, you could spend hours walking through all the shops. Have dinner at one of the many restaurants, maybe have some drinks at one of the local pubs. Stop for ice cream and fudge from Kilwins. Walk along the bay and marina, maybe even catch a show at the State Theatre. Have some fun and when you’re ready head back to camp.

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Arrive: 8:00pm

You had a long day of exploring. Reminisce around the campfire before hitting the sleeping bag.

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D.H. Day Campground, Glen Arbor

Depart: 11:00am

Good morning campers! It’s time to head home. Eat breakfast, make a picnic lunch, pack up camp, gas up the car, turn on your GPS, and hit the road!

Photo by Brittany Butters

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Empire Bluff Trail

Arrive: 11:15am Depart: 1:00pm

Your last excursion could end up being the favorite part of your whole trip. This 1.5 mile round trip hilly hike leads to a breathtaking view of the Lake Michigan coast. When you reach the high bluff overlook take a break in the sand and gaze out over the water. The sound of the waves crashing is the most magical part. Bring your picnic with you and enjoy it dune side

Zehenders of Frankenmuth

Arrive: 4:00pm Depart: 7:00pm

After a few hours of driving take a break and stretch the legs. Spend an hour or so walking around Downtown Frankenmuth, and checking out the Riverview Shops, maybe take a horse carriage ride through little Bavaria. This beautiful small quaint German themed town is straight out of a story book. Explore Frankenmuth and then enjoy a famous traditional family-style chicken dinner served at the world-renowned Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth Restaurant

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Detroit, Michigan

Arrive: 8:30pm

Welcome Home! Unpack the car, take a bath, and relax. What a fun road trip! What are you going to do on your next vacation? Start preparing with another one of our Road Trip Itineraries!

Enjoy a family vacation, a romantic weekend, or a friendly road trip, whoever you go with, your all going to have a great time! Check out our what to pack list, the pre-planned google route, and our other Road Trip Itineraries. Happy Travels 🙂

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