Top list of things to do while visiting the Glen Arbor area

Summertime! We’re so fortunate to enjoy the natural beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Summertime is prime tourism season and when you visit, you want to make it count. We’ve compiled a list of our top favs, “Things to Do” while visiting Glen Arbor by category…

Anyone’s favorite “must do” while you’re here

Considered a “must do,” the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers world-class vistas and a perspective of the variety of vegetation and history of this treasured landscape. 

A true gem of the area, enjoy a section of the non-motorized Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Open year round and well maintained, this allows you to travel the variety of landscape and lakeshore while walking, running, biking or rolling! Visit sleepingbeartrail.org for more info. (Did you know? Sections are also maintained in the winter to xc-ski or snowshoe!) 

One of the most visited parts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, experience the The Dune Climb.  A steep, sandy climb…take a break then speed back down with delight! A favorite for all ages. Restrooms and vending machines available on-site, Memorial Day through Labor Day. (NOTE: Bring water & sunscreen! It gets especially hot on the sand in the elevation. Know that the “Dune Trail to Lake Michigan” is a 3.5 mileRound trip is 3.5 miles and may take 2-4 hours depending on the weather and your physical condition.) 

You may have seen the “Cannery” in famous images of the area, visit Glen Haven, just SW of Glen Arbor, see the historic Boathouse Museum (in the Cannery), General Store and Blacksmith Shop. Restroom facilities available on-site, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Like History? The Empire Museum Complex in Empire, features  multiple buildings including a Sail & Rail display, a barn with horse-drawn equipment, a fire house, a blacksmith shop, an old saloon and more. Contact them for current hours to visit, learn and explore.

Get a taste of the local region, shop a variety of vendors at the Glen Arbor Farmer’s Market, Tuesdays from 9am-1pm, June – early Sept. > See the Event Calendar

Great for Kids and Families: 

Take a Kayak Trip ~ Fun for kids of all ages, the Crystal river is shallow and beautiful. You can select a Kayak Trip based on time, so you can choose the appropriate amount of time on the water for your group. Listing of businesses offering Recreation. 

Charter Fishing ~ Get out on the big water and enjoy the sun, waves and bring in a big catch! Sure to make memories. See list of Charters & other Boating opportunities: Beaches & Boating

Glen Arbor Township Park ~ walkable distance from most any point in Glen Arbor, make a pit stop to the newly renovated Township Park, located next to Northwoods Hardware, corner of M-22 and State Street. It’s equipped with a public restroom picnic seating under a pergola, water bottle refill station, the coolest playground, green spaces, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, sidewalks throughout, a pavilion, and public parking. 

A shorter hike good for most all ages and abilities, with a rewarding view, do the Pyramid Point trail, part of the National Lakeshore. >>List of  trails.

Bike ~ Glen Arbor is central to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (a non-motorized, maintained, paved or grated trail) offering a safe and scenic experience of the Lakeshore. Open to walk, run or bike in the Summer, maintained sections are also perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. Need to rent equipment? See our list of businesses offering Recreation. Find out more about the SLHT via our list of  trails.

Glen Arbor Arts Center hosts events year round like art classes for children and adults; Also known for their Summer-long, family friendly “Manitou Music Festival” events, their annual free “Dune Climb” concert in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 

> View our full post on “Things to Do/Kids & Families”

For the adventure seeker: 

Paddle-board ~ on the Glen Lakes for sights of the Dunes over aqua colored, Caribbean-like waters.

Mountain Bike a newer and developing trail in Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, part of Leelanau Conservancy. >> Palmer Woods

Cyclists like to train and ride M22 and other county roads, known for their hills and winding scenery. 

Kayak Lake Michigan ~ Enjoy a different vantage point of the shoreline…from the water! This activity is recommended with a guided tour or experienced boaters. Guided tours provided by All About Water

Swim ~ suit up and take your pick of stunningly beautiful and secluded inland lakes or Lake Michigan. Get in a refreshing dive and some exercise! 

See the iconic view from the “Empire Bluff” trail in the National Lakeshore. Round trip is 1.5 miles with hilly landscape, Beech and Maple forest, fields and Dunes. The trail leads to a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. For your safety and to protect the environment: please do not descend the bluff. Trails & Scenic Views

Shopping & Dining:

We have some of the best Art Galleries with a compilation of well known Midwest & International Artists, make sure to experience each and surely find a treasure. Some Galleries and the Glen Arbor Art Center host Artist Receptions and Gallery Openings throughout the season. While out for the evening, stop and enjoy an opening. > List of Art Galleries

Tasting Rooms: Part of the newly formed Glen Arbor Village Wine Trail, enjoy sips of wine and cider at each of these locations, featuring indoor and outdoor, family friendly spaces: •Glen Arbor WinesCherry RepublicM22 Glen Arbor

Glen Arbor Art Fair ~ Hosted by the Glen Lake Women’s Club, annually at the Town Hall, happens mid-July on a Wednesday. For more info and to see more upcoming events, view our Event Calendar.

Glen Arbor has a wide variety of shopping destinations all worth knowing and visiting! From Murdicks Fudge at the Totem Shop; Find jeans and swimsuits, buy bicycles and paddleboards; suit up in lifestyle clothing, resort wear or find a new “up north,” “Mitten-themed” apparel from Momentum or Bay Wear; Glen Arbor is also home to the famous Cherry Republic & Arts Tavern; decorate your up north home or cottage; shop Cottonseed and Becky Thatcher Jewelry, and more! >> View all Specialty Shops