Manitou Passage Golf Club

A visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore should be high on your Heartland “bucket list.”

It’s been voted as the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by over 100,000 "Good Morning America" viewers, and is considered to have the “Best Inland Beaches” in the country, according to American Profile magazine.

Some of the tallest perched dunes in the world rising 400 to 500 feet above the lakeshore offer magnificent sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan, miles of white sand beaches, and forested wilderness islands. Miles of hiking trails lead you to jaw-dropping overlooks and preserved historic farmsteads.

The Homestead Resort, which offers some of the best Great Lake views during ski season, also offers outstanding summertime views. Often called "America's freshwater resort,” it’s perched amidst massive dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline surrounded by the National Lakeshore. The resort offers an array of luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, superb recreational opportunities and, of course, stunning overlooks of the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. This is dune country, and trails lead right off property into the National Lakeshore. A pass, which you can acquire at the Homestead, is required to enter the national park.

Take a walk on the beach, enjoy beautiful sunsets over Lake Michigan, or if you feel more energetic hike, bike, swim, kayak or wind surf. There’s even kite surfing. Manitou Passage Golf Club, an Arnold Palmer golf course that’s part of the resort, is just down the road, and the Mountain Flower Par-3 golf course is right on property. Golfing guru Dave Pelz conducts a short game scoring school at the resort during the summer.

The resort is offering a Family Fun package, available through October, that starts from $58 per person, per night, and includes a Mountaineer breakfast each morning and a Sleeping Bear Dunes pass to visit the park. A Golf & Gourmet package, that starts from $139 per person, per night, includes breakfast, a round on the par-3 course, two rounds at Manitou Passage, and a five course dinner at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Nonna’s. Bed and Breakfast packages start from $56 per person, per night.

Having lived near Sleeping Bear in Traverse City for over 30 years, I’ve never tired of hiking in the sand dunes.  The views and serene beauty of the area is always a draw year-round.

Photo: Manitou Passage Golf Club