Submitted by: Eve Wierzbicki
Last week, my husband and I took a trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was our first time, and we decided to take our 8 month puppy along with us so that we could discover dog friendly things to do in the area.
Our first challenge was finding a place to stay. We landed on an air b&b "tiny house" in Frankfort, MI. It was absolutely adorable and the host, Lisa, was extremely helpful and attentive. Our dog was comfortable sleeping on the floor while we climbed the ladder to the loft. If your dog is not, (or you are afraid of heights), she does have another house on the property that has everything on one floor.
We really enjoyed staying in the Arcadia/Frankfort area. There are a ton of hikes up to the bluffs and down to the beach. Frankfort has a quaint little town with shops, restaurants and a beautiful beach with a dog friendly area. Hazel was able to run free, play with her frisbee and dive in the waves with the kiteboarders and surfers. We also made sure to make a trip to the Stormcloud Parkview Taproom (there is also a location right downtown - but this one was much more spacious for our pup). Stormcloud has Belgian inspired ales. There was also a food truck on site.
Sleeping Bear Dunes is a about a 30-45 minute drive from Frankfort (depending on where you go). Our first stop was the visitor's center in Empire, MI. They directed us to a wonderful hike called Pyramid Point where we had the most beautiful view when we reached the top. Pyramid Point was near Glen Arbor, so we stopped there for some shopping (M-22 merch) and lunch at Art's Tavern where they promptly gave Hazel a treat and a dish of ice water. I had the grilled white fish sandwich, which was DELICIOUS.
As we worked our way back to our tiny house, we cruised through the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This is a must-see and if you can, be sure to get out at the Lake Michigan viewing stop for beautiful views and to see dare devils climbing up and down the dune. (Watch out...there is a $3,000 fine if you need to be rescued!). Dogs are not allowed on the actual Sleeping Bear Dunes "dune climb", so if you are one of the daredevils, this is where you would do it!
Dinner was back in Frankfort at Vita Bella Italian Kitchen & Market. There is a small patio out front, but once again they were very accommodating and welcoming to Hazel.
On our final day, we got up early so that we could work our way home with stops along the way. First stop was Bowens Creek coffee where we had coffee, beignets (yes, beignets!) and a delicious breakfast sandwich. There is another food truck at this spot, Ketch 22, with some great options for lunch or dinner. We also enjoyed a 3 mile hike at the Arcadia Dunes Baldy Trail. Again, amazing views and a great shaded trail for Hazel.
Grand Rapids is a perfect halfway stop. We decided on Archival Brewing (recommended by past Dig the Dunes contributor, Scott Timmerman). They were extremely dog friendly and Hazel was rewarded another dog treat and water there, while we had mahi tacos, which I would highly recommend.
Our final stop before heading home was Watermark Brewing in Stevensville, MI. Their outdoor patio had more dogs than we could count. It is family friendly, there is a food truck...and great beer. We arrived on Friday evening, so we were able to enjoy some live music as well.
Our trip was wonderful and left us wanting more. Stay tuned...Dig the Dunes will definitely be taking more trips into Michigan and exploring the dunes over there. We may even have to plan a group trip there!
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