Heading "up North" to Glen Arbor? Look no further than these top 10 things to do on your visit!
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I'm happy to say I've visited Glen Arbor at least 15 times (I think that's being conservative with the count. I've been a lot). Glen Arbor was our favorite family vacation spot when I was growing up, both in the prime visiting time, summer and even in winter, when skiing keeps things open, yet quaint.
Between boasting a high-end, multi-acre resort, The Homestead, with a variety of rental options, from homes to hotel-like rooms, to fun shopping and a laid-back atmosphere, Glen Arbor really has all the ingredients for a relaxing family vacation. Let's talk through the 10 things you must do on a visit to Glen Arbor, Michigan.
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Glen Arbor, Michigan: Rent a boat on Big Glen
Glen Arbor is lucky enough to boast a few bodies of water - it has both Big and Little Glen Lakes *and* it's right on Lake Michigan (there are also some creeks, etc., which we'll discuss later). Big Glen is home to, hands down, the clearest water I've ever seen. So rent a boat, explore Big Glen, and see the Sleeping Bear Dunes from a new angle!
Glen Arbor, Michigan: Dining Options in Glen Arbor
In the evening, Glen Arbor's tiny downtown takes on a party atmosphere, with parents and kids eating dinner (and ice cream) seemingly all over the place. Don't be fooled - especially in the height of summer, these restaurants fill up, so you'll want to get there early, or be prepared for a bit of a wait!
For a fun, family atmosphere, check out Boone Dock's, with outdoor (and indoor) dining, and lots of live music - it's where the party happens in Glen Arbor! Art's Tavern is good for cozy comfort food. If you're looking for "fancier" food options, check out the nearby Western Ave Bar & Grill.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: Canoes on the Crystal River
The Crystal River flows in and around Glen Arbor, ultimately leading out into Lake Michigan. The water isn't deep, but it's a relaxing trip, taking you even farther away from the hustle and bustle (not that there is any in Glen Arbor). Canoe and kayak rental spots abound - Crystal River Outfitters is building a bit of a recreation empire - check it out!
Glen Arbor, Michigan: Shop in Glen Arbor
Who doesn't love popping into a few tiny, independent stores. From clothes, to trinkets, and some of the most amazing bear-themed items I've ever spotted at The Ruth Conklin Gallery, there's more shopping in Glen Arbor than you might expect! And, of course, stop by The Totem Shop for the greatest selection of t-shirts, candy, and gizmos anywhere I've ever been.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: The Cherry Republic
Glen Arbor's now-famous Cherry Republic certainly deserves its own section. I can at least pretend to have known them "before they were famous," but these days you can find their products all over the place. Visit the spot where in all began in downtown Glen Arbor - try Cherry salsa, chocolate-covered cherries, cherry ice cream, and yes, even Cherry wine.
"Life, Liberty, Beaches, & Pie" - a pretty good slogan to live by.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: The Homestead
"America's Freshwater Resort," The Homestead (not to be confused with the one in Virginia, which is also lovely), has been providing visitors with a "home away from home," Up North, since its humble beginnings as a boarding school in the early 1920s. Since then, it's grown into a relatively spacious resort, while maintaining an extremely welcoming and cozy ambiance. With multiple dining options, a little grocery, its own golf course, and a spa, The Homestead really has everything you need "on property." Feel free to reach out about questions on the various rental options - I've stayed in/been into almost all of them. But beware - this place books up fast and rentals don't come cheap. But, of course, The Homestead is worth every penny.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: Explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes
What draws most visitors to Glen Arbor is the Sleeping Bear Dunes - consistently voted one of the most beautiful places in the US. Gorgeous sand dunes plunge into Lake Michigan, and visitors certainly climb and descend at their own risk. Depending on how adventurous you're feeling, you can select dunes where you climb either up or down (if you're nervous, do the one where you climb UP from Big Glen - then you can just climb down when you're tired. Even as a kid, climbing *down* the most famous of the dunes, seen below, is fun until you have to climb back up...)
Glen Arbor, Michigan: South Manitou Island Lighthouse
Visitors can explore where the recent growth of this area began, at the South Manitou Island Lighthouse. During the Great Lakes boom following the completion of the Erie Canal, the lighthouse led ships into the only natural harbor they'd reach until they made it all the way to Chicago. Today you can see the lighthouse and the little town surrounding it. It makes for a quaint reminder of the real risks that sailors faced crossing the Great Lakes and bringing goods out to the West.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: S'mores on the beach
What more is there to say? With perfectly cool nights, and plenty of places to buy supplies, s'more overlooking Lake Michigan needs to be on your Glen Arbor Bucket List.
Glen Arbor, Michigan: Day Trips from Glen Arbor
In addition to all Glen Arbor has to offer, it's also a hop, skip, and a jump away from a few other quaint towns. Check out Leland - with more shopping, cute restaurants, and one of the more charming drives you'll find. Or head down to Empire, a more rustic, less resort-y feeling town, where taverns abound.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
You'll love Glen Arbor - it's one of my favorite places in the world, and I know it will quickly move to the top of your list as well. xx
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