If you like getting out and exploring, there are plenty of great places to do that throughout Michigan. One of the best places, though, is Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan, one of the state’s hidden gems.
Located along scenic Lake Michigan in the Western Lower Peninsula, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes is a tailor-made spot for a family getaway. The recreational part of the dunes that’s open to the public is Silver Lake State Park, which covers almost 3,000 acres along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.
The park includes an inland lake, a campground with boat launches, a lighthouse, a 4-mile beach on Lake Michigan, and sandy, picturesque dunes.
Getting to Know Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan
These wonderful Michigan dunes have been one of the more popular family vacation destinations for decades.
That’s because there are one-of-a-kind attractions for visitors of all ages. There’s plenty of space for swimming, boating, and other water-based activities, and it’s just a great place for a family adventure.
For many visitors, there’s nothing quite like seeing the Silver Lake Sand Dunes for the first time or feeling the sand of the dunes under your feet and between your toes. You can hop aboard an ORV for a once-in-lifetime experience up and over the towering dunes on an amazing thrill ride.
No matter how old you are, there’s a way for everyone to experience these wondrous sand dunes Michigan offers. You don’t have to know how to drive a dune buggy or be a hiking expert. You can experience the dunes however you please.
Great Adventures at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes
There are so many great ways to experience the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and so much fun to be had at Silver Lake State Park. Here are some of our favorite things to do.
Explore the Dunes on Foot
One of the easiest ways to experience the majesty of these Michigan sand dunes is to traverse them on foot. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the desert, but you’re really exploring one of Lake Michigan’s most beautiful attractions.
You can take a boat ride across Silver Lake to access the dunes, or you can park on the northernmost shore of the lake to start your journey. Once you set out, you’ll have access to 2,000 acres of golden sand dunes.
Explore at your leisure and run down the towering dunes, but save some energy for climbing back up — you’ll need it. If you’re feeling daring, rent a sandboard to try sandboarding up and down the dunes.
Take a Ride on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes
There’s nothing quite like the thrill you experience when you take a buggy ride through Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan.
It’s hard to contain your excitement when you’re exploring more than 2,000 acres of dunes, seeing stunning views of Lake Michigan, and bouncing up and down with the wind in your hair.
Mac Wood’s Dune Rides
Mac Wood’s Dune Rides has been one of the premier companies to escort visitors over the dunes since 1930.
The tours go along a 7-mile route that lasts about 40 minutes and includes a stop for photos. Along the way, the drivers tell stories and plenty of interesting info about the dunes and area.
Take a Drive on the Dunes
Believe it or not, you can drive on the dunes yourself, and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes are the only dunes east of the Mississippi River to allow this.
One of Silver Lake’s most popular areas is an off-road vehicle area of 450 acres. It’s open for about eight months of the year, from early spring to late fall.
ORV enthusiasts can bring or rent vehicles, which are specifically designed to drive up and down the dunes. If you need to rent an off-road vehicle, Silver Lake Buggy Rentals offers four different options to make your own dune adventure.
Climb to the top of Little Sable Point Lighthouse
If you’re anywhere on the Michigan coastline, you can’t go wrong with a visit to a lighthouse. Little Sable Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1874, is located inside Silver Lake State Park. It’s the perfect spot to stop and see a magnificent Lake Michigan sunset or have a picnic.
For a really unique experience, pay a small admission fee to climb the lighthouse tower, which is 107 feet tall. It’s one of the best views you can get of the state park and Lake Michigan.
Go Canoeing or Kayaking at Silver Lake
There’s something quite peaceful about being out on the water in a canoe or kayak — moving at your own pace and getting in touch with nature. If you like exploring new places on the water, Silver Lake and Hart Lake are great places to visit.
You can bring your canoe or kayak to enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan from a different vantage point too. If you don’t have one, there are several places you can rent kayaks, tubes, canoes, or rafts to explore on your own.
Play in Silver Lake or Lake Michigan
With 4 miles of Lake Michigan beach, Silver Lake is the perfect spot to have fun on the water. Lake Michigan provides ample opportunities to launch pontoon boats for a day of pleasure boating or to launch fishing boats for a bait-and-tackle adventure.
Silver Lake is a great option if you’re staying at Silver Lake State Park or if Lake Michigan is too cold or too choppy. The park has several public launches for kayaks, paddle boards, and personal watercraft. If you want to sunbathe or go for a swim, there’s plenty of beach for that as well.
Year-Round Fun in the Silver Lake Area
One of the best things about Silver Lake Michigan and the surrounding area is that you can have fun all year long. Take a look at these popular activities and places to visit in the Silver Lake area.
Discover History at the Oceana Historical Park Museum Complex
In the summer months, head to Mears and the Oceana Historical Park Museum Complex. This is a complex of six different museums that showcase everything from vehicles to tools to old-time laundry displays to a church built and dedicated in 1898.
Wander the Streets of Historic Downtown Hart
A trip through Hart’s historic downtown is fun no matter the time of year. There are lots of historic buildings to see, including the Hart Railroad Depot, Heritage Hall, and the Glover Railroad Caboose. There are also plenty of places to stop, shop, and dine as you wander downtown.
Attend Silver Lake Area Festivals
The Silver Lake area hosts several festivals during the year, which is a great way to get out and see the best the area has to offer.
Interact With Animals at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo
About 15 minutes from Hart, Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo is a great place to take the family. The Lewis family is a fifth-generation farm family with a 700-acre farm. It has many seasonal attractions, but one of the big attractions is its petting zoo.
You can get up close and personal with more than two dozen animals, including alpacas, chickens, donkeys, goats, and mini horses. The farm has many seasonal events that are worth attending too, including a fall sunflower festival, u-pick fruit in the fall, and a farmer’s market.
Take a Unique Tour at Country Dairy
If you love taking unique tours on vacation, Country Dairy in New Era offers several great family tours. They’re popular during the peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day but are also available by appointment at other times of the year.
You can take a classic farm tour via a tractor ride or a Belgian horse pull. You’ll get to see the farm’s milking system, observe the cows, and pet young calves. Additionally, there’s a farm history tour where you can take wagon rides to learn about the different historical aspects of the farm.
When you’re done, stop by the farm shop to stock up on delicious homemade cheeses, ice cream, milk, and other goodies.
Let Loose at Craig’s Cruisers
Having awesome adventures in Silver Lake Michigan isn’t limited to seeing the dunes and hanging out at the beach. If you’re looking to burn some energy and unleash your inner child, head to Craig’s Cruisers in Mears.
Prepare to have some fun while you’re here. There are bumper boats, go-karts, an arcade, miniature golf, and so much more.
Enjoy Fall & Winter Outdoor Activities
In the fall, take a stroll or a ride along the Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail, which is a 22-mile linear state park. The trail is wide and winds through villages, forests, and farmland. The trailhead in downtown Hart is a good place to start.
In the winter, the dunes transform into the perfect empty expanse for exploration. Snow gear is suggested as protection from the elements, but it’s perfect for trekking during an off-peak time if you want the dunes to yourself.
Lodging Near Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan
With so much to see, do, and explore around these Michigan dunes, booking a stay for a night (or two or three) is a good idea. In the Silver Lake area, many options are available, including rustic camping, comfortable motels, and vacation rentals.
Stay at a Local Motel
Several places offer family-friendly lodging near Silver Lakes Michigan, including the Sierra Sands Family Lodge. It has kids’ suites with bunk beds and two-bedroom family suites, along with many amenities.
The Dunes Waterfront Resort is about 1 mile from the state park and some of its rooms offer excellent lake views from private balconies. There’s also a sun deck, heated pool, and video game room, among other amenities.
Camp Near the Dunes
Right next to Craig’s Cruisers is Jellystone Park, which is open from mid-spring to mid-fall and offers camping space as well as entertainment. The campground area has cabin rentals and space for tent sites and RV camping. The entertainment area features wagon rides, basketball courts, go-carts, mini golf, and much more.
If you’re going to explore the dunes and surrounding area, Silver Lake State Park campground is an obvious choice. It puts you right in the middle of all the fun daily activities with access to the beach, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, and so much more.
Book a Vacation Rental
Booking a vacation rental is another good route to go if you’re planning to stay and explore for a while. Many of the area vacation rentals — such as this three-bedroom lakefront cottage — are affordable, close to the beach, and offer the comforts of home while you’re on vacation.
Eating Near Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan
There are many great spots to eat in Hart, Mears, and the surrounding Silver Lake area. Some of the best places to grab a bite after a day of exploring are below!
This is the perfect spot if you want to grab a burger and a beer! The brewery’s beers are a unique mix of old-world and new-world beers that appeal to customers of all tastes. The menu features burgers, as well as sandwiches, soups, and apps.
If you’re looking for something sweet on a hot day around the dunes, this is the place to go. Customers can choose from soft serve, hand-dipped flavors, and other tasty creations.
Try the World Famous Turtle Sundae or the Test Hill — a tasty concoction of chocolate, vanilla, and twist ice creams with an oreo bottom and a half-dozen toppings on top, all served on a frisbee.
Fans of chicken wings will have to stop at this eatery, which claims to have the best wings. These rotisserie-seasoned delights are perfect if you have a big family to feed. They’re perfect for a lakeside party too.
This eatery has two locations in Silver Lake. The menu appeals to all taste buds, featuring pizza, burgers, subs, omelets, Mexican dishes, and more.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to get into the Silver Lake Sand Dunes?
As long as you have a Michigan Recreation Passport, you’re in the clear when you visit Silver Lake State Park.
Where are the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Located?
These Michigan sand dunes are located near Mears and Hart. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are also about 90 minutes from Grand Rapids Michigan.
Can you walk on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes?
If you’re hoping to walk around on the dunes, there’s a pedestrian entrance that you can use.
What time does Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan open?
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Silver Lake State Park.
Start Exploring Silver Lake Sand Dunes Michigan Today
If you’re looking for the perfect family vacation spot, Silver Lake Michigan is the place. It has all the elements you need for the perfect family adventure.
Here, you’ll find beautiful, golden sand dunes to explore on foot, via tours, or on off-road vehicles. There are spacious beaches to swim and sunbathe and an inland lake at Silver Lake State Park for spending a day on the water. Plus, there are plenty of spots to explore in the area and so much more!