Top Ten Beaches in the United States

Best Sand Playground: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Michigan)
  |  Gorp.com
Sunset over Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan (Jake Rajs/Photodisc/Getty)

Get ready to play in the sand: With a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's eastern mainland coastline (65 miles and more than 70,000 acres in total), Sleeping Bear offers an unbeatable natural playground of world-class sand dunes. These massive coastal dunes and bluffs line the lakeshore, making for outrageous hiking. It's not easy climbing a beach, but once up top, you'll get expansive views of the lake and its sugar-white beaches, which are great for lounging when you come down.

Inland, you'll find hills and forests of birch, pine, beech, and maple, as well as small lakes and rivers for great fishing. The scenic, 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive can be done by car or, for the very fit, by bike. But great views of sand and water aren't the only thing to see. The park is also home to more than 220 species of birds, along with deer, foxes, and elusive bobcat.

Tip: Sleeping Bear also has two islands inside its boundaries that can be reached via ferry from Leland, MI; don't miss 'em.


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