Silver Lake Sand Dunes: Detroit Moms’ Favorite Michigan Vacation Spots

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes, just over three hours away from the metro Detroit area, offer a little something for everyone and every age. From glamping it a bit in a camper, to staying in a lake front cabin or hotel, this is a perfect destination for a long weekend or just an overnight stay. 

We tend to stay right near the dunes for food and attractions, but there are tons of options in the surrounding areas as well.


Sands Restaurant 8448 W Hazel Rd, Mears, 231-873-7718
This is a great option for a casual, sit-down restaurant. It offers breakfast and lunch. Perfect for families, with both indoor and outdoor seating. We opted to order to-go, getting pizza and breadsticks. They have massive salads as a healthier option, too.

Silver Lake Chicken Shack8301 W Hazel Rd, Silver Lake, 231-873-0434
Known for its rotisserie chicken and bar area, this restaurant regularly has live music. Located near Craig’s Cruisers, it maintains a fun yet family-friendly environment.


Silver Lake State Park | 9679 W State Park Rd, Mears, 231-873-3083
This is the heart of Silver Lake Sand Dunes! All you need is a Michigan Recreation Passport to enter. One of the biggest features of the dunes is the dune climb. Climb the sand alone or use the stairs to start your ascent. Once you are at the top, sand surrounds you with Lake Michigan on one side and Silver Lake on the other. Don’t feel like climbing the dunes? Rent a boat to take you across to Dune Beach on Silver Lake. You can hike across the top of the dunes then run, sled, or glide down right into Silver Lake. Check out the cabins located near the dune entrance — the dunes are shifting, causing the houses to disappear. Another feature of the dunes is the ORV area. According to the DNR, it is the biggest off-roading area east of the Mississippi River. 

Little Sable Point Lighthouse Beach | 287 N Lighthouse Dr, Mears
This spot doubles as a great beach and must-see attraction. The Little Sable Point Lighthouse Beach is located just south of the Silver Lake State Park. This area does require a Recreation Passport as well. The Little Sable Point Lighthouse is one of the tallest in the state and is maintained by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association. It is open daily for tours with a small admission fee of $2 for ages 2-12, $5 for 13 and older. After you take in the views of the lighthouse, dig your toes back into the sand. This beach has some of the best views of Lake Michigan.


Mac Woods Dune Ride | 629 N 18th Ave, Mears, 231-873-2817
This family-run business has been a piece of the dunes since 1930. The dune ride lasts about 40 minutes and takes you on a thrilling ride through the sand. It takes you along Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. It is open daily through October. While you wait your turn, there is a play area for the kids, a museum area, and gift shop. Be sure to check their website and social media, as they do close for bad weather. Fees: $20 ages 12 and up, $12 ages 3-11, and under 2 is free.

Craig’s Cruisers8343 W Hazel Rd, Silver Lake, 231-873-2511
After spending all day on the sand, take advantage of all Craig’s Cruisers has to offer. From the arcade to putt-putt and rides, there is something for everyone to enjoy!


Dunes Waterfront Resort |  1200 N Shore Rd, Mears, 231-873-5500
Features rooms with patios or balconies facing the dunes; the sunsets are amazing! The hotel has its own private beach and dock area. This is located within walking distance of restaurants and other attractions.

Jellystone Park 8239 W Hazel Rd, Mears, 231-873-4502
This is just one of the many campsites in the area. Located behind Craig’s Cruisers, this is a family-centered campground with a pool and activities for all.


Silver Lake Whippy Dip 591 N 18th Ave, Mears, 231-873-4715
This is a Silver Lake staple. It is located right next to Mac Woods Dune Rides. After braving the dune rides, head over for a treat. It  offers lunch items like hot dogs and hamburgers, and delicious ice cream options to cool off in the summer heat.

Silver Scoops Cafe and Creamy | 8450 W Hazel Rd, Silver Lake, 231-742-8178
This is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They offer all your favorite soft-serve and hand-dipped ice cream. Don’t forget their cafe menu, which offers everything from BBQ brisket, sandwiches, appetizers, and more. We stopped by more than once during our stay!


Silver Lake Tees | 8430 Silver Lake Rd, Silver Lake, 231-873-5957
This is the spot for custom t-shirts and sweatshirts. While there, check out the unique gifts and resort wear options.


Golden Bakery Donut Cafe | 8434 W Silver Lake Rd, Mears, 231-425-6973
This tiny little cafe is actually connected to the neighboring souvenir shop. This was a short walk from our hotel — the perfect quick stop for coffee and fresh pastries. Stock up on picnic items from their to-go cooler.


  • Approximate Travel Time: Just over three hours from metro Detroit.
  • Take advantage of free ORV the weekend of August 21st.
  • The Oceana County fair runs from August 24th-28th.
  • If possible, try to plan your stay for early in the week! You will still get the full Silver Lake experience but with less crowds!

Where is your family’s favorite vacation spot in Michigan? Check out some of our team’s favorites: Grand Haven | South Haven | Petoskey | Houghton/Hancock | Traverse City | Mackinaw City | Mackinac Island | Pentwater


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