Planning for Distanced Activities

As we move through summer, we have witnessed the return of visitors to our region. We are grateful to everyone who is visiting with intention, wearing masks as directed, and supporting our local businesses. In order to continue to protect our community, we ask you to read about the measures we are all taking to maintain safety amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you are visiting the region or a resident looking for some activities to help you beat the crowds, check out the following recommendations as you make weekend plans!

Please keep in mind the employees and other patrons at the businesses you visit during your travels, and consider ordering take-out or curbside in order to limit possible exposure to our vulnerable workers. There are many ways to still enjoy northern Michigan while ensuring the safety of your travel companions and our community!

Go Cherry-Picking

Now through the end of the weekend, swing by Empire Cherry Orchard just south of town for u-pick cherries! All interaction with staff is outdoors, and once you have checked in at the barn, there is ample space to roam away from other visitors. This is a great way to take a break from the mid-day crowds at the beach while still enjoying the outdoors! U-pick runs 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through July 26.

Located at 8411 W Stormer Rd, Empire, Michigan. 

Have a Picnic

Order take-out from Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor or Empire Village Inn, Joe’s Friendly Tavern, or Shipwreck Cafe in Empire, and take it to the beach or a park! Looking for somewhere less crowded? We recommend Johnson Park or Shalda (North Empire) Park in Empire, both of which offer shaded seating away from busy hiking trails and beaches. Glen Lake Picnic Area across from the Dune Climb is another quiet location to enjoy a picnic.

Go for a Drive

image via Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive has been under construction throughout the summer of 2020, which means its open hours are limited. Now through Sunday, July 26, the drive will remain open to traffic and then will close until Saturday, August 8, when it will reopen for weekends during the month of August. To avoid crowds, consider visiting right when the drive opens at 9am, or after 3pm to skip the busiest part of the day.

Go for a Hike

While many trails are crowded all summer, hiking still provides a great opportunity for social distancing. Plan your hike for earlier in the day (before 10 a.m.) or after dinner to avoid the largest crowds. Consider finding a less-visited trail such as Chippewa Run in Empire or Windy Moraine across from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. If you arrive at a trailhead and find the parking lot full, have a backup trail in mind and go check it out!

Stay Overnight Safely

All of the hotels and rentals in our community are working hard to ensure the safety of their guests and staff. If you are traveling, check out Duneswood Resort on M-109. You’ll be able to enjoy your morning coffee while staring at the dunes out the back door of your private room. Duneswood offers on-site bike rentals and easy access to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, as well as in-room air conditioning and refrigerators.