Best Things to Do in North Bear Shores Michigan

Last Updated: 26/01/2024.

Nestled along the pristine shores of North Bear Shores Michigan, beckons travelers with its captivating blend of natural splendor and rustic charm. This idyllic destination, located in the heart of the Leelanau Peninsula, offers an irresistible escape into the tranquility of nature, where towering dunes meet crystal-clear waters and verdant forests unfold their secrets. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a taste of authentic Michigan culture, North Bear Shores promises an unforgettable experience.


North Bear Shores, a hidden gem tucked away in the northwestern corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, exudes a tranquil charm that sets it apart from the bustling tourist destinations nearby. Here, the pace of life slows down, allowing time to reconnect with nature and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. The area’s namesake, North Bear Shores Natural Area, encompasses a breathtaking expanse of sandy beaches, rolling hills, and lush forests, providing a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The Natural Beauty of North Bear Shores Michigan

north bear shores michigan
The Natural Beauty of North Bear Shores Michigan

North Bear Shores is a sanctuary for those seeking solace in the embrace of nature. The area’s pristine beaches, adorned with sugar-white sand and gently lapping waves, provide an idyllic setting for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan are perfect for water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. The surrounding forests offer endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. And let’s not forget about the stunning sunsets over the lake – a must-see for any visitor to North Bear Shores.

Stunning Beaches and Clear Waters

North Bear Shores in Emmet County, Michigan, is a serene and picturesque destination on the northeastern shore of Little Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan. This small community, with a population of around 125, is renowned for its stunning natural scenery, including pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Ideal for various outdoor activities such as boating, hiking, and fishing, it offers a tranquil getaway. Nearby attractions like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with its impressive dunes and beautiful beaches, further enhance the area’s appeal, making it a hidden gem for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful lakeside retreat.

Lush Forests and Hiking Trails

North Bear Shores in Michigan, nestled on the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan, is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, surrounded by dense, green woodlands. The area is renowned not just for its picturesque beaches but also for its inviting forest trails. Nearby, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers various hiking paths, including the scenic Alligator Hill Trail and the Old Indian Trail, ideal for enjoying sunset views over Lake Michigan. Extensive hiking options are also available at the North County Trailhead and the more relaxed North Point Nature Preserve in Charlevoix, as well as the beautiful trails in Petoskey State Park, which meander through nature preserves and dunes alongside stunning beach views. This region is a treasure trove for hikers seeking to explore the diverse natural landscapes of Northern Michigan.

Discover the beauty of North Bear Shores Michigan

north bear shores michigan
Discover the beauty of North Bear Shores Michigan

Aside from the natural beauty of North Bear Shores, there are plenty of local attractions and activities to keep visitors entertained. Here are some of the top things to do in North Bear Shores:

  • Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which is only a short drive from North Bear Shores and features towering dunes, picturesque views, and miles of hiking paths.
  • Explore the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail: Michigan may not be known for its wine, but the Leelanau Peninsula is home to over 20 wineries offering tastings and tours.
  • Take a trip to nearby Traverse City: This charming city is known for its vibrant arts scene, delicious food, and stunning views of Lake Michigan.
  • Go on a fishing charter: Lake Michigan is teeming with fish, making it a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. Book a charter and spend the day reeling in your catch of the day.

Accommodation Options

When it comes to lodging, North Bear Shores has something to offer everyone. For those wishing to spend time in the great outdoors, there are plenty of possibilities, including camping grounds, lodges along lakes, and lovely cabins.

Cozy Cabins and Lakeside Lodging

Stay in one of North Bear Shores’ many cabins or lakeside cottages for a genuinely rustic experience. These accommodations provide all of the comforts of home while immersing you in the area’s natural splendor. Wake up to the sound of waves breaking on the shore and enjoy stunning lake views just outside your door.

Camping Sites for Nature Lovers

For those who prefer to sleep under the stars, North Bear Shores has several camping sites to choose from. The Platte River Campground, located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, offers both tent and RV camping options. Another popular choice is the D.H. Day Campground, which offers direct access to the beach and stunning views of the dunes.

A Culinary Journey in North Bear Shores

No trip to North Bear Shores is complete without indulging in some delicious local cuisine. From fresh seafood to farm-to-table dishes, there’s something for every palate in this charming destination. Here are some must-try restaurants in North Bear Shores:

  • The Riverside Inn: This historic restaurant offers a fine dining experience with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and seasonal menus.
  • Art’s Tavern: A local favorite, Art’s Tavern serves up classic American fare in a laid-back atmosphere.
  • Knot Just a Bar: Located right on the beach, this casual spot is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat while enjoying the lake views.

Local Eateries and Fine Dining

North Bear Shores, Michigan, is not just a paradise for beach lovers but also a haven for food enthusiasts. The area is home to a variety of exceptional eateries, each offering a unique culinary experience.

  1. The Salted Seagull: A famous waterfront café. It offers coastal cuisine, such as grilled sea scallops with lemon reduction. Its rustic and charming interior, along with stunning ocean views, make dining there special.
  2. Shoreline Grill: This casual beachside eatery offers a flavorsome menu focusing on fresh, locally sourced seafood. Their ‘Catch of the Day’ specials are a must-try.
  3. Coconut Cove: For a tropical twist, this vibrant beachfront restaurant combines Caribbean flavors with classic seafood favorites. Their signature coconut-crusted shrimp is a popular choice.
  4. The Driftwood Tavern: Offering a cozy, old seaside tavern ambiance, this spot is known for its comfort food, including famous clam chowder.
  5. Sweet Waves Bakery: Perfect for those with a sweet tooth, this bakery offers a range of desserts like chocolate sea salt tart and peach cobbler.

Seafood Specialties and Regional Cuisine

In North Bear Shores Michigan, food lovers can enjoy a diverse culinary landscape, from casual fast food to sophisticated gourmet dining. The area is especially known for its farm-to-table restaurants that showcase fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can also explore Fishtown in Leland, a historic fishing village offering a glimpse into the region’s seafood heritage. The gastronomic attraction of this quaint Michigan location is further enhanced by the local craft beer and wine industry, which offers distinctive selections like exclusive wines from M-22 Winery and experimental brews from Northport Brewing.

Travel Tips in North Bear Shores Michigan

north bear shores michigan
Travel Tips in North Bear Shores Michigan

North Bear Shores is easily accessible by car, making it a popular road trip destination. If you’re flying in, the closest major airport is Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport, located about 30 miles away. Here are some tips for getting to North Bear Shores:

Best Routes and Transportation Options

If you’re driving from nearby cities such as Detroit or Chicago, the most scenic route is along the coast of Lake Michigan. Alternatively, you can take I-75 to US-31 and then head west towards North Bear Shores. For those flying in, renting a car is the best option for getting around and exploring the area. However, there are also shuttle services available from the airport to North Bear Shores.

Tips for a Smooth Journey

Traveling to North Bear Shores in Michigan is a beautiful and tranquil experience. For a smooth trip, follow these tips: 1. Visit during the warmer months to enjoy outdoor activities and scenery. 2. Book accommodations early, as they can be limited. 3. Pack for changing weather and comfortable shoes for beach and trail exploration. 4. Carry a map or GPS, as cell service can be spotty. 5. Visit nearby attractions like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 6. Experience local culture through regional cuisine and markets. 7. Plan well and embrace adventure for a memorable North Bear Shores visit.


In conclusion, North Bear Shores, Michigan, offers an enchanting escape into the beauty of nature. With its pristine beaches, lush forests, and charming small-town feel, it’s the perfect destination for those looking to unwind and reconnect with the great outdoors. Thus, you won’t regret packing your bags, letting go of your concerns, and embracing North Bear Shores’ charm.

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