Ranking the top adventures for this summer's trip to Silver Lakes Dunes

Silver Lakes Dunes is an adrenaline-seeker's paradise, perfect for entire family


It can be hard to find a vacation that's relatively close to home and one that checks off all the boxes for everyone in the family.

Sometimes it seems like dad and the older kids want some fun and adventures, mom wants to lay out on a beach and catch some rays and the little ones just want to ride some go-karts and play putt-putt golf. 

Oh, and not having it cost you an arm and a leg would be helpful, too. 

Luckily, the sand dunes are about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Metro Detroit, which offer something for everyone.

It doesn't matter if your family wants to rev things up on the dunes or enjoy the day at the beach, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes can provide all the fun your family is looking for, and then some. 

With so many different ways to have fun at the dunes (which cover about 2,000 acres of rolling sand hills, after all), we decided to break down the top things you and your family can do -- and we ranked them from the most thrilling to the least. 

Rent your own buggy or bring your own

If your family loves thrills and chills, then coming to the sand dunes has been all about this experience: riding the dunes. The northern section of the sand dunes is open to off-road vehicles, so if you have your own buggy or ATV with proper documentation, the dunes are your oyster. 

If you don't personally own an off-roading vehicle (don't worry, you're not alone!), there are plenty of places in the town of Silver Lake that offer rentals. If you want the most thrills, we suggest renting your own buggy or ATV to explore. With you sitting at the wheel of your very own sand buggy, you can decide just how adventurous your ride will be. But you're on vacation, so we suggest you live a little. 

The northern part of the dunes opens April 1 and closes Oct. 31, so you have plenty of time to figure out when a vacation to the dunes works for you. 

Rent your own Jeep to ride the dunes 

Riding in a Jeep on the dunes is the next level down for thrill-seekers who aren't the most comfortable riding in a buggy or ATV. The Jeep Wranglers are strong, durable and you don't have to worry about sand blowing in your face. Parrot's Landing has Jeep Wranglers that families can rent to drive around the dunes themselves or have a driver give you a personal tour if you're not comfortable navigating the area yourself. 

If you're looking for some fun off the sand and back on the water, Parrot's Landing also rents out boats and Jet Skis for Silver Lake. You truly get the best of both worlds.

Take a ride with Mac Wood's Dunes RIdes

The southern portion of the sand dunes is reserved for Mac Wood's Dunes Rides, a company that offers a safe seven-mile ride through one of the most gorgeous parts of the dunes. A knowledgeable driver takes you on a 40-minute drive through the dunes and gives you some history and facts about this ever-changing landscape. 

The best part about Mac Wood's Dunes Rides is that it's something all of the family can enjoy together. The little ones in your family could be scared of an intimidating buggy, but this giant bus that takes you through the dunes is trying to show off the beauty of the area, not increase your heart rate. 

If you're going to do anything in Silver Lake, make sure this idea is atop your list. 

Try sandboarding

The center section of the sand dunes is totally dedicated to people who want to explore on foot. You won't have to worry about dodging an adrenaline junkie on an ATV in this area. 

Taking a hike through the dunes can be super fun, but it can also be quite the workout. One way to spice up your hike is to try sandboarding, a fun spin on snowboarding that can only be done at the dunes. 

Many rental shops in town offer boards for people to rent so they can try this new adventerous craze. We can't guarantee that it will be easy (anyone who has snowboarded before knows that it's pretty difficult), but maybe boarding on sand will come more naturally than snow. Remember, it's all in the hips!

And of course, relax by the water

Vacations cannot be complete without a little bit of fun in the sun, so once you've had enough thrills for the day out at the dunes, relax the rest of your day away laying on the beach. The best part about Silver Lake Dunes is that they are sandwiched between Silver Lake and the mighty Lake Michigan, so you've got options. There are even nearby boat launches on Lake Michigan, so if your family has a boat, you better bring it! 

And don't forget about all the fun that can be done off the water and sand. With go-karts, mini golf, delicious restaurants and all the ice cream your heart can desire, Silver Lake Dunes is an incredible place for your family to have a mini-vacation that's not too far from home.