Two families share this vacation cottage. Both couples became fast friends in grad school at the University of MI in the 90's. Both families now include children. Together we've camped, skied, traveled across country, and dreamed of owning a little spot in northern MI where we can explore the woods, walk the beach, paddle the shoreline and ski the trails.
Kim Wade purchased this cottage in 2012
We fell for this cottage on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Empire. The idea seemed just crazy enough, and we loved Empire's quirky, laid back atmosphere. Case in point: Empire hosts an annual Asparagus Festival each spring! That was incentive enough. Plus the breathtaking beach, a handful of really great art galleries & antique shops, Sleeping Bear's new Heritage Trail and Visitor's Center (complete with ranger-led programs), and even a hand-made chocolate shop (The Grocer's Daughter) . . . All this is literally right outside our cottage's doorsteps.
(1) BEACH! Our cottage is a mere 3 blocks walk (or bike ride) from Empire's public beach. We love this beach because it provides spectacular views of both the Empire Bluffs (which you can walk to the top of via the Bluff Trail) to the south and Sleeping Bear's massive sand dunes to the north.
Also, the beach let's you enjoy two lakes: Lake Michigan to the west and the much smaller South Bar Bake to the east. South Bar Lake stays considerably warmer than the big lake and is an especially great spot for young children.
(2) VILLAGE! Empire itself is charming, quiet and walkable with a grocery story, a few well-appointed shops, friendly tavern (on a cold evening, grab the table right next to the wood stove and order the wings), and a newly renovated public library (which our kids have spent hours in playing games and reading during rainy days).
(3) NATIONaL PARK! Empire is surrounded by sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore, a 50,000 acre national park that boasts 64 miles of lake Michigan beaches, two islands, 26 inland lakes, and the iconic sand dunes. Sleeping bear's visitor's center, located just 3 blocks from our cottage, has interpretive displays and is a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of the park.