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America's Most Beautiful Lakeshore

Bedrooms 3
Property type condo
Minimum Stay 3 - 7 nights


Minimum Stay
3 - 7 nights

About the property

Condo, 3 Bedrooms + Loft, 3 Baths, (Sleeps 6-8)

Nestled in the center of beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore is South Bar Lake and Empire, Michigan. The Sleeping Bear heirtage bike trail is just a quarter mile from the property and it winds it way through the forest, past the sand dunes and Lake Michigan to Glen Haven and Glen Lake for a 10 mike bike hike. The trail will soon be finished all the way to the lighthouse at the tip of the pennisula in Northport. South Bar Lake is separated from the east shore of Lake Michigan by a small sand bar on which Empire beach and a large playground and park stands. The South Bar condo sits on 3 acres of woodland with lakefront and dock on South Bar and a 10 minute kayak or canoe ride to Empire beach and Lake Michigan. Empire Beach has a playground, pavillion, fire pits on the beach and a vista of Sleeping Bear dunes and Empire Bluffs which is breathtaking and the reason that the area was named the most beautiful vacation spot by Good Morning America in 2012. By foot, it is a mile walk and there is also a beautiful wooded 4 mile walk around South Bar Lake that has a panoramic view of both lakes and the lakshore. The Village of Empire is wlaking distance from the condo and less than a 10 minute drive from the busier Glen Arbor. A 5 minute drive to the Marina on the Narrows which rents all water sports and even gives skiing and surfing lessons (10% off rental coupon if you stay with us). We highly recommend the pontoon boat rental and cruise.

The two level, 3 bedroom condo with loft sleeps 6 comfortably and can accommodate 8 with the use of the loft. It has a master bedroom with full bath , 2 bedrooms with twin beds and a full bath, living area and full kitchen. A walk out recreation room with ping pong, board games, library and a 64 inch flat screen with DVD and half bath keep the children occupied. There is a walk out porch with full view of South Bar Lake and Lake Michigan. From the porch it is a short walk to the sandy beach and dock with kayaks, inner tubes and other sand toys. In the evening take advantage of the large fire pit just off the beach and multiple lounge chairs.

Rentals are Saturday to Saturday from the first of May to Labor Day at the weekly rate of $2625. Two week rentals are at the rate of $4750 Weekend rentals (Friday-Sunday, 2 nights) are available before May 1 or after Labor Day at $550/weekend. A $300 deposit is required which will be returned or credited to your card once the cleaning crew has completed. We encourage you to call at 616-340-4293 for more information and to determine if this property is a match for you and your family.

Keywords: Sleeping Bear/Empire

More Details

william cunningham
Member since: 2012
Speaks: english
Response time:
Within a few days
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
February 6, 2017

About william cunningham

The Cunningham family has six children and have been vacationing in the Empire/Glen Lake area for over thirty years. hen the family moved to Michigan in 1990 their dream was to purchase a property in the Sleeping Dunes area for their retirement home and for a permanent legacy for their family

william cunningham purchased this condo in 2011

Why william cunningham chose Sleeping Bear Dunes

Property is on a small private lake that opens up to Lake Michigan and just a 10-15 minute row to the one of the most pristine beaches on Lake Michigan. Walking distance to the quaint little town of Empire or to the beach. The Sleeping Bear bike trailhead is a quarter of a mile from the property and winds through Sleeping Bear Dunes into Glen Haven and Glen Lake. Soon to be finished for a thirty mile ride to the lighthouse in Northport at the tip of the Leelanau pennisula. Property sleeps 6-8 comfortably and has all the accomodations of your personal home, including beach and recreational equipment to use.

What makes this condo unique

2 kayaks, 2 rowboats, paddle boat, tennis racquets, football, basketball, baseball, whiffle ball and loads of beach chairs, umbrellas and beach toys. South Bar Lake is a private no lake wake, so personal water craft (other than owners) and jet skis are not permitted.


Excellent! 4.5/5 -
(10 traveler reviews)

America's Most Beautiful Lakeshore
average rating of 4.5 based on 10 reviews

Not a recommended property

  • 1 of 5
Verified Stay

We selected this property due to size, use of basement and upstairs, location on a lake, and available queen beds. This property did not meet expectations. The property advertised 2 queen beds. In fact there is only one queen bed and the other is only a full. The basement is not usable as it is so musty and smelly. My husband thought it smelled like a cat lived there. Further, the TV that we thought we could use to get local channels to watch the Olympics was not functioning - no TV reception is available. I had also inquired as to swimming in the adjacent lake and if there was a lot of lake plants in the water. I was told the lake area was clear around the dock - but the lake is not clear. Perhaps kids could walk around in it, but there is no much plant life I didn't see any kids in that water. We could have lived with some of these issues but what made matters worse was the cleanliness of the unit. There were cob webs and spiders in all corners of the walls. I had to vacuum most of them away so they wouldn't be over our heads while sleeping. The side table in the master bedroom also had a strange brown liquid on it that we had to clean. Many of the kitchen items including the coffee pot and certain dishes were dirty. Towards the end of our stay we identified mouse droppings on the kitchen cabinets. We saw that the toilet paper in the second bathroom was ripped up - more evidence of mice. When we were stripping beds at the end of our stay we found a dead mouse under a bed. I wouldn't recommend this unit. This is the worst unit I have stayed in out of 4 places I have rented through VRBO. The owner also made us purchase renters insurance to cover any damage to his property. There was nothing of great value there that we could have damaged. I regret renting this unit. We did enjoy the proximity to the Lake Michigan beaches and the North Bar lake channel.

  • Submitted: Aug 23, 2016
  • Stayed: Aug 2016
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
Owner's Response: Please look at all previous emails over the last 4 years which all detail an excellent property with excellent amenities and NO mention of cleanliness issues. The unit is professionally cleaned before any rental reservation. If there was a mice problem or cobwebs, then it had to occur within the one week that it was empty before this reservation arrived. The water and lake around the dock is as clear as any water in the Great Lakes and children love swimming off the dock. The large screen TV does not have cable, but has over 50 DVDs to choose from. Again, this is the first complaint that we have ever had in regards to the lack of cable. We cannot control the weather (it was a rainy week), nor the fact that she wanted a refund from VRBO which leads us to believe that the mores issues and complaints that she could detail, the better their chance of a refund? We will be more selective in screening our renters in the future and avoid OCD personalities. I apologize that you had to read the review and will take all steps (alert our cleaning team and delete the TV/cable from the amenities) on our part. Peace,
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London, Ohio USA

Never a Dull Moment

  • 4 of 5

If you've never been to Empire, you are missing out on a world of fun and relaxation! Whether you are hiking, biking, boating or driving, gorgeous views are always just around the corner. The glory of nature is bountiful here and words cannot do it justice. From our first evening of wading and kayaking in crystal clear South Bar Lake, just steps from the back door of the condo, to swimming across calm North Bar Lake to the waves of Lake Michigan to riding a Seadoo in Glen Lake just 10 minutes away, our water sport to-do list was completely checked off. The paved trails for walking, biking, skateboarding, or rollerskating are endless. It's an easy ride to North Bar Lake.

The condo itself felt like home away from home, not at all pretentious. The owner could not have been nicer. The lower level itself was worth the stay. We all stayed up late playing cards, watching movies on the huge television, and playing ping pong and pool, not to mention the hours our granddaughter spent playing with the blocks and wooden train set.

The next time we plan a trip to the Sleeping Bear area, I won't think twice about staying at Drift Away.

  • Submitted: Jul 28, 2015
  • Stayed: Jul 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Best of both worlds

  • 5 of 5

This location is ideal for so many reasons it's hard to find a place to start! Empire is a hidden gem with so much to offer. South Bar Lake shares one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan anywhere on the coast. Sleeping Bear Dunes is spectacular. The entire county has so many outdoor activities to enjoy within biking distance along the Heritage Trail, and the home itself was well outfitted by a gracious host who does many things to make the stay even more enjoyable. Our only regret is that we did not decide to stay longer! We would definitely stay again.

  • Submitted: Jul 21, 2015
  • Stayed: Jul 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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DeWitt, Iowa

Family Reunion

  • 5 of 5
Verified Stay

We rented the property for our family reunion. The condo was perfect for the 7 of us. The location to Empire Beach was great. With South Bar Lake as a backdrop, the morning view from the deck was superb. It was a short drive to Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.

Hope to stay there again.

  • Submitted: Jul 18, 2014
  • Stayed: Jul 2014
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
Owner's Response: Anthony: Glad that we could addomodate your family and you enjoyed the area. Please make sure if you are returning that you let us know that you are a return guest, as we give priority to those that have stayed with us in the past. Peace,
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Great condo, in a beautiful tranquil setting

  • 5 of 5
Verified Stay

Stayed at Drift Away with three generations of our family - my husband and I, my husbands parents and our son(21). The accommodation and facilities at the condo were excellent. The photo does not do justice to the space between the house and the lake which is absolutely beautiful. We loved being able to sit on the deck and watch the garden and lake. We had a wonderful time grilling sausages and marshmallows on the fire pit as well as taking the kayaks out on South bar lake. It was a great base for exploring - the condo has a lot of literature on local attractions to help plan days out in Sleeping Bear dunes, Glen Arbor and further afield. There is really something for everyone here. My father in law loves photography and the quality of the light and vistas were fantastic. All in all we had a lovely time and thoroughly enjoyed the tranquility and peacefulness of the location. I would thoroughly recommend Drift Away to anyone considering visiting this area.

  • Submitted: Jul 13, 2014
  • Stayed: Jun 2014
  • Source: HomeAway
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Ideal Location and Nestled in Nature

  • 5 of 5

This home is a definite thumbs up: our teenagers' favorite part was the downstairs rec room complete with pool and ping pong table, 60 inch tv, comfy couches, bathroom, medium sized table/chairs, all very spacious, in addition to a walk out door to the yard with a view of South Barr Lake. Our tween liked the cute beanie baby stuffed animals she discovered with a few other toys as well as the loft upstairs. The rec room is a perfect family space for all ages. My husband loved the gorgeous lake view from the master bedroom, family room, and rec room plus the view of pine trees, deer and wild turkey from each of the other windows. Even though you were inside you felt like you were outside. I loved the oversized kitchen counter with a square table positioned in between the counter and the living room. Very nice open floor plan to enjoy each others' company, yet there were so many choices of rooms to go to you could also get away from each other. The bathrooms were all neat, clean, comfortable, master bedroom is large, another bedroom has twin beds, the 3rd has a full or it may be a queen sized bed. Add the loft and there is plenty of sleeping space. The bedding and towels are all provided and there is a washer and dryer next to the kitchen. Since our visit was during the winter we only ventured out in the yard once, it is long and deep, lots of trees, we walked way out on the ice. We have also stayed in the center of town on Front Street, but this location on the Lake was perfect, far enough away from the crowd, felt like we were back to nature with the deer and turkeys walking around like they were pets, but close enough for a quick drive to downtown Empire to the Village Inn or Joe's Friendly Tavern.

Empire in general is such a great location positioned about 5-10 minutes from the Glenn Lakes, Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, 30 minutes to Fish Town, 30 minutes to Traverse City and maybe 15 minutes to the Beulah area...Cherry Bowl Theater...Hungry Tummy , Frankfort, Crystal Lake, and the Platte River Canoe Rides that end at Lake MI. The Empire Beach on Lake Michigan is our favorite spot, in the summer just go to the Sleeping Bear Surf Shop to rent a surf board, paddle board, boogie board, fat tire bike and you are set. Plan on roasting marshmallows at the fire pits located on the beach and if you are lucky the guitar guy may come out and play topping off a perfect evening swimming and hanging out by the fire & watching the sun set.

  • Submitted: Feb 27, 2014
  • Stayed: Feb 2014
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
Owner's Response: Pontrelli's: thank you for your response and we hope that you can enjoy our place in the summer or early fall. If you wish to stay again, please remark that you are a "return" so that you will be preferred. Have a great summer.
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Nearest Airport
25 Miles
traverse city
Nearest Barpub
1 Miles
Friendly Tavern
Nearest Ferry
70 Miles
ludington, mi
Nearest Golf
5 Miles
multiple locations
Nearest Restaurant
1 Miles
Friendly Taverne
Nearest Beach
1 Miles
empire state park
Nearest Point of Interest
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore
Nearest Point of Interest
Empire Beach State Park
Nearest Point of Interest
Marina on the Narrows
Car: recommended

Empire is a small town that is situated at the base of Sleeping Bear National Park. Our condo is on South Bar Lake which is seperated by a sand dune from Lake Michigan and accessible by kayak from our location. The bicycle trail which now extends all the away to Leland ( 32 miles) is a half mile from our home. Big Glen and Little Glen Lake is a 5 minute ride from our home and is one of the 10 most beautiful lakes in america.


Rates & Availability

Empire Condo Rental Rates

Rental Basis:
per property
Owner accepts payment in:
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Rate Period Nightly Weekend Night Weekly Monthly Event
Feb 6 2017 - Jun 9 2017
3 night minimum stay
summer season
Jun 10 2017 - Sep 9 2017
7 night minimum stay
offfall season 2017/2018
Sep 10 2017 - Jun 8 2018
3 night minimum stay
My Standard Rate
3 night minimum stay

Additional information about rental rates

cleaning fee $150 + Tax
Refundable damage deposit $300
Property Damage Protection $59
Tax Rate 6.0%

The summer rate of $2625/week will have a $500 discount for multiple consecutive weeks rental. A $300 deposit due at final payment and that will be returned within 2 weeks after departure. In 4 years of renting every guest has had the full amount returned as they have treated the property as their own

Owner's Cancellation Policy

100% refund if canceled at least 90 days before arrival date.
Enter dates for accurate pricing
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Available arrival
Available stay (no arrival)


Empire Condo Accommodation and Amenities

Property Type:
  • condo
  • Guests provide their own meals
Location Type:
  • Beach View ...
  • Beachfront ...
  • Lake View
  • Lakefront
  • Rural
  • Village ...
  • Water View
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Historic
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Clothes Dryer
  • Fireplace ...
  • Fitness Room / Equipment ...
  • Garage
  • Heating
  • Internet
  • Iron & Board
  • Linens Provided
  • Living Room ...
  • Parking ...
  • Parking Off Street
  • Telephone ...
  • Towels Provided
  • Washing Machine
  • Wireless Internet
  • Coffee Maker
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Dishes & Utensils
  • Dishwasher
  • Ice Maker
  • Kitchen ...
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Pantry Items
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Toaster
  • Child's Highchair
  • Dining
  • Dining Area
  • seating for 6 people
  • 3 Bathrooms
  • Bathroom 1 -
    Bathroom 2 -
    Bathroom 3 -
  • 3
  • 3 Bedrooms, Sleeps 8
  • Queen size Beds (1), Twin or Single Beds (1)
  • Books ...
  • DVD Player
  • Game Room ...
  • Games ...
  • Ping Pong Table
  • Pool Table ...
  • Satellite / Cable ...
  • Television ...
  • Toys
  • Video Library ...
  • Balcony ...
  • Boat ...
  • Deck / Patio ...
  • Golf ...
  • Kayak / Canoe ...
  • Lawn / Garden ...
  • Outdoor Grill
  • Tennis ...
  • Water Sports Gear ...
  • Minimum Age Limit for Renters ...
  • non smoking only
  • pets not allowed
  • wheelchair inaccessible
  • arboretum
  • churches
  • festivals
  • marina
  • museums
  • playground
  • restaurants
  • winery tours
Leisure Activities:
  • antiquing
  • boating
  • shelling
  • shopping
  • sight seeing
  • sledding
  • wildlife viewing
Local Services & Businesses:
  • ATM/bank
  • groceries
  • laundromat
  • massage therapist
  • medical services
Sports & Adventure Activities:
  • basketball court
  • cross country skiing
  • cycling
  • fishing
  • fly fishing
  • freshwater fishing
  • golf
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • jet skiing
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • snowmobiling
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • water skiing
  • wind-surfing
Dock, Fire Pit, Kayaks, Paddle Boat, Inner Tubes, ping pong, 56 inch screen for DVDs and VCRs

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