South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

© John McCormick/Shutterstock

Manitou Islands

Gold Coast

The forest-cloaked Manitou Islands provide an off-the-beaten-path adventure. They’re part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, hence the entrance fee. North Manitou is known for star-speckled backcountry camping, while South Manitou is terrific for wilderness-rich day trips. Kayaking and hiking are the big to-dos, especially the 7-mile trek to the Valley of the Giants, an otherworldly stand of cedar trees on South Manitou. Manitou Island Transit runs ferries from Leland; the trip takes 1½ hours.

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