Page 53 - Visitors Guide 18
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Much has been written about the beauty of the Empire beach, which provides a relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon. For a different take, try walking the beach at night to view the village’s dark skies.
"T he sunsets are better than Hawaii.”
How’s that for
an endorsement? It came from 27- year Empire Village
resident Mary Sharry, who started visiting the community with her family when growing up.
“I got to know Empire just like everyone else. The family and the grandparents came up, and everybody just said, ‘That’s where we go to vacation.’”
Never been to Empire? In the scheme of northern Michigan, it’s notable for hosting the headquarters to Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore and home to some of the darkest night skies in the Lower Peninsula.
The Lakeshore visitor center looks somewhat like a fort perched alongside M-72. It’s a busy place on most summer days as families plan their visits to one of only three national parks in Michigan.
Martha Moyer visits Leelanau County several times a year. Her advice? Don’t miss out
on Empire. “Empire is a must visit if you want to get the full Sleeping Bear Dunes story,” she said. “The Philip A Hart Visitor Center should be on
everyone’s radar. What a treasure trove of information. It displays one of the Grand Prize winning entries from Grand Rapids’ Art Prize competition from a few years ago. It is a beautiful tapestry. I can’t
say enough about the Visitor Center — it should be the  rst stop on an ‘Up North’ swing through Leelanau County.”
The Empire Village beach, home of those glorious sunsets, is also known for its views of the heavens.
“To me,” Sharry said, “one
of the most wonderful things about Empire is the dark sky and the Northern Lights. There
is some downward directed lighting along the bear, but if you go along the shore it’s dark and you can see the stars and meteors.”
Empire has other attractions, too. It serves as the  rst (or last?) leg of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, giving visitors a designated path to the Dune Climb, Glen Arbor and Port Oneida Historic Area.
Empire boasts one of the best beaches and some of the most picturesque hikes in the county. The wide, sandy beach is perfect for all-day visits. Bring some quarters, because the
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