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Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-640-7927
Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-640-7927

America's Most Beautiful Lakeshore

Bedrooms 3
Space 2,450 sq. ft.
Property type condo
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 a full bed and a second room 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 2 days
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
March 4, 2018

About william cunningham

The Cunningham family has six children and have been vacationing in the Empire/Glen Lake area for over thirty years. W 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 Empire

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.


Empire Condo Accommodation and Amenities

Property Type:
  • condo
Building Type:
  • building
  • Guests provide their own meals
Floor Area:
  • 2450 sq. ft.
House Rules:
  • Check-in: 4:00 PM
  • /
  • Check-out: 11:00 AM
  • Max. occupancy: 8
  • Max. adults: 8
  • Min. age of primary renter: 35 ...
  • Not suitable for children
  • Parties/events not allowed
  • Pets not allowed
  • Non smoking only
  • family home with close neighbors, quiet time after 1000 pm limit to 4 children under 16
Location Type:
  • Beach View ...
  • Beachfront ...
  • Lake View
  • Lakefront
  • Rural
  • Village ...
  • Water View
  • Waterfront ...
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Historic
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Air Conditioning ...
  • Clothes Dryer
  • 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
  • Bedroom 1 - 1 queen , private master bath, tub and shower and walkout to lake
    Bedroom 2 - 1 double , shares full bath with bedroom 3, ceiling fan A/C
    Loft - 1 queen , 1 bunk bed , loft with a bunk and queen overlooking living room
    Bedroom 3 - 2 twin/ single , 2 twin beds with ceiling fan and A/C
  • condo sleeps 8 comfortably, A/C build in 2018
  • 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 ...
  • 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 , central AC added in 2018


Excellent! 4.6/5 -
(13 traveler reviews)

84% Complete
7% Complete
0% Complete
0% Complete
7% Complete
America's Most Beautiful Lakeshore
average rating of 4.6153846 based on 13 reviews

South Bar Lake Haven

  • 5 of 5

We just spent a week relaxing in this comfortable, quiet condo on South Bar Lake. This lovely, very well equipped unit provided everything we needed for five adults and a toddler. Lots of space to spread out both inside and out, with a beautiful view from the deck, nice lakefront lawn, and a dock to dangle your feet in the water. Most days, we walked into town to visit the shops or hang out at the beach. The Empire location is great too; close to all of Sleeping Bear of course, but also convenient to Glen Arbor, Frankfort, and more. For us, it was a nice home base for hiking at places like Pyramid Point and Empire Bluffs, and for several sessions of practically private beachcombing at North Bar Lake.

  • Submitted: Aug 19, 2017
  • Stayed: August 2017
  • Source: HomeAway
Owner's Response: Thank you, how was the fishing?
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3 0

Most relaxing vacation ever!

  • 5 of 5

This is a perfect home to enjoy a family vacation. The home was immaculate and well stocked for out of towners. There was plenty of space for my family of 6 without feeling crowded. There are loads of things to do in the area, but it was also nice to lounge at the cabin and relax the natural beauty of Bar Lake. The home is well stocked with games and ping pong activities which my children all loved. Best vacation ever!

  • Submitted: May 4, 2017
  • Stayed: April 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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1 0

Our annual family vacation at Drift Away!

  • 5 of 5

This is the second summer my husband, son and I stayed at this VBRO property. We LOVE the location and property. The town of empire is sleepy with a coffee/ice cream shop and a family pizza restaurant all within walking distance. Every day we traveled along the Michigan bike bath right outside the property drive away or walked/biked to Lake Michigan. We also enjoyed afternoons at the little beach and dock on the property, laying in the hammock or bbqing. My son loved the little sandy beach and wading in the water. They've done a great job with the unit making it very comfortable and with all the amenities needed for a great family vacation. There is a pool table and ping pong in the basement where we spent one day rainy day enjoying ourselves inside! Beds are comfortable and the property was very clean upon arrival. I appreciate the personal touch the owners left with brochures and their favorite tips and local watering holes in the area. We are excited to rent this property for the third time this summer and we hope our son (and future children!) will make memories there for every summer to come! Thank you.

  • Submitted: Apr 27, 2017
  • Stayed: August 2016
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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1 0
Chicago, IL

Not a recommended property

  • 1 of 5

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: August 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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2 5
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: July 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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3 0

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: July 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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4 0


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

Taxes and fees are additional

Additional information about rental rates

Refundable damage deposit $300
cleaning fee $200 + Tax
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

  • 50% refund if canceled at least 30 days before arrival date.
  • 100% refund if canceled at least 60 days before arrival date.
  • Service Fee fully refunded on cancellations that qualify for 100% refund.

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