Here's an old-school tourism attraction that still draws plenty of smiles, even in the electronic age of travelers who demand high-def entertainment and free Wi-Fi wherever they go. These rides take 15 or so customers at a time into the steep dunes near Lake Michigan aboard custom "dune schooners”—long trucks outfitted with fat tires, open-air bench seating and big engines. (And seat belts, of course.)
Drivers aren't shy about putting the hammer down during tours of the 350-acre, privately owned dune area. Stomachs drop as the trucks dive down the steep dune faces, and people slide into each other when the vehicles fishtail through tight curves in the high-banked trails. Throughout the 35-minute ride, the drivers share local lore and corny jokes (like “Did I mention I’m scared of heights?” just before plunging down a steep hill). One favorite tale recounts the fate of Singapore, a town buried under the dunes thanks to 1800s clear-cutting efforts that removed the trees holding the sand in place. A 10-minute break atop a 350-foot dune gives riders a chance to catch their breath, hike around in the soft sand, and enjoy sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside.
Dune rides are $18 for adults, $10 for kids ages 3 to 11.