Why Empire? Why would we chose to open a business, a surf shop none the less, in a tiny village of 350 year-round residents.
Beryl, co-owner of Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak spent every summer (but one) at the 1959-built family cottage in what is now the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and in 2002, moved the whole family north full-time. The best decision of our lives.
Our tight-knit community is located a mere block from Lake Michigan, in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The National Lakeshore hugs Empire, for it begins 1/2 mile to the north and 1/2 mile to the south of the village center.
We are a short drive (26 miles to the west) from Traverse City, and the final destination on M72 before running into the lake.
Any time of year is wonderful for visiting our area, but the Summer is the busiest with the most constant sunshine and perfect beach days. Fall treats us all with beautiful changing leaves, and great weather for hiking the Empire Bluff trail. Winter in Empire provides great cross-country skiing, hiking and downhill skiing at the abundant nearby ski-hills. And spring a great time to hunt for mushrooms, enjoy wildflowers atop the dunes and celebrate the coming of sun at the Empire Asparagus Festival.
Not only does all of this make Empire the perfect hometown year-round, but we are in a perfect location to score surf from nearly any and all wind directions. Our coastline is loaded with a plethora of points and piers within a mere 30 miles to the north and south that provide us with an abundant variety of spots to surf N, NW, NE, S, SE, SW, & W swell. We wouldn’t wish to live, or run our business anywhere else. This place is magic.
Watch this cheesy video about what makes Empire, Michigan special, and check out our Empire Chamber Website for more.