Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes of the United States, isn’t generally the top spot for someone seeking a beach vacation, but it might come as a surprise that it is home to hundreds of beaches, many of them showing up time and time again on lists of the best beaches on Lake Michigan.
From soft sandy shores overlooking the waters of the lake to stunning sand dunes, lush forests and recreational activities to suit even the most adventurous soul’s desires, the beaches of Lake Michigan are a surprise worth discovering, especially if you are looking for something just a bit different than the typical tropical beach getaway. This article detailing some of the best beaches on Lake Michigan will help you decide which of the many beaches to explore when you venture to the eastern shore of the picturesque waters of one of America’s Great Lakes. Visiting Lake Michigan’s gorgeous beaches should be on your Michigan summer bucket list!
Best Beaches on Lake Michigan that you Shouldn’t Miss!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore region is a massive park covering over 35 miles along the eastern coast of Lake Michigan. Its namesake and claim to fame is the massive dunes that stretch for miles leading up to the sandy beaches overlooking Lake Michigan, as well as bluffs reaching 450 feet high! While this is one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to admire the natural splendor of forests, sand dunes and beaches, another draw to this location is the cultural and historical landmarks. A lighthouse originally built in the 1870s overlooks the picturesque waters of the lake and there is even a rural historic farming district within the bounds of the park. There are well manicured trails to explore the natural wonders of the area, in addition to nearby museums as well as quaint historic ports and towns.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is easy to access from Traverse City if you are visiting. You can make a weekend of cherry eating, wine drinking and beach hopping.
Lake Harbor Park
Filled with forested walking paths, boardwalks and miles of water frontage, Lake Harbor Park is a vast area filled with breathtaking natural beauty and plenty of recreational activities, making it one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to relax and take in the beauty of this unique area of the United States. Nearly 200 acres of land provides access to waterfront access to not only Lake Michigan but also Mona Lake and the Mona Lake Channel that connects the two. There are plenty of amenities at this beach and park, including shelters and restrooms as well as grills and accessible boardwalks and paths. From the sandy shores of the beach, networks of nature trails and hiking paths venture out into the forests surrounding the area, making it an ideal spot to explore before relaxing on the beach.
Grand Haven State Park
Often ranked as the top state park in Michigan, Grand Haven State Park boasts some of the best sandy shores for relaxing in the sun and taking in the views. With approximately 48 acres of land to explore, the park is a great place for hiking, camping as well as freshwater fishing in Lake Michigan. Nearby is also the Grand Haven pier as well as the iconic lighthouse, one of many that dot the sandy shoreline of the lake.
Grand Haven City Beach
If you are looking for a beach that is more conveniently located and easy to stop at during your travels along Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, the Grand Havan City Beach is the perfect destination. Nestled just outside the city between a beachfront restaurant and the larger expanse of Grand Haven State Park, this city beach is accessible and easy to stop at while still providing a chance to relax on the sugar sand shores of the lake. A section of the beach is also dog-friendly, making it a perfect spot to enjoy the clear fresh water of the lake with your furry friends as well as your family.
This arc shaped expansive of soft sandy beach has plenty of accolades that make it one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan for those hoping to see the most quintessential example of the beauty this region of the United States has to offer. Not only was it ranked one of MTV’s Top Beaches in the US, but it also boasts the title of National Geographic Traveler’s Top Freshwater Beaches in the US AND a spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the Top 25 Beaches in the World! With undulating sand dunes and amenities to serve any need, this picture-perfect beach is the best place to experience the peace and relaxation that comes with relaxing in the sun along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan.
Claybanks Township Park
If you prefer a more remote and unspoiled example of the rustic beauty of Lake Michigan, then the Claybanks Township Park is the perfect destination. The beach is in pristine condition and surrounded to both the north and south with more unspoiled examples of the sand shoreline, making this one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to experience the unique natural splendor of the freshwater beaches of the United States. It is located just off a main highway and provides an easy wooden boardwalk onto the beach. A day pass to enjoy this area can be purchased on site and the price is well worth the rugged and pristine quality of this natural oasis along the shores of the Lake.
Silver Lake State Park
As one of the most well-stocked locations in terms of amenities, Silver Lake State Park is one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to take full advantage of everything this location has to offer. With well over 400 campsites a mere half a mile from the town of Silver Lake, this park also boasts recreational boat launch pads, top-notch hiking and fishing as well as a number of other amenities to make your time at this site more comfortable. Adjacent is the sweeping expanse of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, providing access to the soft sands along the shores of both Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. Another pleasant surprise that is part of the Silver Lake State Park area is the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Often called one of the best sunset locations in the area, this brick lighthouse was built sometime around the late 1870s and remains one of the most iconic and quintessential scenes of Lake Michigan.
Warren Dunes State Park
One of the largest and most exciting areas is the Warren Dunes State Park. With over 1,500 acres of sweeping sand dunes adjacent to beachside, lakefront camping sites, this state park is open year round and has plenty of activities no matter the season! From cross-country skiing over the dunes in the winter to hang-gliding and sailing in the summer, this is one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan for getting outside and enjoying all the exciting outdoor activities this area has to offer. An additional perk to this area is that almost 200 campsites provide electricity as well as showers, bathrooms and both hot and cold running water! If you want a taste of the camping life without truly roughing it, this state park is the perfect melding of both worlds!
Casco Township Nature Preserve
Situated just north of South Haven is the picturesque Casco Township Nature Preserve. This preserve, featuring a lookout deck, picnic tables, and gorgeous views, is heralded as one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to bring the family for a quiet get away. A paved path leading from the parking area makes access to this location hassle-free, and the beach itself can be reached by a conveniently built stairway leading down the tall bluff. Forests filled with fauna of all types as well as many different types of birds make this nature preserve a popular spot for birders and those looking to get back to nature and experience the beauty of Lake Michigan’s beaches at the same time.
Holland State Park
Last on the list but surely not least is Holland State Park. Boasting a large boardwalk to admire the river views, piers to watch the boats sail by or fish for the many freshwater catches so well-known in this lake, Holland State Park is one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan to get a full-scale experience of everything the beaches here have to offer. Camping in the forest as well as on the beach is available and surrounded by amenities such as concession stands, restrooms, playgrounds and even RV hookups. While there, be sure to take in the view of “Big Red”, one of the most famed lighthouses in Lake Michigan.
The best beaches on Lake Michigan are filled with stunning views, breathtaking natural splendor and some of the most exciting and unique recreational activities found on beaches anywhere in the United States. Where else in the country could you cross-country ski along a beach in the dead of winter and then go hiking, biking and fishing in the summer before lounging in the sun on some of the softest sands around? From lighthouses to old farmsteads, the area also boasts a rich cultural history that reminds us that this area has been an attraction for centuries, and for good reason! If you are looking for a truly unique beach destination this summer, consider the Great Lakes of the United States. The best beaches on Lake Michigan will be sure to create memories to last a lifetime!
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