The Best Beaches in Michigan

Best beaches in Michigan

The Great Lakes are the lifeblood of Michigan. They’re where we go to relax and recharge, and they were once drivers of industry. I spent many a summer trip splashing in beaches along Lake Michigan, playing a game we called “Kill the Waves” which involved us karate chopping and tackling waves to little effect. When I lived in Florida, people would try to convince me that their beaches were superior, but for a variety of reasons, Michigan’s beaches can’t be topped. Standing on the shores of the Great Lakes, you’d never know you weren’t looking out at the ocean as their crystal blue waters stretch past the horizon and one swim in their freshwater might just have you swearing off of saltwater forever. This list of the best beaches in Michigan should sway you to my point of view and maybe even inspire your next vacation.

Ludington State Park

Beach in Ludington, Michigan

Photo by Jessica from Sweet + Savor

Sparkling crystal clear water, sugar sand beach, beach grass waving gently in the wind. No, it’s not Nantucket, but the beautiful beaches located in Ludington, MI along Lake Michigan. By far my favorite beach in Michigan, Ludington State Park offers miles of pristine beaches flanked on one side by soft dunes. At the main beach, grab a frozen treat at the pavilion area before taking a swim and lounging on the large beach area. If you prefer a quieter beach experience and don’t mind forgoing changing rooms and restrooms, grab a spot of your choosing along the miles long lakeside park entrance road. A short climb over the dunes will greet you with your own peaceful strip of beach to claim as your own for the day. If you prefer to stay a little longer, there are three modern campgrounds on site, but be sure to book early, as they fill up quickly. Mid-July through Labor Day, water temperatures on the lake are usually perfect , so grab a tube, paddle board or jet ski from a nearby rental shop, and hit the waves!

-Jessica from Sweet + Savor | Instagram

Silver Lake State Park

Beach at Silver Lake State Park in Michigan - beaches along Lake Michigan

Photo by Kylie from Between England and Iowa

One of the most important parts of a beach is of course, sand! Silver Lake State Park is home to amazing sand dunes, bordering Lake Michigan on one side and Silver Lake on the other! There’s a pedestrian area of the dunes for hiking and sand boarding and a separate area for ATVS and off-roading. For those looking for something a little more relaxing, further around Silver Lake is a large parking area with a small beach complete with a playground, barbecues and toilet facilities, which is a great space for families. History fans may like a visit to the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Visitors can climb the 130 stairs to the top during the summer months and enjoy views of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake Sand Dunes! So when looking for beaches along Lake Michigan, a trip to Mears has plenty of opportunities for all different types of people and a lot of different accommodation options to choose from!

-Kylie from Between England and Iowa | Facebook

Muskegon beaches

Beaches along Lake Michigan - Muskegon State Park

Muskegon is another absolutely delightful town home to some of my favorite beaches along Lake Michigan (Remember that “Kill the Waves” anecdote from earlier? This is where that game came to life.). There’s a gorgeous state park right along the shore with several different camping areas and lots of beach access. You can also swim from public beaches right in town at Pere Marquette Park and explore the pier and lighthouse. The beaches in Muskegon are also some of my favorite spots to catch a sunset in Michigan. Even better? Some areas are dog friendly.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore beach in MIchigan

You have to work a little for some of the beaches along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as some of them require a hike across sand dunes. Once you arrive at the gorgeous beach along Lake Michigan, you’ll know it was worth the effort. The water here is an unbelievable turquoise blue and this area has been ranked as a top beach by more than one national publication. And if you somehow get bored of Sleeping Bear Point, there are plenty of other places to swim in the park and nearby at the many beaches in Traverse City.

Oscoda

White sand beach in Oscoda Michigan

Oscoda is a little out-of-the-way, but it’s gorgeous. Michigan’s Lake Huron beaches tend to be rockier and less fun than the Lake Michigan side, but Oscoda was blessed with the kind of sugar white sand you usually associate with the Caribbean. In fact, when I visited shortly after moving back from Orlando and posted some pictures on Facebook, one of my Florida friends demanded to know why I hadn’t told him I was visiting. It was hard to keep the “I told you so” smile off of my face when I informed him that the crystal blue water stretching out to the horizon and smooth white sand was in fact located in the heart of the Midwest. Go here if you want to feel like you escaped to an island paradise.

Grand Haven

Beach at Grand Haven, Michigan - best beaches in Michigan

Photo from Pixabay.com

Being a Michigander one of my favorite beaches to go to when I was growing up was Grand Haven Beach. Located in Western Michigan, Grand Haven is the perfect place to go for a weekend getaway in Michigan. The sand is pure heaven and is soft and white, while the water is crystal blue with decent waves for a lake.

There is so much to do at the beach you can easily spend a few days here and never get bored. Personally, I love playing on the many volleyball courts with a group of people. It’s also fun to walk on the lighthouse and enjoy playing frisbee. Grand Haven was also designated Coast Guard City, USA and every July they have the Coast Guard Festival, which brings in bands and family-friendly events.

There are plenty of beach rentals around, but there is also the Grand Haven State Park nearby and it’s possible to camp there. Head there this summer for a fabulous time in Michigan.

-Natasha from The World Pursuit | Instagram

South Haven

South Haven is the quintessential little Michigan beach town. It’s bustling during the summer, with visitors flocking to its sandy beaches along Lake Michigan and exploring the long pier leading out to a lighthouse, and then pretty much a ghost town during the winter. I would know – I got sent there for work two Marches in a row. I’ve always loved Lake Michigan beaches because they seem to get bigger waves. During storms, you’d think you were watching an ocean. I like the South Haven beaches – especially South Beach (no, not the one in Miami) – because they’re walkable from the downtown area and there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and places to get ice cream – very important on hot summer days.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan - Lake Superior Beaches in Michigan

You have to be a little bit tough to go for a swim at Miners Beach, but it’s one of the best Lake Superior beaches in Michigan. Located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the water is chilly even in the warmest months, but the scenery more than makes up for it. With beautiful rock formations in every direction and a prime view of the famous Miners Castle, even if you don’t get in the water, you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. Sand Beach is another easily accessible spot to relax on the beach and enjoy the view. Pro tip: bring bug spray in addition to sunscreen.

Check out more great things to do in Michigan:

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

Summer in Michigan should be spent on the best beaches in Michigan. If you're wondering where to swim in Michigan, you can't go wrong with places like Muskegon, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Oscoda, Grand Haven, South Haven, Ludington, and more. With crystal blue waters and perfect sand, spending time at Michigan beaches is one of the best things to do in Michigan in the summer. You'll definitely want to add these to your Michigan summer activities list.

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About

Kris's suitcase never rests. She's either traveling the United States for business or exploring somewhere exciting and new for vacation. She's a former Disney World Cast Member and loves writing about Disney parks almost as much as visiting them.

18 Comments

  • Mayuri June 27, 2018 at 11:32 pm Reply

    Really enjoyed reading your post. The pictures are so stunning. I had no idea that Michigan has so much to offer, including beaches. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Jen June 28, 2018 at 1:13 am Reply

    These beaches look picturesque! I’m so sick of rocky, pebbley beaches. The sand here looks amazing!

  • Toni June 28, 2018 at 1:23 am Reply

    I am absolutely dying to visit the Great Lakes and Michigan in general! It’s one of the 5 left I am yet to see of all the states so far. man, you are making me want to detour there! I love a good beach and there seems to be enough to satisfy. Thanks for the inspo!

    • Kris June 28, 2018 at 11:29 am Reply

      You should totally visit! I can hook you up with all the local tips for Detroit. And 45 states is super impressive. I’ve lived here my whole life and just hit #46 a couple months ago haha.

  • Mayuri PAtel June 28, 2018 at 1:31 am Reply

    Really helpful. Didn’t know America has such beautiful beaches and so many things to offer.

  • Viviane Claire Feeney June 28, 2018 at 5:17 am Reply

    I underestimated Michigan’s beach scene! I’ve never been to the States, It seems to have that kinda northern vibe distinct from the beaches of Southern California or Florida.

    love,
    Viv x

  • maloney June 28, 2018 at 10:10 am Reply

    Pinned this one for later! My sister lives in Chicago so we’ll definitely need this info when my niece is old enough.

  • Richa June 28, 2018 at 3:19 pm Reply

    I had no idea there were so many beautiful beaches in Michigan!! 😮 That bear dunes lakeshore beach looks insanely beautiful 🙂

  • sarah June 28, 2018 at 10:16 pm Reply

    We used to go to Michigan all the time as a kid but never to the beach! I would love to take my boys there… Michigan is a doable road trip from where we live in NY so we wouldn’t even have to pay a ton to get there!

  • Queenie June 28, 2018 at 10:57 pm Reply

    I had no idea these gorgeous beaches existed. I lived in Ontario, Canada most of my life and I could’ve visited these places but I didn’t know about. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amrita Sen June 28, 2018 at 10:58 pm Reply

    The beaches look absolutely gorgeous. Looking at it, I did not realise that it was a Lake Michigan, it looked like the seashore. This is a lovely compilation of the beaches in Michigan. Hope to visit there some time.

  • Amy June 29, 2018 at 9:35 pm Reply

    Great post! Those beaches look like they could be right on the ocean! I would much prefer swimming in fresh water than salt water!

  • Brianna June 29, 2018 at 11:11 pm Reply

    As a fellow Michigander, I have to agree with your list! It’s obvious you have a preference for the west side of the state! I’m the same way 🙂

  • Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists June 30, 2018 at 12:44 am Reply

    Hmm I’ve never thought of Michigan as a beach-y state, but clearly I was wrong. Time for a beach trip to Michigan perhaps? lol.

  • Anisa June 30, 2018 at 4:16 am Reply

    You really don’t expect to find such nice beaches in Michigan! They all look beautiful. Next time I am in Michigan, I will have to visit some of these!

  • Harmony, Momma To Go June 30, 2018 at 8:05 am Reply

    As someone who lives 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, I love the idea of great lakes beaches! I have bene to Chicago, but thats more urban than beach… would love to visit the beaches of Michigan!

  • Nancie June 30, 2018 at 8:29 am Reply

    All of these beaches look worthy of a visit. Being raised in Nova Scotia, we tend to go to ocean-side beaches. However, we have lots of good lakes beaches as well, and they are usually warmer than the Atlantic!

  • Hazel Joy June 30, 2018 at 9:42 am Reply

    Hi Kris, I had no idea that the US has such fabulous beaches so far north. Florida and California get all the kudos! Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore looks amazing. Thanks for enlightening us.

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