Michigan is home to some of the most incredible landscapes that are rare to find all in one state. Not many states are home to several thriving cities, forests, rolling hills, waterfalls, farmland, and our favorite—fresh water beaches. We may be biased to the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan in particular) as a brand marketing agency located in Grand Rapids, but we believe that Lake Michigan's eastern coast is by far one of the best features of our state, and even the country.
As a certified B Corp with a triple-bottom-line mentality (people, planet, profit), Lake Michigan is especially important to us. Our lakes and dunes are one of Michigan's most significant natural resources, and we are dedicated to protecting these natural landscapes. Just as important, the lake is a place we retreat to recharge, seek inspiration, reflect, tap into our creativity, and simply relax and let go. Lake Michigan beaches are the most picturesque spots to do so.
Because we’re so partial to Lake Michigan, we wanted to spread the love by creating this guide that sets aside all the extras and puts the focus back on the beaches, honoring their beauty just as they are. Whether you’re taking a road trip, planning a vacation, or want to learn about a beach in a nearby town, our Lake Michigan Beach Guide will become your favorite go-to resource. You’ll definitely want to bookmark this one for safe keeping!
Photo credit: Matt Oberski Photography
Looking for a cozy, secluded Lake Michigan beach to pass the day with your special someone? Townline Road Beach in Union Pier, MI near New Buffalo offers 101 feet of inviting public beach. A wooded overlook and staircase will lead you to a sandy pathway carved between whispy dune grass and trees. Limited parking is available along Town Line Ave., so make sure to arrive early in the day or for sunset.
Hidden beyond a wooded path, lined with majestic, mossy trees and shrubbery, Union Pier-Berrien Street Lake Access in Union Pier, MI features 100 feet of public beach access, perfect for couples and small groups. Located at the end of Berrien St. and Lakeshore Rd., this beach is the spot to be if you want to pass the day away with close friends under the summer sun.
A long, wooden staircase leads you down to Cherry Beach in Chikaming Twp., MI—268 feet of glorious public beach along Lake Michigan. Surrounded by woods and small dunes covered in dune grass, Cherry Beach is an ideal getaway for friends. Need a break from the water? Take a hike in the nearby wooded areas, or enjoy a few peaceful moments on the scenic overlook at the top of the staircase.
Three miles of shoreline, six miles of hiking trails, year-round access and an abundance of amenities make Warren Dunes State Park the perfect lakeshore camping destination in southwestern Michigan. Vast recreational opportunities will keep the whole family entertained all week. Surrounded by dunes, Warren Dunes State Park is an explorer’s paradise. Make a reservation online and pack up for your sandy beach getaway!
Located in the bustling beach town of St. Joseph, MI, Lions Park Beach offers kid-friendly activities with a playground, food, and lots of space to run and play. With dozens of restaurants and entertainment nearby, St. Joseph and Lions Park Beach is a fabulous vacation destination for the entire family. Hop between Lions Park Beach and Silver Beach next door for a variety of fun!
Neighboring Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph, MI, Silver Beach is the vacation hot spot along the Southwestern Lake Michigan coastline. Offering pavilions, picnic areas, charcoal grills, playscapes, onsite art and sculpture, ample parking, an outdoor amphitheater, equipment rentals and much more, Silver Beach is the perfect summer vacation destination for beach-going families. Boasting 1,600 feet of public beachfront, Silver Beach is kept impeccably clean and is conveniently located near restaurants, entertainment and lodging.
Located in Hagar Twp. just north of Benton Harbor, MI, Hagar Park is a wonderful destination for couples and small families who want to escape the crowds for a day. A long, wooden staircase leads you down to the sandy Lake Michigan beach, surrounded by trees, small dunes, brush and dune grass. Charcoal grills and picnic tables make Hagar Park a day-long destination. You can even bring your leashed pups with you!
South Haven, MI is home to South Beach, well known for its family-friendly beachfront and amenities. The beach’s playground, gorgeous pier, and vast coastline offer plenty of entertainment for the day, but are close enough to other nearby entertainment including skateparks, memorials, restaurants, and more. South Beach is open year-round, with designated hunting areas for the fall, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for the winter, boating, canoeing and kayaking during the summer, and hiking and camping throughout all four seasons.
If you’re looking for a private, hidden gem along Lake Michigan, West Side County Park is just the place to spend your afternoon. This beautiful rocky beach located in Fennville, MI has it all—630 feet of public beach, sandy areas for relaxing, wooded areas to hike and explore, restrooms, a playground, and covered picnic area. West Side County Park will soon become one of your favorite Lake Michigan beaches!
A small, historical, unique park, Pier Cove Park in Fennville, MI offers beautiful lakefront access off Lakeshore Drive. First surveyed in 1839, Pier Cove was once a bustling town, mostly known as a major point for labor distribution during the Civil War era. Today, Pier Cove offers a small beach along Lake Michigan, with channels cutting through the part-rocky, part-sandy beach. Pier Cove is a serene space to spend time alone to reflect, or share a romantic moment with a significant other.
Tunnel Park is one of West Michigan’s most treasured parks, located in Holland. From the spacious parking lot, you and your family will be taken through a tunnel leading right into the beach along Lake Michigan, surrounded by dunes for climbing and playing, and lots of sandy beach for sunbathing and playing games. The kids will love passing the day playing on the playground, climbing the dunes, swimming in Lake Michigan, and eating lunch under the sunshine.
Kirk Park, located in West Olive near Holland, MI, offers 68 acres of Lake Michigan sandy beach, high bluffs and wooded dunes, with several hiking trails, a scenic overlook, restrooms, horseshoe court, and off-leash areas for dogs. There are nearly endless exploration opportunities at Kirk Park, whether you want to walk along the coastline, hike through the wooded trails or climb the sand dunes. Prepare to completely unplug for the day at Kirk Park—there is little-to-no cell service on this beach. We all need to unplug now and then!
Photo by Megan Jones
If you’re looking for a park that has it all, look no further than PJ Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, MI! This beautiful state park features over 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, large sand dunes perfect for climbing, nearly 300 modern campsites, as well as miles of hiking and skiing trails with gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and the park. PJ Hoffmaster also boasts a Dune Climb Stairway that leads to the top of one of the park’s highest sand dunes, featuring an observation deck at the top with absolutely stunning views. This is definitely a place you want to spend your time this summer!
It’s not too common to find a beach or park specifically designated and accommodated for dogs, but luckily, dog owners and their pups can enjoy some quality time together worry-free at Norman F. Kruse Park! This dog-friendly beach features one mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, large sand dunes, picnic shelters, and a designated off-leash dog area for free roaming. There are also lots of hiking trails, recreation courts, and an event center that can be reserved for parties or weddings. Make sure to bring your furry friend here for some much-needed quality time together on Lake Michigan!
Photo by Megan Jones
One of Muskegon’s most popular Lake Michigan-fronted parks,
Pere Marquette Park has it all—over 25 acres of land, a playground, volleyball courts, a restaurant, access to lighthouses and the Muskegon Channel, and even historic sites, such as the USS Silversides, a World War II Submarine. There is plenty of Lake Michigan beachfront at Pere Marquette Park—making it a popular destination for West Michigan residents and visitors alike, while still being roomy enough to not feel overcrowded. If you’re looking for more entertainment beyond soaking up the sun and playing beach sports, opt for a lighthouse tour or watch the cruise ships travel through Lake Michigan. There’re so many different ways to spend the day at Pere Marquette Park!
Photo by Joe Gee Photography
Boasting over 2 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Muskegon State Park in Muskegon, MI is a family-friendly park for all four seasons. Families can enjoy snow sports like luge and cross-country skiing at the Winter Sports Complex during winter months, and trails to hike and bike in the spring, summer and fall. The Lake Michigan coast in Muskegon State Park offers scenic views of the Muskegon pier and lighthouses, dunes, forest, and of course, the miles and miles of the beautiful Lake Michigan waters. This park also boasts the well-known, recently-restored Muskegon Blockhouse, an over-50-year-old historic building, serving as a landmark on the beach and popular stop for visitors. Looking to grab a bite to eat? Bear Lake Tavern is just up the road. Unruly Brewing Co. brews some super-tasty beers and is just a 15-minute drive from the park.
Unruly Brewing Co. | 360 West Western Avenue, Muskegon, MI 49440
Fun fact: Unruly Brewing Co. in Muskegon, MI is the first craft brewery in the city to open since prohibition—yeah, that’s a long time. Housed in a fully restored building from the 1890s, Unruly serves some unique and equally delicious craft beer in downtown Muskegon, just a short drive from Muskegon State Park and Duck Lake State Park—a perfect spot for post-beach libations. If you’re into dark beers, we recommend the Mad Cacao Disease. Yum!
Duck Lake State Park is a beautiful 728-acre day park located between Whitehall, MI and Muskegon, MI. Sandwiched between Duck Lake and Lake Michigan, this state park offers gorgeous scenic views of Lake Michigan and beachfront on Duck Lake. A large dune towers over Duck Lake and its channels, with lots of ground to hike, climb and explore. This park is also well-known for its shallow channel, which makes a great play area for young children and families. Catch the sunset on the Lake Michigan side, with its coastline bordered by large rocks, dune grass, and rich, blue-green water.
Charles Mears State Park in the beloved Lake Michigan beach town of Pentwater, MI is one of Manistee County’s most popular beaches. Playscapes, sports courts, piers, and boat launches make Charles Mears a one-stop spot for your favorite summer. There are plenty of campsites to reserve, or rent a cabin or vacation home nearby. And the best part? Your beloved pups can enjoy your beach trip with you along this pet-friendly shoreline!
The Mitten Bar & Barley & Rye | 109 Ludington W. Avenue, Ludington, MI 49431
After spending a long day at the beach, nothing feels better than to kick back and unwind with a drink at the popular local bar—or in this case, conjoined bars. The Mitten Bar and Barley & Rye, located in the popular beach town of Ludington, and nearby Pentwater and Manistee. The Mitten side features an impressive draft list of all Michigan-made brews, with live music and entertainment on the weekends. If you’re feeling hungry for food and for whiskey, walk on over to the Barley & Rye side and have fun choosing from their extensive whiskey selection. This is the place to bring your friends and sing and dance the night away!
The city of Ludington houses a Consumers Energy hydroplant, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, open to the public to learn and explore. The Pumped Storage Plant offers free, ample parking to the public with paved trails to walk, as well as a scenic overlook to the hydroplant and an informational board on its purpose and functions. Whether you’re vacationing in Ludington or just passing through, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is a unique learning opportunity with a gorgeous view.
Located adjacent to Buttersville Campground in Ludington, Butterfield County Park has direct access to the campground through a short, wooded hiking trail. Sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Pere Marquette Lake, Butterfield County Park offers more public beach access with ample parking and plenty of beachfront to explore. You’ll even catch a view of Ludington State Park and its lighthouses. Make sure you stay for the jaw-dropping sunset over the lake—it’s one of the best views in the area!
The Pere Marquette Pier is definitely a hidden gem of Ludington! A 4,000-foot paved pathway surrounded by sandy dunes, dune grass and private cottages and condos brings you to a small, sandy beach and scenic pier. At the end of the pier stands a beautiful lighthouse and vibrant aquamarine waters. You may even spot a Piping Plover, one of the endangered birds in the area. Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the small remote beach or taking a quiet walk on the pier into the sunset, Pere Marquette Pier is a must-see. Follow S Lakeshore Dr. and park in the lot to the left, immediately before the condominiums.
Situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park features nearly 5,300 acres of dunes, coastline, marshlands and forests to hike, explore and enjoy. There are 355 modern campsites up for grabs at Ludington State Park, as well as more remote, rustic campsites for those who really love to rough it. The gorgeous coastline is perfect for hiking and relaxing on the sand, surrounded by dunes waiting to be climbed and explored. When you want to take a break from the water, the state park offers 37.5 miles of trails to explore on foot or by bike.
Nestled in a quaint beach community in Manistee, MI, Fifth Avenue Beach is a gorgeous, family-friendly Lake Michigan beach offering access to the North Pier, plenty of soft, sandy spots for sunbathing, a playground, tennis court, basketball court, concessions, and much more. In addition to the amenities Fifth Avenue Beach has to offer, the cities of Manistee and nearby Ludington are packed with awesome bars, restaurants and entertainment—making this beach a must-stop during your family vacation.
Looking for a family-friendly beach to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan in Manistee County? Arcadia Beach Natural Area in Arcadia, MI just north of Manistee is a beautiful beach to do so. With a playground and swing set for the kids, scenic overlook deck, and cozy beachfront, Arcadia Beach is a quiet area to watch the sunset reflect on Lake Michigan. Bring a blanket or two, a picnic basket and get comfy around a fire in one of the available fire pits!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, MI is one of the most well-known national parks across the United States—and for good reason. Covering an impressive 71,000 acres, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore boasts 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline (65 miles including the shoreline of the Manitou Islands), with several access points for scenic overlooks of the dunes, Glen Lake, and Lake Michigan. The park’s Lake Michigan overlook allows visitors to park and observe or hike the dunes towering above Lake Michigan, exposing miles and miles of crystal blue water. There are multiple beaches in the park with convenient parking, restrooms, and other amenities, but if you’re up for more of a challenge, park at the base of the dunes for a 1.5-mile hike to the Lake Michigan shoreline. No matter which beach you spend your time at Sleeping Bear Dunes, the views are absolutely stunning!
Sandy Lake Michigan beach meets rustic forest at Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix, MI. A 10-minute drive down a dirt road takes you to Fisherman’s Island beach access, boasting a soft, sandy beach and lots of natural wildflowers and lush shrubbery. Fisherman’s Island State Park is a popular destination for camping, offering 80 rustic campsites leading up to the beach—15 of which are nestled in the dune area along Lake Michigan. If you’re ready to “rough it,” Fisherman’s Island is a nature lover’s dream come true.
Mustang Wendy's | 129 E. Bay Street, Harbor Springs, MI
While passing through the northern region of Michigan, make sure to make a pit stop at Mustang Wendy’s in Harbor Springs, MI for a unique spin on fresh West-Mex, where “California cuisine meets Cowboy Cookery.” We stopped at Mustang Wendy’s for lunch on the second day of our beach road trip, and scarfed down a variety of cuisine including vegan nachos, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, fresh fish tacos, housemade cocktails and specialty craft beer from Petoskey Brewing Co. Whether you’re stopping in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just drinks and appetizers, you’ll find something you’ll absolutely love.
Photo by Visit Charlevoix
One of Charlevoix’s most frequented and favorite spots, Lake Michigan Beach is ideal for spending the entire day on Lake Michigan with the whole family. Lake Michigan Beach is equipped with all-day entertainment, including a playground, walking trails, sports courts, concessions, fishing accessibility, as well as a beautiful lighthouse and pier to walk and enjoy the gorgeous views. Lake Michigan Beach is the perfect beach for Petoskey stone hunting, and this beach’s soft, white sand is also ideal for napping!
Photo by Visit Charlevoix
There aren’t too many parks that you can enjoy both summer and winter actives—but thankfully, Mt. McSauba Recreational Area in Charlevoix, MI is one of those year-long gems. During the winter months, visitors from all over flock to Mt. McSauba for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and more. In the summer, Mt. McSauba serves as one of Charlevoix’s most popular Lake Michigan beaches and disc golfing course! This remote beach features sand dunes and hiking trails—perfect for the adventurous beach-going group of friends and couples.
Caribbean-colored waters in Michigan? You may not think something like this exists, but the Lake Michigan beachfront at Sturgeon Bay Dunes will prove you wrong! Part of Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake, MI, Sturgeon Bay Dunes features gradient water of rich blue, aquamarine and green along 4,100 feet of Lake Michigan beach. The park covers 750 acres of hiking trails, dunes, and coastline to explore. Sturgeon Bay Dunes is guaranteed to take your breath away!
Looking for camping, beaches, hiking, year-round activities, and a true nature escape? Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake, MI has all of this and more. Covering over 10,000 acres of land, 6 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, and 250 modern campsites, Wilderness State Park is a northern Michigan haven for the great outdoors, featuring electrifying aqua-blue water and scenic views. The park’s three miles of beautiful, undisturbed beachfront is perfect for hiking and exploring. Keep an eye out for the endangered Piping Plover waddling around on the beach and in the dunes!
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