best michigan beaches
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26 Best Michigan Beaches to Explore in 2021

People from all over the United States choose Michigan for their beach vacations every year. The state has nearly 3,300 miles of shoreline along four of the Great Lakes, which is the second-highest in the country. On top of that, there are more than 11,000 inland lakes. With this much shoreline, you could visit dozens of Michigan beaches.

We’ve created a list of the best beaches in Michigan that you’ll want to explore… there’s one near you, no matter where you are in the state!

Lake Michigan Beaches Worth a Look on the West Side - Kirk Park, West Olive
Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz for Awesome Mitten

Michigan Upper Peninsula Beaches on the Great Lakes

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula borders three of the five Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, and Huron. While the water temperatures in the Upper Peninsula aren’t often warm enough to swim (unless you’re willing to brave the cold), many people enjoy cliff jumping, rock hunting, kayaking, ice climbing, and even winter surfing along the Upper Peninsula beaches in Michigan.

Hunter’s Point Park in Copper Harbor

Although Copper Harbor isn’t known for being a beach town, its scenic beauty and Lake Superior shoreline are famous. The village is home to Hunter’s Point Park, which features a unique agate-covered beach and a variety of flora that you rarely see. There’s even a loop trail through the wooded 9.4 acres.

Great Sand Bay in Eagle River

Another spectacular geological site is Great Sand Bay. The surrounding Lake Shore Traps have created a resistant lava layer underneath, where you can see copper-rich veins while diving. Also, the bay has a low-energy public beach, which means that it’s sheltered from swells and storms. In 2018, Lake Superior Magazine recommended it as the Best Sandy Swimming Beach.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising

Covering 73,236 acres, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has 42 miles of shoreline on Lake Superior. Because of that, it has a lot of beaches that are worth visiting, and all of them allow pets. Compared to the other beaches, Sand Point Beach is the most family-friendly with warmer, shallower water and fewer waves. It’s the only park beach with picnic tables in the sand too.

Miners Beach offers nearly 1 mile of sand and a few rocks. To the east, you can see the high cliffs and Bridalveil Falls. There’s a small boat launch for canoeing and kayaking. At Twelvemile Beach, you get 12 miles of sandy beach with a cliff view to the west. Just be prepared to walk down a lot of stairs to access the beach from the bluff.

Carl D. Bradley – Lakeview Memorial Park in Manistique

Situated on the northern end of Lake Michigan, Carl D. Bradley – Lakeview Memorial Park is an attractive destination for Michiganders and visitors alike. Its sandy beach is one of the lake’s best and offers mild water for ideal swimming. Boating and fishing are popular activities, as is walking to the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse.

best michigan beaches - upper peninsula
photo by Rob D

Great Lakes Michigan Beaches in the Northern Lower Peninsula

The tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula borders both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and there are many great Northern Michigan beaches to explore – sandy beaches, rocky beaches, and even marshy areas. Water sports are a major past-time in this part of the Mitten State.

Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake

Stretching for over 10,000 acres, Wilderness State Park has 26 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, which has 250 beachside cabins and campsites. Alongside fishing and paddle sports, you can go metal detecting in certain areas. The park has plenty of hiking trails as well.

Cheboygan State Park in Cheboygan

The beach at Cheboygan State Park on Lake Huron offers a lot more than sand and swimming in clear, shallow water. For instance, the campground office in the park has single and tandem kayak rentals between May and September. You can go fishing for a range of species, especially trout, and metal detecting is allowed in specific areas.

Lakeside Park in Rogers City

In Rogers City, the 10-acre Lakeside Park features a stunning swimming beach and an array of other recreational activities. On Lake Huron, you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, kiteboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You can play basketball and volleyball on the dedicated courts, and there are playgrounds for kids too.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Maple City

Dubbed one of the most gorgeous places in the nation, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore rests on Lake Michigan with 60 miles of shoreline. The soft, golden beaches are perfect for relaxing, making sandcastles, and swimming. The park plays host to numerous other activities as well: biking, hiking, canoeing on inland lakes, and climbing the 450-foot sand dunes.

best beaches in northern michigan
photo by Wilderness State Park

Frankfort Public Beach and Playground in Frankfort

In downtown Frankfort, the Frankfort Public Beach and Playground attracts many visitors throughout the year. Walkways lead to the soft sand beach, which runs along Lake Michigan. The 44-foot Frankfort Light and two twin piers are additional focal points in the park.

Tawas Point State Park in East Tawas

Often called the Cape Cod of the Midwest, the 2-mile sandy beach at Tawas Point State Park on Lake Huron is a favorite among families with kids. The shallow water is warm and safe for all ages to swim. Metal detecting and fishing are allowed in other areas of the park. Additionally, the Tawas Point Lighthouse offers summer weekend tours.

Stearns Park in Ludington

Used for several Ludington community activities, Stearns Park has the largest beach in the city with 2,500 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. You can use the beach for building sandcastles, swimming, and just enjoying the view, which includes Ludington North Breakwater Light. You can walk to and tour the lighthouse in the summer. There’s even a skateboard park, playground, shuffleboard, and miniature golf.

Silver Lake State Park in Mears

Sometimes referred to as Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Silver Lake State Park is a 3,000-acre park on Lake Michigan. You have to cross the sand dunes to get to the secluded beach. You can either walk about 45 minutes from the parking area or rent an off-road vehicle. In addition to swimming at the beach, boating, fishing, golfing, hiking trails, and metal detecting are also available.

best beaches in northern michigan
photo by Amy W

Southern Lower Peninsula Beaches on the Great Lakes

West Michigan beaches, southwest Michigan beaches, metro beaches, Lake Erie beaches in Michigan, Port Huron beaches, and more make up the best Michigan beaches in the southern half of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Many of these top beaches in Michigan are Michigan State Park beaches.

Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin

Of the many Michigan beaches that you can visit, the beach at Port Crescent State Park is one of the best near the tip of the state’s Thumb. It’s one of the only places on Lake Huron that has sand dunes too.

The 3 miles of shoreline allow for swimming and fishing, and there’s an observation platform for watching sunsets and stargazing. Hiking trails guide you through the park as well.

Caseville County Park in Caseville

Located in the beach town of Caseville, Caseville County Park has one of the nicest beaches in the area, allowing you to make a splash in Lake Huron. The water is great for swimming, boating, and fishing. You can even stay overnight in the 40-acre park, which features more than 200 campsites. Plus, there’s a playground for children.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon

Along Lake Michigan, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park has a nearly 3-mile beach. Views of the water from the beach are incredible. Along with soaking up the sun and swimming, the park is a wonderful place to watch migrating songbirds. There are miles of hiking trails, and metal detecting is allowed in certain areas.

Grand Haven State Park & City Beach in Grand Haven

Just a few miles south is Grand Haven State Park, which is home to Grand Haven City Beach on the west side. You can sunbathe, swim, or have a picnic on the sand with scenic views of Lake Michigan and the two lighthouses on the pier. Fishing is permitted nearby, and there are tons of things to do in the beach town.

best beaches in West Michigan
photo by Julie H

Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Saugatuck

Featuring 2.5 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, Saugatuck Dunes State Park has a beautiful, secluded beach because of the rolling sandy slopes. Some of the sand dunes stand more than 200 feet tall. While boating and picnicking are must-do activities, the park’s 13 miles of hiking trails are worth exploring.

Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph

At the mouth of St. Joseph River, Silver Beach County Park has a wide stretch of sand along Lake Michigan. A variety of riverfront and beach activities are available, such as walking in the sand, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and playing volleyball. Also, kids love the on-site playground structures.

Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer

As one of the most popular parks in Michigan, Warren Dunes State Park attracts more than 1 million people every year. Its beaches and large sand dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline are the focal points. Tower Hill is the tallest sand dune, and you get an awesome view of the lake from the top. The park has 6 miles of hiking trails too.

William C. Sterling State Park in Monroe

Although it only offers 1 mile of sandy beach, William C. Sterling State Park has one of the few beaches on Lake Erie. The 1,300-acre park features shore fishing, boating, lakefront campsites, a playground, and a lagoon. Moreover, the 7 miles of hiking trails give you a great chance to view the local flora and fauna.

best inland beaches in michigan
photo by Van Riper State Park

Best Michigan Beaches on Inland Lakes and Rivers

While many of Michigan’s best beaches are on the Great Lakes, more than 11,000 inland lakes offer their fair share of beaches in Michigan. Here are some of our favorite inland beaches in Michigan.

Van Riper State Park in Champion

In the Upper Peninsula, Van Riper State Park has 1.5 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigamme. The inland lake offers fishing, swimming, and kayaking opportunities. While you’re there, consider visiting Water Warrior Island, a thrilling water playground with floating walkways, climbing walls, waterslides, and trampolines.

South Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon

At South Higgins Lake State Park in the Northern Lower Peninsula, there’s a sandy beach and swimming access along a 1-mile stretch of Higgins Lake shoreline. This inland lake is known in the region for its clarity and good fishing. Although much smaller, Marl Lake within the park is good for fishing as well. The pet-friendly park even has a self-guided nature trail.

Myers Lake Park in Rockford

In the Southern Lower Peninsula, Myers Lake Park is a grassy bank in between two lakes. On the eastern shoreline is Myers Lake, and on the western shoreline is Little Myers Lake. The sandy public beach is ideal for swimming and other park activities. Fishing is allowed outside of the swim area.

Belle Isle Park in Detroit

Situated on the Detroit River, 982-acre Belle Isle Park is rich in natural beauty and history. It’s a city gem and has one of the best beaches in Detroit – a 1,500-foot beach that’s open from June through Labor Day. Aside from the beach and related activities, there’s an assortment of attractions throughout the park, including a conservatory, aquarium, lighthouse, museum, nature center, golf range, and athletic fields. It’s one of the best metro beaches Michigan has.

best metro beaches Michigan - best Detroit beaches
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bowman

More Beaches and Things to Do Across Michigan

Our list only covers a small number of Michigan beaches that are worth exploring. For instance, there are many more Lake Michigan beaches and Lake Huron beaches to enjoy. In addition to beaches in Michigan, there’s a plethora of fall things to experience and winter activities to do in Michigan, including the best Michigan beaches to explore in the fall and winter.

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