Michigan beach

Discover the Top 10 Beaches of Michigan – A Squirrelly Guide To Unforgettable Experiences

When it comes to stunning freshwater coastlines, look no further than the Great Lake State. If you’re in the market for the best beach in Michigan or wondering when beaches open in Michigan, then you’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will take you through the finest beaches of Michigan with it’s finest sandy retreats, seasonal highlights, food trails, beach treasures, and even underwater adventures. Take a deeper look into the world of Michigan beaches.

Seasonal Visits and Things to Do

Michigan beach

In Michigan, every season has its own charm and plethora of activities. The state comes alive in Spring with Tulip Time festival in Holland, bird watching, and a vibrant arts scene. Summer sees Michigan shine bright with beach vacations, boating, fishing, camping, and hiking. Autumn showcases stunning fall foliage, apple picking in local orchards, and wine tasting at vineyards. Winter transforms Michigan into a winter wonderland with snowboarding, skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling.

Spring Break also adds a flair to the state with cities like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor becoming hotspots for arts, culture, and nightlife. Here are the best places to spend your Spring Break.

Michigan’s Best Beaches

Moving on, let’s wade into the top ten beaches that make Michigan a beach lover’s paradise:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a stunning natural wonder in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. This park has miles of pristine sandy beaches, towering dunes, lush forests, and crystal-clear inland lakes. Visitors can hike up the towering dunes for breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, explore the park’s many trails, or take a scenic drive along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, and kayaking. With its natural beauty and endless opportunities for adventure, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts looking at the beaches of Michigan.

Oval Beach, Saugatuck

Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Michigan, is a picturesque destination known for its soft, sandy shores and clear blue waters. With its gentle waves and stunning views of Lake Michigan, it’s no wonder that this beach is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing, or simply relax and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings. The beach also offers amenities like restrooms, showers, and a concession stand for added convenience. Whether you’re looking for a fun day out with the family or a peaceful retreat, Oval Beach is the perfect place to unwind and soak up the sun.

Grand Haven State Park

View from grand haven michigan state park camp site. - michigan dnr
View from Grand Haven Michigan State Park camp site.Michigan DNR

Grand Haven State Park is a picturesque and peaceful destination located on the shores of Lake Michigan. With its stunning sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and towering dunes, the park offers visitors a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the beach, or enjoy a picnic with family and friends, Grand Haven State Park has something for everyone.

The park also features a variety of recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, and boating, making it the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts. With its breathtaking views and tranquil atmosphere, Grand Haven State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Michigan’s coastline.

Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon

Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, Michigan, is a stunning stretch of sandy shoreline along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a wide range of outdoor activities such as swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, and picnicking. The beach is also home to a historic lighthouse, which adds to the scenic beauty of the area.

With its clear blue waters and soft sand, Pere Marquette Beach is the perfect place to spend a summer day, whether relaxing and soaking up the sun or enjoying some water sports. The beach is well-maintained and offers amenities such as restrooms, showers, and concession stands, making it a convenient and comfortable spot for a day trip or a longer vacation.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Mears

Silver lake state park - beaches of michigan
Silver Lake State Park
This photo is part of DNR Park’s Ambassador program. The photographer is credited with the photo.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes, located in Mears, Michigan, is a stunning natural wonder that draws visitors worldwide. The dunes span over 2,000 acres and offer a unique landscape of rolling hills and valleys made entirely of sand. The area is famous for off-roading, as visitors can bring their vehicles or rent dune buggies to explore the terrain. The dunes also offer beautiful views of Silver Lake and Lake Michigan, making it a perfect spot for hiking and picnicking. With its breathtaking scenery and endless opportunities for adventure, Silver Lake Sand Dunes is a must-visit beach in Michigan that is a destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a stunning natural wonder located on the southern shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Spanning over 40 miles of coastline, the park is famous for its dramatic sandstone cliffs, which rise up to 200 feet above the lake and are vibrantly colored by mineral stains. Visitors can explore the park’s natural beauty through hiking, kayaking, and boat tours, which offer breathtaking views of the cliffs, waterfalls, and pristine beaches. The park is also home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, moose, and bald eagles, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike.

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is a stunning and secluded area in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. The area spans over 3,450 acres and is known for its picturesque sand dunes and pristine beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan. It is a popular destination for hikers, campers, and nature enthusiasts who seek solitude and a chance to connect with the natural beauty of the wilderness. The dunes provide a unique habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, and the area is also a designated critical habitat for the endangered Pitcher’s thistle. Visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing, and bird watching, or simply relax and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Tiscornia Beach, St. Joseph

Tiscornia Beach is a beautiful sandy beach located in St. Joseph, Michigan. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists, offering stunning views of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph Lighthouse. The beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking, with plenty of space to spread out and relax. A pier extends out into the lake, providing a great spot for fishing or taking a leisurely stroll. The beach is well-maintained and has restrooms and a concession stand. Tiscornia Beach is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty of Michigan’s shoreline.

Petoskey State Park, Petoskey

Petoskey state park, summer 2019
photos taken by tyler leipprandt in cooperation with the mi dnr. Credit goes to tyler leipprandt and michigan sky media llc.
Petoskey State Park, Summer 2019 Photos taken by Tyler Leipprandt in cooperation with the MI DNR. Credit goes to Tyler Leipprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC.

Petoskey State Park is a picturesque outdoor destination in the charming town of Petoskey, Michigan. The park spans over 300 acres and offers visitors a wide range of recreational activities. Its beautiful sandy beach on the shores of Little Traverse Bay is the perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. The park also features scenic hiking trails that wind through the lush forests, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in nature or an adventurous day of outdoor fun, Petoskey State Park has something for everyone.

Belle Isle Beach, Detroit

Belle Isle Beach is a hidden gem in the heart of Detroit, Michigan. Situated on the picturesque Belle Isle Park, this beach offers a serene escape from the bustling city life. The beach boasts stunning views of the Detroit River and the Canadian shoreline, making it a perfect relaxing day. Visitors can stroll along the sandy shores, enjoy a picnic with family and friends, or dip in the refreshing waters. With its lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere, Belle Isle Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature in the city.

From the breathtaking views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the bustling energy of Belle Isle Beach, each of these beaches of Michigan offers a unique experience. For a closer look at the gems of Huron County, check out these beautiful beaches in Huron County.

Beachcombing and Yooperlite Hunting

One of the delightful pastimes on the beaches of Michigan is beachcombing and Yooperlite hunting. Good Harbor Bay, Empire Beach, and Grand Haven State Park are ideal spots for finding beach glass. For Yooperlite hunting, the glow-in-the-dark stones, Whitefish Point and Keweenaw Peninsula offer prime hunting grounds. Just remember to carry a UV flashlight for Yooperlite hunting. To learn more about this, check out this guide on Yooperlite hunting.

Culinary Trail

Michigan’s food scene is as diverse as its beaches. From hearty Pasties and Detroit-Style Pizza to sweet Mackinac Island Fudge and tart Cherry Pies, the state has an array of delicious offerings. Freshwater fish from the Great Lakes, Blue Moon Ice Cream, and apple cider from the local orchards further enhance the culinary experience.

Underwater Adventures

For those who like their adventures with a dash of adrenaline, snorkeling shipwrecks in the clear waters of Michigan’s lakes is an unforgettable experience. Locations like Alger Underwater Preserve, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve offer some of the best snorkeling opportunities.

Final Thoughts About the Beaches of Michigan

In my humble opinion, whether you are a beach lover, food enthusiast, nature lover, or adventure seeker, Michigan’s beaches offer something for everyone. Its natural beauty, rich history, culinary delights, and unique activities make it a destination worth visiting any time of the year. So, what are you waiting for? Dive right into Michigan’s beaches and enjoy a memorable experience!

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Michael Hardy

Michael is a travel writer and local historian. His work can be found on a number of websites and print publications.

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