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10 Great Places to Go Beach Camping in Michigan

10 Great Places to Go Beach Camping in Michigan

When you go beach camping in Michigan, you’ll find some of the best sandy shorelines in the U.S. You heard right–golden sand beaches in the Midwest! Keep reading to learn more about these wonders and how to camp near them. 

Planning a Camping Trip to Michigan’s Beaches

Michigan has 3,288 miles of freshwater coastline, which is more than any other state in the lower 48. Michigan beaches have varying geography, including sandy, rocky shores and towering dunes, so you’ll get a stellar view from nearly every beach!

How does a Midwest state have all that coastline? Four of the five Great Lakes touch Michigan–Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie. The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world. They’re interconnected lakes that run into the St. Lawrence River and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. 

Beach camping in Michigan is one of the best ways to spend time on the water. While much of the state’s shoreline is protected or privately owned, there are still plenty of beach campgrounds. If you enjoy exploring multiple spots, you could explore for months. But if you have a week or weekend, there are equally great options.

beach volleyball day on Lake Michigan
Beach day on Lake Michigan

Tips for Camping on the Beach in Michigan

The peak of Michigan’s tourist and camping season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Book your campsite early because campgrounds around the state fill up fast. For the most popular spots, you may need to book six months in advance. Of course, there’s always a small chance that you could get a last-minute camping spot on the beach.

Practice the “leave no trace” principles. Michigan and its residents do a wonderful job at keeping the beaches and campgrounds clean. When you visit, do your part as well. 

Remember, there’s wildlife around the campgrounds, such as raccoons, deer. There are also bears and moose in some parts of the state, so research the local wildlife and protect yourself and your belongings accordingly. 

Michigan has strict firewood laws. Most notably, you can’t move wood from one destination to another, and you can only buy firewood at your destination. This is due to invasive bugs and diseases that have killed millions of trees in the state. 

You’ll need a recreation passport to enter any Michigan state parks, national parks, and national lakeshores. You can purchase one at the park entrances. 

Alcohol is prohibited on most Michigan beaches and in state park campgrounds. 

There are some pet-friendly beaches in Michigan, but do your research because many are not.

The 10 Best Spots for Beach Camping in Michigan

We’ve pulled together 10 campgrounds that will provide an unforgettable Michigan beach experience. Check them out below!

1. Twelvemile Beach Campground, Near Grand Marais

Address: H-58 Seasonal Road (Twelvemile Beach Rd), Grand Marais, MI 49839

Website: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/247602

Amenities: The rustic campground has drinking water during the peak season and accessible vault toilets. Campsites have a picnic table, fire ring with a grill grate, and a tent pad, but there are no water, electric, or sewer hookups. Cell service is usually non-existent here.

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed.

Why You’ll Love It: Twelvemile Beach Campground is on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore of Lake Superior. You’ll love the hiking and sweeping views of the lake. And you’ll have easy access to exploring Pictured Rocks by boat or on foot.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10

2. Ludington State Park Beach Campground

Address: 8800 W. M-116, Ludington, MI 49431

Website: https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/details.aspx?id=468&type=SPRK

Amenities: There are rustic, 20/30 amp, and 50 amp campsites available. Sites have a picnic table and a fire pit. The campground has accessible vault toilets, water stations, and a dump station.

Pet-Friendly: The campground is pet-friendly. The only section of the beach that allows pets is between the beach house and the Big Sable River.

Why You’ll Love It: Just steps from Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park Beach Campground gives you access to a large beach and 21 miles of marked hiking trails. You’ll love the location and the quick ride to downtown Ludington for restaurants, shops, and more. 

Be sure to check out the Big Sable Point Lighthouse built in 1867 by hiking the Lighthouse Trail north of the campground.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

big sable point lighthouse in ludington state park in Michigan
Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington, Michigan

3. Muskegon State Park Beach Campground

Address: 3560 Memorial Drive, North Muskegon MI, 49445

Website: https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=475 

Amenities: There are 20/30 amp and 50 amp sites available. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. The campground has accessible vault toilets, water stations, and a dump station.

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed in the campground. 

Why You’ll Love It: Muskegon State Park Beach Campground offers an option of camping on the beach or ship channel that links Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. If you like watching boats, the channel section is for you. And if you want the beach all day, you’ll love the Lake Michigan north and south loops. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

4. Oak Grove RV Resort & Campground

Address: 2011 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424

Website: https://www.oakgroveresort.com/ 

Amenities: Sites are full-hookups with 20, 30, and 50 amp electric, water, and sewer. Each site has a picnic table, and some sites have large tar pads and patios. The campground has a pool, hot tub, store, laundry facilities, bathhouse, bicycle rentals, and community fire rings. 

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed, and there is a dog park.

Why You’ll Love It: Oak Grove is right across the street from beach access to Lake Macatawa. And it’s a short 1.5-mile walk or drive to Holland State Park Beach on Lake Michigan. You’ll love the resort because it’s family-oriented and has easy access to numerous beaches in the area.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

5. Buttersville Campground, Near Ludington

Address: 991 S Lakeshore Dr, Ludington, MI 49431

Website: http://www.pmtwp.org/residents/recreational_parks.php

Amenities: All sites have electricity and a picnic table. There are water stations in the park and a bathhouse. 

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed.

Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love the views of this campground nestled between two lakes–Lake Michigan and Pere Marquette Lake. Buttersville Campground is on top of bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan for some of the best sunsets in the state. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

beach sunset over lake michigan
Sunset over Lake Michigan

6. D. H. Day Campground, Near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Address: 8000 W Harbor Hwy, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

Website: https://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/dhdaycamp.htm 

Amenities: The rustic campground has a dump station, potable water stations, and vault toilets. There are no electric hookups. 

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed.

Why You’ll Love It: The accessibility to Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore make this campground a fantastic location. You’ll love the ability to take day hikes and more in this world-class area.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Beach at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes overlooking Lake Michigan

7. Au Train Beach Campground, on Lake Superior

Address: E4947 M-28, Au Train, MI 49806

Website: https://www.paddlingmichigan.com/lodging/au-train-beach-campground/reservations/ 

Amenities: RV sites have full hookups with 20/30 or 50 amps, water, and sewer. 

Pet-Friendly: Small dogs are allowed with a maximum of two per campsite.

Why You’ll Love It: Au Train Beach Campground has easy access to Pictured Rocks and is within walking distance to a beach on Lake Superior. You’ll love that the campground is a part of Paddling Michigan, a tour group that offers camping, kayaking, or cruise packages, and more at the same time. 

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

8. Hancock Recreation Area Beach Camping in Hancock, MI

Address: 2000 Jasberg St. M203, Hancock, MI 49930

Website: http://www.cityofhancock.com/recreation-beach-campground.php 

Amenities: Campsites have 20/30 and 50 amp electricity. There are water stations throughout the campground, a bathhouse, and a dump station.

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed in the campground.

Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love the options for year-round recreation in Hancock, Michigan. The campground sits on the water channel between Lake Superior and Portage Lake, called the Keweenaw Waterway. This canal stretches about 25 miles across the Keweenaw Peninsula, and is only spanned by one bridge: the Portage Lift Bridge.

Boaters can launch right from the campground and enjoy miles and miles of boating, tubing, water skiing, and fishing the length of the freshwater canal! Access to downtown shops and restaurants is just minutes away – by either car or boat.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Tubing on the Keweenaw Waterway in Hancock, Michigan. Portage Lift Bridge in background.
Tubing on the Keweenaw Waterway in Hancock, Michigan. Portage Lift Bridge in background.

9. McLain State Park

Address: 18350 Highway M-203, Hancock, MI 49930

Website: https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/details.aspx?id=423&type=SPRK 

Amenities: Campsites have 20/30 amp electricity, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The campground has water stations and a dump station.

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed.

Why You’ll Love It: Fishing, hiking, and Lake Superior are the reasons you’ll love McLain State Park. You’ll be steps from the beautiful, rugged coastline during your entire stay. The state park is also a popular spot for windsurfers in the summer and cross-country skiers in the winter.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 10/10

10. Orchard Beach State Park

Address: 2064 Lakeshore Rd, Manistee, MI 49660

Website: https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=480 

Amenities: The campground offers 20/30 amp, 50 amp, and some full hookup sites. There are water stations and a dump station in the park.

Pet-Friendly: Pets are allowed.

Why You’ll Love It: Orchard Beach State Park overlooks Lake Michigan. You’ll love that the park gives you endless beach time and access to hiking trails in the Michigan woods. The State Park is also a short drive from the town of Manistee for shopping and food.

Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10

Fall in Love With Beach Camping in Michigan

Whether you’re dipping your toes in the clear blue waters of Lake Superior or swimming laps in the vastness of Lake Michigan, you can’t go wrong with one of these campgrounds. 

Beach camping in Michigan is a unique experience. Who wouldn’t want to say they lounged on a beach of the largest freshwater system in the world? 

We hope you’ll fall in love with the mitten-shaped state, just like we did.

beach in manistee michigan
Manistee, Michigan beach

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