With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, there’s no shortage of beaches in Michigan. Millions of Midwesterners have their own go-to places for rest, relaxation, and recreational pursuits on the water there.
These beaches are not all flat stretches of white sand, either. Many of them have towering dunes and bluffs and are just steps away from a hike in a wild forest.
Let’s head off to the Great Lakes to tour Michigan’s best beach destinations.
What Makes Michigan Beaches Worth Visiting?
If you’re looking for a beautiful spot on the water, there’s no need to travel to one of the nation’s outer coasts. Michigan may not have legendary surf, but it has gorgeous places to spend time along the shore.
Most of the shorelines are along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, but smaller parts of the state touch the waters of Lake Superior and Lake Erie. (In addition, the state has more than a thousand inland lakes, but we won’t go there in this article.)
The beaches in Michigan are less crowded than those in many famous vacation hotspots. Not to mention, visiting them is more affordable. And though Michigan certainly gets warm in the spring and summer, it probably won’t be scorching hot on these beaches.
The 10 Best Beaches in Michigan
There are so many fantastic beaches in Michigan it’s hard to narrow it down to 10. Many of our favorites are on the Sunset Coast, on the western shoreline. At some of the others, you can arrive early for a stunning lakeside sunrise. Without further ado, let’s take a look.
1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Address: 9922 Front St., Empire, MI 49630
About Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Looking at the map of Michigan’s mitten shape, this protected treasure is pretty much at the tip of the pinky finger.
It’s on the state’s northwestern shore along Lake Michigan and encompasses the islands North Manitou and South Manitou.
What Makes It the Best: Clamber up the tall sand dunes or the 400-foot Pyramid Point bluffs for an even higher perspective. You can swim at several beaches along this popular
Michigan lakeshore or hike through forests of maples and beeches. Check out the historic lighthouse and other attractions in nearby Port Oneida.
Did You Know? Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is just one of six National Park Service units in Michigan.
2. Cheboygan State Park Beach
Address: 4490 Beach Rd, Cheboygan, MI 49721
About Cheboygan State Park Beach: This state park covers 1,250 acres of mostly pristine woodlands on the northern end of Michigan’s lower peninsula. It’s on Duncan Bay in Lake Huron and south of the Straits of Mackinaw.
What Makes It the Best: With a lake, a bay, a creek, and a river, fishing opportunities are plentiful. Drop a line for bass, fish, or trout, or hop into a kayak for a scenic tour.
On land, you can follow the clearly marked trails to enjoy incredible views of the waterways and take in the hardwoods and blooming wildflowers. Besides RV sites with full hookups, there are tent sites, cabins, teepees, and a furnished lodge for rent.
3. Manistique Beach
Address: Manistique, Michigan 49854
About Manistique Beach: On the north shore of Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula, this secluded spot is just outside the town of Manistique. It’s also on the edge of the amazing Hiawatha National Forest.
What Makes It the Best: It’s easy to get to from U.S. Route 2 but just far enough off the main road to give you a feeling of remote privacy. Settle in at this gem of a space surrounded by dense woods and open waters.
A wooden boardwalk path makes it easy to get to the beach from the parking area. The delightfully quaint town of the same name is six miles away and has an iconic lighthouse.
→ Pro Tip: While you’re in the U.P., book a stay at one of the 9 Best Campgrounds in Upper Michigan State Parks.
4. Grand Haven City Beach
Address: S Harbor Dr., Grand Haven, MI 49417
About Grand Haven City Beach: At a distance of 35 miles, Grand Haven is a popular beach getaway for residents of Michigan’s second-largest city, Grand Rapids. It’s on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand River.
What Makes It the Best: Sometimes, going to the beach is more of a social occasion, and that’s the case at Grand Haven. A boardwalk runs along the broad sandy beach, leading to popular shops and restaurants.
There’s free parking and public restrooms, and the beach itself is dog-friendly (on leash) during the busy summer.
5. Mackinaw City Beach
Address: 520 N Huron Ave., Mackinaw City, MI 49701
About Mackinaw City Beach: Michigan’s lower peninsula comes to a point here, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. This bustling resort community welcomes over a million guests a year.
What Makes It the Best: Despite being a popular destination, Mackinaw City retains a warm, inviting atmosphere. The community offers many activities aimed at families, including a nightly laser light show in the summer.
The waterfront area has marinas and more than a hundred retail shops. There are numerous public beaches along the lakeshore and lots of pocket parks perfect for a Michigan picnic. You can catch a ferry nearby and venture off to Mackinac Island and back.
6. Warren Dunes Beach
Address: 12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, MI 49125
About Warren Dunes Beach: This state park covers almost 2,000 acres along Lake Michigan in the southwestern part of the state.
What Makes It the Best: The dunes are so tall here that you can sandboard or hang glide from some of them. The highest one, Tower Hill, rises to around 250 feet.
There are three miles of shoreline here and six miles of not-too-busy hiking trails. You can stay overnight at a comfortable full-hookup campsite or a more primitive one closer to the water. A concession stand near the swimming area offers refreshments.
➡ Looking for dry camping opportunities along Michigan’s lakeshores? Here’s How to Find Great Dispersed Camping in Michigan.
7. Tawas Point State Park Beach
Address: 686 Tawas Beach Rd, East Tawas, MI 48730
About Tawas Point State Park Beach: In northeastern Michigan, Tawas Point has picturesque charms that give it the nickname “the Cape Cod of the Midwest.”
What Makes It the Best: Tawas can claim a swimming area with relatively warm waters, unlike its coastal counterpart in Massachusetts. These somewhat higher temps are due to the shallower depths of Tawas Bay, off Lake Huron.
This state park covers 183 acres and is a favorite of bird-watchers. The beach has a dog-friendly section, and you can also enjoy the two-mile Tawas Point-Sandy Hook Nature Trail.
8. Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Address: 2388 North Comfort Drive, Hart, MI 49420
About Silver Lake Sand Dunes: This remarkable expanse of rolling sand hills takes up 2,000 acres on Michigan’s western coast between Ludington and Muskegon.
What Makes It the Best: The incredible dunes cover an area that’s roughly three miles by a mile and a half. You can tackle them on foot or on wheels, and there are a few ways to do it.
Pilot your own ORV, rent a dune buggy, or take a guided ride with an experienced driver at the wheel. You can go swimming or sunbathing at the water’s edge or launch a kayak.
Also, make time for a leisurely visit to a trio of nearby beach communities: Hart, Mears, and Pentwater.
9. Caseville Beach
Address: 6400 Main St, Caseville, MI 48725
About Caseville Beach: Across the state, in the thumb area of the mitten, Caseville offers three miles of sandy beach along Saginaw Bay.
What Makes It the Best: The calm waters of the bay make for a relaxing beach experience, and so does Caseville’s laid-back, small-town friendliness. It’s happy-go-lucky most of the year, but enthusiasm rises in the summer with a 10-day Cheeseburger in Caseville celebration.
The public beach, with its playground and picnic area, has long been considered one of the best beaches in this region of Michigan.
10. Silver Beach
Address: 101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
About Silver Beach: This one’s got an endearing nickname as well, and it’s “the Riviera of the Midwest.” This popular family getaway is the southernmost stop on the West Michigan Pike, a byway that links a string of beach towns.
What Makes It the Best: The sparkling Silver Beach conveniently faces west so you can linger in the afterglow of a satisfying sunset. Close to the deep-water harbor and the cobblestoned shopping district, it’s a busy park with lots of smiling, strolling visitors.
There are picnic pavilions and volleyball courts. You can bring your pets on the sidewalks and boardwalks, but not on the sand.
Travel Tip: Turn your beach day into a beach week at one of these 10 Great Places to Go Beach Camping in Michigan.
Enjoy These Beaches in Michigan!
You don’t have to go to California, Florida, or even the East Coast to settle in at a fantastic beach. You can sink your toes in the sand and feel a comforting breeze off the water in the heart of the Midwest. Other sun-and-sand destinations may be more famous, but these beaches in Michigan are terrific alternatives.
What’s your favorite Michigan beach? Drop a comment below.
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