Michigan beach towns are the places to explore when seeking a beach adventure but don’t want to travel to a coast. On the shores of Lake Michigan, you’ll experience all that the typical ocean beach towns have to offer without the salt in the eyes and the sharks in the water. We’ve got five of the best beach towns listed for you right here for your Michigan summer adventure.
How Many Miles of Shoreline Does Michigan Have?
Four of the five Great Lakes surround Michigan. It’s no wonder the Great Lakes State has 3,288 miles of coastline. This is the longest freshwater coastline in the nation. Additionally, the state makes up 62% of the shoreline of the Great Lakes Basin.
What Is the Prettiest Beach in Michigan?
You’ll get several answers when asking someone what the prettiest beach in Michigan is. Pretty to one might mean dunes and boardwalks, while to another, it could mean miles of sand and no end in sight. Regardless of the answer, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous beaches in Michigan.
But if you need an answer, we might have to respond with any of the ones found along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It has 35 miles of shoreline and several beaches to explore. This site has even been ranked one of the 21 best beaches in the world by National Geographic. Who are we to argue with that?
Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 7 Best Places to Camp While Visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.
What Beach in Michigan Has Clear Blue Water?
When you think of crystal clear blue waters, you probably don’t think of a beach in Michigan. But you should. Torch Lake has some of the clearest, bluest waters in the state. And while it used to be a hidden gem, many people now seek Michigan’s longest inland lake, measuring 19 miles long.
It isn’t the easiest place to find because it lies in the northwest portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. But when you do, you’ll have plenty to enjoy, such as boating, paddling, waterskiing, playing on the sandbar, and more. The water will draw you in; the activities will keep you there.
5 Best Beach Towns for a Michigan Summer Adventure
While Torch Lake’s beach is stunning with its crystal clear blue waters and soft sandbars, Michigan has many other beaches and towns to explore. For example, North and South Beach are known for their action-packed beach days. Or stop by Holland with its European heritage and cobblestone streets.
Whichever Michigan beach town you choose, you can fill your summer with lots of beach fun. Let’s explore the top five!
Location: Holland lies in southwest Michigan on the east shore of Lake Michigan, midway between Chicago and Detroit.
About the Town: If you want a charming beach town in Michigan, look no further than Holland. With its bustling downtown streets, cobblestone sidewalks, and over 100 specialty shops, Holland has everything you need for a perfect day out. Forbes Magazine calls it one of America’s prettiest towns.
In the spring, catch the tulips blooming. And in the summer, enjoy the many beaches that dot the Michigan coastline. Year-round, you can enjoy its Dutch heritage and landscape. Holland is also home to the Big Red lighthouse, one of the state’s most iconic landmarks. There are many great Holland RV parks and campgrounds for visitors wanting to explore this quaint town’s natural scene.
About Its Beaches: The beaches in Holland are some of the most beautiful. You can enjoy the seclusion of Laketown Beach or the crowds of smiling faces at Holland State Park.
Kirk Park is another beautiful Holland beach. The high bluffs, dune climbing, and swimming make it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. If you want a unique experience, visit Tunnel Park. The tunnel through the dune is a great way to catch one of the most picturesque settings.
Morton Road Trip Rating: This Michigan beach town gets a top ranking of 9/10 for its charm, its many breweries and restaurants, and its diverse beaches.
2. Traverse City
Location: You’ll find Traverse City in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula in Grand Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan.
About the Town: Traverse City seems to have it all. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers miles of pristine beachfront to explore, while the Traverse Wine Coast is perfect for those who enjoy a glass of wine with their beach view.
Shopping options range from casual to elegant, and you can find waterside to cozy dining places. You can enjoy indoor or outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, swimming, golfing, and museums.
This quaint Michigan beach town has no shortage of things to see and do. Come for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed vacation.
About Its Beaches: Nearby beaches include Frankfort Beach, Bowers Harbor Park, Clinch Park, and the picturesque Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. More small town parks dot the area.
Two of the more popular beaches here are Sleeping Bear Dunes and Clinch Park. Sleeping Bear Dunes has freshwater beaches and forested dunes, as well as some great nearby camping. If you want more of a local beach, stop by Clinch Park. It lies in downtown Traverse City and features over 1,500 feet of sandy beach for swimming, picnicking, and more.
Morton Road Trip Rating: Traverse City earns a 10/10 for its many small town beaches throughout the region combined with the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Pro Tip: While exploring Traverse City, you’ll love camping at one of these 9 Best Traverse City Campgrounds.
3. South Haven
Location: South Haven lies in the southwest corner of Michigan, just south of Holland. It sits along Lake Michigan in between Detroit and Chicago.
About the Town: Michigan is home to many outstanding beach towns, but South Haven stands out. This quaint town has everything from walkable shops and dining to outdoor adventures and waterfront activities. Maritime history buffs will also love exploring South Haven’s rich naval heritage. And of course, no beach town would be complete without plenty of live music and cultural events.
But what really makes South Haven special is its trail system. Designated as a Pure Michigan Trail Town, South Haven offers 48 miles of hiking and biking trails and 91 miles of kayaking and canoeing trails. You can also explore 770 acres of nature preserves and 11 miles of horseback riding trails. So whether you want a leisurely stroll or an adrenaline-pumping hike, you can find the perfect route in South Haven.
About Its Beaches: All of these beaches in South Haven have something different to offer visitors. The North Beach and South Beach are two of the most popular. Both provide great places to walk along the shore, relax on the sand, or go for a swim. You’ll also find plenty of concessions and amenities, making this a great place for an action-packed beach day.
Furthermore, you’ll find many other beach access points, including Van Buren State Park, South Haven’s historic lighthouse, Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, and more.
Morton Road Trip Rating: South Haven gets a rating of 9/10 for its extensive trail system throughout the town and the beach regions. Try walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding to explore Michigan’s beach towns.
Pro Tip: While in Michigan, explore Mackinac Island. Check out these 7 Best Camping Options On- and Off-Island.
Location: Ludington sits on the shores of Lake Michigan in the west-central part of the state, just north of Grand Rapids.
About the Town: Ludington may be a beach town, but it’s also known as the home port to the largest car ferry to sail the Great Lakes. The S.S. Badger Carferry transports passengers and vehicles from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., from May to October.
You’ll also find lighthouses, marinas, museums, and more to explore here. There are also great Ludington campgrounds near the lake. The waterfront culture is alive and kicking in Ludington. So whether you come to fish, swim, learn, or play, this is one of the best Michigan beach towns to do so.
About Its Beaches: Ludington offers miles of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. Stearns Park is the most well-known beach with plenty to do, including a skate park and 2,500 feet of sand to sink your toes into. Or visit the seven miles of beauty in Ludington State Park.
Additionally, Buttersville and Summit Park beaches provide breathtaking scenery. Situated high atop a bluff, you can experience both the beauty of the beach and the views below. Complete your summer adventures with these beaches and the many beachfront parks located in town.
Morton Road Trip Rating: Ludington, Mich., ranks a 9.5/10 for its maritime fun and ferry crossing adventures.
Pro Tip: While in Michigan check out these 5 Best Tahquamenon Falls State Park Camping Options for Waterfall Lovers.
5. Grand Haven
Location: Grand Haven lies in the central-western part of the state on the shores of Lake Michigan, just west of Grand Rapids and north of Holland.
About the Town: Boardwalks, beaches, and big-time fun await you in this quaint beach town. Plus, you can visit delicious restaurants, unique shops, the Grand Haven Lighthouse, the Musical Fountain, trolley rides, biking trails, live music, and so much more.
In other words, the fun has no limit in Grand Haven. This beach town is precisely as its name suggests—grand, maybe one of the best.
About Its Beaches: Grand Haven City Beach is the place to go for a day of action-packed beach fun. With sandy beaches and plenty of lakewater to swim in, why go anywhere else?
For a more natural experience, try Rosy Mound Natural Area or Olive Shores Park, where you can hike amongst the dunes and on the surrounding boardwalk. Furthermore, you’ll find many other beach access points and city parks throughout Grand Haven. You’ll even find two state parks such as Grand Haven State Park and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.
Be sure to nab a campsite at one of the Grand Haven campgrounds near the water to really enjoy the essence of this quintessential Michigan beach town.
Morton Road Trip Rating: Grand Haven is a 10/10 for its easy access to beaches, boardwalks, food, drinks, shops, and all things beachy in this adorable Michigan beach town.
Are Michigan Beach Towns Worth Visiting?
Traverse City, Grand Haven, Ludington, South Haven, and Holland are quintessential Michigan beach towns that offer plenty to do, whether at the beach or not. These towns will make your summer vacation one to remember.
Explore miles of coastline, or enjoy activities like swimming, fishing, and paddling. Plus, the quaint downtown areas have unique shops and restaurants.
And don’t forget that bonus of no salt in the eyes and no worries of sharks in the water. If you want to know if Michigan beach towns are worth visiting, take a trip to decide for yourself. And don’t forget your sunscreen.
Want to camp right on the water? Check out these 10 Great Places to Go Beach Camping in Michigan.
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