13 Top-Rated Beaches in Michigan

Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated Sep 13, 2021
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When it comes to beach opportunities in the United States, few states can compete with Michigan. The only state to boast more shoreline is Alaska. Surrounded by four of the Great Lakes and characterized by peninsulas and islands, the Wolverine State has thousands of miles of beaches to visit, with experiences that are unique to each.

Go ahead and tackle the famous sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan, or kick back in an Adirondack chair on the beaches of Lake Huron at Mackinac Island State Park. You can pass your time leisurely collecting stones in Michigan's upper peninsula on the 100 miles of beaches of Lake Superior, or go for a traditional summer swim in some of the most impressive freshwater sources in the country.

As with most beach experiences, the day by the water is about more than just soaking up the sun and swimming, it is also about the surrounding community and the vacation vibe. Michigan's beach towns are relaxed and inviting.

The diverse natural landscape, from soft sand dunes to rugged rocky shorelines means a beach day in Michigan can be anything outdoors, including kayaking, hiking, and biking. With thousands of miles of sand and shoreline to choose from, narrow down your options with our list of the top beaches in Michigan.

1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore | Photo Copyright: Pure Michigan

With more than 60 miles of shoreline and majestic sand dunes that you will remember for a lifetime, the beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are some of Michigan's most prized gems. Walk the golden-hued sand beaches along Lake Michigan and admire the panoramic views of the coastline.

Swimming is popular at the beach, but so is resting under a sun umbrella. Some of the best beach access points are located at Platte River Point, Tiesma Road, Peterson Road, and Esch Road. The parameter of the area is surrounded by forest with an abundance of flora and fauna unique to the region.

Be sure to plan some time to visit the lighthouse and take a stroll on one of the trails near the beach. You can break up the day for a bite to eat in the surrounding beach towns of Glen Arbor, Frankfort, Leland, and Empire.

Most of the nearby lodging options are small, independent motels and bed-and-breakfasts, but you can find resort lodging like the Harbor Lights Resort about 15 minutes away.

2. Cheboygan State Park Beach

Cheboygan State Park Beach
Cheboygan State Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Mary Griswold

If you are looking for a beach that offers more than just sand, sun, and water, the beach at Cheboygan State Park is where you want to spend some time. Located in eastern Michigan, you can enjoy the scenic shoreline of Lake Huron and take small hiking excursions on one of the many trails through the park.

The beach is perfect for families as it has plenty of space for building sandcastles and pitching a beach shade canopy. The water is shallow and clear, so it is a great spot for a day of swimming with children. There is also a playground, picnic tables, and terrific views of two lighthouses. Accommodation options nearby include a campground, rustic cabins, or Fleetwood Inn & Suites.

3. Mackinaw City Beach

Mackinaw City Beach
Mackinaw City Beach

You cannot beat the scenery or the warm water on Mackinaw City Beach in northern Michigan. The large, sandy beach has plenty of room for swimming in the mild waves of Lake Huron and walking the dunes that define its landscape. The beach is close to several historical sites and local boutiques for shopping.

There are several beaches in Mackinaw City, many of which are connected by a path, so you can easily explore several of them during your stay. The entire outdoor recreation area has no shortage of waterfront eateries and hotels like the Clearwater Lakeshore Motel, so everything is conveniently located.

4. Lakeside Beach

Lakeside Beach
Lakeside Beach | Photo Copyright: Rogers City

The beaches in Rogers City are some of the most popular in all of Michigan. With nicknames like the "Salmon Capital of Michigan" and "Nautical City," Rogers City is a beach retreat for many Michigan natives. The pristine sands of Lakeside Beach top the list for the city.

There are convenient facilities like restrooms and picnic areas nearby, and families can easily access the playground and splash pad. Located on Lake Huron in Eastern Michigan, Lakeside Beach is terrific for hours of swimming and enjoying the social scene. Take up a game of volleyball or basketball on the courts or just chill on the sand and soak in summer.

Be sure to get up at least once to cool off with an ice-cream cone from the on-site concession stand. Top off your day watching the sunset from your balcony at the Driftwood Motel and walk to one of the nearby waterfront restaurants for dinner.

5. Grand Haven City Beach

Grand Haven City Beach
Grand Haven City Beach | Photo Copyright: Pure Michigan

One of the most popular beaches in Michigan is Grand Haven Beach, located in a quaint and lovely beach community in the western part of the state. The beach is located near a state park, with an abundance of activities and amenities like restrooms nearby.

This beach is family friendly and dog friendly, with lots of space for spreading out. Free nearby parking makes it easy to haul a chair and umbrellas to the waterfront. Enjoy a swim in Lake Michigan or try your hand at kiteboarding or surfing (yes, even in Michigan). Stop for a bite at the Morningstar Café before your day in the sun or grab a snack at Jack's Waterfront bistro.

If you travel with your pet, there is a pet-friendly beach nearby. It is only fitting that Grand Haven boasts some unique bed-and-breakfast lodging options, like the waterfront Looking Glass Inn or the historic Boyden House Inn in town.

6. Manistique Beach

Manistique Beach
Manistique Beach | Photo Copyright: Trevor Mahlmann

The Manistique Beach is an upper Michigan draw for many locals because of the harbor views and ideal swimming. Just a short drive from the downtown area of Manistique, the large, sandy beach is one of best along Lake Michigan.

The mild water conditions make it a perfect beach for swimming or floating on a raft. You can even see the Manistique Lighthouse from your beach chair. If you do not want to pack a picnic lunch, you can treat yourself to one of the nearby restaurants that specialize in serving local cuisine.

If you need a break from swimming, you can visit one of the souvenir shops, stroll along the boardwalk, or take a tour of the Seul Choix Lighthouse. If you plan to stay a few days, you can take up residence at the Econo Lodge Lakeshore, located across the street from the lakeshore boardwalk and Lake Michigan.

7. Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Silver Lake Sand Dunes

The secluded beach of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes is a hidden paradise. Though not easy to access, it is an idyllic, romantic beach getaway for couples and adventure seekers, who want to navigate the more than 2,000-acres of sand dunes between the lake and the beach.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes is located between Muskegon and Ludington along Lake Michigan. If you get tired of swimming, you can enjoy one of the recreational activities like hiking, boating, and four-wheel driving.

The easiest way to access the beach is with an off-road vehicle to get over the dunes, otherwise it is a 45-minute walk to the beach from the Silver Lake parking area. If you want to stay close to the dunes with a picturesque view, you cannot get closer than the Dunes Waterfront Resort, which also has a small private beach on Silver Lake.

8. Tawas Point State Park Beach

Tawas Point State Park Beach
Tawas Point State Park Beach

The shallow beach at Tawas Point State Park makes it a favorite beach for sun-worshipers and families with children. The popularity of this quaint beach is what earned it a reputation as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest."

While there is not a lifeguard on the beach, the water is buoyed for designated swimming areas. There is a large campground and other beach activities like bird-watching, walking the soft sands along the shores of Lake Huron, and touring the lighthouse.

The Tawas Point State Park beach is also a nice backdrop for a romantic retreat. Couples who visit can extend their getaway by staying at the Huron House Bed & Breakfast, which has lake views and private outdoor hot tubs.

9. Warren Dunes Beach

Warren Dunes Beach
Warren Dunes Beach | Photo Copyright: Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce

It is no surprise that the beach at Warren Dunes State Park is one of the most popular in the state, given that more than one-million vacationers visit the park each year. The reason is that besides the enjoyable swimming and stunning view of Lake Michigan, the rolling sand dunes make a day at the beach a thrill.

If you want to work in some exercise during your time lounging on the sand, try trekking up Tower Hill, the tallest sand dune in the park, and touch base with your inner child as you slide all the way to the bottom. To extend your beach vacation stay at The Inn at Harbor Shores, which features the iconic late 19th-century architecture of coastal hotels, as well as walking trails and a world-class golf course.

10. Hunter's Point Park Beach

Hunter's Point Park Beach
Hunter's Point Park Beach

The beaches of Hunter's Point Park in the community of Cooper Harbor, in Northern Michigan are terrific swimming beaches, but many people visit just for the views. In fact, you are likely to see newlyweds taking photos with the beach backdrop.

With nearly 5,000 feet of shoreline, you will enjoy the quiet scenery, many species of birds, and unusual rock formations. The beach is located in a public park across the street from the lighthouse, where you can also take a sea kayak tour.

You can find trails within the park that lead to the North and South Shore Beaches. When you meander into Cooper Harbor for lunch be sure to stop into some of the unique galleries. Most of the lodging options in Cooper Harbor are small, independent cabins and motels.

11. Caseville Beach

Caseville Beach
Caseville Beach | Photo Copyright: Tracy Powell

The beach town of Caseville in eastern Michigan boasts several great spots to dip your toes in the water, but the beach at Caseville Park is a must-visit. This family-friendly beach on Lake Huron is spacious, with plenty of swimming spots to enjoy the calm and shallow waters.

The entire beach area is relaxing, from the wide, sandy stretch of beachfront to the walkways and the pier where you watch the fishermen. If your timing is right, you might just catch a concert in the park.

There is a play area for children and a campground for families who want to stay a few days. The closest lodging options beyond the campground are locally owned resorts, but you can find more mainstream lodging like the Ameriway Inn and Suites about 15 minutes away.

12. Silver Beach

Silver Beach | Photo Copyright: Southwest Michigan Tourist Council

Silver Beach is one of the most popular beaches near St. Joseph, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. The area has seven clean beaches and miles of wide, sandy shoreline. It is an easily accessible beach and nice if you are looking to add some additional things into the day, like hiking or sightseeing. It is worth taking some time to walk to the nearby South Pier and the North Pier Lighthouses.

The beach is also close to the southern end of the West Michigan Pike trail, which is a historic byway that connects several beach towns where you can eat, shop, and take in the area's artsy and historic atmosphere.

Also in the area are picturesque sand dunes, hiking trails, and playgrounds. There are rustic campsites available, or you can find a cozy bed and magnificent view at The Boulevard Inn, which sits on the bluff above the town of St. Joseph.

13. South Beach

Aerial view of South Beach in South Haven

The stretch of South Beach in South Haven is one of two city beaches. This is a popular beach because it has a large sandy waterfront and conveniences like food concessions, picnic areas, restrooms, shops, playground equipment, and public access to the lighthouse.

Sunset at South Beach | Photo Copyright: South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau

The South Haven community that surrounds the beach is nice for a stroll to take in some live music, arts, maritime history, and cultural experiences. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available at the beach. While there is a fee to park, you will be able to stay for a full day since there are so many activities and amenities in the vicinity.

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