Discover the Prettiest Lake Michigan Beaches
Michigan’s pretty Lake Michigan beaches are one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
Michigan claims more than 3,000 miles of coastline, which means endless miles of sandy shore for you to explore.
It’s a very unique coastline: a mix of towering sand dunes that slope gently into the aqua water below, and wide, flat sugar sand beaches that seem to go on forever. Lake Michigan beaches are known for their sparkling clear water, clean beaches, and stunning views.
From Harbor Country in southwest Michigan to Traverse City; from Charlevoix and Petoskey to the quiet beaches along Lake Michigan’s northern shore in the Upper Peninsula, you’ll find tons of pretty beaches.
Lake Michigan Beach Towns
The shores of Lake Michigan are dotted with cute beach towns, too, each with a unique vibe. You’ll find wineries, breweries, and tasting rooms as well as cafes, restaurants, and boutiques to shop in these charming towns.
If you’re looking for unforgettable trip ideas, a romantic getaway, or simply want a relaxing day at the beach, look no further than these beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
We’ve put together a mix of some of the prettiest beaches on Lake Michigan. It’s a mix of popular beaches and some “secret” beaches off the beaten path that are some of the best Michigan beaches in the state. We’ve also included important information about ADA accessibility and dog-friendliness.
PRO-TIP: When you plan your trip, be sure to use our Interactive Beach and Travel Map for guides to these amazing Michigan beach towns!
Prettiest Lake Michigan Beaches in Southwest Michigan
Warren Dunes State Park
12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, MI 49125
You might not expect a pretty dune beach in southwest Michigan but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Warren Dunes State Park.
Pulling into the parking lots here always makes me smile: you’ll see the stragglers making their way up a 260’ sandy dune, and then running or sliding down. On the other side, you’ll see this endless expanse of white sand and sparkling blue Lake Michigan. It’s just pure Michigan fun.
If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of some hang-gliders: it is allowed here with a permit.You’ll find three miles of shoreline here, as well as six miles of hiking trails. You’ll also find restrooms, a picnic shelter, concessions operating after Memorial Day, and camping, too.
Dog-Friendly Beach: This park is dog friendly. Leashed dogs are welcome on the beach. At the northernmost buoy on the swimming beach, there is a two-and-a-half-mile stretch of beach where your dog can splash in the water off-leash.
ADA Accessibiity: You’ll find three accessible walkways between the day-use sidewalk and the water.
There are two beach/aqua wheelchairs available to borrow at the ranger station.
Silver Beach – St. Joseph
101 Broad St., St. Joseph, MI
Silver Beach is the most popular beach in St. Joseph, a town with many great beaches, and that’s saying something. From swimming and splashing in the water to kayaking and paddleboarding; from playing in the spray at the giant splash pad to sand volleyball, there’s something for everyone here.
With 2,450 feet of beach, there is plenty of space for you and your family to spread out and enjoy yourselves without worrying about any crowds.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but they are allowed elsewhere in the park as long as they are leashed.
You’ll find a barrier-free walkway that runs along the beach and through the park. For easier access to the water, you can reserve a beach wheelchair for free at the office next to the restrooms.
North Beach and South Beach – South Haven
One of the top west Michigan beach towns, South Haven is home to two fabulous Lake Michigan beaches. Located in downtown South Haven, these busy beaches come alive in the warm summer months, when visitors flock to the wide beaches that are complete with all of the amenities for a perfect beach day.
North Beach is ADA accessible, with a concession stand, picnic area, play equipment, restrooms, and beach volleyball courts.
South Haven’s South Beach is ADA accessible, with grills, a picnic area, play equipment, restrooms, and access to the big, red lighthouse along a pier that juts out into the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. The south shore is a personal favorite.
Please note that dogs are not allowed on South Haven beaches.
Oval Beach – Saugatuck
Perryman St. & Oval Beach Drive, Saugatuck, MI, 49453
Ranked by Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine as one of the “top 25 beaches in the world,” this pretty west Michigan beach is truly something special. It’s one of the prettiest beaches in Michigan, too.
You find everything you need for a perfect Lake Michigan beach day here. There’s lots of beach parking, a concession stand, and clean restrooms, too.
You’ll find soft, sand beaches with plenty of room to stretch out and watch as the picturesque Star of Saugatuck paddle boat cruises up and down the coast. You’ll also find a wooden walkway at the North end of the beach for accessibility.
There are no dogs allowed at Oval Beach, but you can bring your pup to Deerlick Creek Beach in nearby South Haven.
PRO-TIP: Don’t miss another gorgeous Lake Michigan shore beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Saugatuck Dunes is big: you’ll find 2.5 miles of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline at this park. Be sure to note that there is a half-mile hike on a sandy path to get to the beach (the shortest path).
Prettiest Lake Michigan Beaches in West Michigan
Holland State Park – Holland Michigan
2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
This is one of the popular Michigan state parks, and with good reason. You’ll find wide, sugar-sand beaches and sweeping views of the Lake Michigan coastline. The iconic Big Red Lighthouse is here, as well as a long walking pier that stretches into Lake Michigan.
In addition to the beautiful beach, you’ll find an ADA-accessible playground, picnic tables, hiking trails along the low bluffs dotting the park, a basketball court, concessions, and much more.
ADA ACCESSIBLE: You’ll find excellent ADA and wheelchair accessibility here, too. There are paved paths throughout the park, as well as a paved path to the accessible pier.
DOG-FRIENDLY: You can bring your leashed dog, too, on the trails and a section of shoreline, that is a non-designated beach area.
Grand Haven State Park in Grand Haven, MI
This is a must-visit on any Lake Michigan beach tour. It’s more than just the wide sandy beach. There is a long pier that stretches into Lake Michigan with two lighthouses that is a popular draw for beachgoers, beach volleyball, a playground, and picnic shelters with picnic tables, too. There are restrooms concession and great ADA access with wide paved paths.
What I love most about this beach is that is connected via a long boardwalk to downtown Grand Haven, one of the top west Michigan beach towns.
PRO-TIP: If you go, make a side trip to Grand Rapids and check out the amazing hiking trails at Millennium Park, one of the top Ottawa County parks.
Silver Lake State Park
9679 W. State Park Road, Mears, MI 49436
This truly gorgeous stretch of Lake Michigan is located in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. You’ll find three miles of beautiful beach surrounded by 2,000 acres of sand dunes. This is dune riding country: there are ATV rentals here and you can bring your own. This is the only dune-riding area east of the Mississippi River, which makes it a popular travel destination for thrill seekers.
The picturesque Little Sable Point Lighthouse is here, too, and you’ll definitely want pictures. At 115 feet, it is one of the tallest lighthouses in Michigan, and you can climb it for a small fee.
Ludington State Park
8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431
Beautiful Ludington has a stunning lake shore, and some of the prettiest can be found at Ludington State Park. A mix of forests and sand dunes, you’ll also find Hamlin Lake with the state park. The big draws, though, are the miles of soft, sandy beach along a cape that juts into Lake Michigan.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse is here, and you’ll find camping, a playground, and a picnic shelter. There is great ADA accessibility here too: an accessible walkway starts at the Lake Michigan Beach House and ends near the shoreline. There are also three beach chairs that are available for the public’s use.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Northern Michigan
Glen Haven Beach – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
You have your pick of beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes, and truth be told, they are all gorgeous. One of the standouts is the Glen Haven beach, set along the shores of Sleeping Bear Bay in the historic port village of Glen Haven.
There is a lot of room here to stretch out and relax, and you’ll find amazing views of the Manitou Islands. You’ll find restrooms, picnic tables, and grills, and you can visit the Cannery Boathouse Museum, located next to the parking lot. There are no concessions, so bring a cooler and some snacks.
ADA ACCESSIBLE: There is good accessibility here: a six-foot wide hard-surfaced deck will take you from the handicapped parking lot to a large platform on the beach with benches.
DOG-FRIENDLY: Leashed pets are welcome in marked areas.
Christmas Cove Beach – Northport
E Christmas Cove Rd, Northport, MI 49670
Follow the famous M-22 drive to the top of the Leelanau Peninsula and you’ll come to the town of Northport. This really is one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets.
You’ll find around 200 feet of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, and the water is the prettiest shade of blue here. There’s not much more than a gorgeous beach, picnic tables, and parking, but that is all you’ll need.
Clinch Park Beach – Traverse City
111 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI, 49684
Not only is this a beautiful beach, but its perfect location in downtown Traverse City also means it is just steps away from bustling Front Street, the city’s main street.
Located on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, you’ll find 1,500 feet of sandy beach with lifeguards. Picnic tables, snacks, and restrooms are here, too, as is a giant splash pad.
DOG-FRIENDLY: There is a new, hard-surfaced pathway leading to the beach, and leashed dogs are allowed in the park but not on the beach.
Veterans Memorial Park – Elk Rapids
603 River St Elk Rapids, MI 49629
This is one of my favorite northern Michigan beaches. Located in charming downtown Elk Rapids you’ll fall in love with the pretty sand beach and gorgeous views of East Bay.
The water is shallow here, so it warms up pretty quickly under the hot sun in the summer. Combined with a large playground for kids, it’s a very family-friendly spot. You’ll find basketball courts and tennis courts at the north end of the park.
ADA ACCESSIBLE: There is an accessible path to the beach here.
Petoskey State Park
2475 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770
Located on Little Traverse Bay, near the entrance to Northern Michigan’s famed Tunnel of Trees, Petoskey State Park is the perfect spot to spend a day (or more if you’re camping). Set on a shallow bay, you’ll find crystal clear water for swimming and splashing and one mile of wide beach for relaxing under the sun.
You find hiking biking, sand volleyball courts, a playground, and concessions, too. There is an accessible walkway down to the waterfront, and a beach wheelchair is available to borrow.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but they are allowed in other parts of the park if they are leashed.
Sand Dunes Beach – Moran, MI
This beautiful Lake Michigan beach is located off US-2, which runs along the northern shore of Lake Michigan. It is one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets, and chances are good that you’ll want to keep t to yourself.
Located near Brevort, just west of the Mackinac Bridge, you’ll find about a mile of soft sandy beach and beautiful Lake Michigan. There’s not much else here, but this is truly all anyone needs. Just pull off the road and enjoy.
More Lake Michigan Beaches
Exploring beyond Lake Michigan beyond state lines? Here are some amazing Lake Michigan beaches to visit in Indiana and the Chicago area.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Indiana
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter Beach, and Indiana Dunes State Park Beach, near Michigan City, are two Northwest Indiana beaches you’ll want to check out.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Chicago Illinois
Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach are located right off Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile. In addition to a sandy city beach, you’ll find spectacular views of the Chicago skyline. A Chicago beach also offers proximity to one of the world’s best cities!
PRO-TIP: Lake Huron beaches are pretty amazing too. From Port Huron and the Blue Thumb Coast to Alpena and Cheboygan, there are amazing family-friendly beaches all along Lake Huron’s shore. Use our guide to the best beaches on Lake Huron.
Michigan’s Inland Lakes
Don’t forget Michigan’s inland lakes, either: spots like Torch Lake and Houghton Lake are two popular destinations. They’re both big for swimming, boating, and jet skiing, too.
Don’t wait until labor Day to start exploring these amazing Lake Michigan beaches. Use a My Michigan beach Visitors Guide to start planning.
More Amazing Michigan Beaches
Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Michigan Beaches
Some Lake Michigan beaches, like Warren Dunes State Park and Kirk Park in Ottawa County, have designated aress for dogs to run and play in the water off leash. Check with each park individually before you bring your dog with you to a lake Michiagn beach; they may have ordinanaces in place that do not permit dogs.