“Secret” Must-See Michigan Beaches
Shhhh…we’re going to let you in on some of Michigan’s best-kept secret beaches.
These are the beaches in Michigan that you only learn about if you ask a “local”… the clandestine spots that the people who live near these beach keep to themselves.
- North Bar Lake
- Warren Dunes State Park
- McCarty’s Cove
- Negwegon State Park
- Silver Lake Sand Dunes
- Riley Street Beach
- Lake Huron Roadside Park
- Mackinaw City Beach Access
- Twelvemile Beach
- Haserot Beach Park
Best Secluded Beaches in Michigan
While we think that ALL Michigan Beaches are awesome, there are some that really stand out – especially if you’re seeking a romantic getaway on soft sand beach, or a relaxing Michigan vacation with panoramic views of the Lake Michigan, Lake Huron or Lake Superior.
With endless miles of shoreline just waiting for exploration, Michigan’s beach towns and beaches are unparalleled in both beauty and fun.
In the beach towns, you’ll find boutiques and restaurants; breweries and wineries and a Cape Cod-type charm.
Explore the beaches and you’ll find hiking trails, sand dunes and shallow water perfect for swimming and splashing.
At times, it’s even possible to have these beaches all to yourself…along with a seagull or two.
Read on to discover these 10 beautiful Michigan beaches.
Best West Michigan Beaches
The much-beloved beaches and beach towns in west Michigan are more than just tourist attractions.
These fun spots along Lake Michigan’s shoreline have woven themselves into the fabric of generations of vacationers who visit these sandy shores year after year.
Warren Dunes State Park
With almost 2000 acres along the coastline, you’ll find towering sand dunes, wide open silver sand beaches and bluffs over 200 feet high offering spectacular Lake Michigan views.
Although this is one of Michigan’s most-visited parks, the dunes state park beach is large enough that you can find your own quiet spot even on the busiest of days.
An added bonus is the accessible walkway down to the waterfront, as well as a beach wheelchair that is available for use.
PRO-TIP: If you’re go, you might want to take the short drive along the lakeshore to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. Read more about it HERE.
Riley Street Beach – Holland
We first learned about this “off-the-beaten-path” little treasure of a beach from a waiter at New Holland Brewing; a lifelong resident of Holland who was sharing his “Best-Of…” list with us.
A quick trip later proved him right: this is definitely one of the best, discreet little beaches along the southwest Michigan coast.
Park your car in the small parking area and meander up and down the sandy trail to the stunning Lake Michigan shore.
The water here isn’t very shallow, and that is one reason that Riley Street beach is a great place to watch some Great Lakes Surf bums catching a wave if conditions are right.
UPDATE: Lake Michigan water levels are up; access to Riley Street beach may be limited. Try these nearby beaches :
- Holland State Park
- Kirk Park
- Tunnel Park
PRO-TIP: Visit Holland State Park and see the famous Big Red Lighthouse; and then head south to check out Saugatuck Dunes State Park and nearby Oval Beach in Saugatuck.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Here’s an insider’s secret: this beach is spectacular ANY time of the year.
In the autumn, the golden leaves of the tree stand out against the turquoise blue of Lake Michigan.
In the winter, the views of Lake Michigan from the dunes are stunning; the open, frozen lake seems to go on forever.
Set on the Lake Michigan shoreline between Ludington and Muskegon, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes is a vacationer’s paradise.
In addition to Lake Michigan, you’ve got Silver Lake, a sandy-bottomed inland lake, and miles of sand dunes for riding AUV’s and dune buggy’s.
You’ll find an abundance of campgrounds, comfortable Michigan resorts and cottages for rent. Plan to add a dune buggy ride to your beach trip.
PRO-TIP: Head north to Ludington’s Stearns Park beach and check out one of the most popular beaches in Michigan, or head south to Muskegon and enjoy Pere Marquette beach.
Quiet Beaches on Lake Huron
Lake Huron Roadside Park
Just north of Lexington, in the little harbor town of Port Sanilac, is Lake Huron Roadside Park.
The park sits high on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron, along the M-25 highway that skirts the Michigan shore, and boasts some of the most spectacular Lake Huron scenery south of the Mackinac Bridge.
Bring a cooler, snag a picnic table a take in the dramatic scenery or venture down the steps the secluded beach where you’ll find the shallow, aquamarine Great Lakes waters lapping at the shore.
PRO-TIP: Head south to Lexington and enjoy wandering the main street of this cute Michigan beach town.
Negwegon State Park on Lake Huron
Don’t be fooled by the official State Park label: Negwegon has been one of Michigan’s secret gems for years, kept hidden by locals and beach explorers alike.
Located off a remote road in Alcona County, the entrance to Negwegon State Park was notoriously “hard-to-find”…even for those looking.
In fact, it wasn’t until fairly recently that a large stone place marker was installed by the state park system.
Prior to the installation of the marker, the entrance to Negwegon – a one-lane sand trail leading through deep woods – was purposefully “UNMARKED.”
Fans of this remote beach paradise aimed to keep it UNMARKED by tearing down place markers every time they were installed.
Park your car and follow the short, sandy trail to an gorgeous, isolated beach alongside a shallow, crystal clear bay…you’ll find some of the most unforgettable pure Michigan scenery around.
PRO-TIP: After you’ve spent the day exploring this fabulous spot, head south down M-23 towards Harrisville and the amazingly delicious Alcona Brew Haus.
Mackinaw City Public Beach Access
You’ve heard the adage that “good things are worth working for,” right?
This out-of-way little beach proves the point.
You may have to work a little to find this secluded beach that sits on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Trail’s End Bay at the tip of the “Michigan Mitten,” but it is worth it.
A few minutes outside of Mackinaw City and west of the mighty Mackinac Bridge, this pretty spot is located at the intersection of Wilderness State Park and Trails End roads.
Park your car in the small lot and head for the beach…chances are you’ll have it all to yourself.
Here, the squeaky-soft sand meets the shallow bay, providing some breathtaking scenic beauty and a great spot for beaching.
PRO-TIP: Plan to spend at least a day exploring Mackinac Island; catch the ferry from Mackinaw City.
Best Upper Peninsula Beaches
Who would believe this spot of overwhelming natural beauty is just minutes from a bustling city?
With a large sandy beach and views of the picturesque Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, McCarty’s Cove is a perfect spot to stretch out in the sand and gaze out into the deep blue of Lake Superior.
There’s a sandy point to explore, and the amenities such as picnic tables, restroom and volleyball courts make it even better.
Bonus? There are lifeguards on duty during the summer.
PRO-TIP: Rent a paddleboard and try SUP in the protected Lake Superior bay for some of the most amazing pure Michigan beauty you’ll find.
Right in the middle of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Michigan – is a quiet spot that you have to see to believe.
Surrounded by the deep woods, Twelvemile Beach is a pristine Lake Superior beach littered with beautiful rocks just 15 minutes from Grand Marais.
If you camp, this beachfront campground is definitely something you’ll want to check out. You can find more information on the campground here.
PRO-TIP: Plan for more than just a day in the Pictured Rocks. From waterfalls to stunning painted rock formations to the beautifully wild Lake Superior, you’ll have a hard time leaving this beautiful spot.
Best Lake Michigan Beaches
Old Mission Peninsula Haserot Beach Park
Some of the clearest Lake Michigan water can be be found at this low-key beach- a long-time favorite of local beach-goers.
Set at the tip of Traverse City’s Old Mission Peninsula, the beautiful waters of Grand Traverse Bay here are warm and welcoming.
With a sandy beach, restroom, playground, picnic tables and even a basketball court, this is perfect destination for a day-trip.
PRO-TIP: Spend at least half a day wandering the streets of charming downtown Traverse City – truly one of Michigan’s best beach towns.
North Bar Lake in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Visit this hidden beach in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and you’ll have a hard time keeping it a secret.
Tucked away just north of Empire beach along the shores of Lake Michigan, you’ll follow a crushed stone trail almost 800 feet until you find yourself on a wide spit of sand, perfectly located between two bodies of water.
This spot is where the warm waters North Bar Lake spill into the cool -and sometimes wild- Lake Michigan.
There is nothing more exhilarating than jumping into an often cold Lake Michigan after warming up in shallow North Bar Lake, and it’s a secret “rite-of passage” for anyone exploring the area.
Find Michigan’s Best Beaches
With more than 3,000 miles of stunning freshwater coastline, Michigan’s stunning beaches offer something for everyone.
Use the interactive Michigan Beach Map to discover the natural beauty of Michigan and find YOUR Michigan beach.
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