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Visitors Guide to Michigan Beaches | Plan a Michigan Beach Getaway

Michigan beach vacations guide

Michigan Beach Vacations Guide

We’re letting you in on a little secret…Michigan beach vacations are simply the best!

There’s a reason that Michigan’s population swells with tourists from around the globe every summer, and that reason has everything to do with the stunning beaches in Michigan and the clear, fresh waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Huron, a vacation paradise and travel destinations for families from around the globe.

If you’re looking for a trip idea or romantic getaway featuring soft sands and panoramic views, we’ve got miles of top rated pure Michigan beaches just waiting for you.

Discover Michigan Beaches

With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline and soft sand beach, Michigan’s freshwater coast is the perfect setting for quick beach getaways or long, relaxing vacations.

Michigan travel fans may be familiar with popular (and well-deserved) tourist attractions like the red lighthouse at the end of the pier at Grand Haven State Park; Mackinac Island; the dramatically beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior; or the Cape Cod-like Tawas area on Lake Huron.

There’s so much more, and Michigan’s best beaches are just waiting for you. Read on to discover Michigan beaches…

sleeping bear dunes amichigan beach vacations

Michigan Sand Dunes

If you’re looking for sand dunes on your Michigan beach vacation, we’ve got them. Dramatic, towering sand dunes are found along the Michigan coast in places like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (voted the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America viewers) in northern Michigan and the shores of the Manitou Islands, off Empire Beach.

Follow Lake Michigan’s shoreline south and you’ll find even more dunes and some of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan, all perfect spots for a Michigan vacation.

Silver Lakes Sand Dunes and the Silver Lake State Park beach are simply stunning: endless miles of hilly, sand shoreline against an aqua Lake Michigan.

Follow the west Michigan beaches even farther south to the dunes of Hoffmaster State Park, with amazing views of Lake Michigan that seem to go on for miles. The dunes continue to Saugatuck Dunes State Park (and we’re including the world-famous Oval Beach in this), to the Warren Dunes State Park Beach all the way to gentle New Buffalo.

Sand dunes can also be found on the gentle sugar-soft beaches of Port Crescent State Park, between Caseville and Port Austin in Michigan’s thumb area, and farther north into the Upper Peninsula.

The Grand Sable Banks and Dunes in Grand Marais stand more than 300 feet over Lake Superior, and feature some of the best hiking trails in MIchigan.

sand buckets on a michigan beach

Michigan’s Public Beaches

If you are new to the state – and its natural wonders – prepare yourself for the wonder of the world’s largest freshwater coastline.

Michigan has miles and miles of public beaches, ranging from quiet and secluded areas surrounded by nature to busy, active beaches offering everything from beach volleyball courts and children’s splash pads to concession stand and more.

Most of the beaches are easily accessible and well-maintained, making a trip to the beach both pleasant and comfortable.

Michigan Beaches are Unique

It’s true that no two Michigan Beaches are alike.

Visit a Michigan beach and you may find wide expanses of soft sandy beaches, like those found at places like St. Joseph’s Silver Beach along Lake Michigan or Oscoda Beach Park along Lake Huron.

Or you may find smaller, quiet beaches, like Alpena’s Mich-e-ke-wis Park, where families frolic with children in the shallow waters of Lake Huron, or the small beach adjacent to Lexington State Harbor along Lake Huron.

Here are five top spots to find wide Michigan beaches:

  • Caseville’s Sleeper State Park
  • Harrisville State Park
  • Ludington State Park
  • Oscoda Beach Park
  • Silver Beach in St. Joseph
kids running on michigan beach

About Michigan Beach Vacations

Michigan’s Great Lakes are Salt-Free and Shark-Free

Don’t get us wrong: we LOVE the oceans, too.

However, there’s a popular saying among fans of Michigan’s freshwater coast: “No Salt, No Sharks, No Problem.”

It’s true that the clear, clean freshwater of the Great Lakes are a water-loving beach-goers paradise.

No salt means no need to hurry and rinse that chalky, itchy feeling off your skin after a refreshing dip in the water. No sharks means…well, you know.

You may see a school of little minnows scurry by your ankles, but there’s nothing swimming around in the Great Lakes waiting for the opportunity to take a bite out of you.

kids playing on a michigan beach

Michigan’s Great Lakes: Best Beach Vacations

The color of Michigan’s Great Lakes are ever-changing.

The shallow waters along the shoreline reflect the sky, and the lakes will often pick up light gradients.

Under clear, sunny skies, the water will appear to be striped in vibrant azure tones. Under other skies, the water can appear a dark, inky blue, dotted with white caps rolling on the surface as they make they way to the shore.

It’s a simply stunning sight: especially when the waves roll onto the shore.

It’s important to know that Michigan is actually two separate peninsulas, linked by the mighty Mackinac Bridge.

Four of the Great Lakes: Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior surround Michigan…that is a lot of water…and a lot of beach waiting to be explored.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (also known as the “U.P.”) is surrounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

This stunningly beautiful bit of land includes sprawling wilderness area complete with rambling mountain peaks and valleys, waterfalls and gorgeous coastline dotted with lighthouses.

lake michigan beach map

Michigan’s Lower Peninsula

To the south, Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is surrounded by three lakes: Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

More densely populated, the Michigan shoreline along the Lower Peninsula varies.

Ranging from meticulously groomed public beaches and parks to waterfront marina’s to remote stretches of nothing but sand and water; the coast is dotted with both quaint beach towns and busy cities with luxurious hotels and resorts.

Lake huron travel map

Where to Stay Along the Michigan Coast

A huge benefit for travelers to Michigan beaches: Price.

If you’re planning a beach vacation, Michigan’s freshwater coast is an extremely affordable travel destination, with a wide range of available accommodations and price points.

From luxurious beach-front rentals to wooded cabins, chain hotels and independently operated cottages and inns, there really is an option for all budgets.

For beach lovers, a visit to Michigan’s freshwater coast really IS an experience not-to-be missed.

Michigan Travel and Beach Map

Use the Michigan Beach Map and start planning your perfect Michigan beach vacation now.

The interactive Michigan Beach Map will help you explore Michigan beaches and guide you as you plan your Michigan beach vacation. Use the Beach Finder to explore Michigan beach towns and find the best beach to visit.

Are there ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Michigan?

Many local municipalities have taken a proactive approach to ensure that access to the shoreline is available to everyone. In fact, some Michigan State Parks and local along both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron even provide free access to a beach wheelchair and mobility mats to help navigation across the sand.

Can I bring my dog to a public beach in Michigan?

There is no doubt that dog-lovers abound in Michigan. Many beach towns set water bowls along their sidewalks to offer dogs a chance to drink and stay hydrated. Some shops and retail outlets in Michigan beach towns even allow you to bring your dog inside and may offer Fido a treat.
While many Michigan beaches are dog-friendly, some are not. It is important to know which beaches welcome your pet when planning your Michigan beach trip. The Michigan Beach Map includes information on dog-friendly beaches.