Explore Silver Beach County Park: A Best Michigan Beach
Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph is one of the top beaches on Lake Michigan.
Consistently found on every list of “best lakeside beaches,” Lake Michigan beaches are known for their sparkling clear water, clean beaches, and views that seem photoshopped. Silver Beach is no different: wide, clean beaches; strikingly blue water and some of the best views in southwest Michigan.
St. Joseph is one of the top summer destinations for out-of-towners and Michiganders alike, and with good reason.
Thousands of visitors are drawn here each year to take in the sweeping coastline of soft white sand as it meets the sparkling blue Lake Michigan. The panoramic view is so mesmerizing, you won’t want to look away.
Read on to discover more about Silver Beach and start planning your perfect Michigan beach day now!
Silver Beach: Must-Visit Summer Destination
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.
Although Silver Beach is a popular vacation spot, it doesn’t get as crowded as you’d think. 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.
Designated Swimming Beach
Silver Beach also has a large portion of the beach designated just for swimming, so kayakers and swimmers have plenty of room for their own activities, plus many more amenities that we will explain below.
PRO-TIP: Swimming is more than fun, it’ s also one of the best all around exercises, health experts say!
About Silver Beach
Silver Beach became a county park in the 1990s, when Berrien County began to renovate parts of the beach to turn it into the “Riviera of the Midwest” that it is today.
The St. Joseph River flows into Lake Michigan on the north end of the beach, the two bodies of water are connected by the South Pier where you can walk to the end of the pier for a 360-degree view of this premier tourist destination.
The North Pier, on the other side of the river, is an iconic photo opportunity identifiable with its raised catwalk that connects the start of the pier to the very end where the famous lighthouse sits. The seats from these piers are the only spots that rival the sunset views on Silver Beach.
Nearby Silver Beach, you can find all kinds of worthwhile sites in St. Joseph. Check out our Ultimate Travel Guide to St. Joseph to find out all of the things this idyllic resort town has to offer.
Why Visit Silver Beach
Although there are plenty of west Michigan beaches that are vacation worthy destinations, Silver Beach in St. Joseph should be at the top of your list.
The small town feel of St. Joe gives you and your family that lackadaisical, relaxed vibe – while the upscale boutiques and yacht clubs give your vacation a classy and elegant feeling. Who doesn’t want to feel elegant and relaxed at the same time? Only St. Joe can give you this unique experience.
What to Expect When You Visit Silver Beach
Parking At Silver Beach
The unique experience starts before you even get to the beach: how will you get there?
Silver Beach and the Lake Michigan shoreline sit below a high bluff in downtown St. Joseph.
Although there is parking by the beach, I always prefer to park up on the bluff, by the shops in downtown St. Joseph, so I can get the full view of Silver Beach starting up on Lake Boulevard.
Here you can overlook the historic Silver Beach carousel, the Children’s Museum, the fountain, and, of course, the Dune Pavilion and Silver Beach itself.
Trust me, these views really can’t be beat.
From the bluff, you can walk down the stairs. If any family members are a bit wobbly on their feet, then beach parking might be a better option. Silver Beach has wide, paved paths and offers great ADA accessibility to Lake Michigan, too.
Things to Do at Silver Beach
You’ll pass the famous Silver Beach Pizza, which has been voted “Best Pizza in Southwest Michigan.” This pizza spot is actually in a renovated train station, now an Amtrak station, which makes it as historical as it is tasty.
As you make your way toward the beach, you’ll pass the Silver Beach Carousel on your right as well as the Curious Kids Museum. Both of these attractions are a great way to start the day with your family, but if you can’t bear to go inside on a gorgeous summer afternoon then you can always take the kids to the fountain.
The fountain, on your left on the way toward the beach, could also be labeled as a splash pad – seriously, I’ve never seen the fountain without also seeing a bunch of kids having a great time.
I prefer to lay out or play volleyball while I’m at Silver Beach, but there’s also a playground for the kids, or some excellent fishing spots along the pier – both lakeside and riverside.
More to Do at Silver Beach
Along with the beach volleyball courts and fishing spots already mentioned, Silver Beach also has a fully stocked concession stand, clean bathrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, grills, and barrier free walkways.
Unfortunately, our furry friends aren’t allowed on the sand (adding to the cleanliness of the beach), but dogs are allowed elsewhere in the park as long as they are leashed.
PRO-TIP: Families with toddlers have access to a smaller playground that is perfect for children who want a playground without getting overwhelmed by the bigger kids.
So, now that you’ve made it to the beach, you can pick your spot and settle in for a day in the sun. The beach is the cleanest in West Michigan and is always in pristine condition
Like I said, there’s a designated swimming spot at Silver Beach, 1600 ft to be exact. This is one of the many things that make Silver Beach such a coveted destination for folks. Whether you want to try kitesurfing for the first time or just toss a frisbee while swimming, there’s plenty of room for you to enjoy yourself without being in anyone’s way or vice versa.
Fourth of July at Silver Beach
If you find yourself in the area over the Fourth of July, the Dunes Pavilion has some incredible fireworks shows that are a guaranteed memorable night. Throughout the summer you’ll find bridal photos being taken on the pier as well as the Dunes Pavilion, with most of those brides celebrating at the highly sought-after wedding venue: Shadowland Ballroom.
PRO-TIP: If you or someone you know are looking for a wedding venue, Shadowland Ballroom is a coveted locale. You can get your wedding photos taken on the carousel or the beach – or both!
More Things to Do At Silver Beach
Explore Downtown St Joseph
When you’ve had enough sun or if you’re ready for dinner, downtown St. Joe serves as a perfect end to a perfect day. My personal favorite shop downtown is of course Kilwin’s – the best chocolate and sweet shop in all of west Michigan. There are many boutiques along State Street to peruse about and find some hidden gems.
My go-to shop is Third Coast Surf Shop, but the other shops have so much to offer it’s hard to pick a favorite. If you are looking for a restaurant, then RyeBells Restaurant and Bar should be at the top of your list. You can sit up on the deck and overlook the beach while listening to live music.
As stated, the unique small town feeling mixed with an elegant feeling in St. Joseph is a great atmosphere that you should experience as fully as you can.
Plan Your Silver Beach Vacation
Out of all of the beaches in Michigan, Silver Beach in St. Joseph is one that I will come back to over and over again every summer. The iconic lighthouse and piers, the breathtaking views, and unforgettable sunsets put this beach at the top of every “Best of” list. So, go see and do everything Silver Beach has to offer and come back here to leave us a comment about your experience.
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About the Author
Casey Johanson is a senior at Grand Valley State University and is passionate about writing and reading. An avid traveler around Michigan, Casey enjoys gardening and running. Her favorite places are typically the hidden beaches and secret scenic overlooks throughout Michigan that most people don’t know about. She loves trying to find places that people haven’t been before and loves writing about those places even more