West Michigan Beaches: Nine Terriffic Beaches on Lake Michigan
Of all of the reasons to love Michigan, the West Michigan beaches along Lake Michigan are definitely at the top of the list.
While everyone knows that the beaches in Michigan are amazing, and northern Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes get a lot of well-deserved attention, the shores of Lake Michigan in west Michigan are equally beautiful.
You’ll find great beaches for kids, county parks, more than one city beach and more; all perfect spots for a beach getaway.
West Michigan beachtowns and beaches are ready for fun, and come fully equipped with public beaches, hiking trails, scenic views, kayaking, parks, splash pads, and so much more. You’ll never tire of the view of Lake Michigan’s stunning shoreline. It’s a view you can’t get enough of, no matter how many times you travel up and down the lakeshore.
So, whether you’re planning a day trip or a week-long beach vacation, this list will tell you all you need to know about the coolest West Michigan beaches on Lake Michigan, plus some insider tips about hidden treasures along the way.
Read on for our take on nine top West Michigan beaches and scroll to the bottom to find a West Michigan beach near you!
Ludington State Park
8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431
Nestled between a great lake and an inland lake, Ludington State Park Beach is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon or a whole weekend.
The best news? There’s room enough here for everyone to spread out: the sprawling beach has 28 miles of shoreline, as well as volleyball courts and a playground right on the sand. But that’s just one small part of the massive state park Ludington has to offer.
The 20 miles of hiking trails here are some of the best in all of Michigan, and after your hike you can hop in your kayak in Hamlin Lake and mosey down the Big Sable River before paddling into Lake Michigan. Be sure to check out the Lost Lake Boardwalk that is both waterfront and wooded, and the historic site of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, just two miles from the beach.
Finish out the day with a 1-mile loop along the Skyline Trail to watch the sunset at the crest of the sand dunes.
PRO-TIP: Check out our Ultimate Vacation Guide to Ludington for more things to do in this top Michigan beach town.
Silver Lake State Park
9679 W. State Park Rd, Mears, MI 49436
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes come with 3000 acres and 4 miles of shoreline, with a designated beach and swimming area. It’s separate from the dunes area, where you’ll find folks driving their off-road vehicles up and down the rolling hills of sand.
Every Michigander remembers their first time at the dunes, trying to climb up to the ridge as fast as they can without falling. It’s truly a unique experience that everyone should have a chance to see for themselves.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes is one of Michigan’s top travel destinations: from the sparkling Lake Michigan beaches near Little Sable Point lighthouse to vast dunes, this is a Michigan must-visit.
Pere Marquette Park Beach
3510 Channel Ave, Muskegon, MI 49441
Also called the North Pier Side Beach, Muskegon’s Pere Marquette is a gorgeous beach with tons of room for you and your family to spread out and enjoy the day on the lake.
The shallow water stretches out for far longer than most Lake Michigan beaches in the area, and the volleyball courts, fishing piers, and playground guarantee fun for the whole family.
There’s a lot to do here: it’s located next to the Muskegon Navigational Channel and picture-perfect red lighthouse, so you can watch the sailboats and charter fishing boats come in and out of the harbor. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the Lake Express High-Speed Ferry coming or going from Milwaukee.
You can also walk over to the USS Silversides submarine museum, and explore a real WWII submarine and learn more about the heroes that served the U.S. during the war. South of Pere Marquette Beach is Muskegon State Park, another beautiful beach with two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Grand Haven State Park in West Michigan
1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Narrowing down the coolest beach in the Grand Haven area is next to impossible.
Hoffmaster State Park (technically Norton Shores) is a top contender, along with North Beach and the North Ottawa Dunes (which is just up the road), for the number one coolest beach in Grand Haven: Grand Haven State Park.
This beach park is expansive, with volleyball, picnic tables, food trucks, campsites, and even a metal detecting area. Fisherman’s Pier and the historic South Pierhead Outer Lighthouse and easily accessed excursions when you’re on the beach.
This beach is a great place to build a weekend getaway around, especially because the Grand River merges with Spring Lake before leading to Lake Michigan – creating endless attractions for the whole family. The Rosy Mound Natural Area, a personal favorite of mine, is just down the road and has 2 miles of footpaths, boardwalks, and stairs leading to an observation deck that offers some of the best sunset views in all of Michigan.
Check out our Guide to Grand Haven for a more in-depth review of these must-see spots in Grand Haven.
Pro-Tip: There are so many hidden treasures along Lakeshore Ave, so take the opportunity for a leisurely drive from Grand Haven to Macatawa and stop at these beaches along the way: Kirk Park, Olive Shores, Windsnest Park, Kouw Park, and finally Tunnel Park.
Holland State Park / Ottawa Beach
2398 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
The wide, Lake Michigan beach at Holland State Park is only part of the draw to this popular west Michigan travel destination.
With just about every amenity you could want, including concessions, volleyball (and basketball) courts, picnic tables, wide paved paths and a sprawling, ADA-accessible children’s playground, this is a gem of a beach.
Holland State Park is a shining star of the Michigan State Parks system, and with good reason. From the amazing Lake Michigan shoreline, iconic Big Red lighthouse to its excellent ADA-accessibility, this is a top contender for best Michigan beach, too.
It’s more than just a park: you’ll find a popular campground near the Ottawa Beach historic site that was established in 1886; a marina and boardwalk along the Black River that leads out from Holland’s Lake Macatawa; and canoe and kayak access, too.
You’ll also want to be sure and climb the stairs to the top of Mt. Pisgah, which stands over 150 feet, for an amazing photo opportunity. Be sure to walk along the North Pierhead, too, while you’re there to see a different view of the picturesque red lighthouse.
690 Perryman St, Saugatuck, MI 49453
Right on Lake Michigan, Oval Beach sits between the Kalamazoo River, the Oxbow Lagoon, and the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area. It’s a perfect beach escape: the low, sandy bluffs surrounding this beach provide solitude; even when there are others nearby.
Of all of the beaches on the list, this one is possibly the best for those who like to wander. It’s very easy to simply set your things on the beach and walk the short half mile to Mount Baldhead Park where you can climb the stairs and see some unforgettable views, or just walk along the river’s shoreline if you don’t want to tackle that much elevation.
Of course, if you want to wander a bit farther away, you can head north past the South Pierhead to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park – both are worth a visit. Or, drive a bit farther north to Laketown Beach, a very serene, little Lake Michigan beach.
PRO-TIP: Saugatuck is one of the most popular southwest Michigan travel destinations. Plan enough time to explore the cute downtown shopping and social districts. There are many cute resorts and bed and breakfasts here, be sure to use our guide to the best places to stay in Saugatuck.
South Haven’s North Beach & South Beach
North Beach: 45 Lakeshore Dr, South Haven, MI 49090
South Haven: 60 Water St, South Haven MI 49090
South Haven’s wide, sandy Lake Michigan beaches and charming downtown shopping and dining area have made it a top summer vacation destination for beach-lovers across the U.S.
You’ll find many pretty beaches in the area, and two of the best are right in downtown South Haven: North Beach and South Beach.
Separated by the Black River, these two beaches have it all: a picnic area, concessions, playgrounds, and more. If you’re in luck, you can catch a glimpse of the Friends Good Will, a replica 1812 war ship, as it sails out of the channel with passengers bound for a sail on Lake Michigan.
North Beach has volleyball courts and South Beach has the pier leaing to the famous big red lighthouse that we’ve all seen on a postcard as kids. It is a tough competition to find the best photo opportunity in Michigan, but the South Haven Light might be the winner regardless of what season it is.
PRO-TIP: South Haven is a fun family vacation destination; be sure to check out our guide to the best places to stay in South Haven.
101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
With 2450 ft of Lake Michigan shoreline, and over half of that dedicated just for public swimming in the summertime, Silver Beach is a traditionally perfect beach in West Michigan. Set on the coast of St. Joseph, aka the “Midwest Riviera, it’s also one of Michigan’s best beaches.
There’s so much to do here. You’ll find picnic tables, playgrounds, volleyball courts, a huge splash pad, and a pavilion here – plus the historic site of two iconic lighthouses with an elevated catwalk.
You can find bike rentals, paddle board and kayak rentals, too.
St Joseph River is an ideal kayak spot for beginners, but even experienced kayakers will appreciate the views and easy flow of the river. There is also the nearby Lions Park Beach that’s great for families that may prefer land to water but still want a beach experience.
PRO-TIP: Plan some time to explore downtown St. Joseph and the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, too.
Warren Dunes State Park – Sawyer
12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, MI 49125
At the southernmost point of West Michigan Warren Dunes State Park is perhaps the only beach town listed here that is higher than sea level.
It rises 260 ft above the lake, creating a perfect opportunity for hang-gliding and scenic views. The park is nearly 2000 acres full of recreational activities, including some amazing hiking trails that stretch across the dunes and into the shady wooded areas. Last but not least, make sure you get a picture of the Love Tree, an iconic tangle of trees with an exposed root system.
There’s a sweeping Lake Michigan shoreline here that makes it one of the top southwest Michigan travel destinations. The wide, sand beach against the deep blues of the lake are really picturesque, too: you’ll want to have your camera handy.
Nine top beaches in West Michigan include 1. Warren Dunes State Park, 2. Silver Beach in St. Joseph, 3. South Haven’s North Beach and South Beach, 4. Oval Beach in Saugatuck, 5. Holland State Park Beach, 6. Grand Haven Beach, 7. Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, 8. Silver Lake State Park, 9. Ludington State Park beach
Map of West Michigan Beaches
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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.