OT- Michigan Beaches

Submitted by RationalBuckeye on July 23rd, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Michigan experts/natives, please take a moment to help out your friendly rival,

I'm looking for a place to vacation for a week before I go back to school, and was considering a trip to MI. However, I've been to Saugatuck before, and it really didn't impress me. 

Can anyone recommend some beaches along Lake Michigan that you think are especially good for a vacation, so I can do some research? Distance is a bit of a factor, but I live in Akron, so any place along the eastern coast won't be an issue as far as travel.

Of course, I could look on a travel site, but I thought I'd get some views from genuine Michigan-ers, who could no doubt give me more insight. Thanks in advance.



July 23rd, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

Eastern side will be no good. If distance is a factor, Grand Haven is much better than Saugatuck, IMO. Saugatuck is a cool town, not a great beach. GH has a lot of action, nice sandy beach, and lots of restaurants and such to check out.

If you want to go a little further, I think Ludington is one of the best in the state. But most along the West side should do you well, Holland, Muskegon (Hoffmaster), etc.


July 23rd, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

I have to agree with this.  I live a block from Tunnel Park in Holland and walk there multiple times per week in the summer with my family.  Great beach area.  Holland State park is nice as well.  If you come this way, I definitely recommend hiking up the top of Mnt Pisgah just east of the State Park.  Great views from the top.  The downtown area of Holland is also great--good shops and restaurants.  The only drawback of the downtown is that it is not right on the water like Grand Haven.


July 23rd, 2012 at 5:01 PM ^

I'm from Grand Haven and it's a good vacation spot with a great beach but next week is coast guard festival and people flock from everywhere to the city so it's pretty congested. I'm not sure when you're looking to come up but I'd keep that in mind. If you want less people but some pretty nice beaches still I'd head north up the coast. Ludington is up that way and it's pretty nice as well.


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

 Yes, just west of Traverse City is Sleeping Bear dunes, also great to hike.

 One of my favorites is Petoskey, not as well known as Traverse City, but all the charm, sights, and good restaurants, especially if you are talking late Aug/Sept timeframe.


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

The beaches along Lake Michigan tend to be better than those on the east side of the state, and the further north you go, the more scenic it is,. Which I'm sure is the opposite of what you want to hear. Grand Haven is a really nice little town with a lot going on in the summer. Traverse City is awesome if you're willing to make the drive up north.


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

I second Grand Haven. it is beautiful. 

If you're going more north, Ludington is a great area.

Muskegon is near and dear to my heart, Pere Marquette is very nice and the state park on the N. Muskegon side is more of the same but WAY less crowded.

If looking for a family vaca, I'd recommend renting a beach house on Lake Michigan on the North Shore in Grand Haven, I've done it a few times and it is great! If with friends, may I suggest camping either at Muskegon State Park or Ludington State Park (Ludington imo is the best state park in the state)


July 23rd, 2012 at 9:23 PM ^

I would caution renting on North Shore Dr. (assuming thats what you are referring to) because It is about a 15 minute drive to downtown GH depending on where you are on North Shore Drive, and the rental homes there are a bit pricey. More importantly, Tom Izzos summer house is on North Shore Drive (dont ask how I know this) so you might have the unfortunate pleasure of having him as your neighbor.


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

As a Grand Haven native, I highly recomend giving the state park beach in Grand Haven a shot. The whole downtown area and the beach itself are tourist friendly and there is alot to do. FWIW its listed on the Pure Michigan website for beaches: http://www.michigan.org/things-to-do/outdoors/beaches/default.aspx  and beachtowns: http://www.michigan.org/Partners/BeachTowns/Default.aspx?link=feat To give you an idea of distance its about 40 minutes north of saugatuck . If you decide on going, DO NOT go on the first week of August, as Coast Gaurd Festival will be taking place. The beach is always beyond packed that week. picture? picture:


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

Avoid the ones too far south (Saugatuck, South Haven) - they tend to be overrun by Chicagoans and can be extremely crowded.  

Grand Haven is nice.  Some of the state parks nearby (Pere Marquette, Hoffmaster) have great beaches and aren't too crowded.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is gorgeous - although it can involve a lot of hiking.



July 23rd, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

The NW corner of the lower peninsula offer some beautiful beaches.  Traverse City and Petoskey are great places to try, and both offer a little more than just a beach.  If you want to stay a little father south, I would shoot for Ludington or Grand Haven... with the edge going to Ludington due to its smaller crowds.  Holland has a decent beach too, but it doesn't offer much else.  Avoid Muskegon, and anything south of Grand Haven. 

EDIT:  Give Manistee a shot.  Not as well known as Ludington and Traverse City, bit it's a nice town in a scenic area.  So basically go to the water, head north until you pass Muskegon, and stop somewhere.  Can't go wrong. 

EDIT TO THE EDIT:  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Really glad I could help narrow your search to approximately 200 miles of lakeshore. 


July 23rd, 2012 at 1:51 PM ^

Anything on Lake Michigan is going to be superb. Lake Huron is pretty rocky (like, lots and lots of really big rocks, for like no reason), and Lake Superior is pretty cold, most of the time.

I like South Haven, Holland, and Grand Haven beaches the most, though Luddington is also really nice.


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:19 PM ^

The exception to Huron's rockiness is the inner tip of the thumb on Saginaw Bay from about Caseville to Port Austin, which has very nice sandy beaches and sand bars that extend far into the lake (300-400 yards) and is therefore very nice for those with young kids. It's substantially warmer than Lake Michigan because it's so shallow and the kids can play in the water without much parental worry. Not a lot else to do there other than hanging out on the beach, but the beaches are very good. Mostly cottage rentals with a couple state parks (Sleepers and Port Crescent).

The team the t…

July 23rd, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

I grew up spending my summers near Traverse City.  There are some amazing places, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Petoskey, Charlevoix, et al....But I recently took a trip from Minneapolis to New Hampshire.  Our family stopped in Benton Harbor and we were really impressed with the beaches there.  The sand was very fine and the water was warm!    The entire Lake Michigan coast is fantastic!


Louie C

July 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

I'm from there and most of my family resides there. They do have some nice beaches there, especially on the St. Joe side. I took the wife and kids down there just last month, and she fell in love with the scenery. Hell, you can even stroll one of the neighborhoods and ogle the waterfront property too.  I like that area because it is more low key than the other locations. I just wish BH and St. Joe could put that racist  and economical shit behind them and realize that they are located in one gem of an area.

Gorgeous Borges

July 23rd, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

Traverse City or bust. The food, wine and beaches are unmatched. The best beaches are North Bar, Empire Beach, Van's Beach in Leland, and Good Harbor Bay beach.


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

Manistee has a real small-town feel to it.  The beaches are tremendous and there is quite a bit to do.  If you like your town a bit bigger, then Petoskey and Harbor Springs is another alternative (winter sports here can't be beaten either).


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Northwest Michigan/Traverse City area is a bit further for you to travel, but well worth it. Unbeatable in my opinion. Incredible beaches, great restaurants, etc. It's great even into September as well.


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

I will definitely second (or third) the Traverse City suggestion because you can hit up the vineyards and eat as well as sun, but Petoskey Beach is great as well and it is not too far from Traverse City (of course, "not too far" is a relative thing in northern Michigan).

I actually enjoy the beaches inside Muskegon State Park as well, so if you do go to Grand Haven, definitely check them out. They are pretty wide and you can typically find a place that is not terribly crowded.


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 PM ^

The St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area has many many beaches to offer.  Some are lush with tourists, but here are two that are pretty vacant and very beautiful:

Jean Clock Park Beach

Grande Mere Beach

Tiscornia Beach


July 23rd, 2012 at 4:01 PM ^

Down further from there are some nice smaller beaches in Harbert, Union Pier and New Buffalo. Not a lot of tourists, just really clean water. Up the road in Sawyer is Warren Dunes State Park, with some great dunes, a beach, and a freaky mud pit a little in off the beach. In New Buffalo, which is right on the Michigan Indiana border, is Redamak's - they have great burgers, and a good vibe. 


July 23rd, 2012 at 5:25 PM ^

It really is beautiful!  They fixed it up even more, and it is right on the edge of the semi-famous (at least around these parts) Harbor Shores Golf course.  Designed by Jack Nicholas and home to a recent Senior PGA tournament.  Quite a lavish and interesting course, if one can afford it.   Have managed to shake Jack's and Arnold Palmers hand there though!

rob f

July 23rd, 2012 at 5:58 PM ^

I'm surprised none of the three of you got it right, as much as Jean Klock Park has been in the local news over the last few years.

The park has a really beautiful beach now, especially when one compares it to the filthy, litter-and broken glass-strewn mess it was prior to it being cleaned up as part of the deal to bring the Harbor Shores Golf Course and the surrounding development to reality.  Jack Nicklaus is the greatest Buckeye I've ever met, and the only one I will likely never speak badly of---if it hadn't been for his "vision", Jean Klock Park and surroundings would still be a dump.

magnus_caerulus (not verified)

July 23rd, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

Since I live there and all! 

Stay at the Boulevard hotel on the bluff, and drive up and down Red Hwy for some decent grub from St Joe to New Buffalo. If you get tried of the beach after a few days, you are still close enough to get to the train and head into Chi-town.  


July 23rd, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

I live in holland and haven't been to the beach in years..  if that says anything.. But i spend a lot of time at our local marina.  There are a lot of free public beaches that are less crowded and much nicer on the lakeshore though.


Grand Haven has the coastgaurd fest going on July 27- Aug 5, so if you end up wanting to go to GH prepare for it to be extremely busy and even worse is the traffic.  But there is a ton going on if you get a hotel the bars are all pretty packed during this time and get really packed the last couple days of Coast Guard.  Everything is within walking distance around GH as well which is nice.  My friends own the brew pub down there and they have some tasty beers


They some beer tents and live music the last couple nights as well.

Feat of Clay

July 23rd, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

I just went to Kirk Park beach in June for the first time.  There was a crappy backup getting in, but it was mainly because people were buying their season passes (it was the first really great beach day of the summer) and that took a long time.   i assume they handle traffic better on normal days.  Nice beach!