OT: Michigan family-friendly beaches

Submitted by Jinjooappa on July 23rd, 2015 at 6:27 AM

My 5.5 year old daughter is disappointed that we aren't going to the beach this year. We'll be in Ann Arbor for a bit touring the old stomping grounds. What is the best beach destination, from Ann Arbor, for a family of 5 including said daughter and 2 toddler boys? 

I'm looking for:

  • Monday and Tuesday stay leaving Tuesday afternoon
  • Nice(ish) hotel
  • Proximity. The boys hate being in the car so the beautiful beach areas north of probably Ludington are too far
  • Accesible for families with little kids (youngest is a little over a year)

Travel will be at the beginning of August. TIA for any recommendations.




July 23rd, 2015 at 6:38 AM ^

Are along the Lake Michigan shoreline, which is probably a bit too far from A2 if your boys aren't up for a drive. For a 5.5 year old, the details of the lake probably matter less than it does to an adult or teen. For that reason, I would probably pick Ohio's Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie. There is a fairly nice hotel inside the park itself, the beach is clean, and there is an excellent golf course as well.

Kidding aside about being careful leaving a cooler unattended, it is probably a very good option considering what you're looking for and the constraints.


July 23rd, 2015 at 6:39 AM ^

My kids always liked Independence Lake, which is about 20-25 min northwest of A2. It is part of the Washtenaw County park system. There is a beach area with a life guard and a separate splash park area with water slides. It's not the nice west Michigan sand, but it's sand and there is a nice shallow swimming area. There is a picnic area that is shaded as well. I think there are beaches at the Brighton State Recreation Area, which is slightly farther north and part of the State Park system.


July 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 AM ^

I forgot about Kensington Metropark, which is right off the 23/96 interchange, so about 25 minutes north of A2. There are beaches, boat rentals and a farm center, but no life guards. I have only been there for non swimming activities, but it is nice. We really went to Independence Lake for beach time, when we needed a quick local beach day.

rob f

July 23rd, 2015 at 7:06 AM ^

is not too far, head west on 1-94 to Southwest Michigan. There are several family-friendly beaches along the stretch between South Haven and New Buffalo on Lake Michigan. If you're looking for quieter beaches, Lion's Park (1/2 mile south of the South Pier and Silver Beach) and Tiscornia Beach (next to the North Pier) are better choices for little ones in the St Joseph area than Silver Beach (which tends to be packed during the summer). And Benton Harbor has Jean Klock Park just a mile north of the piers; it underwent a huge face-lift about 5 years ago as part of the Harbor Shores Golf Club project and is a real jewel of a beach now.

Hagar Park Beach is a very quiet beach another 7 or 8 miles to the north of St. Joe. Not near any hotels at all but otherwise nice.

In the South Haven area, you can't go wrong with either North or South Beach. Neither is quite as hectic as Silver Beach in St. Joe. Also Van Buren State Park about 3 miles south of South Haven is rather nice and is one of the quieter of the State Park beaches.

I think all I listed have playground equipment, too, if that's important to the family.


July 23rd, 2015 at 7:22 AM ^

I used to complain about 3 hours in the car.....until I stepped out into a kid's paradise and learned the best things are sometimes worth the trip.
Teach them a life lesson and drive to the west coast.

Gentleman Squirrels

July 23rd, 2015 at 7:24 AM ^

Warren Dunes has an excellent beach along Lake Michigan and there's a really great town called St Joseph about 25 minutes up that you can stay at. Actually St Joseph also has a pretty cool beach so you could try that as well.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


July 23rd, 2015 at 7:54 AM ^

Any town south if Ludington (except maybe Muskegon) is going to be a nice visit and have everything you're looking for. Don't expect to drive for less than 2 hours though.


July 23rd, 2015 at 8:08 AM ^

I love how some American parents take their children's preferences into account. My African parents wouldn't have cared if we liked being in the car lol.


July 23rd, 2015 at 11:24 AM ^

I grew up in Rosebush, a few miles north of Mt. Pleasant, and vividly remember driving to Shepherd with my mom when I was a little kid to visit a friend of hers that had just moved back to Michigan from Alaska and the 15 minute trip seemed so long to me that I thought we had driven to Alaska. Time is different for kids.

might and main

July 23rd, 2015 at 1:31 PM ^

I pass the signs to Rosebush on both 10 and 127 often on trips to/from up north.  Don't know why, but it always catches my eye and leads to "hmmm, Rosebush, I wonder what that place is like."  Good to see an MGoBlogger from Rosebush.  Now everytime I pass it I'll think, "hey, LongLiveBo is from Rosebush."


July 23rd, 2015 at 8:45 AM ^

.. is what I had whenever she got to play/swim at Veterans Park Pool on Ann Arbor's westside:

Decent waterslide, shallow water pools with with play fountains for toddlers, separate swimming lanes, separate deep well, many lifeguards, lots of kids and families.. It's certainly not the beach, but its no drive, either. Kids love the place. Great public pool.

Also, check out the Tony Hawk design skateboard park, just a walk down the hill from the pool and to the NW. You and your kids will love it all.

Enjoy your return to a2!


July 23rd, 2015 at 9:02 AM ^

The further you go, the better it's going to be.  There are a few options that are just a hop away  from Ann Arbor (Waterloo in Chelsea, Island lake in Brighton, and I'm sure there are more), but they pale in comparison to sucking it up for a taking a longer drive to better destination.  Besides the obvious options up north, South Haven is no brains winner option for ya.  

However, if you don't mind leaving Michigan and going to (friggin') Ohio, the Port Clinton and Sandusky area has a ton of very nice beaches and no shortage of nice resorts and hotels.  It's a very kid friendly area for obvious reasons too.

Heck, your kid might even think just staying at the hotel and waterpark down by Cabelas in Dundee is the greatest thing in the world and forget all about going to a beach.

M go Bru

July 23rd, 2015 at 9:13 AM ^

Portage Lake, Waterloo Recreation area. There is both a state and a county park on the lake. I'd check out the county park first. The state park has a campground and may be more crowded. West of AA, NE of Jackson. Can't remember which of the two parks I  once visited though, but it was nice.

Island Lake State Park, Kent Lake, (Kensington iMetro Park is on the east side of the lake) Far less developed and crowded than Kensington.


July 23rd, 2015 at 9:03 AM ^

If proximity is a constrain, then like a few have mentioned, Indpendence Lake is a good bet and it has a small water park adjoining now if I am not mistaken, so there is that. If you want to go a bit farther up the road, there's Kensington Metropark - it has a pool near the beach if you're wanting to contain the kids a bit too. Not far from there is Camp Dearborn, which has a public-access beach despite being a privately-owned facility - it's $6 for non-resident parking though. 


July 23rd, 2015 at 9:58 AM ^

Both Kensington and Camp Dearborn are near Milford which is a cool litle town with a variety or restaurants including the kid friendly and ubiquitous Leo's Coney Island. 

About an hour from Ann Arbor. If you go take the scenic route of Pontiac Trail to Milford Rd which takes you through South Lyon and a bit more greenery.


July 23rd, 2015 at 11:48 AM ^

No, there is NO pool in Kensington metropark.  There is a small splash pad (sprinkler) and two good sized water slides adjacent to the beach area.

Still lots to do in the park.  Frisbee golf, farm, Nature Center, boat rental, swim , etc.

St. Clair Metropark (Metro beach) does have a pool.


I'm in Brighton, so I'd say the Brighton rec area is a "meh" at best.


If the weather is perfect, and you have at least a whole day, I'd vote for a long drive to the southern west coast to find some Lake M sand.  
But having 3 kids myself, almost ANY water can be a pretty fun time for kids, so I'd only look within an hour's drive or so.


July 23rd, 2015 at 9:13 AM ^

Caseville is more family friendly than South Haven. Less riff raff, college students and traffic. However, that means also less hotels, restaurants and entertainment. 


July 23rd, 2015 at 9:35 AM ^

If you drive fast, you can get there in 2 hrs 15 min. The beach is great and you can go watch the boats go through the harbor.  Just make sure you get there early, caus the park fills up by 9:30-10.  There are also a lot of small beaches in Holland, like Tunnel Park, that are nice as well.  Hollands downtown is nice as well.

Lake Michigan is colder this year than it usually is.  I'll be heading there this weekend, so will know more, but just be aware of that.