It’s Beach Season, Southwest Michigan
SW Michiganders are spoiled. In about an hour, we can be on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. And in even less time, our favorite summer activity of hitting the beach becomes a reality on one of our many inland lakes.
Whether you’re looking for the vast shoreline of Silver Beach or the local, lifeguarded swim at Ramona Park, we have ALL of the sandy bases covered in this guide.
Read on for the best beaches on Lake Michigan, plus inland options in Kalamazoo and surrounding areas.
In this Article
Lake Michigan Beaches
We may be biased, but we happen to think Lake Michigan is the best of the Great Lakes.
With its seemingly endless shoreline, there are oodles of beaches to explore along the west side of the Mitten.
SAFETY ALERT: Water currents in the lake can pull even strong swimmers under. People of all ages drown in Lake Michigan every year. Wear life jackets while swimming and learn how rip currents work.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Southwest
Rocky Gap County Park, Benton Township
1100 Rocky Gap Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Overlooking Lake Michigan from a bluff in Benton Township, Rocky Gap County Park provides a wonderful place to enjoy the expansive shoreline.
The lower park has a sandy beach and the upper park has an overlook platform with spectacular views of the lake. Note: No lifeguards on duty at this park. Free beach.
Hagar Park Beach, Hagar Township
5440 M-63, Coloma, Michigan 49038
Follow the wooden walkway and descend the stairs to the beach. Kids can play on the playground, and there’s plenty of shade in the picnic area. Note: Port-a-johns only at this beach. Free beach.
Roadside Park Beach, Hagar Township
6930 Bluestar Highway, Coloma, Michigan 49038
Located on Blue Star Highway just south of Van Buren County line. This beach park is a natural dune park that offers a roadside gravel parking lot. Note: Port-a-johns only at this beach. Free beach.
North and South Beach, South Haven
North Beach: 45 Lakeshore Dr, South Haven, MI 49090
South Beach: 60 Water St, South Haven, MI 49090
Plenty of parking, concessions, play equipment, and restrooms make it an easy choice for families at two of the best beaches on Lake Michigan for kids in South Haven.
Walk along the pier to the lighthouse on South Beach for breathtaking views.
Van Buren State Beach & Dunes, South Haven
23960 Ruggles Rd, South Haven, MI 49090
The focal point of Van Buren State Park is its high dune formations and one mile of sandy beach. The beach has modern restroom buildings and a picnic shelter area. Note: the beach is a bit of a walk from the parking lot.
Silver Beach, St. Joseph
101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Silver Beach features a clean, wide beach on Lake Michigan and public access to the South Pier. Lifeguards, playground structures, concessions, and big restrooms are all a plus. Walk to the nearby Silver Beach Carousel and splash pad.
This is hands-down, one of the best beaches for kids in Michigan. If the weather turns, try the local kids’ museum; St. Joe offers much more than its beautiful beaches.
Grand Mere State Park, Stevensville
7337 Thornton Dr, Stevensville, MI 49127
Grand Mere has over one mile of coastline for sunbathing and swimming. Grand Mere has acres of wetlands, woods, sand dunes, and beach. The beach has very little in the way of amenities. Dogs on a leash are allowed within the beach and swimming area.
Deerlick Creek Beach, South Haven
76773 13th Ave, South Haven, MI 49090
Free parking and it is the perfect beach for our furry dog friends who like to take a swim. They have a portable bathroom. Free beach.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Saugatuck
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
A perfect destination for families looking for a more rustic and secluded beach. You will need to hike at least 0.6 miles over a sandy trail to reach the beach.
The beach has two-and-a-half miles of shoreline including dunes over 200 feet tall. The facilities are limited to a picnic shelter, tables, and portable toilets.
690 Perryman St, Saugatuck, MI 49453
One of the best beaches on Lake Michigan, Oval Beach is perfect for families with kids of all ages. This toddler-friendly beach has bathrooms nearby and stairs that make it easy to lug all your beach equipment to and from the parking lot.
Oval Beach offers concessions, modern bathroom facilities with showers, lifeguards, a swing set area and picnic tables. Parking is right next to the beach so it’s easy in and out.
Pier Cove Beach
2290 Lakeshore Dr, Fennville, MI 49408
Expect limited parking at this free beach and there are no bathrooms. On the plus side, limited parking means limited crowds. Parents also love the shallow waters created by a small cove at this beach, perfect for little ones to play safely.
This little beach has a shallow creek for wading and smooth stones for skipping. Be wary on the stairs, though, as poison ivy has been spotted frequently along here.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Grand Haven
Grand Haven has two of the best beaches on Lake Michigan and is a very popular destination.
Not only does it have loads of perfectly wonderful sandy shoreline, but you can also walk the 1.5-mile boardwalk starting at cute shops downtown all the way to the Grand Haven pier and its iconic red lighthouse. Along the walk, you’ll pass restaurants, food vendors (hello Pronto Pups!), marinas, charter fishing boats, and parks.
Grand Haven City Beach
S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Parents love the location of Grand Haven City Beach and its proximity to restaurants and the other perks of Grand Haven. There is limited free parking at this beach. Because of its popularity, it’s often quite busy on the weekends.
Grand Haven State Park
1001 Harbor Avenue, Grand Haven MI, 49417
This beach is a favorite for many families. The state parks facilities include bathrooms, beach house, playground, picnic areas, food concessions, and 48 acres of fun! Why is this one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan?
The huge sandy beach, the pier and lighthouse, fun along the boardwalk, and a cute downtown all go into the mix. Wondering what to expect? Check their real-time weather conditions before you head out.
North Beach Park
18775 N Shore Dr, Ferrysburg, MI 49409
One of the best beaches for kids and a favorite of locals since it’s less crowded than the state park, North Beach Park features a dune deck with scenic lake views. The beach is a just-right size. Position yourself correctly and you can walk to get to the lake and have the playground visible from where you’re sitting on the beach.
Rosy Mound Natural Area
13925 Lakeshore Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
This is a great adventure for families with older kids who can handle a hike! Prepare for a 0.7 mile hiking trail from the parking area to the Lake Michigan shoreline that includes 1,000 feet of stairs up and down the dunes. This beach does offer restrooms, picnic areas, and grills near the parking area.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Holland
Holland State Park
2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
With ramps from the parking lot to the shoreline, it’s perfect for strollers and wagons. This is a popular beach with facilities that include restrooms, beach house, food concessions, picnic areas, playground, sand volleyball courts, and boat launch.
66 N. Lakeshore Ave, Holland, MI 49424
Another one of the best beaches in Michigan for kids, this family favorite has a unique tunnel through a dune, a playground complete with a dune climb, and dune stairway with scenic views of Lake Michigan. Expect to find bathrooms, picnic shelters, grills, playground, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and vending machines at this beach.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Muskegon
Duck Lake State Park
3560 Memorial Dr, Muskegon, MI 49445
Perfect for families with kids of all ages, this day-use park includes a picnic area, beach house, and boat launch.
3205 W Sherman Blvd, Muskegon, MI 49441
This beach includes four picnic shelters and an accessible ramp to the beach and into the dunes. It also has a specific area for the family dog to enjoy the beach so even the fur babies can get in on the fun!
Muskegon State Park
3560 Memorial Dr, North Muskegon, MI 49445
This beach has two miles of shoreline to explore. Expect to find restrooms, a beach house, a picnic area, a playground, and a boat launch. This Lake Michigan beach is breathtakingly beautiful and well worth the drive.
Pioneer County Park
1563 N Scenic Dr, Muskegon, MI 49445
Also a popular camping location, Pioneer Park has over 2,000 feet of shoreline and deck overlooks. There is also a lodge available to rent for group gatherings.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441
With three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, several hiking trails, and Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center, this beach is a nature lover’s dream. You will also find bathrooms/bathhouse, plenty of parking, and an observation deck at this beach.
It is also connected to a family-friendly campground so you can make a long weekend exploring.
Pere Marquette Beach
3510 Channel Dr, Muskegon, MI 49441
A popular beach that is worth the drive. The beach includes a 200-foot handicap-accessible walkway on the beach making traveling through the sand easier on all.
The beach facilities also include a snack bar, beach house, restrooms, playground, picnic area, and sand volleyball courts. We consider this one of the best beaches in Michigan for its beauty and because it is often less busy than some of the neighboring big beaches in Holland or Grand Haven.
Lake Harbor Beach
4635 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441
This beach offers variety with access to Lake Michigan, Mona Lake Channel, and Mona Lake. Families can access this park by foot, bike, car or boat.
Lake Michigan Beaches: Northern MI
Charles Mears State Park
400 W Lowell St, Pentwater, MI 49449
Worth every minute of the drive, this beach is located near the quaint town of Pentwater and includes beach house, bathrooms, playground, picnic area, a wide pier, lighthouse, and a dune that is fondly referred to as “Old Baldy” by the locals.
Ludington State Park
8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431
Among the best beaches in Michigan, Ludington State Park offers scenic vistas of sand dunes and mile upon mile of shoreline. With calm waters, playground, picnic shelter, restrooms, and concessions, it’s also one of the best beaches for kids.
Stearns Park Beach
420 N Lakeshore Dr, Ludington, MI 49431
Also known as Ludington City Beach, the city‘s largest beach offers free parking and Wi-fi. The lighthouse is a popular spot, with a surrounding area ripe for exploration.
Empire Beach Village Park
10484 Niagara St, Empire, MI 49630
Empire Beach, with its big playground right on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, makes this a great place to stop and play, swim, and picnic. There is a small fee for parking.
Platte Point Beach
Lake Michigan Rd, Honor, MI 49640
This beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is where the Platte River meets Lake Michigan. This beach is a favorite – you can swim in the river if Lake Michigan is too cold or windy.
The beach is sandy in many places and rocky in others. Multiple parking lots here confuse visitors – if you’re in a National Park lot, you will need your vehicle pass. If you’re in the Lake Township Park parking lot (where the canoes get picked up) then you need to pay the daily parking fee.
Petoskey State Park
2475 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770
Petoskey State Park is where many people go to look for Petoskey stones. Finding a treasure here is hard for that reason – but it’s not impossible. Get up early, look at the wet stones, and especially go after a storm has tossed the beach.
If you’re just looking for a great place to spend your beach day, this is also a good choice. An expansive sandy beach for laying out is what you’ll find here. Restrooms are modern but older.
Traverse City State Park
1132 US-31, Traverse City, MI 49686
The beach at Traverse City State Park is long and sandy and is located on the East arm of Grand Traverse Bay. There’s a small playground right on the beach, as well as older modern restrooms.
If you’re camping at the state park you access the beach by a pedestrian overpass. There’s not a lot of shade here. If you’re interested in food, pack a picnic or visit one of the many nearby restaurants – this park is located in a busy tourist section of town.
Clinch Park, Traverse City
111 E Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI, 49684
Clinch Park is located just across the street from Downtown Traverse City. SUP rentals, concessions, and a splash pad make this a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. The sandy beach is buffered by green grass and a line of shade trees.
The water is calmer here than at other Lake Michigan beaches because this beach is on West Grand Traverse Bay, buffered to the north by Old Mission Peninsula and to the south by Leelanau Peninsula.
Elk Rapids Memorial Park
920 S Bay Shore Dr, Elk Rapids, MI 49629
Memorial Park in Elk Rapids is special because it’s where the Elk River meets Lake Michigan. Swim down the river to meet the lake. Choose a spot on the sandy beach or along the river, where kids play for hours.
The park has a nice beachside playground and modern restrooms. Walk down the main street to get ice cream, a slice of pizza, or pop your head into the cute local shops.
Michigan Beach Park – Charlevoix
95 N Grant St, Charlevoix, MI 49720
Michigan Beach Park in Charlevoix is a splendid Lake Michigan beach. It’s sandy and large and is home to a lovely lighthouse. Just steps away is the downtown neighborhood sporting the Mushroom Houses that so many come to look at.
Walk the channel to get to downtown, where you’ll find ice cream and restaurants. Across the street, the harbor park and splash pad make a fun stop.
Lake Michigan Beaches: West Olive
9791 Lakeshore Drive N West Olive, MI 49460
With 68 acres of sandy beach, this park has bathrooms, a playground, picnic area (including grills), and plenty of dunes to run down.
Can’t make it out to the lakeshore? These inland beaches are another fun way to explore the best lakes in Michigan with your family.
Michigan Beaches: Kalamazoo County
Tip: Kalamazoo County Parks require a daily entrance fee or annual pass to enter. See their fees and park rules.
Ramona Park, Portage
8600 S Sprinkle Road, Portage, MI 49002
Many Kalamazoo area residents consider this one of the best lakes in Michigan for families. Ramona Park sports a fully-staffed and lifeguarded beach, concessions, and the park has plenty of room for picnicking.
You can rent out kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.
Note: water toys are not permitted during beach operating season. All flotation devices must be coast guard approved (puddle jumpers or lifejackets only).
Admission: Free to Portage residents. Non-Portage residents: $10/day during beach season (Memorial Day – Labor Day)
Markin Glen County Park, Kalamazoo
5300 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49004
Markin Glen has a small and beautiful sandy beach with shallow water, perfect for younger ones.
No concessions are available, but there are picnic shelters perfect for a family picnic that overlook the lake. Markin Glen is also a popular camping spot with nearly 40 modern campsites available.
Admission: Kalamazoo County park fee
Prairie View County Park, Vicksburg
899 E U Ave, Vicksburg, MI 49097
Prairie View is less crowded than the other beaches. Kids run down a hill to the lake at the bottom, and there’s plenty of shade to hide from the sun.
Shallow water makes this one of the best beaches for kids. The restrooms are at the top of the hill from the lake, as well as a slide and a few swings. Prairie View is also a favorite for canine family members, as it also offers a large dog park.
Admission: Kalamazoo County park fee
Ross Township Park, Hickory Corners
Gull Lake Dr E, Hickory Corners, MI 49060
If you’re looking for a nice lake to swim, but don’t mind a smaller beachfront, Ross Township Park is for you. There’s no lifeguard or concessions. Kids have tons of space to run around post-swimming.
Admission: $15/day for Non-Ross Township residents
Fort Custer Recreation Area, Augusta
5163 Fort Custer Dr, Augusta, MI 49012
Visit Eagle Lake for the beautiful sandy beach and the swimming. This beach has a beach house with changing rooms and canoe rentals.
Fort Custer boasts multiple best lakes in Michigan, having three on their property in addition to the Kalamazoo River.
Admission: Fort Custer is a state park and therefore requires a recreation passport to visit.
Michigan Beaches: Allegan County
Gun Lake Park, Allegan County
2397 Patterson Rd, Wayland, MI 49348
Gun Lake County Park is located on the west shore of beautiful Gun Lake. A sandy beach, a grassy picnic area, easy to access modern restrooms, basketball courts, and a playground are amenities at this county park.
Michigan Beaches: Calhoun County
Willard Beach Park, Battle Creek
50 George B Place, Battle Creek, MI 49015
Willard Beach is Battle Creek’s only property with public lake access. Families can swim in scenic Goguac Lake, or build sandcastles on the groomed beach.
After swimming, enjoy a picnic under the pavilion, explore the playground, or take in a game of volleyball. Restrooms are easy to access, and concessions are available during the beach operating season.
Admission: $2/person, $5/car (3 or more people inside the car)
Michigan Beaches: Ionia County
Ionia State Recreation Area
2880 West David Highway, Ionia MI, 48846
Visit the beaches of Sessions Lake in the heart of the Ionia State Recreation Area and be sure to explore all the park has to offer.
Michigan Beaches: Kent County
1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, MI 49534
This amazing park has a six-acre beach and a large enclosed splash pad.
Well worth the fee, your family can enjoy the beach, splash pad, and even boating rentals like paddle boats or SUP. The Van Andel Beach House includes a concession stand, locker and changing rooms, restrooms, and there are picnic tables throughout the plaza. This is one of the best beaches for kids in the Grand Rapids area.
Myers Lake Park
7350 Hessler Dr NE, Rockford, MI 49341
With shady picnic areas, a nice beach, fishing spots, and a fantastic playground, Myers Lake has it all. It even has bathrooms (with changing areas) that are close to the beach, which is super helpful with little ones! Definitely one of the best beaches for kids on an inland lake.
3650 Versluis Park NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
This park features playground areas, picnic facilities, horseshoes & volleyball, beach and swimming areas with lifeguard stations, a bathhouse, fishing pier, boating, and one mile of paved walking trail. Admission is required to visit this beach area. Another one of the best beaches for kids.
11220 Springhill Dr, Greenville, MI 48838
Nestled among rolling hills and woods, you’ll find a public beach, a four-lane boat ramp, various sports facilities, shelters and picnic areas available for rent, and trails with many lake views.
Michigan Beaches: Newaygo County
Fremont Lake Park
955 Cottage Grove Ave, Fremont, MI 49412
With a beach area, playground, bathroom facilities, shuffleboard and volleyball courts, and boat launch, Fremont Lake Park makes for a fun day of swimming and water play.
Michigan Beaches: Ottawa County
22200 24th Ave, Casnovia, MI 49318
This small beachfront on Crockery Lake near Casnovia offers a nearby shaded playground as well as bathroom facilities, a fishing dock, plenty of picnic tables and grills, and nature trails to hike.
5 Tips for a Fun Family Day at the Beach
1. Hauling too much stuff gives Mom and Dad beach burnout! Dig out your winter sled… really! Load all of your beach supplies into a sled for an easy pull across the hot sand.
2. Freeze grapes and watermelon ahead of time for a healthy frozen snack that will keep your kids and your lunch cool.
3. Pack baby powder even if you’re out of the diaper stage. Sprinkle baby powder on any wet sand stuck on your kids. The powder helps dry the sand, making it easy and painless to brush off. Leave the sand at the beach and keep it out of the minivan!
4. Before you head out to the beach, be sure to check out lake conditions, weather, and marine forecasts here.
5. Get the first coat of sunscreen on at home and suit up under your clothes before you leave.
Check out more great beach hacks here.
Ultimate Beach Packing List
Ready to head out for a great day at one of the best lakes in Michigan, but aren’t sure what to bring? Check out this handy checklist of Beach Day Essentials. Specific needs will vary based on the ages of your family members.
- Picnic blanket
- Coolers with ice packs
- Food and snacks
- Swimsuits, rash guards, cover-ups
- Swim diapers
- Beach towels
- Empty grocery bag to use for trash plus a second for wet items
- Ziploc bags for phones to protect them from water and sand
- Damp washcloth inside a Ziploc bag
- Baby powder to help get sand off
- Sand toys: pails of varying sizes and shapes, rakes, shovels, strainers, molds
- Squirt guns
- Paperback book
- Tablecloth and clips
- Beach chairs
- Puddle Jumpers / Life jackets
- Sun tent/umbrella
Which beach do you visit each summer?
Do you have a favorite beach? Share your picks in the comments.