Nothing Says Michigan Summer Like a Trip to the Beach

Waves lapping, toes in the sand, sun kissing your skin, kids giggling as they topple their latest sandcastle – there is nothing quite like an afternoon at the beach.

We are lucky to have a bevy of beaches in southwest Michigan –  several in our own backyard.

And, beaches hugging the beautiful Lake Michigan coast with miles of sandy shores and dunes. Kids and rocks mix naturally – bring along a bucket to look for treasures along the beach.

Slather on the sunscreen and prepare to get sand in your toes this summer with our updated guide to the best beaches around Kalamazoo and those worth the drive.

Drop us a comment below – do you have a favorite beach not listed?

Thanks to our sponsor, Child Development Centers.

Child Development Centers are attentive, nurturing, and educational environments for children ages 2 weeks to 12 years with six locations: Augusta CDC (Augusta), Borgess CDC (Kalamazoo), Evergreen CDC (Kalamazoo), Forest CDC (Comstock), Lakeview CDC (Battle Creek),  Oakland CDC (Portage).

  • 600 S. Lincoln St. Augusta, MI 49012

Love Our Local Beaches

Make the short drive to the following community beaches.

Kalamazoo County

Ramona Park, Portage| A local favorite. There’s a huge playground if the weather takes a turn. You can rent out kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. Ramona Park also sports a fully-staffed and lifeguarded beach, concessions, and the park has plenty of room for picnicking. Note: Flotation and other water toys are not permitted during beach operating season. Free admission to Portage residents.

Beaches in Kalamazoo for families

Markin Glen County Park, Kalamazoo | Markin Glen has a small and beautiful sandy beach with shallow water, perfect for younger ones. No concessions available, but there are picnic shelters perfect for a family picnic that overlook the lake. 

Prairie View County Park, Vicksburg | One of our favorite reasons for visiting Prairie View is that it’s 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 beach perfect for little kids. The restrooms are at the top of the hill from the lake, as well as a slide and a few swings. 

Cold Brook County Park, Climax | Cold Brook offers a small beach, which is perfect for younger kids. The entire park has a rustic feel, including the beach and restrooms. 


Ross Township Park, Hickory Corners | 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.

Fort Custer Recreation Area, Augusta | Visit Eagle Lake for the beautiful sandy beach and the swimming. A beach house with changing rooms, canoe rentals, and the fact that it’s located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo make for a perfect beach outing with the kids.

Allegan County

Gun Lake Park, Allegan County | 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.

Calhoun County

Willard Beach Park, Battle Creek

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 beach operating season. 

Dip Your Toes in Lake Michigan

If you’re headed to our favorite big lake this summer, check out one of the following beaches, listed by city.

Rocky Gap County Park, Benton Township | 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 the sandy beach with plenty of lake frontage, and the upper park has an overlook platform with spectacular views of the lake. Note: No lifeguards on duty at this park.

Hagar Park Beach, Hagar Township | Located on M63. 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: Portajohns only at this beach.

Roadside Park Beach, Hagar Township | 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: Portajohns only at this beach.

Oval Beach, Saugatuck | Oval Beach is a popular family destination, known for its beauty and pristine water. Nestled among sand dunes and the winding Kalamazoo River, Oval Beach offers concessions, modern bathroom facilities with showers, lifeguards, a swing set area and picnic tables. We love that parking is right next to the beach so it’s easy in and out. 

Beaches for Families in Southwest Michigan

Pier Cove Beach, Fennville | This little beach has a shallow creek for wading and smooth stones for skipping. Limited parking.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck | Park in the picnic area and make a ten-minute hike through wooded dunes to the beach. The 200-foot wooded dunes are an ideal spot to explore, but it can be a trek for little tykes. 

North and South Beach, South Haven | Plenty of parking, concessions, play equipment, and restrooms make it an easy choice for families at the two most frequently visited beaches in South Haven. Walk out along the pier to the lighthouse on South Beach for breathtaking views.

Van Buren State Beach & Dunes, South HavenThe 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 | 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

Grand Mere State Park, Stevensville | 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 | Free parking and is the perfect beach for our furry dog friends who like to take a swim. They have a portable bathroom.

Roam the Beach for Treasures

Rock hunting can be a fun family hobby.

Lake Michigan beaches offer plenty of treasure hunting spots. Let the kids roam the beach for real treasure hunting, for a fun afternoon excursion. Who knows, you may find Petoskey stones, coral fossils, sea glass, driftwood, pottery, or jasper.

Chicago’s Field Museum has an excellent Beachgoer’s Guide to Lake Michigan Fossils and Rocks, to help you know what to look for.

Beaches for families in southwest michigan

Tips for Treasure Hunting

  1. The best time of day to treasure hunt is in the morning or the evening.
  2. Bring a bucket, otherwise, your pockets are going to be bulging by the time your child is done.
  3. Bring a shovel. Some of these treasures are buried a foot down. Sea glass often settles deeper into the sand, and kids will love digging to see if they can find any.
  4. Hunt on less populated beaches. Lake Michigan beaches that are full of sand and people are often groomed, so any treasures are swept away.
  5. Let your child grab whatever speaks to them. Kids have their own idea of what makes a treasure, and it may look different than yours. Encourage your child to put their treasures in a box, and even to label their treasures when they get home, so they feel like they have a mini-museum.

PIN for Reference

Beaches in Southwest Michigan

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