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.