WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
Michiganders know Northern Michigan is blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches.
Whether the ideal destination is miles of serene, unspoiled shoreline, or a small expanse of sun and sand within comfortable reach of entertainment and amenities, every beach lover can find a favorite.
With 26 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, a postcard-worthy beach awaits at Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake. This natural oasis is just one of many amazing beaches dotting the shore of one of the nation’s largest freshwater lakes. Others include Mt. McSauba Recreational Area – billed as Charlevoix’s year- round recreational destination – and Fisherman’s Island State Park and Beach in Charlevoix – home to five miles of shoreline. Both have extensive hiking trails through forests and dunes.
Michigan Beach Park, also in Charlevoix, is a local favorite for watching the sunset over the lighthouse into Lake Michigan. The beach is beloved for its white sand, fishing off the pier, and for hunting Petoskey stones.
Petoskey State Park, in Bear Creek, is also an ideal spot for discovering the stones on the wonderful sandy beach. The park offers the traditional beach basics – hiking trails, biking paths, picnic facilities, sand volleyball courts, a playground, a concession stand, and restrooms. In addition, kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes are available for rent.
Travel farther north along the lakeshore to enjoy the beaches at Mackinaw City Lighthouse Park, at the juncture of Lakes Michigan and Huron. Mackinaw City is located at the very top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, at the southern end of the Mackinac Bridge. As the gateway to the Upper Peninsula, the area has been listed among the top places to see in Michigan.
Mackinaw City Lighthouse Park offers public restrooms and picnic areas as well as a walking path that winds from the water to the downtown shopping district.
Along the way, the sands and water sparkle against a backdrop of the magnificent Mackinac Bridge, brick wall battlements, and the landscaped lawn of the Mackinaw Lighthouse, built in 1892.
Travel farther east, and you’ll encounter beaches with breathtaking views of Lake Huron at Mich-e-ke-wis Beach in Alpena, overlooking Thunder Bay, and Big Shoal Cove Beach at Drummond Island. Drummond Island’s beautiful shorelines are augmented by exceptional bird watching.
Gorgeous beaches are found not only on the shores of Lake Michigan. Inland lakes also delight as charming summer destinations, and they have the advantage of water that is warmer and calmer than Lake Michigan. Michigan is blessed to host more than 11,000 inland lakes on which to embrace the sun and watersports fun. The 20 largest lakes in the state happen to be located in Northern Michigan, and all host beautiful beaches.
Lake Charlevoix, the third-largest Michigan lake, has an abundance of great beaches and is recognized as one of Michigan’s top fishing spots, according to TheSwimGuide.org.
Glenwood Beach on Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City is a sandy beach beloved by locals, with standard amenities of simple pleasures – picnic tables, fire pits, decks, gas grills, and a long dock where you can tie a boat.
Boyne City is on the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Charlevoix and offers direct access to Great Lakes boating. Home to 11 miles of lake frontage, Boyne City also boasts the small municipal Peninsula Beach, just a short walk from the downtown’s restaurants and specialty markets.
Also on gorgeous Lake Charlevoix are the 560-acre Young State Park and Depot Beach, where a historic train depot now functions as a museum, and a garden area frames the beach, along with the familiar playground, pavilion, picnic area, and restrooms.
The northeast side of the state offers some wonderful inland lakes and beaches as well. The Burt Lake State Park in Indian River is very popular with its 2,000 feet of sandy Burt Lake shoreline. Aloha State Park on Mullet Lake in Cheboygan provides wonderful sandy beaches as well. And we would be remiss if we forgot Houghton Lake. The largest inland lake in the state is home to Sullivan Beach, a family-friendly beach that includes a boat launch and playground.
A favorite lake for many is stunning, crystal clear Torch Lake in Antrim County, which is also the second-largest lake in the state. Though public beaches on this lake are limited, visitors can stop by the Eastport Beach in Eastport for a chance to take a dip in the pristine water.
Many divine beaches such as these await throughout the state, from Sleeping Bear Dunes to the Upper Peninsula, more than we can list here. Visit a great resource – TheSwimGuide.org/Beaches/Michigan – to find your favorite.
Whether a swimmer or sun-bather, boogie-boarder or bird watcher, Michigan has your beach!