The Great Lakes are a great setting for beach going, and Lake Michigan has some of the best beaches in the upper Midwest. Because it adjoins several different states, we are offering you some Lake Michigan beaches in each of them.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Michigan:
Warren Dunes State Park
If you want the thrill of a big beach with an even bigger sand dune, then you will head for what the locals call “Tower Hill”, at Warren Dunes State Park. The park is big, at nearly 2000 acres. Although there are other very tall dunes, the king of them all is Tower Hill, at 240 feet above the Lake Michigan. This dune is perched right on the shore line and so it is very accessible to visitors. If you are in good shape, climb to the top, and enjoy the view. If not, enjoy soaking your feet in the cool waters of the Lake.
This is about as close as you can get to a New England style village along the shores of Lake Michigan. A thriving artists’ colony at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, it has a quaint quirky charm. Stroll the nineteenth century downtown area. Visit Oval Beach, often ranked among the top 25 beaches in the world. There’s a concession stand, restrooms, showers, playground, picnic tables, grills and three large parking areas. Cost is $6 per car in the peak season. Bicycles enter free. Take the Sand Buggy rides or head to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Follow the easiest of the three trails that leads through the woods and over the sand dunes till you arrive at the view of the lakeshore. Then climb down to the beach. Keep in mind that there are no amenities, so take the water and food you will want along with you. While in the area tour the grand 1920’s Felt Estate and hear the story about the man who invented the first office processing machine, the Comptometer.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Near Hart, Silver Lake offers more than a stroll on the shore, it is one of the few places where you can go four wheeling over the native dues. The park is also a great destination if you enjoy hiking, golfing, and boating. Of all the great places in the state, Sliver Lake Sand Dunes won first place in the Pure Michigan contest. Look for fulgurite, or “petrified lightning”, formed when lightning strikes the sand at a temperature of at least 3,270 degrees. The heat melts the silica and fuses the sand into long, thin, hollow glass tubes. Ride your bike on the 22 ½ mil long Hart-Montague Bike trial. It is a former railroad corridor, paved for trail use. See the Hart Historic District, and the 19th century church that holds the “Seymour Rider Indian Artifacts Collection.”
Sleeping Bear Dunes
These dunes are considered by some to be “the most beautiful place in America”. For that reason alone, it is worth going there to see it, and to decide for yourself. If you go, you will be treated to a shoreline that stretches for sixty-five miles, and sand dunes that tower up to four hundred feet high. Choose from among many hiking trails, or just enjoy the beauty and serenity of this glorious setting.
Petoskey State Park
Petoskey is the place to go if you are in search of Petoskey stones – these are fossilized ancient plant life, and they are considered semiprecious stones by jewelry makers and rock hounds. Enjoy the two miles of shoreline on the Little Traverse Bay portion of Lake Michigan. You are probably going to fall in love with the beach, as well as the fascinating grey Petoskey stones. This 303-acre park requires a Recreation passport for entry. Another great beach to look for Petoskey stones is the Magnus City Park Beach.
Manistique in the Upper Peninsula (aka UP)
Manistique is a beach where lounging is encouraged and kite flying is a specialty. The small town and quaint harbor serve as the jumping off point for visiting the nineteenth century ghost town of Fayette. Also nearby are the natural spring called Kitch-itit-kipi, and the Seul Choix Lighthouse, which is also said to be haunted.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Illinois:
Chicago boasts many Lake Michigan beaches, and all of them have their following. Here are what we consider to be stand out Windy City beaches:
Montrose Dog Beach
Dog lovers delight in what is Chicago’s largest beach, because it is also one of two dog beaches in Chicago; head for the north end to be at “Doggie Beach”. Fifi and Fido will thank you. Montrose is also where you can launch your launch non-motorized watercraft . An added plus, Montrose offers more parking than any other Chicago beach. Extras abound, including “The Dock”, a full service restaurant, as well as a 3,000 square foot deck.
Foster Avenue Beach
Just north of Montrose Beach, is not really a secret beach, but is certainly one of the less well-known of the Chicago beaches. Low key and pretty, it also offers some skyline views and plenty of parking.
Lake Michigan Beaches in Wisconsin:
North Beach in Racine
This was chosen as one of the 51 Great American Beaches by “USA Today”, which is high praise indeed. North Beach offers 50 acres and has 2,500 feet of clear and cold shoreline along the Lake, for public swimming, fishing and picnics. Visit “The Beachside Oasis”, with its concession stand, live music and the Kids’ Cove Playground. North Beach achieved the rank of a Blue Wave Beach in 2004, and every year since. This is the nation’s first environmental certification for beaches.
Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island
Schoolhouse Beach offers a great opportunity for kids of all ages to build stone castles, a nice switch on the tradition of sand castles. Go for the Lake but stay for the fascinating, smoothed-by-the-Lake limestones, as you create your own dream beach retreat, in miniature. Please note, these stones are protected by law; do not take any home with you (there is an expensive fine if you try it). Instead, take photos of your mini-architectural creations, and leave the stones for the next folks who come to Schoolhouse Beach.
Point Beach State Forest in Two Rivers
Point Beach lulls the visitor by the hundreds of yards of sand beach. In summer months, there are concessions at the Beach House. Point Beach is also a bicycler’s delight, with a six mile long bike trail, Rawley Point Recreational Trail. So bring your bikes, and enjoy the ride to the Rawley Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1894; it is the oldest octagonal skeletal lighthouse on the Great Lakes. You can even bike beyond, connecting with the Mariner’s Trail in Two Rivers and ride all the way to Manitowoc.