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Plan Your Summer Getaway with these 5 Lake Michigan Beaches

Rest and relax with a weekend trip to one of the many Michigan beaches! We are lucky enough to have the beautiful Lake Michigan so close to home. If you’re not sure which beach site is right for you, follow this guide. Whether you are looking for a tourist hub with ice cream and pizza within walking distance, or a spot off the beaten path where you can completely unplug, these 5 locations are sure to provide a stellar summer experience.

Empire Beach, Empire MI

It was a windy day at Empire Beach, Empire MI

Empire Beach and Sleeping Bear Dunes

The Empire City Beach, also known as Village Park is one of my favorite beaches anywhere! It offers shade, a few picnic tables, a playground for the kids, and decent bathrooms. Very accessible! There are miles of beach to walk, or stay nearby and enjoy hikes and attractions in the National Lakeshore Park. On the edge of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, you can see the Manitou Islands from the beach and the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes. Visit Phillip A. Hart Visitor’s Center and find out all that the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore has to offer.

Empire has all you need: a grocery store, a couple of restaurants, an ice cream shop, a few gift shops, and even a public library where you can enjoy a few hours of reading or computer time in the A/C.

If you want a busier town, head north to Glen Arbor and enjoy the bars and restaurants.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area

Manistee National Forests hosts a 3,450 acre wilderness area. Enjoy a 4-mile hiking trail along Lake Michigan to camp off of – just pitch your tent anywhere! If no crowds and little to no cell phone reception is your cup of tea, this is the beach trip for you. There is a group campground at the trailhead that requires reservations early in the year. Take in the views of pristine beaches and beautiful dunes. Home to federally endangered plants and birds, if you want to feel one with earth, this should be your destination.

Lake Michigan and Nordhouse Dunes

Lake Michigan and Nordhouse Dunes

Silver Beach

Don’t let the crowding stop you from visiting this beach that is right in town! Walk the pier, get ice cream at the concession stand, and take a break for lunch at Silver Beach Pizza, an old Amtrak depot-turned pizzeria offering tall, frosty glasses of beer and a unique view of passing trains. When you are done with the beach, walk up the hill and visit St. Joseph’s excellent variety of shops and restaurants. One of the best art fairs in Michigan is in St. Joseph – the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff. This year, the Art Fair will be held on July 13 – 14, 2024, with a Block Party to start the weekend on July 12, 2024.

St Joesph MI from the bluff

St Joesph MI from the bluff

Union Pier Beach

This roadside beach is located in a great area of small towns, good restaurants, and interesting roadside antique shops and galleries. It’s also only 2 hours and 35 minutes to the beach from Ann Arbor – make it a day trip or get an Airbnb and stay a few days. Union Pier Beach has everything you need for a relaxing day of sun. Put down a towel and a beach umbrella and relax with a book, a cold drink, and expansive Lake Michigan. You can walk the beach for miles if you want. Stop by the Whistle Stop Grocery and pick up a gourmet picnic lunch to enjoy. Keep it simple and you will be greatly rewarded!

While you are in the Harbor Country area, stop by the Harbert Swedish Bakery for breakfast owned by the same family since 1932. Or, the Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer and don’t miss Froehlich’s Bakery & Deli, located in Three Oaks, MI., for a variety of house-made breads, pies, pastries, deli sandwiches, jams, jellies, pickles, & specialty foods. Truly a special treat!

Walk through the trees to the beach at Union Pier

Walk through the trees to the beach at Union Pier

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

This huge state park serves as a public recreation area covering approximately 1,000 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan. Hit the beach during the day! Walk in over the dunes about ½ mile to a relatively quiet and very clean beach. Stay the night in Holland or Saugatuck and enjoy the simple pleasures of these West Michigan cities including great farm-to-table restaurants and brewpubs. While you’re in Holland, try traditional waffles and other fresh pasties from Dutch Bakery, Deboer’s. The hand-crafted treats will not disappoint!

It’s about that time when a cool breeze from the lake is just what you need! If you visit any of the beaches on this list or have a suggestion that we missed, we would love it if you share by posting your pictures on Instagram/Facebook and tagging us!

Thinking of moving? Ask us to find out how much your home is worth, and receive a comprehensive, hand prepared, home value report for free!

If you have any questions about local things to do, Andy can help you! Give him a call at (734) 604-8242.

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