1. Crisp Point Beach, Newberry
On the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula, Crisp Point Beach is a mere 37 miles north of the town of Newberry (the “Official Moose Capital of Michigan”). Unlike many Lake Superior beaches, this one is very sandy, stretching for miles along the shoreline. You may still be able to find an agate for a souvenir, though. For other things to do, you can visit Crisp Point Lighthouse (end of May-October), which is accessible via a boardwalk to and from the beach. All amenities are free to the public.
2. Au Train Beach, Au Train
Within Hiawatha National Forest and a simple turnoff of M-28 is Au Train Beach, located between Lake Superior and the community of Au Train. The picturesque, rarely overcrowded beach is close to the parking lot, with a sandy pathway joining the two areas. You get a clear view of the waterfront in both directions, as well as into the expanse of one of the Great Lakes. A feature of the beach is a shallow outlet of the Au Train River, which is decidedly warmer than the commonly chilly Lake Superior water.
3. Squaw Beach, Big Bay
Not too far from bustling and beautiful Marquette, Big Bay’s Squaw Beach is a sandy, pebbly oasis on the Lake Superior shoreline. There’s a boat launch, a dock, outdoor grills, picnic tables, pet friendly areas, and public restrooms. As with many beaches up north, there is a lighthouse only a few miles away, which has been converted into a B&B.
4. Second Sand Beach Park, Pequaming
Second Sand Beach Park is ideal for a day of beach fun – from swimming to paddling and picnicking. Easy accessible, the long, sandy beach stretches and curves around Lake Superior. Families with young children will appreciate the shallower water for playtime, as well as some shady spots to get those kiddos out of the summer sun.
5. Hunters Point Park, Copper Harbor
Shoes or sandals are required for this Upper Peninsula beach in Copper Harbor in the stunning Keweenaw Peninsula. Why? Because it’s a mix of boulders and rocks, offering a completely different kind of beach day than simply sitting and relaxing on a sandy shore. Hunters Point Park encourages exploring, hiking, and climbing. The wooded path to the beach is an easy half-mile walk. You’ll feel secluded at the beach as you look at the water – nothing but dense forest behind you. Rock-hounds will love casting their eye to the shoreline for some new prizes.
6. Sac Bay County Park, Garden
Have you ever heard of the Garden Peninsula? Shaking your head “no” is actually a good thing. Sac Bay County Park is on the southern portion of the peninsula, which is 30 minutes south of US 2 and accessed by County Road 438. It’s a go-to spot for locals and a hidden gem. You’ll be able to enjoy the expansive lake, take a dip, and feel like your troubles are a million miles away, which is the effect the Upper Peninsula seems to have on visitors.
7. Sturgeon Bay Beach, Carp Lake
This public beach is beloved by locals and travelers who have the scoop. With more than 4,000 feet of sandy frontage on the majestic Lake Michigan, Sturgeon Bay Beach is only 11 miles from Mackinac City and located within the confines of Wilderness State Park. There is a township park in the vicinity, as well as a dune preserve. There is a turnaround and roadside parking. If you feel like stretching your legs, you can go enjoy more than 16 miles of trails.
8. Good Harbor Bay Beach, Maple City
Serenity. That’s what you’ll find at Good Harbor Bay Beach. It’s not as “famous” as the neighboring Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire, or North Bar, making it an ideal choice for campers who like a little more privacy and space on the shoreline. The road and parking area are paved. Since it’s close to both to Maple City and Glen Arbor, make sure to stop to roam and get a taste of Up North Michigan towns.
9. Tunnel Park, Holland
This small park packs a lot of punch. It’s ideal for swimming, sunbathing, volleyball playing, and picnicking. What sets this park apart from the others is the unique tunnel through a dune to the shore. Once you reach it, you can set up for the afternoon, let the kids play at the playground, walk a short dune climb, or climb a stairway to a scenic overlook of Lake Michigan. There are vehicle permits in effect, and dogs are only permitted part of the year.
10. Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer
This park has it all, featuring some of the largest freshwater dunes in the world. And it feels like a world away when you get there, too. Climb the dunes and you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled vista of the mighty blue Lake, not to mention it’s fun to run back down! One of the largest sand dunes is Tower Hill, the summit of which gives you a glorious view of Lake Michigan. If you have a dog, bring him along! This is one of the most pet-friendly beaches in the state.
11. Mackinac Island, Mackinac Island, MI
You’ll need to leave the RV behind and be transported via ferry to Mackinac Island. The island is non-motorized and completely walkable, unless you feel inclined to catch a taxi… drawn by draft horses. The beaches here are narrower and rockier, but you can still have a nice dip in Lake Huron. Walk up to Mission Point Resort, which has a huge lawn and lots of Adirondack chairs for sitting and relaxing. You can go for a swim here, or simply walk the beach looking for rocks to skip. You may even see a Great Lakes freighter passing by.
12. Rockport State Recreation Area, Rockport
One of Michigan Dark Sky Preserves, the 4,000-acre Rockport State Recreation Area is ideal both day and night. It’s a perfect place to go stargazing, view the Northern Lights, and spot a meteor. The beach is rocky, but the water is clear and almost Caribbean in color. You’ll need to hike in to reach the beach, and regardless of whether it’s AM or PM, you will find yourself in awe of the area’s beauty. Wear sturdy shoes, but don’t forget the swimsuit, either.
13. Mich-E-Ke-Wis Park, Alpena
One of the few beaches on our list that resides in a town, Mich-E-Ke-Wis Park is located on Lake Huron just off of State Avenue. A spacious lawn is perfect for yard games or a picnic, and there’s a small playground for the kids to enjoy. Since it’s on the Thunder Bay coastline, the water here is warmer than in Lake Huron. It’s beautiful and a must-see park if you’re in town.
14. Oscoda Beach Park, Oscoda
Beach, splash pad, playground, boardwalk, pier… what else can you want? This wheelchair accessible beach is sandy and wide and only a block away from downtown Oscoda (ice-cream, anyone?). Bring the fishing poles to try your luck off the pier, or sit at one of the picnic tables for lunch or a game of cards.
15. Lexington State Harbor, Lexington
Michigan’s east side and thumb regions don’t see nearly as much traffic as other areas of the state… and that’s part of its appeal, especially for beachgoers. The beach at Lexington State Harbor near the quaint town of Lexington is nice and sandy. There’s a walkable pier as well as a playground and restroom facilities.
16. William C. Sterling State Park, Monroe
Michigan doesn’t have much frontage on its fourth Great Lake, Lake Erie. William C. Sterling State Park is really the only beach to visit from this state. Located only an hour from historic Detroit, this state park possesses a one-mile sandy beach, a boat ramp, and shore fishing opportunities, and seven miles of trails. There is a playground for the kids as well as three lagoons, which are always of high interest.