Summer in Michigan can be defined as anticipating all those days at the beach, building sandcastles or having a family picnic along the 3,126 miles of freshwater coastline. For others, it may be dreaming of trying to find the best location to access the beach, especially when it comes to those with disabilities.

As demand for a day on Lake Michigan becomes high on summer bucket lists, many state parks, beaches, and trails are becoming more accessible to all segments of its beach-goers with the construction of docks, paved paths, and drives, allowing everyone to enjoy Pure Michigan.

There has been an increasing demand in handicap-accessible beaches in Michigan. This has contributed to the growing popularity of sand wheelchairs. Sand wheelchairs are custom beach wheelchairs that are designed to be easily pushed through sand; some are even motorized, making it easier for those with disabilities to enjoy a day at the beach. Some beaches on Lake Michigan allow users to rent these for the day.

Below is a list of popular beaches and trails near Lake Michigan, with the inclusion of the option to rent a sand wheelchair:

  1. New Buffalo City Beach offers a City Beach parking lot for an entrance fee of $10 a day, with no parking fees before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. The beach includes 800-feet of sand frontage, an 18-acre recreation area, and handicap access, as well as many other attractive amenities which can be found on their website. Check to see if there are any sand-friendly wheelchairs available right on-site. If you need a break from the sand, Four Winds Casino is a popular option to end the day.
  2. Stearns Beach in Ludington is a highly rated beach in Michigan with 2,500 feet of shoreline as well as a picnic area with tables and grills. Disability Connections of West Michigan and the City of Ludington have come together to install accessible walkways for those with disabilities. Stearns Beach also offers miniature golf, a playground, skate park, and public restrooms. Visit Ludington’s website to learn more information about Stearns Beach amenities.
  3. Ludington State Park Beach is also in close proximity if you are looking to hit two beaches in one day. It is rumored that Ludington State Park has beach wheelchairs at Hamlin Lake and the Lake Michigan beach houses along with an accessible boardwalk. Ludington State Park also offers acres of hiking trails and canoe pathways. For more information, visit the Ludington State Park.
  4. Sleeping Bear Dunes caters to handicapped beach-goers to create an unforgettable experience. The Duneside Accessible Nature Trail, located at the Dune Climb, is made of crushed limestone, making it easier to push a wheelchair. The Maritime Museum at the Dune Climb also offers sand wheelchairs. Sleeping Bear Dunes has begun offering and initiating services to those with hearing loss, ranging from ranger guided hikes to portable wireless devices. To find more information regarding accessibility information at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, please visit The Disabled Traveler’s Companion.
  5. Grand Haven State Park has disability services available to visitors. There is an information trolley that rides around the area to give beach-goers an informative and entertaining tour of the area, without the walk. Grand Haven is known for its beautiful waterfront along Lake Michigan and the Grand River, allowing views of the Coast Guard as well as the Grand Haven Lighthouse. Visit Grand Haven’s website and the Harbor Transit website to find information regarding trolley rides and beach accessibility.

To find more wheelchair accessible trails and beaches in Michigan, visit Trail Link. After you’ve spent a day in the sun and sand, make sure to check out MARVAC’s interactive map to find a complete list of RV parks and campgrounds along the lakeshore.