Category Archives: Beaches

Escanaba Beaches

Escanaba Municipal Beach

Escanaba Municipal Beach

The Escanaba Municipal Beach is located at Ludington Park on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc. The beach’s proximity to attractions like the Sand Point Lighthouse and the Delta County Historical Museum makes it a great choice for visitors to Escanaba.

Escanaba Municipal Beach Bath House and Playground
Escanaba Municipal Beach Bath House and Playground

Escanaba Municipal Beach is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a road and a bike path. The beach features a bath house with changing rooms, showers and bathrooms. There is playground and a picnic area, and just down the road is a boat launch and handicapped accessible fishing pier.

Escanaba Municipal Beach is open from June to mid-August, with Red Cross Certified Lifeguards watching over the water from noon to evening each day.

Ludington Park
Loren W Jenkins Memorial Dr
Escanaba, MI 49829

Escanaba Municipal Beach

Portage Point Marsh

Another Escanaba beach option is the sand beach at Portage Point Marsh. The beach is located on Portage Point, a narrow strip of land that extends two miles into Lake Michigan. Although there are no facilities, the beach is roomy, has a parking area, a launch area for canoes and other small boats and allows leashed pets.

A raised dike serves as a footpath and visitors can walk through the marshy area and try to catch a glimpse of the wildlife found in the area, such as  terns, wading birds, small mammals, frogs and turtles.

The beach is located at the west end of Portage Point Drive.

Portage Point Marsh

West Beach, Portage, IN

Hiking trail disappearing into West Beach Dunes
Hiking trail disappearing into West Beach Dunes

The day I visited West Beach was overcast, but the moody atmosphere didn’t detract from the park’s appeal. The short road I took from the parking lot to the beach wound through picturesque sand dunes before arriving at the bathhouse, and visitors can explore them on one of the park’s hiking trails.  There are more than three miles of trails and hikers can opt for majestic views of Lake Michigan from the top of a forested dune, a less strenuous stroll through an oak savanna or bird watching along Long Lake.

West Beach
West Beach

West Beach stretches along the Lake Michigan shore, and was named one of the ten top beaches for families by Parents’ Magazine.  There’s a wheelchair accessible ramp down to the sand and during the busy summer months there’s a lifeguard on duty. My kids and I like to skip stones – my son holds the family record with 8 skips -so I gleefully collected an abundance of flat, smooth, perfect skipping stones from the beach and flung them into the water.

Bathhouse at West Beach

Beachgoers can take advantage of the showers and lockers in the bathhouse, which opens for  the season during Memorial Day Weekend, as well as a concession stand during the season. The restrooms by the parking lot are open year round.

West Beach
N County Line Road
Portage, IN 46368

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, Portage, IN

Beach at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
Beach at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

While the beach at the Indiana Dunes State Park is the largest and most popular Lake Michigan beach in northwest Indiana, there are several smaller beaches in the area that are worth a visit. One of these is the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

Looking out along the breakwater
Looking out along the breakwater

Part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, Indiana’s Lakefront and Riverwalk is small, but pretty and picturesque. On a sunny morning one finds kids splashing in the water while their watchful mothers soak up the sun on a beach blanket, a fisherman perched on the pier casting his line, a motorboat slowly making its way from the river out onto Lake Michigan and couples wandering hand in hand along the riverwalk.

Portage Dunes

The lakefront is free, but parking is limited and can fill up quickly, so it’s best to get there early to find a good spot. Just off the parking lot is a modern, clean pavilion with a concession stand during the summer months, a meeting room, information desk and restrooms. Paths lead out to the fishing pier, the walkway along the 900-foot breakwater, and the beach. The Riverwalk begins at the pavilion and follows the Portage-Burns Waterway a half mile through dunes and a rare freshwater panne ecosystem.

Pavilion at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
Pavilion at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Opened in 2008, the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk lies next to a large steel plant and I actually got lost when looking for it because I didn’t believe my GPS when it instructed me to head toward the plant’s campus to get to the beach. A placard inside the pavilion details how the land was once polluted, but through the efforts of the National Park Service, the City of Portage and other partners, the lakefront was cleaned up, given a Clean Closure designation by the EPA, and turned into the scenic recreation area it is today.

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
1000 Riverwalk Dr
Portage, IN 46368

Note: Stay on Midwest Steel road, take a left at the four way stop to cross the river, and the first right across the river is Riverwalk Drive.

Ludington State Park, Ludington, MI

Photo by Rachel Kramer,
Photo by Rachel Kramer,

Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, Ludington State Park offers a second beach along Hamlin Lake, sand dunes, hiking trails, an amphitheater, three campgrounds and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

The Lake Michigan beach stretches seven miles along the Great Lake, and features a beach house with a store, a restaurant and concessions. The beach has an accessible walkway to make getting down to the water’s edge easier.

For variety, warmer water temperatures (sometimes), or when the waves on Lake Michigan are too rough, try the Lake Hamlin Beach. The playground and calmer waters makes this beach a favorite with families. There’s a picnic area with grills nearby so you can grill up lunch or grab something to eat at the concession stand.

There’s a boat launch on Hamlin Lake to enjoy a day of water skiing or relaxing with your fishing pole. If you didn’t bring a boat, paddleboat, rowboat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the concession stand. One of Ludington State Park’s unique features is a picturesque, marked, 4 -mile long canoe trail that winds along the edge of Hamlin Lake and wanders through bayous not accessible from the hiking trails.

Ludington State Park boasts 8 hiking and biking trails meandering a combined 18 miles through the park; there are options for those seeking a pleasant stroll as well as those who like a bigger challenge.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse has illuminated the shores of Ludington since 1867. In 1949 it became the last Great Lakes lighthouse to be electrified. The lighthouse is open to visitors from May through October, but is situated 1.8 miles from the the parking lot so be prepared for a little hike!

Ludington State Park features not one but four campgrounds. Pines, Cedar and Beechwood all feature modern restrooms and electrical hookups. Pines is situated near Lake Michigan and offers 99 campsites, mostly shady. Beechwood is located near Hamlin Lake and has 147 mostly shady campsites. Cedar lies between Pines and Beechwood and features 106 mostly sunny campsites. There are three mini-cabins for rent for those traveling without a camper or tent.

For those who like a more rustic camping experience, the fourth campsite, Jack Pines, might be just the thing. It is not accessible by road and no vehicles are allowed, so all equipment, gear and supplies must be walked in. It is located in the dunes near Lake Michigan, about a mile north of Pines Campground. Vault toilets and hand pump are provided.

Ludington State Park
8800 W. M-116
Ludington, MI 49431
(231) 843-2423

Oval Beach, Saugatuck, MI

Oval Beach Saugatuck MI
Spent a lovely afternoon at Saugatuck’s popular and picturesque Oval Beach.

The beach was clean and pretty and relatively narrow, which I liked. Trudging through a wide expanse of thick, hot sand to get from the parking lot to the water’s edge is not one of my fave activities – not an issue at Oval Beach.

Oval Beach SaugatuckWhile on the small side, Oval Beach offers a variety of amenities. There is a pavilion with a bathroom, showers and changing facilities. The snack bar sells concession stand faves like hot dogs, cold drinks and ice cream, as well as beach toys. Tables and grills are situated on a hill above the beach, affording picnickers a fabulous view of Lake Michigan, and there’s a swing set for the little ones.

If you’re driving, there’s a parking fee – please follow the link below for more information. Oval Beach is operated by the city of Saugatuck, so Michigan state park passes do not apply.

Oval Beach

Holland State Park Beaches

big red holland mi
I find there’s nothing like a walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline to soothe my frazzled nerves. Thus, when I found myself alone and with a few minutes to spare after dropping my daughter off at science camp at Hope College, I headed down to the beach at Holland State Park for a little reflection.

holland state park pavilionHolland State Park has all the amenities that make for a comfortable day at the beach. There’s plenty of parking, and if your ideal day at the beach includes grilling a juicy burger, you’ll find picnic tables and grills. In the modern beach pavilion there are restrooms and changing rooms for getting beach-ready. The Beach Place Cafe sells all the fave concession stand eats like hot dogs, burgers, ice cream and slushies, as well as beach gear like floaties and sandpails.

In addition to its Lake Michigan beach, Holland State Park boasts a beach along Lake Macatawa. Soon after arriving in the area, Dutch settlers sought government funds to dig a channel from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan in order to create a harbor for their new town. They didn’t receive the funds, but undeterred, they dug the channel themselves.

The entrance to the channel is guarded by “Big Red,” Holland’s bright red lighthouse, which holds the distinction of being Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse. While the lighthouse is situated in a private neighborhood across the channel from the beach, you can get pretty close on the boardwalk that runs along the north pier.

holland state park beach
That boardwalk continues along a second pier, popular for fishing and walking. If you’d like a little more of a challenge, there’s a hiking trail that winds up a dune on the east side of the park.

The park offers two campgrounds, one on Lake Michigan, the other on Lake Macatawa.

Holland State Park

Muskegon Beaches

Muskegon lighthouse
Muskegon offers a selection of beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, boasting both state park and city beaches, including one of Michigan’s few nationally certified clean beaches,Pere Marquette Beach.

Pere Marquette Park Beach
Not only does Pere Marquette Park have what is considered by many to be Muskegon’s finest beach, but it’s free to enter. As you might expect, this can lead to crowds on weekends, so get there early. Pere Marquette offers picnic tables and grills, a snack bar, playground and a 200-foot walkway down to the beach, so you don’t have to slog through thick sand in order to arrive at the water’s edge. Then there’s that great view of Muskegon’s picturesque red lighthouse. Pere Marquette hosts a number of events throughout the summer months, including a popular family “movie on the beach,” held once a month, please check the Visit Muskegon events calendar for more information about this and other beach events.

Pere Marquette Beach

Hoffmaster Park DunesP.J. Hoffmaster State Park Beach
Located south of town, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park features three miles of beach along Lake Michigan. Visitors can hike along the dunes and check out the view from the observation platform, or pop into the visitor’s center to learn about the plants and critters that call the park home. There’s concessions, a beach house, picnic facilities and a campground.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

Muskegon State Park Beach
This little gem of a park boasts miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, camping and one of the few public luge runs in the country. The Lake Michigan beach offers a beach house, great views of Muskegon’s lighthouse and there’s a picnic shelter and boat launch along Muskegon Lake. The park offers a choice of two campgrounds: a 105 site space along Lake Michigan or 139 sites on Muskegon Lake. If you’re a thrill seeker, check out the winter sports compound located at the north end of the park, which offers a luge run in winter and a wheeled luge run in summer.

Muskegon State Park

Kruse Dog Beach Muskegon
Norman F. Kruse Park Beach & Dog Beach

Norman Kruse Beach is a small, picturesque beach on Lake Michigan, with a separate dog beach for your favorite four-legged friend.

Kruse Park