Where to Go When Hitting the Beaches of West Michigan
The great state of Michigan is cradled by one of the largest sources of surface freshwater in the world, and you better believe we take advantage of that on the west side!
Beaches and beach towns line the coast of Lake Michigan, each with their own subtle history and culture. How could we not take advantage of such prime locations for sun, fun, and relaxation in the summer?
We’re taking some time to celebrate the West Michigan beaches that have been part of our upbringing—or are new discoveries. Whether you’re touring in our backyard this summer or just a long-time resident in need of some ideas or reminders, we hope we can help you find some waypoints!
The beaches closest to most of our homes will of course be close to our hearts!
Holland is a fun tourist destination for its Dutch heritage, but its beaches shouldn’t be ignored! In addition to the shores of Lake Michigan, Holland also has access to Lake Macatawa.
Holland State Park is the primary beach destination in this area and offers a broad expanse of soft sands to enjoy all day long.
The park has two separate sections—one facing Lake Michigan and one along Lake Macatawa. If you want to set up camp, each has campsites within 50 feet of the beaches. And if you want to grill up a picnic, play beach volleyball, or take a walk along the harbor channel, you have easy access to these elements as well!
Tunnel Park is named for the signature pathway hewn through a dune. One end looks out over Lake Michigan and makes for a prime photo opportunity! Although smaller than Holland State Park, it still contains picnic areas and beach volleyball.
You can also climb up on top of the dune—with the help of a stairway, should you wish—if going through the tunnel just isn’t your style.
Pentwater may not be one of the most talked about beach destinations in West Michigan, but that makes it a great secret. This coastal village nestled against Lake Michigan and Pentwater Lake is big on charm.
Charles Mears State Park is where you can find Pentwater’s public beach. It’s a great place for sunbathing and sunsets, and includes a picnic area, boardwalk, pavilion, playground, and beach store. This is definitely a great family beach, and there are plenty of galleries, boutiques and shops within the village for adults to enjoy, too.
Grand Haven Beaches
We know; we like the word “grand” around here. Grand Haven backs up its superlative, though, winning awards for being one of the happiest seaside towns with one of the best beaches and best Fourth of July celebrations in America.
Grand Haven State Park boasts sand that feels like confectioner’s sugar and a picturesque lighthouse pier. Go ahead and walk right out the end—just be careful! The park runs along Lake Michigan as well as the Grand River, so there are plenty of opportunities for boat watching and fishing, as well.
When not on the beach, explore the nearby shops and restaurants along the river. If you’re a fan of military boating history, you won’t want to miss the various historical items along the way. Be sure to stop by for the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, held late July-early August each year.
If you’re looking for something more secluded, Kirk Park is the Grand Haven beach destination for you. This park features 68 acres of beach with high bluffs, hiking trails, and brilliant views. Dog lovers and their four-legged friends will also love the off-leash area where running free is permitted!
Ludington’s beach offerings to the north just couldn’t be passed up. This place was made for shoreline enjoyment, with more than a dozen parks in the area!
Hamlin Lake Beach at Ludington State Park features calm waters and miles of sand stretching along Lake Michigan. For some local historic flavor, take a short walk to Hamlin Lake Dam, built during the logging area, or hike to the 112-foot Big Sable Point Lighthouse.
Stearns Park Beach is the city’s largest beach and main gathering destination. Modern and contemporary features include free WiFi, a skate park, and a mini golf course. The Ludington North Breakwater Light is another waypoint for enthusiasts, and is also open for tours during the summer.
Buttersville Park Beach, tucked between Lake Michigan and Pere Marquette Lake, has a more classic feel than Stearns Park. There’s plenty of picnicking room with shaded trees—you might even see deer poke their heads out every now and then! When ready, head on down to the beach or take in the views of the water from a wooden seating area.
Where Will You Hit the Sand?
This is just a small sampling of all the West Michigan beaches out there just waiting for you! If you find one you particularly love that isn’t on this list, we’d love to hear about your experience!
The best part of our beaches, too, is that they’re not just for summer fun. They can make for beautiful scenery in the spring and fall, too. Send us your best photos and maybe we’ll even post a gallery in the future!