With almost 1640 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, there’s no shortage of towns along Lake Michigan. Just think about it: a lakeside town, your house along the water, the sand just outside. That’s the dream!
You don’t need to go to some tropical beach to live that dream, not with these nine towns that sit along Lake Michigan. Whether you’d like to live in a small or large town, a place with empty or full beaches, you will have your pick of options here.
You’ll want to begin planning your move to Lake Michigan right away after you take a look at these beach towns. Not only can you relax with the water at your back, but you can experience the culture and community of the town itself.
Yes, there’s a Holland in the Netherlands, but there’s also a Holland near Lake Michigan. Think of this town like a mini enclave of Dutch culture.
You can come here to experience both the lake life and some diverse culture too, as you explore activities like turning wooden bowls and woodworking with reclaimed materials.
These are perfect activities to do on a short weekend or if you're visiting for the season.
Beyond the activities, there's much more to see. Take a look at the various lakefronts and parks like Holland State Park or Tunnel Park. Check out the DeZwaan Windmill that was moved from the Netherlands. It is the oldest authentic, working Dutch windmill in the United States and you can still see the mill grind winter wheat and corn.
Whether you’re looking to do some sight-seeing or you want to shop a little, Holland has no shortage of culture and relaxation.
The surrounding countryside also producesgrapes, and is one of the centers ofwine production in theMidwest. The area features varied natural attractions, including freshwater beaches, vineyards, aNational Lakeshore, downhillskiing areas, and numerous beautiful forests.
Check out Clinch Park, which sits across the street from downtown. You’ll find public beaches all along the region’s 180-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shore, but this 1,500-foot beach and marina includes a trail that conveniently connects to downtown Traverse City. Stretching 10 miles across Traverse City, TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail) is one of several paths in a linked system that extends to the winery-dotted Leelanau Peninsula. Jog, bike or stroll past beaches, forests and city streetscapes.
At the beach, you don’t just have to sit on the sand. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and go out on the water.
You can even float down Boardman River south and paddle through Traverse City itself.
If you’re looking for lots of activities to do, you’ll never run out of options in Traverse City. This is one of the best places to experience the water and the city all at once. The Traverse City area is the largest producer oftart cherries in the United States. The city hosts the annual week-long NationalCherry Festival in the first full week of July, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually.
Ludington is a quiet little town. You won’t find as much to do compared to a place like Traverse City, but Ludington is the perfect place to unwind, get away from the big city, and just be alone with your thoughts or your family.
Ludington State Park includes a seven-mile-long stretch of sand, which you can access outside the park if you don’t want to spend the money.
There are so manyLudington beaches to discover! You'll find miles of clean, sandy beaches along Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, just minutes from wherever you are in the area.Stearns Park is the most popular beach, with free parking, concessions, playground, Skate Park, mini golf, and shuffleboard. Whether you enjoy swimming, skiing, tubing, boating, or fishing, Ludington's beaches and lakes provide hours of relaxing enjoyment and adventure.
Because of its position onLake Michigan, at the mouth of theBlack River, South Haven has always been aport city. During settlement, major ship lines stopped there, both passenger and freight. In the early 1900s South Haven became a resort town, sometimes referred to as "TheCatskills of theMidwest". South Haven is a major regional tourist draw because of its recreational harbor and beaches. It is the western terminus of theKal-Haven Trail, popular with bicyclists and snowmobilers. Nearby areVan Buren State Park and theVan Buren Trail State Park.
South Haven offers an interesting array of cultural attractions. TheMichigan Maritime Museum, host of thetall shipFriends Good Will, is perhaps its most famous. The Michigan Maritime Museum also hosts an electrically powered river launch called the Lindy Lou. River launch boats were used in the 1890s to the 1930s to ferry passengers up the Black River to various resorts and parks. Visitors are able to buy tickets to ride either ship - the Lindy Lou stays on the river, while the Friends Good Will goes down the river and into Lake Michigan.
The National Blueberry Festival is held on the second weekend of August each year, and is one of the country's oldest continuously-running fruit festivals.
If you like biking, you have no shortage of trails or bike rentals right around town.
Enjoy a serene walk along the Charlevoix South Pier to the lighthouse right on the end. Grab a bike and choose a stretch of the 26-mile Little Traverse Wheelway to bike down.
Not all of us are quite so fond of so much biking though. You can perhaps do a little hunting instead. We’re talking about rock hunting here.
Start your search for Petoskey stones at Fisherman’s Island State Park and head on over for a twilight tour at Castle Farms, where you can have a wonderful meal at a real French Renaissance-style castle built a century ago.
You can drive in from Chicago to visit New Buffalo for a day. You’ll likely want to stay more than a day though once you arrive here.
New Buffalo is also the location for Southwestern Michigan’s first gambling casino, theFour Winds Casino Resort, Southwest Michigan’s only Hard Rock Cafe mixing food, live entertainment and rock-n-roll memorabilia into a high energy night spot.
New Buffalo includes the most amazing white, sandy beaches with just enough solitude to center yourself before returning to the Windy City. Fly kits or launch a canoe here for a relaxing day.
Beyond the beaches, there are masses of flowers, birds, and trees right in Galien River State Park. Just be sure that you're not afraid of heights since you'll be looking down from a canopy walkway that lets you look down from the tower.
Located right on the Leelanau Peninsula, Suttons Bay is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, or if you just want to visit some of the wineries and vineyards. Suttons Bay is both rustic and sophisticated, and let’s not forget: there’s the beach.
You can visit the public beach, which is small, but cozy, and head on over to one of the amazing dining places after.
Suttons Bay includes all the cute near-the-beach boutiques that you would expect, as well as wineries and tasting rooms that make your trip that much more amazing.
Muskegon was built on the fur and lumber trade, is now a calm vacation spot on Lake Michigan, calling itself "The Riviera of the Midwest." Sunbathe on several beautiful beaches including Pere Marquette Beach, a certified Great Lakes "clean beach."
Muskegon State Park provides hiking and camping opportunities in the summer, and ice skating, cross-country skiing and even a luge track in the winter. The city is also home to Michigan's Adventure Amusement Park.
The beach is really the shining part of Muskegon. You can go to see one of the two lighthouses, but once you have all your pictures, there’s still a lot to do on the beach.
There are 40 sand volleyball courts set around ready for you to play at, and we can’t forget to mention this: a dog beach! A day at the beach is much more fun when you have your furry friend with you.
If you don't have your pooch with you for the day, you can still enjoy the beach and can go down the Lakeshore Trail bike path to see Muskegon Lake from a distance. It's impossible to pass up a tour of the USS Silversides, a World War II submarine museum, while you're there.