Southwest Michigan is well-known and beloved for many attributes: u-pick farms plump full of blueberries, apples and peaches, award-winning vineyards and wineries, breathtaking and challenging golf courses, charming and artistic towns, and beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan. The second largest of the Great Lakes by volume, you’ll find abundant access via several quaint beaches in Southwest Michigan’s lakeside towns. Impressive piers, historic lighthouses, and lake cottages round out the picturesque scene. Located within 30-50 minutes of our Castle in the Country, here are 7 beautiful beaches to visit in Southwest Michigan this summer.
1) Oval Beach, Saugatuck (43 min)
This award-winning and popular beach is a must-see. Renowned for its stunning shoreline and rolling dunes, Oval Beach has been awarded Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 25 Beaches in the World”, National Geographic Traveler’s “Top Freshwater Beaches in the USA”, and MTV’s “Top 5 Beaches in the USA”. Need we say more? While you may not have privacy, the rewards are worth sharing. Note: plenty of parking ($10/car), concessions and picnic area, public restrooms (9am-7pm daily), portable toilets (after 7pm), and no alcohol allowed.
Location: Perryman St. & Oval Beach Dr., Saugatuck, MI, 49453
2) Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck (40 min)
This popular state park boasts sandy beaches and coastal dunes, as well as a forest, campground, and hiking trails. But the beach says it all with 2.5 miles of shoreline, and awesome dunes, some over 200’ tall. This summer head to Saugatuck for swimming, sunning, strolling, birdwatching or picnicking. You can picnic on the beach or on one of the dunes under the shade of a tree. Note: the beach is a two-thirds-mile hike from the picnic parking area.
Location: 6575 138th Ave., Saugatuck Dunes MI, 49453
3) South Beach Park, South Haven (37 min)
South Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches for swimming in the summertime. Located in charming South Haven, you’ll find great sand, stunning sunsets and access to the big, red, historic lighthouse. Note: parking fee, concessions, souvenir shop, picnic area, and restrooms.
Location: 60 Water St., South Haven, MI 49090
4) West Side County Park, Fennville (36 min)
This 11-acre park offers 630’ of sandy beach on Lake Michigan. View the majestic sunsets from the beach or the cozy gazebo (if a wedding isn’t happening). You’ll find a lengthy stairway that provides access to this beautiful beach. Offers picnic tables, pavilions, and public restrooms.
Location: 2152 Lakeshore Dr., Fennville, MI 49408
5) Pier Cove Park, Fennville (36 min)
Pier Cove was once called “the busiest port between St. Joseph and Muskegon.” However, it’s fate was left in question after the loss of the lumber supply in the 1860s, the fire of 1871, and the sawmill’s relocation. Much of the area was sold throughout the years, however, thanks to Ganges Township, a small strip was saved for use as a public beach. Visitors can access this small, somewhat secret beach anytime of year between 8am and 10pm. There are only ten parking spaces, but it’s worth a try, as the swimming and afternoon sun are great. In fact, one of the best parts is the view at sundown with stunning sunsets over Lake Michigan.
Another highlight of the beach is the number of lightning stones. These special rocks, known as septarian nodules, are a geological curiosity. If you enjoy a good hunt or a stunning sunset, this beach is perfect. Note: you’ll have to take a steep stairway down to the beach, so be prepared.
Location: 2290 Lakeshore Dr., Fennville, MI 49408
6) Holland State Park, Holland (50 min)
Holland State Park is one of Michigan’s most popular state parks thanks to its sugary sand beaches, magnificent sunsets, and iconic “Big Red” lighthouse. You’ll easily find a spot of your own on the expansive beach for sunbathing, reading under an umbrella, or just people-watching. Bring a camera for pictures of the lighthouse, located across the channel to the south. Note: enjoy concessions, paddle rentals, and public restrooms with changing area. Admission charged.
Location: 2398 Ottawa Beach Rd., Holland MI, 49424
7) Tunnel Park, Holland (51 min)
Named for its unique tunnel through a dune, Tunnel Park is another fabulous beach find. Offering 22 acres and an extensive beachfront, it’s the ideal place for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. Note: enjoy picnic areas and shelter), sand volleyball courts, modern restrooms, and seasonal concessions with vending machines.
Hours: 7am-10pm March to October 15
Admission: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Location: 66 Lakeshore Dr., Holland, MI 49424
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