They don’t call Michigan the Great Lakes State for nothing. From coast to coast, our state is simply overflowing with charming beach towns to peruse and explore. While it would simply be impossible to list each and every wonderful waterfront community throughout Michigan, there are certainly several gorgeous spots that every Michigander (and out-of-towner!) must visit at least once.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. South Haven
This lovely community demonstrates Lake Michigan living at its very finest, and you might find it difficult to leave. Take a stroll through the town’s utterly charming downtown area for a bit of beachside shopping, catch a sunset over the pier, or lounge on the soft sand — no matter how you spend your time here, you’re sure to have a blast.
You’ll wonder if you’ve stepped into a beautiful alternate universe as you check out the scenery in Ludington. Whether you're searching for white sand or lighthouses, you’ll be in luck as you peruse the many sights and sounds of this one-of-a-kind spot. Don’t forget to grab a meal at Old Hamlin Restaurant before you leave town!
There’s something undeniably magical about a trip to Manistee, which brings together stunning natural beauty and friendly locals in one incredible community. Take a dip at First Street Beach, stroll along the riverwalk, or snap a few photos at the North Pierhead Lighthouse. It’s difficult to imagine a more wonderful little town.
Lake Michigan stuns along the beach in Frankfort, which draws in countless visitors each year with its timeless beauty and natural attractions. Whether you’ve got a cottage along nearby Crystal Lake or a beachfront room in Frankfort itself, the town will keep you coming back for more. Don’t leave town without visiting the Point Betsie Light — you’ll be charmed by its beauty.
5. East Tawas
This Iosco County destination offers mesmerizing views of Lake Huron and a small town atmosphere that will completely amaze you. Venture to Tawas Point State Park when you’re ready to bask in the beauty of the shoreline, or wake up early to catch a breathtaking sunrise over the water. No matter how many times you’ve visited, East Tawas never fails to charm.
6. Mackinaw City
Most Michiganders have spent time on Mackinac Island, but there’s something truly special about a day in nearby Mackinaw City. Before you head over the bridge, spend a few hours lounging beachside as you marvel at the Straits of Mackinac. Pick up a few slices of fudge, step back in time at at Old Mackinac Point Light, or simply rest up before your journey northward.
7. Grand Haven
When it comes to Lake Michigan beach towns, it’s difficult to beat Grand Haven. As soon as you set foot in this lovely little town, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a beachfront movie scene. Soft sand, blue water, and kites fluttering above the shoreline: sound like paradise? You’ll find it when you spend an afternoon exploring gorgeous Grand Haven.
Looking to get up-close and personal with Lake Huron? Allow us to recommend Oscoda, which also boasts direct access to the Au Sable River. Hop aboard the Au Sable River Queen for a ride along the water, delight in calming views from Oscoda Beach Park, or rent a kayak and hit the waves. There’s truly something here for every member of the family.
9. Port Austin
This town in Michigan’s thumb region is tiny, but don’t let that fool you: it’s overflowing with things to do and attractions to enjoy. Make a visit to the natural wonder of Turnip Rock, overwhelm yourself in the best way possible with a trip to Port Crescent State Park, or check out the Port Austin Farmers Market. You don’t have to be a local to feel right at home here.
Munising sits along the shores of Lake Superior, backing up to some of Michigan’s most breathtaking formations. There’s truly something to explore in this town for every sort of visitor, from adventurous hikes along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to leisurely boat tours on the water. It’s certainly one of the Upper Peninsula’s must-visit destinations.
11. St. Joseph
If you’re a fan of beautiful sunsets, St. Joseph might just be your version of paradise. This Lake Michigan beach town bustles with activity and waterfront excitement during the day, but come evening it turns into a colorful wonderland with painted skies and some of the most peaceful views imaginable. It doesn’t matter what time of day you visit — St. Joseph is stunning from dawn until dusk.
Have you visited any of these beach towns? Did we leave your favorite off our list? We’d love to hear your recommendations and reviews. Feel free to share them in the comment section below!