As warmer weather rolls into the Great Lakes State, it’s time to start preparing for a long summer of beachfront lounging. We’re endlessly lucky to have access to so many gorgeous waterfront locales here in Michigan, and it would be nearly impossible to list each and every coastal town. Here are eleven of our favorite towns on the water that will make your Michigan summer complete.
Tucked away along the shores of Lake Michigan, Holland has a little something for everyone. For a classic beach experience, head to Holland State Park and marvel at the Big Red Lighthouse. If you’re seeking a slightly less crowded visit, enjoy the views at Tunnel Park or Laketown Beach. When you’re all beached out, venture to 8th Street in downtown Holland and do some shopping at some of the area’s great boutiques and stores. What’s not to love?
2. South Haven
This Lake Michigan town is like something out of a dream. The beach is located within walking distance of downtown, so it’s easy to get around without too much driving. Spend a few hours splashing in the gorgeous waves and walking along the water, then do some window-shopping (or real shopping!) throughout South Haven’s quaint downtown.
3. Bay City
This delightful little town is the perfect place to spend a few hours with loved ones on a warm summer afternoon. Check out stunning views of the Saginaw Bay, which connects beautifully to Lake Huron. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk, lounge for a while at Bigelow Park, or head to one of the public boat docks for a day on the water. There’s something here for every member of the family!
4. New Baltimore
Perhaps you've never heard of this small town near Lake Huron, but it should certainly be added to your must-visit list. Its downtown area is small but absolutely charming, and you’ll find lovely views of Anchor Bay as you wander through the community. The people are friendly, the scenery is lovely, and the atmosphere is perfectly calming.
If you’re a fan of Lake Superior, Marquette is one of the best places to check out this gorgeous body of water. Head to Black Rocks at Presque Isle to do a little cliff-jumping, or take it easy on one of the area’s calmer beaches. On a hot summer day, there’s truly nothing better than dipping your toes in the chilly waves. After your swim, check out the Marquette Harbor Light for a little history lesson or head downtown and grab a pint at Blackrocks Brewery.
Frankfort is the place to be when you’re searching for a true small-town vibe and lots of beautiful waterfront scenery to match. Venture to the Point Betsie Light or Frankfort Light if you’re a fan of lovely lighthouses, or check out nearby Crystal Lake for a quieter waterfront experience. Throughout town, you’ll also find plenty of boutique shops and art galleries to peruse.
7. St. Ignace
As the first stop in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, St. Ignace is a special little town. Gaze out at the Straits of Mackinac as you admire the marvelous Mighty Mac, or step back in time with a visit to the town’s Indian Village. Of course, no visit to St. Ignace is complete without a stop at Castle Rock, which offers one-of-a-kind views of the surrounding area.
Munising serves as the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more stunning area in all of Michigan. Hop onto a glass-bottomed boat tour to check out shipwrecks in Lake Superior, or simply cruise along the water and marvel at the otherworldly beauty of Pictured Rocks. The water is blue, the rock formations are magical, and the town itself is quaint and charming. Don’t forget to grab a pasty from Muldoons before leaving town!
This tiny town in Michigan’s "thumb" is a popular destination for cottage-goers as soon as the weather gets hot. The "Cheeseburger In Caseville" festival celebrates all things Jimmy Buffett each year, but there’s so much more to love about the area. Lovely waterfront views of the Saginaw Bay, a handful of old-fashioned ice cream shops, and even a campground make Caseville a must-visit locale.
Tucked away along Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay, Alpena is a great spot to bring the family. Its location near a national marine sanctuary makes it the ideal place to house the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, where you’ll learn all about the history of our beautiful bodies of water. Take a walk at Island Park, visit the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary, or snap photos at the Alpena Light. It’s easy to fill a day with activities in this waterfront town.
Lake Michigan has never looked better than it does from the soft sand at Ludington State Park, and you’ll certainly want to see for yourself. There’s a reason so many visitors flock to this lakeside town each year — from a magical lighthouse to beaches galore to the chance to step back in time at White Pine Village, there’s no telling what sort of adventures you’ll have in Ludington.
We know that our list only scratches the surface when it comes to Michigan’s waterfront towns. Tell us: which spots should have been included in this article? Share your suggestions in the comments below.