Grab Some Time at a Leelanau Beach

These beaches in Leelanau County offer spectacular Lake Michigan vistas, whether you're gazing out at one of the big lake's bays or the Manitous dotting its horizon. Many of these are located just off the main streets of village downtowns in Leland, Suttons Bay, Northport and Empire. Set up camp for the day with a towel and a picnic or walk for miles on the shoreline. No matter how you pass the time when you're at a Lake Michigan beach, it will be a memory that sticks with you and draws you back.{C}

Northport

Tucked on the edge of downtown Northport at the Leelanau Peninsula's northern reaches, Hasarot Park makes an ideal spot to pack a cooler with a day's lunch, bask in the sun and watch the activity at the bustling marina. The beach is located between the marina and the bay.

Suttons Bay Marina

Stroll downtown Suttons Bay to the Silvertree Deli & Gourmet Market for picnic sandwiches, pick up a read at Brilliant Books, find your place in the sun and don't leave until the sun sets. The marina beach has playground equipment, picnic tables, grills and lots of sandy beach. It's located just behind the downtown, on the north side of the marina.

Leland

Locals in call this sandy Leland hideaway Van's Beach after the landmark car garage that marks the turn to the beach. And no wonder people in the know love this beach. Secluded behind rock piles and Lake Michigan's roaring surf, it's a stone's throw as the crow flies from Fishtown—a series of shops across the river housed in commercial fishing shanties. Really want to live like a local? Grab a "Cheese Shop" sandwich from The Cheese Shop in Fishtown before you hit the beach. Turn toward the lake on Cedar Street and Main Street.

North Bar

Stake your turf between twin surfs—beautiful North Bar Lake on one side and dazzling Lake Michigan on the other. This Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore beach is off Voice Road, north of Empire. Stop in at the Philip A. Hart Visitors Center in Empire for a parking permit and enjoy a day of beach walking, body surfing and a dazzling sunset. 231-326-5134.

Empire

Lake Michigan calls from one side of the parking lot; sweet, warm, petite South Bar Lake begs from the other. Betwixt? Grills, basketball court, a playground and plenty of sand. Find this beach at the end of Niagara Street just off Empire's downtown.

Surf's Up

Great Lakes' waves may be smaller than their briny brethren, but catch one and you're riding high. Buy or rent gear and sign up for a lesson that covers surfing basics at Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak in Empire at the end of Front Street. Just want to look surfer cool? This beachy nook has the duds you need. Rather kayak than surf? They rent those, too. 231-326-9283. SBSURFANDKAYAK.COM

Learn to surf before you rent the board with this Surf the Great Lakes video.

Click on the 2009 Leelanau Vaction Guide

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Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    If you take 201 north out of Northport to Kilcherman, pass Cathead Bay Road and go straight down a steep hill onto Christmas Cove Road, you’ll be rewarded with a sandy beach invigorated by the pounding of Lake Michigan waves and warmed until sunset by the westward moving sun. I think that’s a better Northport beach.