Northern Michigan Vacations: A day at the beach is even sweeter when you’re within walking distance of supplies. A great beach read, shovel and pail and ice cream cones are all an easy stroll from these in-town beach beauties.
Those who like to gradually enter the water will love Suttons Bay’s marina beach, a favorite for families and those just looking to float in the particularly warm shallows. A playground, tables and grills make it easy to stay through dinner. Better yet, walk to one of the local pubs noted for gourmet burgers and a casual vibe. 231.271.6703.
Historic Glen Haven offers a full vacation in a single stop, starting with a beach you can’t beat anywhere in the Great Lakes—at least according to Florida professor Stephen Leatherman, a ka “Dr. Beach.” He ranked it at the top for coastal dunes, fine sand and view of the Manitou Islands. On-site museum and old-fashioned general store add to the fun. From Glen Arbor, 2 miles west on M-109.
Enchanting dune bluffs rise to the north and south of this wide swath of sandy beach, making it one of the area’s most popular. The amenities don’t hurt either. A restroom, playground, picnic tables and grills help families out. When the big lake’s too chilly to dive into, cross the parking lot to the small inland (and warmer) South Bar Lake. Follow signs from downtown.
Pick up a take-out picnic at NJ’s Grocery (the fresh-made samosas, perhaps) and head to this road-end local favorite beach. It’s a good spot for dropping in a line or launching a kayak, and then paddling the wildlife-filled channel connecting the north and south branches of Lake Leelanau. Head west from town on M-204 about a mile, right on Popp Rd.
North Beach is a favorite for those who like to walk for miles, stopping along the soft sand path to collect a Petoskey stone or locally prized Leland Blue. (Stay along the water line to avoid trespassing.) Find books, picnic fare and sand toys in downtown Leland. Take North Street west toward the lake, and then follow a short trail to the beach.
As close as an in-town beach can come to being a secret cove, this hidden gem is found just past where the main road makes a sharp curve. Walk to pick up provisions at the old-timey general store. You feel away from it all, yet you are steps from waterfront dining and wine tasting. Sailboats often dock in the harbor, adding romance to your view. Off M-22 in Omena.
Haserot Park, Northport’s municipal beach, is located right downtown. The grassy park offers room for the kids to run, and it’s also a favorite for festivals celebrating wine or the classic fish boil. Your view is of the sparkling waters of Grand Traverse Bay beyond the marina. Walk the pier and gaze at the boats after a picnic and swim.
The nautical theme of the new play area is fitting on this beach alongside the Elmwood Township Marina. Picnic with the gang under the large shelters while the kids swing, whirl and slide on the creations of TV-show carpenter Carter Oosterhouse, a Traverse City native who has built more than 20 playgrounds through his Carter’s Kids charity. On M-22, just north of the M-72 intersection.
For more summer vacation ideas in Northern Michigan, grab the 2013 MyNorth Vacation Guide!
From the same people who produce Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, this is a colorful, easy-to-use guide to Northern Michigan vacation ideas from Ludington to Traverse City, from Charlevoix to Mackinac Island and everything in between. It is filled with ideas, tips and hundreds of websites that connect you to fun, food, activities, lodging and recreation in every part of Northern Michigan.
- More than 140, full color pages with stunning photography and travel stories
- Maps of each region
- Hundreds of resources
Be sure to also check out our free online area-specific vacation guides!
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Traverse City, Acme, Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, and Williamsburg
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Mackinac Island, and Boyne Country
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Charlevoix, Alden, Beaver Island, Bellaire, Central Lake, Easst Jordon, Elk Rapids, and Torch Lake
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Cedar, Empire, Glen Arbor, Lake Leelanau, Leland, Maple City, Northport, Peshawbestown, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Suttons Bay, and Omena
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Benzie, Manistee, West Shore, Beulah, Benzonia, Crystal Lake, Frankfort, Ludington, Onekama, and Pentwater