Traverse City beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. From secluded and small to expansive and sunshine-y, there’s a beach for every lifestyle.
Bayside Park is more than just a sandy beach with clear shallow water. With picnic tables, a playground, basketball and shuffleboard courts, this is the go-to answer to the constant summer vacation question, “what should we do today?” Just south of the intersection of US 31 North and M-72 in Acme, Bayside Park sits on the beautiful East Grand Traverse Bay.
With its fat strip of sand, playground equipment on the grass, a plenitude of picnic tables (with grills) and a nice bathroom, Bryant Park ranks high on family beach favorites. Smaller crowds seal the deal for those looking for a quieter beach scene than what’s found in downtown Traverse City. Plan a late afternoon gathering followed by picnic dinner and sunset, and you’ll have a day to remember. The park is located at the southeast corner of West Grand Traverse Bay, where Garfield Avenue meets Peninsula Drive.
Next to the old Traverse City Zoo and adjacent to the Clinch Park Marina, Clinch Park beach is a great place to get your tan on while squeezing in some quality people-watching. With over 1,500 feet of sand along West Grand Traverse Bay, Clinch Park features picnic tables, lifeguards from mid-June to August (great for younger swimmers), concessions, and a splash pad for kids. Plus it’s just a short walk from downtown Traverse City restaurants and coffee bars. The park is located east of Union Street on Grandview Parkway.
East Bay Park
Views of the glass tower of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, a pleasant park area with grills and bathrooms, and a small playground all make this beach ideal for families with young children. The water of this Lake Michigan bay remains very shallow for a long distance out, allowing new swimmers as well as those who are more inclined to wade than freestyle, to splash to their heart’s content. The park is located on East Bay Boulevard.
Tracing the shore of the diminutive bay at Old Mission Village, the Traverse region’s first European settlement, Haserot Park beach presents a sequestered piece of classic summertime with playground equipment, picnic tables, and grills. Sunbathers can watch modest sailboats sway in the bay, view beautiful cottages running along the shore, and visit an old-timey souvenir shop which is just a short walk up the little two-lane. Bonus: the bay opens to the southeast meaning it’s protected from the north and west winds.
Families, especially those with little kids, appreciate the warm inland lake water. Shade from towering fir trees in the park offer respite when the sun gets too hot. Picnic tables keep the meals easy. A small market a half mile away fills in what you forgot. And of course, there’s that fall-in-love-with-it Long Lake view. The lake is about 6 miles west of Traverse City on North Long Lake Road.
Traverse City State Park
Across the street from the Traverse City State Park campground lies a long stretch of peace and quiet. The Traverse City State Park Beach, which is accessible via an elevated walkway over the traffic of US 31, is one of Traverse City’s most popular beach spots. With picnic tables, restrooms, on-duty lifeguards, and an outlet of Mitchell Creek at the west end of the beach, it is the perfect place to bring a lunch and spend the day. A state park permit is required should you want to park your car there, but foot access is free.
Running in a sandy arc from Traverse City’s Open Space a mile west to M-72, West End Beach has long provided a measure of Traverse City’s summer vital signs. Locals and visitors stake out space on shore, while boaters anchor nearby, creating a boat-to-shore social scene. The region’s most active volleyball action fires up here as well, with the fit and oiled competing nearly every evening all summer long. An easy walk to downtown delivers Traverse City’s restaurants, cafes, and a break from the sun.