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

Find ideas, tips and hundreds of links to fun, food, activities and recreation to pack around your trip to the beach!

Quick Links to More Fun in Leelanau County!

  • The Leelanau Vacation Directory: Listings to lodging, galleries, restaurants and more along with an interactive map.
  • Leelanau Digital Vacation Guide: Browse beautiful pages connecting you to wine tours, great drives, historic Glen Haven, lighthouse tours, canoeing and click to hundreds of websites.
  • The Leelanau County "Don't Miss" List
  • The Complete Restaurant Guide for Leelanau County: Just type in any Leelanau County town and browse the wonderful array of restaurant options.
  • Video: Sleeping Bear Dunes
  • Check out all the music, festivals, arts and events of all kinds happening in Leelanau County: Just pop in the name of the Leelanau County town you'd like to play in and choose amongst hundreds of things to do!
  • Plot your day in Leelanau County using this Interactive Map: Choose an activity in "I'd like to find" and choose a Leelanau town for "in a town near." Then click away!
  • Rent a cottage in Leelanau County: There are hundreds of cottages to rent in Northern Michigan. Type the town you're interested in into the Search box and plan your getaway Up North!
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