Top Beaches in Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Boyne City

Petoskey beaches abound. Sunsets on the west-facing Petoskey State Park. Picnicking at Harbor Springs’ Zorn. A quiet spot surrounded by hiking trails. If you want to just pull over for a quick dip that’s fine, but spend some time at these favorite Northern Michigan beaches and you’ll be experiencing a true summer vacation Up North.

Petoskey State Park

This expansive beach on Little Traverse Bay is a slice of heaven smack between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, making it ideal for a swim after shopping in town. Play a game of volleyball in the sand courts, or take a short hike along the park’s trail system for the incredible views atop Old Baldy, a stable dune just behind the beach. 180 campsites. On M-119, four miles northeast of Petoskey. 231.347.2311.

Zorn Park

Harbor Springs’ in-town park, next to the marina, is a favorite for families. The beach has lifeguards, a swimming raft, and a sandy-bottom swim area where you can take a dip in the clean, cold, spring-fed waters of this natural harbor on Little Traverse Bay. The grassy knoll along the beach is perfect for rolling out a blanket and enjoying a take-out lunch from one of the eateries just a couple blocks away. 231.526.7999,

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve

This sweet Lake Michigan beach is a bit of a secret, tucked away in a pretty 30-acre preserve near Harbor Springs. It’s just 300 feet of frontage, but on most days you’re likely to have it all to yourself. Bonus: There’s also 1.5 miles of easy hiking trails and boardwalks through dunes and cedar swamps, and an interpretive nature center the kids will adore. On Lower Shore Drive, off M-119 four miles north of Harbor Springs. 231.526.6401,

Peninsula Beach

A short walk from downtown Boyne City, this little public beach on Lake Charlevoix is primo for parking a lawn chair for an afternoon or bringing the family for a picnic. It’s actually one of two Boyne City beaches; the other, Tannery Beach, is the perfect place to launch a canoe—and is also popular among dog lovers for letting the pooches jump in for a swim.

Crooked Lake

This quiet, meandering inland lake northeast of Petoskey is part of the famous Inland Waterway—an interconnected series of rivers and lakes stretching from Petoskey to Cheboygan. On the lake’s western edge is the community of Conway, where the Township Park has a cute little beach for swimming and sunning, a bubbling artesian well, and a picnic-perfect grassy park. On Merritt Street/U.S. 31 in Conway.