Personalize your beach day! In this region overflowing with water, there’s always a place in the sand tailored for you and yours, from Petoskey to Harbor Springs and beyond.

This article was featured in Vacation! Northern Michigan. Want more insider tips, road trips and the low-down on the best beaches and dining Up North? Get your copy.

A Beach that Has It All | Petoskey State Park

This expansive beach on Little Traverse Bay is a slice of heaven smack-dab 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. Along with enjoyable sands, Petoskey State Park beach offers hiking trails and rentals on bikes, kayaks and paddleboards. There’s even a concession stand for a quick snack fill-up.

Petoskey State Park beach

Photo by Tess Crowley

The Perfect Beach for Solitude Seekers | Thorne Swift Nature Preserve

Right on Lake Michigan, this secret beach is tucked away in a 30-acre preserve. Although it’s smaller, it packs a punch by means of quality over quantity—if you’re out looking for an adventure. Make sure to check out its hiking trails and boardwalks through dunes and cedar swamps, and there’s even an interpretive nature center kids will adore.

Best Beach for Rock Hunters | Magnus Park City Beach

If you’re on the hunt for Petoskey stones, this is one of the best beaches to add to your travels. It’s also close to downtown for those who want to shop and beach in the same day. Anticipate the cool waters of Little Traverse Bay and about 1,000 feet of shoreline to explore.

Warm Waters & Plentiful Activities | Walloon Lake Beach

In search of warmer waters? Check out Walloon Lake. It’s not as massive as the bay or the Great Lakes, so it’s great for relaxing and enjoying summer heat. There’s even a basketball court, sand volleyball nets and horseshoe court for those who want to play. Head to Tommy’s Walloon for paddleboard, kayak and other watersport rentals.

Best Family Day Beach | Zorn Park

This is a beach perfect for families with its seasonal lifeguards, swimming rafts and sandy bottom. These spring-fed waters are cool and refreshing for a day at the lake. The grassy knoll along the beach is waiting for you to roll out a blanket and enjoy a take-out lunch from one of the eateries just a couple blocks away.

Dog Friendly Beach | Zoll Street Beach

Also known as Zoll Dog Beach because it’s one of the best pet-friendly beaches, Zoll is great for picnic lunches while you’re out enjoying Northern Michigan. It has racks to lock up and store your kayak, and up the street there’s even a public park with restrooms. Add this one to your pit-stop list if you’re cruising around Little Traverse Bay.

For the Beach Explorer | Sturgeon Bay

This beach offers around three miles of sandy waterfront to explore. If you’re looking for an uphill challenge, try trekking the sand dunes. After a good workout, the waters will be there to welcome you with their cool, refreshing waves.

Sturgeon Bay beach

Photo by Connor Gray

Perfect for a Picnic | Crooked Lake Beach

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 bubbling artesian well and a picnic-perfect grassy area, making Crooked Lake Beach one of the best beaches for swimming and sunning.

Photo(s) by Rachel Haggerty