5 Stunning White Sand Beaches in Michigan

Michigan, known as the Great Lakes State, boasts a remarkable natural beauty that extends far beyond its well-known lakeshores. Nestled along its pristine coastlines are some of the most breathtaking white sand beaches you’ll find anywhere in the United States. While many may associate white sand beaches with tropical destinations, Michigan surprises visitors with its enchanting stretches of powdery sands, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque landscapes.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful getaway, an active beach adventure, or simply a place to bask in the beauty of nature, Michigan’s white sand beaches are a testament to the state’s remarkable diversity and the allure of its Great Lakes coastline.

  1. Warren Dunes State Park

Located near the town of Sawyer, this popular state park boasts an expansive shoreline adorned with pristine white sands, making it a true gem of the region. Whether taking a stroll along the coastline, picnicking with loved ones, swimming in the refreshing waters, or even embarking on a sandboarding adventure down the dunes, Warren Dunes State Park beach offers an unforgettable experience for beach enthusiasts of all ages. 

Swimming at the beach is a must-do activity, with attentive lifeguards ensuring safety. For those seeking adventure, the park’s extensive trail system is perfect for hiking and exploring the magnificent dunes, immersing yourself in the area’s unique ecosystem. Check out the food trucks and gift shops along the dunes for a delightful culinary experience. 

The beach has well-equipped campgrounds, catering to tent and RV campers and has essential amenities like restrooms and picnic areas. Please remember that alcohol is strictly prohibited on the beach and the campground. If you’re bringing your furry friend along, head further north up the shoreline, where there’s a designated dog-friendly beach area. Just keep your dog on a leash for everyone’s safety. There is a nice playground for kids to play at.

Recommended activities on the beach:

  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Sandboarding
  • Kite surfing
  • Picnicking
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Rock hunting

How to get there

Warren Dunes State Park is located near the city of Sawyer in Michigan. If you’re travelling from Kalamazoo, one of the nearest big cities, here’s how you can get to Warren Dunes State Park:

  1. Begin by getting onto I-94 W from N Park St and W Kalamazoo Ave.
  2. Follow I-94 W to Bridgman. This will be approximately a 60-mile drive.
  3. Use Exit 16 from I-94 W.
  4. Continue on Lake St. Drive to Red Arrow Hwy in Sawyer.
  5. Once you’re on Red Arrow Hwy, follow it directly to Warren Dunes State Park.

The trip is roughly 70 miles and should take around 1 hour and 15 minutes by car without significant traffic. Once you arrive at the park, ample parking is available near the beach area, and fees are typically required. Arrive early, especially during peak seasons or weekends, as the parking lot can fill quickly. Non-residents must pay an entrance fee of $11, while Michigan license plate holders can enter for free. Please note that only cash is accepted, so have some on hand.

2. Grand Haven City Beach

Grand Haven City Beach is located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in the charming town of Grand Haven, Michigan. This beloved beach, often called “The Best Beach in Michigan,” offers a serene and inviting atmosphere. This picturesque beach is popular with locals and tourists due to its expansive shoreline, velvety white sand, and the iconic Grand Haven Lighthouse that stands proudly in the background.

The beach is well-equipped with amenities to enhance visitors’ experience. There are restrooms, shower facilities, and seasonal lifeguards to ensure swimmers’ safety during the peak months. For those wanting to grab a bite or do some shopping, the nearby downtown Grand Haven offers a variety of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques.

Throughout the year, Grand Haven hosts several events and festivals easily accessible from the city beach. One of the most renowned events is the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival, which celebrates the local Coast Guard’s contributions and features parades, music, and fireworks. The beach also becomes a hub for summer concerts and events, drawing crowds from all over the region.

Recommended activities on the beach:

  • Swimming
  • Surfing
  • Kite surfing
  • Watching sunset
  • Sunbathing
  • Volleyballing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Fishing near the pier
  • Bird watching
  • Picnicking

How to get there

Grand Haven City Beach is located in the city of Grand Haven, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. If you’re starting from Grand Rapids, MI:

  1. Head west on I-96 towards Muskegon.
  2. Take exit 9 to merge onto US-31 N toward Muskegon.
  3. Exit at Robbins Rd and turn left.
  4. Continue on Robbins Rd, which becomes Jackson St.
  5. Turn left onto Harbor Dr.
  6. Follow Harbor Dr directly to Grand Haven City Beach.

This route typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. Always consult a GPS or map service for real-time directions and conditions. Parking is available, but they can fill up quickly during peak times, especially in the summer months. There are also additional parking spots in the city, but you may need to walk or take a shuttle during the busiest times. Grand Haven may have shuttle services, particularly during special events or peak seasons. It’s a good idea to check with the city’s website or local businesses for any available transportation options if you visit during these times.

3. Silver Beach

Located near St. Joseph along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Silver Beach is one of Michigan’s most cherished lakeside destinations. The beach is particularly renowned for its expansive white sand shoreline, which stretches invitingly and offers visitors a pristine and scenic environment to relax, play, and soak in the beauty of Lake Michigan.

Silver Beach is not just a delight for sunbathers and swimmers but also offers a playground for families and children, making it a favourite among family vacationers. There are clean restrooms, picnic areas, and concession stands where you can grab a snack or a meal. The beach also boasts lifeguard services during the peak summer months, ensuring the safety of swimmers and beachgoers.

Beyond the beach itself, the surrounding area of St. Joseph offers many attractions. From the interactive exhibits at the Curious Kids’ Museum to the beautiful landscapes of Tiscornia Park, visitors have plenty to explore. The St. Joseph Lighthouse, standing as a sentinel, provides not just a picturesque backdrop but is also a historical point of interest.

Recommended activities on the beach:

  • Swimming
  • Volleyballing
  • Sunbathing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Kite flying
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking

How to get there

Getting to Silver Beach in Michigan is relatively straightforward. Located in St. Joseph, it is accessible via major roads and highways. From Grand Rapids, MI:

  1. Start on I-196 W/US-131 S from Monroe Ave NW.
  2. Follow I-196 W to I-94 W in Benton Charter Township.
  3. Continue on I-94 W to St Joseph.
  4. Take exit 23 from I-94 W for Red Arrow Hwy toward Bridgman/St Joseph.
  5. Merge onto Red Arrow Hwy.
  6. Continue on Main St. Drive to Broad St in St Joseph.
  7. Silver Beach will be on your left.

For those flying in, the nearest major airport is South Bend International Airport in Indiana, approximately a 45-minute drive away from Silver Beach. After landing, one can rent a car and drive to St. Joseph. The parking lot is located near the beach, however, it fills up quickly during peak times, especially midday in the summer or during special events.

4. Oscoda Beach Park

Oscoda Beach Park, located in Oscoda along the sunrise coast of Michigan, boasts of an expansive shoreline that kisses the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. A highlight of this beach park is its soft, white sand, offering visitors a serene and picturesque environment reminiscent of coastal paradises. The contrast of the white sand against the blue waters creates a captivating sight, drawing both locals and tourists alike.

Whether looking for a relaxing day on the beach or an adventure in the surrounding areas, this park promises a fulfilling experience. The gentle waves of Lake Huron make it ideal for swimming and wading, especially for families with children. There are clean restroom facilities, children’s playground equipment, and picnic tables. Barbecue grills are also available for those wishing to enjoy a beachside cookout.

Oscoda offers a blend of natural beauty and local attractions. For those interested in exploring beyond the beach, the Oscoda Area has the Lumberman’s Monument and the Iargo Springs Interpretive Site, offering history and breathtaking views, respectively. Water-based activities such as canoeing and fishing are also popular in the AuSable River, a short distance from the beach park.

Recommended activities on the beach:

  • Swimming
  • Sunbathing
  • Jogging
  • Surfing
  • Volleyballing
  • Basketballing
  • Picnicking
  • Skate boarding
  • Fishing

How to get there

The nearest major city to Oscoda is Saginaw, Michigan. Here’s how to get from Saginaw to Oscoda Beach Park:

  1. Start on I-675 N from S Washington Ave.
  2. Merge onto I-75 N/US-23 N via the ramp to Bay City/Mackinaw City.
  3. Continue to follow US-23 N, which will take you along the coast of Lake Huron. This drive offers scenic views and is approximately 90 miles.
  4. Upon arriving in Oscoda, follow the local signage to reach Oscoda Beach Park, located right by Lake Huron.

The entire journey from Saginaw to Oscoda Beach Park is about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on driving conditions and traffic. Generally, if you’re in another part of Michigan, aim to reach US-23, and then head towards Oscoda. The town is between Tawas City to the south and Alpena to the north, both on US-23. Always refer to a GPS or map service for the most accurate, real-time directions from your specific starting point.

  1. Empire Beach

Nestled in the scenic village of Empire, Empire Beach presents a serene escape on the shores of Lake Michigan. The beach is known for its pristine white sand, which stretches along the coast, contrasting beautifully with the azure waters of the lake. Being situated within the bounds of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this beach perfectly encapsulates Michigan’s picturesque lakefront beauty.

Apart from its natural allure, Empire Beach has various amenities to enhance the visitor experience. There’s a children’s playground, picnic areas, and a volleyball net. Clean restroom facilities and changing areas cater to those who want to spend an extended time at the beach. Additionally, a grassy area with benches lets visitors relax and enjoy the view without setting foot on the sand.

Empire Beach’s location within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers visitors easy access to other attractions. Hiking enthusiasts often venture to the Empire Bluff Trail for elevated panoramic views of Lake Michigan. The quaint village of Empire also has its charm with local shops and eateries waiting to be explored.

Recommended activities on the beach:

  1. Swimming
  2. Picnicking
  3. Beachcombing
  4. Sunbathing
  5. Kayaking
  6. Boating
  7. Watching sunset

How to get there

To reach Empire Beach in Michigan, located within the village of Empire on the coast of Lake Michigan, you would typically use Michigan’s main highways and roads. From Traverse City, MI:

  1. Start by heading west on W Grandview Parkway toward Park St.
  2. Continue onto M-72 W.
  3. Turn right onto S Benzonia Trail/M-22.
  4. Continue to follow M-22 north.
  5. As you enter the village of Empire, follow local signs and roads leading to Empire Beach.

The drive from Traverse City to Empire Beach is approximately 25 miles and takes about 30 minutes. Ample parking is available but can get busy during peak times.

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