Top Michigan Beach Towns

Michigan beach towns are definitely, well “Michigany”. Some of them are a bit touristy with lots of bars, restaurants, and other activities. Then some are more down home and quiet. Whatever you are looking for, you can expect to eat and drink well. After all, Michigan is the Great Beer State with a focus on local sourcing, with from-scratch preparation. You'll also find access to boating and golfing. Being anywhere near a lake in Michigan, means it's a safe bet there is boating and golfing around.

We've included Grand Haven, Empire, Traverse City, South Haven and Holland. This is definitely not a complete list, but what we consider the top Michigan beach towns. But no matter what you're looking for Michigan's got a beach town for you.

Grand Haven

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Grand Haven is a great beach town, where summer time activities revolve around the water. In Grand Haven you are never more than a few minutes from the sugar-sand beach with beautiful sunsets. You can go to Grand Haven State Park to walk the pier, take pictures of the lighthouse, swim, people-watch and camp on the sand. Grand Haven City Beach allows dogs in some areas and has an ADA-compliant beach walkway. If you want something quieter, head to Grand Haven’s North Beach Park where there are some great hiking trails and an off-leash dog beach.

Best Grand Haven Restaurants

Enjoy lunch at the iconic Pronto Pups, serving addictive corn dogs from a tiny beach stand since 1947. Butch’s Beach Burritos is famous for their classic burritos, tacos and fresh-made salsa. Downtown, enjoy Kirby House, with 14 unique dining concepts; wood-fired pizza with cocktails on the rooftop patio of K2, casual dining at Kirby House for salads, burgers and sandwiches, or head to the Grill Room, a traditional chop house.

Best Grand Haven Hotel: Best Western Beacon Inn

Empire

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Ever heard of the Sleeping Bear Dunes? Good Morning America once named it the most beautiful place in America. Empire is probably one of the best unspoiled American beach towns you can actually afford. Empire has soaring bluffs and breathtaking views like no other, and is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There are plenty of helpful rangers to explain the formation of the dunes and point you in the right direction for hiking trails, beaches and scenic drives.

Empire Best Bets

Make sure to check out the iconic Art's Tavern and Grocer's Daughter Chocolate in Glen Arbor, and the Cherry Hut to the south of Empire in Beulah for cherry pie (which is a must). If you tire of trudging thru sand dunes, then the 9-mile Alligator Hill Trail through the forest has great views of Lake Michigan. There is also the Krumwiede Forest Reserve which is a beautiful preserved 110-acre wooded area.

Best Empire Hotel: Empire Lakeshore Inn

Traverse City

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In Traverse City you can play along miles of sugar-sand beaches, visit the wonderful Sleeping Bear Dunes, sail on a Tall Ship, watch a parade, go on a wine or beer tour, or eat cherry pie from the Cherry Capital of the World.

Ride bikes on miles of breathtaking trails or play a round of golf.  Summer time brings lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation in Traverse City. Whether you want to hike or bike, paddle thru the water or fish or walk for miles down a beach, you'll find it in Traverse City.

Traverse City Best Bets

Visit the towering sand dunes that overlook the breathtaking expanse of water and islands at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Traverse City is known for it's craft brewing, ans most breweries are located in or around downtown. Take a tasting tour on foot, by bicycle, by kayak along the Boardman River or pedaling on the TC Cycle Pub — a self-propelled bar on wheels.

Best Traverse City Hotel: Cambria Hotel

South Haven

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In South Haven you'll find beautiful beaches, a broad range of eateries, award-winning wineries, quaint boutiques and scenic surroundings. South Haven offers much more than the typical beach town, but gives you a vacation experience you'll never forget.  South Haven offers fun for the entire family with a walk-able downtown, a variety of shops and restaurants, maritime history, arts, live music, and culture — plenty to keep you busy. You'll find beautiful nature trails, gorgeous golf courses and gorgeous inland lakes. Experience South Haven!

Best South Haven Restaurants

In South Haven you’ll be able to satisfy your craving at any South Haven restaurant. Try the 50's Drive Inn with classic drive-in meals reminiscent of yesteryear!  Definitely stop at the South Haven landmark Clementine's, known for their outstanding food, exceptional service and grand atmosphere. Good Italian food can be found at Maria's Taste of Italy which has become a destination for real family friendly Italian dining.  The South Haven Brew Pub offers unique hand crafted beer and cocktails in an experience like nowhere else. Of course there is Big Boy serving the food you've loved since you were a kid.

Best South Haven Hotel: Hampton Inn South Haven

Holland

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On top of Holland's award-winning downtown and white sandy beaches, Holland's small town charm and big city amenities will have you coming back time and time again. Enjoy dining along the waterfront or at a local cafe, hiking to the top of a sand dune, or climbing to the top of a windmill. Holland has everything from local breweries, to the pristine shores of Lake Michigan. Make Holland your beach town destination!

Best Holland Restaurants

Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, a cozy meal with friends, or a family feast, there's a Holland restaurant to suit your tastes and your budget. One of the most appreciated breakfast-and-lunch restaurants is The Biscuit, serving biscuits with all sorts of sweet and savory flavors. The Salt & Pepper Savory Grill and Pub is worth the drive if you’re looking for an all-American restaurant with a friendly atmosphere. Voted ‘Best of West Michigan’ for 11 years, The Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon has classics like slow-roasted prime rib, barbecue ribs or sweet marinated chicken. 
Butch’s Dry Dock is one of the best places if you want great food and a spectacular selection of wines or beers.

Best Holland Hotel: Haworth Inn & Conference Center



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28 Comments

  1. Kenneth

    I love how you explained how many different types of beaches that Michigan offers the tourist. I think my favorite place to visit and hike would be the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Soaring bluffs? In Michigan? I’ll have to see this for sure. It would be worth it to take a vacation to Michigan just to experience the many different beaches. On top of all that, to set sail on the waters of Lake Michigan would be an awesome experience for the young and old alike. 

    It’s hard to believe that Michigan has so many different types of landscapes that will accommodate anyone desires. Thank you for this information on a place that I never would have thought could have so many things to see and do.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Kenneth and I am glad you enjoyed.  I can tell you that sailing on Lake Michigan is wonderful.  Just seeing the Chicago skyline is beautiful and I agree that Sleeping Bear Dunes is the first place to visit. Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  2. Kate

    Wow, they look beautiful! For swimming, my favourite is South Haven. But for walking I love Grand Haven; it seems amazing in the sunset light. But from the hotels, I prefer Hampton Inn Holland. It’s a difficult choice… and I definitely want to go swimming right now. 😀 Summer is coming!!!

    What is your favourite?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Summer is here….in Florida!  Loving the beach 🙂  Grand Haven is awesome.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  3. Akshay

    Wonderful post. You have listed spectacular spots, where everyone must plan a trip. I love beaches and I’ve been to several islands across the world. But no far never considered to visit Michigan beach towns, because I just didn’t have this information. I’m so glad to find this article. 

    Your analysis is well detailed and much interesting to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading, and just images and video are too refreshing. I can’t wait to visit at least 2 of my top favorite spots, out of all you have listed. I’ve noted my favorite spots and your website in my travel planner diary. I’m very much looking forward to read more of such article. 

    Thanksa lot for sharing this awesome information. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Akshay.  Which two spots are your favorite?  Just curious.  I would assume Grand Haven would be one as that does seem to be the most popular.  I know where ever you go, you will have an amazing time.  Glad you enjoyed the top Michigan beach towns.

      Reply
  4. John Rico

    Hey there! I am really looking for the best beach towns in Michigan. Actually, I am from California and I always look forward to see beach destinations. One quick question though, Among these suggestions, what do you recommend as family friendly place? And does it require that much budget to go there? Thanks in advance for your response.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Boy John, all of these are going to be family friendly actually.  You and your family will have a wonderful time which ever beach town you pick.  I can tell you that you will find Michigan to be a lot more budget friendly than California.  Please let me know if you need any help putting together a family vacation to Michigan!

      Reply
  5. Alex

    Hey,

    All these beaches sound and look really tempting for a vacation. I would love to visit some of them. Unfortunately, I can’t make a very long vacation. Would you rather recommend trying seeing all of them or staying at one beach and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere? And, is there one beach on this list that I shouldn’t miss under any circumstance?

    Also, being from Europe, I am not familiar with the climate in Michigan. Can I count on warm weather in the summer or are there many cloudy days?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Alex, yes the weather is rather nice in the summer in Michigan.  You can plan  on warm sunny days with temperatures in the 80s.  If you cannot plan on a long vacation, I would really pick one beach town and just enjoy and relax rather than hopping from one town to the next 🙂  Thanks for visiting the Top Michigan Beach Towns.

      Reply
  6. Kimberleigh

    Quite spectacular! I love beaches and I do live right near the most beautiful beaches in the UK, here in Dorset,  yet I have to say that your post evoked an intense curiosity deep within me and I now have Grand Haven, Empire, Traverse City, South Haven, and Holland, Michigan on my list of places to explore. How long would it take to really explore Michigan and get the most out of our stay…? I think we can probably take a 2.5-month exploration vacation, would that be enough time? There is so much Beauty in the world, thank you so much for sharing your Beautiful part of the world with us.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh my goodness, yes a 2 1/2 month vacation to the Michigan beach towns would give you quite a taste of the area.  Heck you might just fall in love with the area 🙂  I am glad you enjoyed learning about the top Michigan beach towns, which are quite spectacular for sure!

      Reply
  7. Matthew

    I never realised that Michigan had beach towns as stunning as these! I was in Detroit 2 years ago to visit family for a week but if I knew they were quite close I would have ditched the family and gone wild on the beaches for a week, lol

    I love the look of the South Haven beach and especially like the sound of the nature trails that are around the area because I love to go exploring around new areas that I haven’t been to before.

    If I ever get to go back to that area I will be taking the whole family so does the Hampton Inn have family rooms big enough for 6 of us?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Matthew, yes South Haven is stunning for sure.  You cannot be accommodated at the Hampton Inn, but the Baymont by Wyndham South Haven has great family rooms, good pricing and good reviews.  I would definitely stay with the family there where you can all be accommodated for 🙂  Thanks for visiting and please let me know if you need any additional information.

      Reply
  8. Stella

    Transverse city is one of the best place I ever been in my life. There was this days I had emotional challenge, my uncle surprised me and make a tour with me down to transverse city. It was an amazing experience lodging in one of the best hotel over there. I gained confidence in biking on water over there. It was fun filled and I got stable at the long run.this review is able to expose more places that anchor enjoyment and fun. Thanks for this review. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Stella.  I am glad you have fond memories of Traverse City.  I hope you can visit some of the other top Michigan beach towns as well 🙂  Thanks for stopping by beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  9. Henry

    I like the fact that you have mentioned the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It is really affordable to go there with all the family. And the pristine beach is wonderful for pictures. I’m looking at a picture close my laptop right now of the kids building a sand castle from their trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Sleeping Bear Dunes is a wonderful place!  And the kids absolutely love it.  My kids all love the beach…thank goodness 🙂  So they are happy to head to the beach or to sand dunes.  Always fun for the entire family.  I agree!

      Reply
  10. Norman

    There is nothing like connecting with nature in the great outdoors in this way. What you are sharing is truly amazing and it seems like there is a lot that goes on in this place and that there is something for everybody no matter what class or walk of life. It is so great to unwine in this type of setting just relaxing, enjoying your self and taking it easy.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree Norman, and any Michigan beach town would fit the bill for sure.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  11. Todd Matthews

    The very second I saw the scenery at Empire, MI, I was immediately hooked. Maybe it was just a good photo, but with hiking trails and scenic drives, Michigan might be a destination for me after all, despite the fact I’m an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, so I should keep that fact under the wraps. 

    I would love to see Empire from a vacation standpoint and who knows, maybe I’ll make it my home someday. You stated it was pretty affordable to go to, is it an affordable place to live long-term as well?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The cost of living is about at a 100 for a score, which puts it right dead center in the middle of relative costs for living.  So not on the low end, yet not on the high end.  More of an average cost of living compared to other US cities if that makes sense.  I am not sure where you are at in Ohio, so can’t tell you if it would be less expensive in Empire or more.  I do know that it would be a wonderful place to call home for sure.  Maybe a vacation is in order so you can check things out 🙂  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  12. Daniella

    I’ve never been to Michigan beaches, it’s the first time I hear about it, and your article has inspired me to go there. All of these beaches are beautiful, it really is overwhelming:) I wonder how long would it take to visit all these places? I only have a month free from my work, will it be enough?
    I love boating and golfing, so that’s the perfect place for me:)

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh you could have a wonderful time at these Michigan Beach Towns in a month! Really depends on how long you are going to stay at each town, but definitely can be done and I think you won’t feel rushed either. Sounds like a great way to spend a month’s vacation!

      Reply
  13. Bex Arnold

    I love learning about new places and am pleasantly surprised to learn of Michigan’s Beach Towns.

    I used to visit Grand Rapids with my family when I was younger but I had no idea that Michigan even hosted beaches, let alone beach towns.

    It is so great to click through your posts, Leahrae. Not only are they very well informed, helpful and clearly delineated but for me, almost act as vision board for all the wanderlust that exists within me. Thank you for such solid value girl! Keep up the great work!

    Cheers!

    -Bex

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I am glad you enjoyed reading and learning about the top Michigan beach towns. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave me some comments.

      Reply
  14. Effie

    I like the idea of having a vacation in a less touristic and quieter place. Especially when I am certain that I will eat and drink well. It seems that Michigan is the place for me since I am a beer fan. Summer, Beer and the Empire beaches. A perfect combination for a holiday that will be unforgettable!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I totally agree Effie! What could be better right? Time for us to start planning!

      Reply

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