Michiganders dutifully love all of the Great Lakes, but many still pick favorites. These five beaches are MSU students’ go-to summer spots, and if you’re tired of the crowds at Grand Haven or just want to explore new shores, you’ll love them too.
Hidden Beach, Marquette
Marquette, a town in the Upper Peninsula , is on the coast of Lake Superior and is home to several beaches. Surrounded by dense forest, Hidden Beach can only be reached by hiking trails. Marquette local and MSU sophomore Glenellen Lehmberg, who studies comparative cultures and politics, recalled getting lost her first time visiting. But she still thinks the beauty of the beach is worth the trek. Lehmberg’s best advice for other first-time visitors is: “Wear good walking shoes, be prepared to have to walk over tree roots … and be prepared to get lost.” The trails deter the less dedicated beachgoers, so if you’re looking for a private location, it’s time to don your hiking boots.
Lakeside Park, Port Huron
Bordered by Ontario, Canada and Lake Huron, Port Huron still maintains a small-town atmosphere. Located in Michigan’s thumb, the town has vast beaches and a downtown area filled with locally-owned businesses that are tourist favorites. Diamant Topllari, a junior mechanical engineering major, recommends visiting Lakeside Park, his favorite beach. “The water is so clear and amazing, and sometimes it gets shallower when you go in further, so we play beach games there,” Topllari said. The drive to Port Huron from East Lansing is just under two hours, making it an ideal day trip.
Warren Dunes State Park, Bridgman
Warren Dunes State Park offers camping, swimming and hiking. Located in southwest Michigan, the park prides itself on a sand dune that towers 260 feet over Lake Michigan. Jon Strain, a senior studying sustainable parks, recreation and tourism, recalled visiting often as a kid. “I’ve camped there a lot with my dad … we just kind of lived there for the weekend,” he said. Strain recommends going to Luisa’s Cafe, a nearby restaurant, for breakfast food and baked goods if you get sick of roughing it.
Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon
Seemingly surrounded by Lake Michigan on all sides, Muskegon is a perfect getaway just northwest of MSU. The town boasts expansive, unpopulated beaches and warm waves. The theme park, Michigan’s Adventure, is minutes away and Lefty & Romos’ has the best steak, according to Andrew Birkley, a junior studying actuarial science. “If you know what to do, it’s homey,” he said. “The quality of the beach itself, the sand is really nice there. It’s one of the best beaches in the country, they say,” Birkley said about Pere Marquette Beach. Though he’s an Illinois native, Birkley said that MSU and Muskegon have transformed him into a loyal Michigander.
Les Cheneaux Islands
Located in the UP, Les Cheneaux islands are made up of 36 smaller islands. On an average summer day, the most popular activities are kayaking, fishing and dining at the culinary school, which becomes a restaurant for the season. Molly Fagan, an MSU sophomore studying kinesiology, has a lot of pride in her hometown. “There’s a lot of historic homes, and it was one of the first stops when the traders were coming in. There’s a lot of history,” she said. Tourists can rent cabins during the summer, and many go to the Antique Boat Show & Festival of the Arts in August.