If you love the sand, sun and shore, West Michigan is the place for you. With 300 miles of gorgeous shoreline, lucky visitors and residents enjoy quick access to beaches that dot the Michigan coastline. The ability to combine a big-city getaway with a beach vacation is one reason Grand Rapids gets top marks from travel experts at Expedia, Lonely Planet, Thrillist and more.

There are 22 Lake Michigan beaches within an hour’s drive of downtown Grand Rapids. Here are some of our favorites!

Holland Lightouse

Lake Michigan lighthouses are especially iconic, including "Big Red," which has looked over the Holland Harbor for nearly 100 years.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

Beaches Families Love—Great for Everyone

Holland State Park (Holland)

35 miles southwest of Grand Rapids

If you’re in the mood to relax in a beach chair and watch the waves, Holland State Park has a long, beautiful shoreline and a historic red lighthouse, fondly called Big Red.

For a great view of Big Red, which sits at the end of the channel leading from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan, follow the wheelchair-accessible boardwalk to the north pier. The Mt. Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk offers breathtaking views of Lake Macatawa, Lake Michigan and Big Red.

Beachgoers can take advantage of the volleyball and basketball courts. Activity junkies can visit the park’s Macatawa side to rent kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards.

Holland State Park also features a great playground for kids, a concession stand with food and beach supplies, as well as picnic tables, fire pits, grills, and restrooms.

Grand Haven City Beach

Grand Haven State Park is known for its sandy beach, making it a top destination in the summer.

Photo by Sarah Goodwin for Experience GR.

Grand Haven State Park (Grand Haven)

35 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

While the scenic sandy beach in Grand Haven State Park attracts sunbathers and swimmers, the State Park has even more to offer, including volleyball and fishing.

Add the pier and striking lighthouse, food trucks, the Musical Fountain (the world’s largest!), and the proximity to the city’s quaint downtown, Grand Haven State Park makes a great destination for families, friends, and couples.

Travel+Leisure Magazine named Grand Haven State Park one of the 25 Best Beaches in the U.S. in 2024, advising visitors to stay long enough into the evening to see “a magical, dip-dyed sunset.”

Group at PJ Hoffmaster State Park, a beach on Lake Michigan Group at PJ Hoffmaster State Park, a beach on Lake Michigan

Hiking along the dunes at PJ Hoffmaster Park provides both scenic views and a workout!

Photo by Brian Kelly for Experience GR

PJ Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon)

40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

The ever-popular PJ Hoffmaster State Park boasts over three miles of shoreline and is a beautiful place to enjoy the sun and sand, and hike 10 miles of scenic trails. You can also learn about the park’s ecosystems at the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center. Listen for the roar of the surf as you walk through the woods on the way to the beach. 

When you go, consider bringing lunch or dinner. Picnic tables are available and restrooms are located at the nearby Nature Center.

After you eat, talk yourself into tackling the Dune Climb Stairway. Your well-deserved reward will be a stunning panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the dunes from the observation deck.

Oval Beach (Saugatuck)

44 miles southwest of Grand Rapids

Ranked one of the top 5 beaches in America by MTV and one of the world’s top 25 beaches by Condé Nast Traveler, Oval Beach is a treat for all ages. Nestled among towering sand dunes and bordered by the Kalamazoo River, it offers easy accessibility from a spacious parking lot and gorgeous views of Lake Michigan from every vantage points.

Rolling dunes, trails, concession stands and picnic areas can help keep kids busy all day. You can also access the beach by riding across the Kalamazoo River on a hand-pulled chain ferry from Saugatuck and following a walking trail to the beach, or climbing 282 steps to Mount Baldhead and descending the towering sand dune (sans stairs) onto the beach.

A boat passing a lighthouse by the pier.

From Pere Marquette Park you can see the Muskegon Breakwater Light on Lake Michigan.

Photo by Nick Irwin Images

Pere Marquette Park (Muskegon)

45 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

Pere Marquette Park’s lengthy two-and-a-half-mile beach (raked daily), accessible playgrounds, a convenient snack bar, and numerous volleyball courts are a few of the reasons beachgoers love to visit the park in Muskegon. In fact, it was voted the top beach in the state in a USA Today 10 Best Reader's Choice Poll

The park is a popular site for kayakers, paddle boarders and kite boarders. Bring your own gear for a game of volleyball, or rent supplies from the nearby concessionaire. The beach has an accessible walkway for people who use wheelchairs, and The Deck, Muskegon’s only beachfront restaurant, is just steps away.

In addition to the beach’s fantastic features, Pere Marquette Park is adjacent to the USS Silversides, a World War II submarine, which draws history buffs as well as beachgoers. You can even book an overnight stay on the submarine!

Van Buren State Park and North Point Conservation Area (South Haven)

62 miles southwest of Grand Rapids

The beach at Van Buren State Park is home to one mile of sandy beach, high dune formations and trails, one of which is a paved 4-mile route in the picturesque resort town of South Haven. Picnic tables and grills are available for use, as are restrooms. Picnic tables and grills are available for use, as are restrooms. Plus, four-legged friends are allowed in the park as long as they’re on a six-foot (or shorter) leash.

North Point Conservation Area is just a hop, skip, and drive north of Van Buren State Park. The area, which spans 17 acres, boasts over 300 feet of shoreline, forested dunes, and wetlands.

Duck Lake State Park

Bring the family to Duck Lake State Park for shallow waters and safe play areas.

Photo by Sarah Goodwin for Experience GR.

Duck Lake State Park (Whitehall)

50 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

Duck Lake State Park encompasses shoreline from Duck Lake all the way out to Lake Michigan – 728 acres in all – and is a favorite for fishing, hiking, and swimming.

Parents of young kids especially love the area where the lakes merge – it’s shallow and easy to watch kids play without worrying about the depth of the lakes. The park is also accessible by boat and is often visited by boaters from Muskegon on a leisurely day cruise.

Take Your Pet to the Beach

Kirk Park (West Olive)

32 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

Stretching more than one-third mile along the Lake Michigan coast, Kirk Park boasts 68 acres of sandy beach, high bluffs and wooded dunes PLUS an off-leash dog beach. Nature trails with wooden stairways wind through wooded dunes, offering spectacular views of Lake Michigan. A paved path leads to a deck overlooking the beach and Lake Michigan.

Dogs are permitted on Kirk Park north and south beach off-leash between October 1-April 30, and from May 1-September 30 on the south beach (they’re not allowed on the north ends of the beach during this time). Dogs are always permitted on-leash on the park trails.

A few other beaches that welcome pets, but check before you go:

  • Grand Haven City Beach just south of Grand Haven State Park welcomes dogs on-leash between Memorial Day and Labor Day before 11am and after 5pm, and anytime the rest of the year.
  • Van Buren State Park in South Haven (see Beaches Families Love-Great for Everyone)
  • Kruse Park in Muskegon allocates a section of its northern beach for leashed dogs and their owners to enjoy. Check here for updates on the 2024 season opening.

Hidden Gems

Olive Shores (West Olive)

32 miles west of Grand Rapids

Tucked along Lakeshore Drive just north of Holland, Olive Shores features hiking trails through beautiful wooded acreage adjacent to the 738-ft. long beach. Modern restrooms, a barrier-free trail loop, and an extensive series of stairs and boardwalks traverse the dunes and provide access to the sandy beach. 

Sit on one of the decks for stunning views of Lake Michigan and to see a display highlighting the property as the site of a scene from the Tom Hanks movie, "Road to Perdition."

Lake Harbor Park

Discover a hidden gem along the Mona Lake Channel at Lake Harbor Park.

Photo by Sarah Goodwin for Experience GR.

Lake Harbor Park (Norton Shores)

40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

Lake Harbor Park encompasses 4,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, 1,500 feet on Mona Lake and 2,000 feet on the Mona Lake Channel. Locals come here for fishing, picnicking and sunbathing away from the crowds of better-known beaches.

The picnic area that overlooks the channel offers grills and picnic tables. The park’s picnic shelter is free, on a first-come, first-served basis.

When you take the walkway along the channel out to the beach, be sure to take a slight detour to climb the wooden boardwalk to the top of the dunes and enjoy the view of Lake Michigan.

Meinert Park (Montague)

62 miles northwest of Grand Rapids

Located at the northern end of Muskegon County, Meinert Park is a quiet retreat for the outdoor enthusiast. A small, pristine beach is sheltered by rolling, grassy dunes and scenic overlooks. Visitors can climb a trail to the top of a dune for a panoramic view of lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside.

Popular activities at Meinert Park include hiking, swimming, kite boarding, boating and camping. There are a few picnic benches near the parking lot, as well as a picnic shelter available for rent.


Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a sight to see!

Photo by Sarah Goodwin for Experience GR.

Best Beach for Nature Lovers

Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Saugatuck)

40 miles southwest of Grand Rapids

This beach is a nature-lover’s dream. When you arrive at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, you won’t immediately see its two-and-a-half miles of beautiful shoreline. To get there, you have to walk through the coastal dunes, some of which are over 200 feet tall. The walk isn’t terribly strenuous, but it’s also not a casual stroll.

Four well-marked trails lead visitors from the parking lot to Lake Michigan. The three-quarter-mile Beach Trail is the shortest route.

The park has picnic tables and a couple of rustic vault toilets near the parking lot, two-and-a-half miles of undeveloped beach frontage and a 300-acre nature park favored by birdwatchers and hikers.

One trail passes by Shore Acres Township Park, home to the imposing, historic Felt Mansion. Open to the public for self-guided and private tours, and available to rent for events, the 1920s home boasts 25 rooms, including a ballroom, which comprise more than 12,000 square feet. Shore Acres also includes a 19-hole disc golf course and a mountain bike trail.

Park Fees

State parks require a Recreation Passport to enter. Non-Michigan residents can purchase a daily passport for $11; residents can get a yearly pass for $14 (if purchased when you renew your license plate) or $19 (if purchased at a state park). Check websites for daily fees at other parks.

Ottawa County Parks (Kirk Park and Olive Shores) collect parking fees from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The daily motor vehicle fee is $8, payable on site or online. Annual permits are $25, with discounts for Ottawa County residents.

Visitors to Pere Marquette Beach and Kruse Park must purchase a beach parking pass, available at kiosks in paid parking areas. For non-Muskegon residents, a daily pass is $7 Monday-Thursday and $10 Friday-Saturday. Seasonal passes are $20.

Oval Beach requires a day pass ($15) or season pass ($74), sold at the beach.

A day pass at Meinert Park is $5 and can be purchased on site. There is no fee at Lake Harbor Park.

Limited free parking is available at Grand Haven City Beach. No fees or passes required.

Beach Towns

Take a break from the beach during the hottest part of the day to visit nearby lakeshore communities – in some cases, just steps away from the sugary sands. Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon and Saugatuck/Douglas each have distinctive beach-town personalities along with excellent shopping, dining and attractions.