Updated: Jul 7
Below outlines 7 of our favorite beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Whether looking for beaches with the best swimming spots, easy access points, seclusion, or incredible sunsets, we have the beach for you!
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1. Sleeping Bear Dunes Beach
Accessing this beach is an adventure. Climb 1.8 miles through rolling dunes and an incredible biome via the Dune Climb Trail. This hike is unlike anything you may be used to as it navigates through such a unique biome of sand and flora. We do not recommend dragging a cooler & beach gear the entire way. Pack a light backpack with a towel and your favorite book.
Spend some time at one of Michigan's most gorgeous beaches to reward yourself after this difficult hike. Without trees overhead, be prepared for sun the entire way. Protect yourself with UVA & UBV blocking sunglasses, sunscreen, & a hat. The parking lot of the Dune Climb Trail is home to one of Sleeping Bear's largest dunes. Kids & families picnic at the base of this dune and spend the day climbing and tumbling down without even attempting the hike to the beach. If you are up for the adventure, we highly recommend you experience this breathtaking northern Michigan beach!
Tip: Protect yourself with UVA & UBV blocking sunglasses, sunscreen, & a hat
Paterson beach has two different levels of adventure. The first is by taking the 1-mile gravel road down Paterson Rd to reach the road-side parking and minimal facilities. The second is when camping at Platte River Campground. The campground has several trails that lead to secluded beaches from the campground, both around a mile to access the beach. The views, like Paterson Beach slightly north, are incredible with picture-perfect white sand, beautiful stones and lovely driftwood.
Tip: Easily accessed from our suggested lodging location at Platte River Campground
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Easiest Access/Family Friendly
1. Good Harbor Bay
With a long sandy beach, crystal clear waters, and a fully paved road leading right up to a large parking lot with facilities, this is probably the most popular beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Enjoy the view of the Manitou Islands while watching kids slash in the waters and collect beautiful stones. This beach is a great place to spend the day and end with a campfire at sunset. Good Harbor Bay Beach is located on the northern tip of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park off of Good Harbor Trail along M22.
Also Read: Sleeping Bear Dunes Complete Guide
Located in the quaint and historic town of Glen Haven, this beach is located alongside the Cannery Boat Museum (free entry!). With plenty of history and informational signage, this beach adds an appreciation for a historic village to your travels. With parking seconds from the beach and facilities available within the General Store, this is a family-friendly beach that is easy to access and enjoy.
Tip: Free entry into the Cannery Boat Museum
Located on the southern side of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Esch Road Beach provides views of the gorgeous Platte Bay. Esch Road Beach is at the mouth of Otter Creek, which allows for more adventures as you wade in the warmer waters and hike up the creek to see beautiful wildflowers. A wonderful swimming beach protected from higher waves in the Platte Bay, this beach usually has far less crowds than Glen Harbor and is still very family friendly with basic facilities and parking a short distance from the beach.
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2. Port Oneida Beach
Port Oneida Beach is located on the southern side of the park, just past Glen Arbor and on your way to Pyramid Point Trail. From S Port Oneida Rd, veer south on S Lane Rd and travel the dirt road 0.3 miles till the very end. With minimal parking and facilities, you could have Port Oneida Beach completely to yourself. Behind the fence, there is an adventurous way down to the beach requiring you to jump down a small sand dune. To the left of the fence, there is a short hiking path that will allow you to gradually descend to the beach. Head here to cool off after one of Sleeping Bear's northern trails and enjoy the peacefulness and seclusion of this hidden gem.
Hidden Gem: You will likely have this all to yourself!
Located at the southern tip of Platte Bay and the end of Lake Michigan Rd, Platte River Pointe Beach is far more than just a beach for catching rays. As the place where the Platte River feeds into Lake Michigan, you will find may tubers, kayakers, and canoers beginning their journey along the Platter River. This is also the location of a public boat launch for boaters heading out onto Lake Michigan. However, we found this location to be PRIME for sunset watching. With the ability to walk around the point and gain multiple angles & views of the gorgeous warm colors reflecting off of Lake Michigan, Platter River Ponte Beach takes the prize for the best Michigan sunset we have seen to this day.
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