Sunshine, warm weather, and beautiful clear water are a recipe for beach activities, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a lot of pristine beach! This is the place to sunbathe, make sand castles, play in the Lake Michigan waves, swim, or just walk the beach. Lake Michigan is beautiful, and on a hot day it's inviting you to take a swim, but you'll find it more refreshing than the inland lakes, so be prepared! The whole Lake Michigan lakeshore is open to swimming, but there are no lifeguards on duty, and be aware of possible rip currents.

Visit the Pets page to see which beaches allow pets.

Popular Lake Michigan Beaches

Platte River Point beach features the Platte River outlet where warmer water enters Lake Michigan and is a busy, busy place in the height of the summer season. Every day tubes, canoes, and kayacks make the trip down the shallow and rapidly flowing river before emptying out in to the vast lake. For those not interested in making the voyage, a walk along the river or sunbathing on the banks is the perfect way to enjoy the merging of these two waters.

Peterson Beach has a boardwalk crossing the low dunes from the parking lot to the beach. It’s a quiet stretch of sand with wide vistas of Empire Bluff to the north and Platte River Point to the south. Leashed pets are allowed to the left of the boardwalk when facing the water.

Esch Beach, also called Otter Creek Beach, is another popular swimming area. This beautiful, tranquil Lake Michigan beach is located at the mouth of Otter Creek. Enjoy walking up the warm and shallow creek bed to see a stunning display of wildflowers and local fauna.

North Bar Lake is a popular spot. This warmer lake connects to Lake Michigan and its beaches. Some areas have experienced severe dune erosion and are closed for restoration. Please obey closure signs.

Glen Haven Beach is on Sleeping Bear Bay and offers a combination of stunning beach, incredible views, and a historical museum. The Cannery Boat Musuem in Glen Haven is located right on the Lake Michigan beach which looks out at the Manitou Islands and the pilings remaining from the old Glen Haven docks. Views look west past the Maritime Museum to Sleeping Bear Point, north to the Manitou Islands, and east to Glen Arbor and Pyramid Point.

Sleeping Bear Point Maritime Museum

County Road 669 Beach is on Good Harbor Bay. Sparkling sand, always aquamarine water, and amazing sunsets over views of Pyramid Point and Whaleback sand dune make this secluded beach a quiet gem. Lake Michigan Road parallels the bay for several miles. Follow it east to a pleasant shoreline picnic area and the Good Harbor Bay trailhead (#13). Shalda Creek empties into Lake Michigan to the west of the parking area.

County Road 651 Beach features wonderful sunset views on Good Harbor Bay. To the west, view Pyramid Point and to the north, the Whaleback and North Manitou Island. The Fox Islands may be visible on a clear day.

Peterson Beach

Kerry Kelly 2006

Interested in helping us keep our beaches clean? Check out the Adopt-A-Beach program run by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Beach fires are permitted only on the mainland beaches of Lake Michigan between the water's edge and the first dune. Please do not build fires on or near vegetation and remember to extinguish your fire with water and clean up all debris before leaving. Thank you for helping to keep the beach fire tradition alive and our beaches clean for everyone's enjoyment.

Glass containers are prohibited on all beaches in the park.

Last updated: July 2, 2019

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9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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