Known as “The Third Coast” to some, the “Big Lake” to Michigan boaters and “the beach” to locals, Lake Michigan offers some of the world’s most beautiful shorelines along a crisp, clean and fresh Great Lake.
The Grand Haven State Park is one such beach, sporting a picturesque pier, a lengthy shoreline and shallow waters perfect for sun bathing, nautical Frisbee play and body surfing. But, what happens when the inland folks and the Chicago weekenders descend on the state park and fill its sand-swept lots? What if you are looking to avoid the masses of shirtless dads and screaming children, bring your dog, or hope to enjoy a hike?
The following is a list of favorite beach spots other than Grand Haven State Park — places to enjoy quiet sits, nature walks, dog play and wave riding. Here are your alternative beaches for 2017.
The City Beach
Located just south of the state park is the Grand Haven City Beach. Operated by the local community rather than the state government, the City Beach often harbors less of a crowd than its pier-tied neighbor. Prime parking, restroom facilities, ADA accessibility and a buoy-marked swim area make this beach a fine destination.
New this year, furry friends are allowed on City Beach before 11 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
If the Grand Haven city limits don’t strike your fancy, Kirk Park Beach in West Olive and the Norman F. Krause park in Muskegon serve as local dog-friendly beaches, as well.
Rosy Mound Natural Area
If you fancy your beach time with a little hiking before and after, the Rosy Mound Natural Area is for you. This small, but beautiful shoreline is hidden behind a towering dune range. Don’t worry, traversing the mounds of sand is as easy as taking the stairs, albeit a lot of them. The ascent is well worth it, as the boardwalk extends over the top of the dunes through the beach forests, giving the walker a peek into the unique ecosystem of the dunes.
With posted lessons about the ever-changing landscape and the wildlife clinging to the shifting sands, count on your trip to Rosy Mound to be educational, as well.
The Christian Reformed Conference Grounds offer a unique beach/camping experience of Grand Haven Township. Day-goers can enjoy the family-friendly, quiet beach for free. For the extended-stay vacationers, the Conference Grounds boasts a laundry-list of amenities and attractions. Tennis courts, a pool, organized activities like tie-dye and crafting and a camp store are all available for the use of Conference Grounds campers and beach-goers who are willing to pay.
Located at the western dead-end of Buchanan Street, this tiny public access point boasts a skinny shoreline, short dunes and, above all, peace and quiet. A lack of parking, bathroom facilities or access ramps keeps the crowds away, making this beach a prime spot for an intimate picnic date and wandering conversation.
North Shore Beach
If you can catch the drawbridge right, a unique beach experience is just minutes away on the north side of the Grand River channel. With rumored superior surf, North Beach Park offers a unique perspective on our now catwalk-less pier and a respite from the crowds that can be found on the southern shores in the high season.
Lakeside Beach, Spring Lake
If big water and expansive sands aren’t what you are looking for, the Lakeside Beach on Spring Lake offers a totally different vibe. A great place for mothers and children, or full-blown family outings, Spring Lake is another great place to soak up the sun. Above all else, this beach is quiet. With tourists distracted with pier jumping and Pronto Pups, the residents of Spring Lake have it made in secret, and may even welcome some well-behaved Buccaneers.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
Norton Shores, is the home of P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, an oasis for campers and outdoorsmen just at the end of the Fruitport thoroughfare, Pontaluna road.
The state park offers some of West Michigan’s best camping accommodations with miles of wood and dune trails to explore, a secluded beach, and hundreds of reservable campsites.
If you plan on visiting the popular campground, book your spot now. Reservations go fast, with the high-season months of June and July filling up the quickest.
With more than 1,600 miles of coastline, Lake Michigan has countless beaches and parks to explore. Here in Grand Haven we have some of the best in the business, both large and small.
So get out there and work on your tan, toss that Frisbee and build a sand castle. The shores of the Third Coast are waiting.