Photo: Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

The Best Michigan Beaches to See in the Upper Peninsula This Summer

Michigan Beaches and Islands
by Matthew Dursum May 18, 2022

Michigan has no shortage of beautiful beaches and the state’s rustic Upper Peninsula is no exception. From hidden sand dunes to forested lakeshores strewn with precious stones, the UP has it all. The peninsula separates Lake Michigan and Lake Huron from Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.

On the Lake Michigan side, water temperatures often reach a comfortable 70 degrees from July to September. On the colder, deeper, and more northern coast of Lake Superior, the water barely tops 65 degrees in the summer. Most of the peninsula’s beaches offer fewer amenities than their counterparts in the lower mitten.

They are also more remote and challenging to find. However, the UP’s lakeshore is an example of how nature’s raw power and geologic history can create unparalleled beauty. When the weather is clear, the Upper Peninsula looks like the island-studded coast of Croatia; only remote, with the possibility of spotting black bears on the sand. For beach enthusiasts looking to get away, there is no better place on earth. These are the five best Upper Peninsula beaches to explore in Michigan this summer.

Sand Point Beach – Munising

pictured rocks national lakeshore beach

Photo: RodClementPhotography/Shutterstock

Arguably Munising’s most popular beach, Sand Point deserves all its acclaim. This spot features stunning views of the Pictured Rocks formations, endless clear water, and sandbanks that run for several hundred feet. The beach has perfect yellow sand and naturally polished driftwood piled along the shores. As you take one of the small trails inland, you can experience the beautiful swamps and cattail groves that provide peaceful animal habitats. To top everything off, Sand Point’s sunsets over Grand Island’s East Channel Lighthouse are unforgettable.

Amenities: public restroom, nearby camping, pets allowed.

Miners Beach – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

miners beach michigan

Photo: Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

People recognize Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for its colorful cliff faces and the thick forests that hang precariously off of them. Sandwiched between the towering vermillion-colored rocks and turquoise water are some of the most scenic expanses of sand in the state. The most famous of these is Miner’s Beach. Along its shores is a superb hiking trail that takes you through white pine forests and past breathtaking views of the lake.

Here you look over jagged flat-topped rock formations that stand above the yellow sand and icy blue water. At the northern end of the beach is Elliot Falls, a small waterfall that flows over stratified layers of rock into the lake. Beachgoers can enjoy sunsets that famously encircle the offshore Grand Island in a kaleidoscope of colors. Between the natural landmarks, colorful shoreline, and coastal terrain, this is one of the most remarkable beaches in Michigan. Not to mention, it’s a top destination for kayakers.

Amenities: boardwalk, public restrooms, nearby camping, pets allowed.

Grand Sable Dunes – Grand Marais

grand sable dunes

\Photo: Dean Pennala/Shutterstock

Nothing represents Michigan’s nature more than sand dunes. Although the lower peninsula boasts the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes in Leelanau County, the UP has the comparably alluring and expansive Grand Sable Dunes. Just a short drive west of the rural fishing town of Grand Marais, the dunes cover a vast area and loom hundreds of feet over Lake Superior. Spectacular vistas spread out in almost all directions. For people looking for a physical challenge, running down the steep dune climb and exploring the wild lakeshore is a must.

Amenities: Public restroom, hiking trails, nearby camping, pets allowed.

Wetmore Landing Beach – Marquette

Marquette is a college town. Amazing breweries, restaurants, and cafes, often filled with students, pepper the city. It’s also a surf town. For lake surfers looking for waves of all levels, this is your place. Like any good surf zone, it has incredible beaches and a lively coastal vibe.

Wetmore beach is one of Marquette’s most beloved places for sand and clear water. Amazing natural scenery surrounds this remote and less visited area. A shoreline trail runs through the thick pine trees and maples and connects the main beach with another superb and hard-to-find section of sand known as Hidden Beach. The coastal scenery of rock formations and sweeping pines over Lake Superior’s wild azure waters are worthy of a magazine cover shot. For adventurous swimmers and snorkelers, off-shore rocks and caverns provide endless deep water fun.

Amenities: hiking trails, nearby camping, pets allowed.

Great Sand Bay Beach

At the northern tip of Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula sticks out into the lake. The full force of Lake Superior’s storms march consistently into the remote peninsula. Giant waves often pummel the rugged shores. Tucked within the Great Sand Bay is the beach by the same name. Smooth sand mixed with museum-worthy rocks and dramatic topography span the Peninsula’s isolated north coast. This beach is popular for rock collectors who search for fossils and rare stones deposited when the Great Lakes were being carved out by glaciers. For those wanting to experience untamed wildlife, few places are better. It’s not uncommon to hear wolves howling from the nearby swamps and forests. This is for beachgoers looking for something rustic, remote, and Ron Swanson approved.

Amenities: Public restrooms, hiking trails, nearby camping, pets allowed.

Sand Dunes Beach

The Upper Peninsula’s rugged and sparsely inhabited south coast wraps around the northern end of Lake Michigan. In St. Ignace, the mighty Mackinac bridge separates the lower and upper peninsulas. As you drive west along the US-2 highway, unparalleled views of the famous bridge appear. Just a few miles west is the long stretch of sand and dune grass known as Sand Dunes Beach. Here you can park along any length of the roadside to enjoy the unspoiled lakeshore. The beach also has lakeside camping and other camping opportunities nearby on Brevoort Lake. {mn-post-ender]

Amenities: nearby camping, pets allowed.

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