Hi there!

 

So there are a number of beaches to choose from along one of America’s most amazing lake shorelines!

The Lake Michigan shoreline touches a number of midwest states: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

And if you’re looking for Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan, then there are a number of beaches to visit in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

 

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city, leelanau peninsula. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

 

This is located in Northern Michigan, in the lower peninsula of Michigan, and more specifically in the southern area of the Leelanau Peninsula.

 

sleeping bear dunes map. Where is Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leelanau peninsula. Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog
Explore the map.

 

It’s about a 30 minute drive from Traverse City to Sleeping Bear Dunes. So you could consider these beaches near Traverse City too.

So in Sleeping Bear Dunes, there are some beaches that you can pretty much drive straight to, with a short beach path to get to Lake Michigan.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. beach path. beach trail. michigan travel blog

 

And there are some beaches that you can get to with a little bit of effort! Some may be a few minutes across sand dunes… and some may be more than a few minutes of walking across sand dunes! (More effort generally means less people in Sleeping Bear Dunes!)

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. beach path. beach trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. beach path. beach trail. michigan travel blog
Hiking across sand dunes to get to a beach?! Consider it a “very Sleeping Bear Dunes” type experience!

 

And while Sleeping Bear Dunes does have sandy Lake Michigan beaches…

 

What to pack for Lake Michigan beach vacation. What to pack for sleeping bear dunes. Best shoes. michigan travel blog

 

There are also some rocky Lake Michigan shorelines too.

 

What to pack for Lake Michigan beach vacation. What to pack for sleeping bear dunes. Best shoes. michigan travel blog

What to pack for Lake Michigan beach vacation. What to pack for sleeping bear dunes. Best shoes. michigan travel blog

 

So you may want to pack along water shoes in your beach bag just in case.

 

What to pack for Lake Michigan beach vacation. What to pack for sleeping bear dunes. Best shoes. michigan travel blog

 

And although Lake Michigan isn’t particularly known for searching for colorful rocks (that would be Lake Superior – colorful rocks and red rocks), there are some beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes where you may give a little go at looking for rocks!

 

Best beaches for rock hunting along Lake Michigan, sleeping bear dunes, near traverse city. michigan travel blog

 

Only look, but don’t take, though! As a national lakeshore, nothing that’s a part of the park is meant for taking home with you! Except for pictures and memories, as they say. 😜

 

 

Swim safe!

Yes, swimming in Lake Michigan is a thing!

 

Lake Michigan swimming beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan swimming beach safety in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

The Lake Michigan water temperature may be cold to some people, but in the summer you will find plenty of people swimming in Lake Michigan off the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can generally expect the water temperature to be in the high 60s in the summer.

Also, while Lake Michigan is a lake, in many ways because of how large it is, it can act like an ocean. Rip currents in Lake Michigan are also a thing. So it can be good to know before you go!

There are no lifeguards at any beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes.

 

Lake Michigan swimming beach safety in Sleeping Bear Dunes. great lakes vs ocean. rip currents. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan swimming beach safety in Sleeping Bear Dunes. great lakes vs ocean. rip currents. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan swimming beach safety in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

 

Lake Michigan water level

Lake Michigan water level in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

The water level can make a difference in how much beach space the shoreline has. In 2020, the Lake Michigan water levels were said to be high.

 

 

Take care not to step on dune grass!

dune grass at Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

Many of the beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes are along small sand dunes. And with these sand dunes comes dune grass.

Dune grass is said to be fragile and an important part of the coastal ecosystem, so try to watch your step!

 

 

Cost to visit the Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

So the beaches on this list are officially part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. And there is an entry fee for Sleeping Bear Dunes, so the beaches are a “fee area.” The entry fee this will get you a 7-day park pass.

 

Cost of Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

Although there isn’t really an “entry checkpoint” of sorts, unless you go to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or the Dune Climb.

Instead, you can get your Sleeping Bear Dunes park pass at the visitor center. The 7-day park pass is $25 per car. See current fees here.

There are also pay stations at a number of locations throughout the national lakeshore park, including at many of the popular beaches.

 

Cost of Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

You can also get an annual pass right now online for $45.

If you plan to visit many national parks within a year that have an entry fee, then you may also consider getting the America the Beautiful national park pass for $80. It will work at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore too. See current fees.

 

America the Beautiful national park pass. Cost of annual national park pass and Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes. michigan travel blog

 

Not all national park sites have an entry fee. Pictured Rocks (MI), Cuyahoga Valley (OH), and the Great Smoky Mountains (TN NC) have had free entry for example, so you’ll want to check the national parks you plan to visit for current fees to see if a pass will be worth it. Although, it’s always a good thing to support your national parks. πŸ˜‰

 

 

🌳

 

 

 

Now…

10+ beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to know about

This list of beaches will generally be in order of how you will come across them as you are driving up from the south.

 

 

1. Old Indian Trail beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: Old Indian Trail beach. leelanau peninsula. michigan travel blog

 

This is a Lake Michigan beach that requires a hike to get to! Hiking to a Lake Michigan beach usually means a less crowded beach. It will start off as a hike through a forest, and then you’ll end up hiking across sand dunes for the final part to get to the Lake Michigan shoreline where you’ll find a beach area.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. where to go rock hunting near traverse city. where to find colorful rocks. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Old Indian Trail beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Platte Bay

 

2. Platte River Point

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: platte river point beach. leelanau peninsula. michigan travel blog

 

It’s popular to go tubing or kayaking down the Platte River, and the “destination” is Platte Point where the river meets Lake Michigan.

There’s also a beach area here, and the popularity of the river activities tends to make Platte Point Beach a busy place too.

This is also the beach that’s down the road a few minutes from Platte River Campground.

 

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte Point beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Platte River Point beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

3. RR Grade Trail beach aka Platte River Campground beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: platte plains beach. rr grade trail. platte bay. michigan travel blog

 

This isn’t a beach at the campground, but it’s a beach you can get to FROM the campground. This is another beach that requires a hike to get to, and it also likely means less people! It’s about a 1 mile hike from the Platte River Campground to reach Lake Michigan. There’s a beach area here. This is a part of the Platte Plains hiking trails area. Also a part of these trails is the White Pine backcountry campground, and it’s about a half mile hike from the backcountry campground to Lake Michigan.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: RR Grade Trail. Platte bay beach. platte plains hiking trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: RR Grade Trail. Platte bay beach. platte plains hiking trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: RR Grade Trail. Platte bay beach. platte plains hiking trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte bay beach. platte plains trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte bay beach. platte plains trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte bay beach. platte plains trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte bay beach. platte plains trails. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: Platte bay beach. platte river campground beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Platte River Campground beach: See more about getting to this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

4. Peterson Road Beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: peterson road beach. michigan travel blog

 

You’ll take a mostly gravel road down Peterson Road to get to this beach. Then you’ll walk across sand dunes for a couple of minutes to get to Lake Michigan. Out of the 3 beach areas you can drive to in Platte Bay, this will likely be the least crowded.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: peterson beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: peterson beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: peterson beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: peterson beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: peterson beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Peterson Road Beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

5. Esch Road Beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: esch road beach. otter creek beach. michigan travel blog

 

This is an easy drive down Esch Road to get to the beach.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: esch beach. otter creek beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: esch beach. otter creek beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: esch beach. otter creek beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: esch beach. otter creek beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Esch Road Beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

/end Platte Bay

 

 

Side note: Driving further north, the Empire Bluff Trail is along the way! Then you will leave the national lakeshore, passing through the town of Empire MI. There is the Empire Beach and the Robert Manning Memorial Lighthouse. You will then re-enter the national lakeshore, and you will pass by North Bar Lake. This is an inland lake that is basically right next to Lake Michigan, and the water temperature is usually warmer here. So if you find Lake Michigan is too cold, you might try North Bar Lake! Heading further north, you’ll pass by the starting point for the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive which is how you will see THE famous Lake Michigan overlook. Okay, back to Lake Michigan beaches!

 

 

6. Dunes Trail beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

 

The Dune Climb is considered by many to be a must-do when in Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can go above and beyond by doing more than just the Dune Climb! There is the Dunes Trail that’s a full sand trail across sand dunes that will take you to the Lake Michigan shoreline. And, you will find a beach area here! This is not a part of any bay so it’s a more exposed Lake Michigan shoreline.

Although this is a hike to Lake Michigan, because the Dune Climb is one of the most popular spots in Sleeping Bear Dunes, it’s possible that there may be a few extra people here.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dune climb, dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dunes trail. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dunes trail. michigan travel blog

 

 

Dunes Trail beach: See more about getting to this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

Sleeping Bear Bay

Now we will cover Sleeping Bear Bay. Continuing the driving up north will take you straight to Sleeping Bear Bay. From here, the list of beaches will continue on in the order that you would come across it as you are driving.

 

7. Glen Haven Beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: glen haven beach. michigan travel blog

 

So as you keep driving north, you will end up driving through Glen Haven Historic Village. This is a preserved historic site and you can walk around the street to the old buildings and read about how people in the area used to live. You will then basically continue driving and you will end up at the Cannery Boathouse Museum (historic site) and Glen Haven Beach. There’s a small picnic area here.

 

Lake Michigan beach picnic area in Sleeping Bear Dunes: glen haven beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: glen haven beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: glen haven beach, glen haven historic village. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: glen haven beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: glen haven beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Glen Haven Beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

8. Maritime Museum beach (Sleeping Bear Point Life Saving Station beach)

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: sleeping bear point life saving station beach. maritime museum beach. michigan travel blog

 

From Glen Haven Beach, if you continue the road to the left towards Sleeping Bear Point (the only way you can go), you will end up passing by the Maritime Museum. This was formerly the Sleeping Bear Point Life Saving Station, which was the equivalent of the US Coast Guard. There is a beach path that runs through the grounds of the life saving station that will take you to the Lake Michigan shoreline where there’s a beach area.

 

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point life saving station beach, maritime museum beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point life saving station beach, maritime museum beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point life saving station beach, maritime museum beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point life saving station beach, maritime museum beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

9. Sleeping Bear Point beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: Sleeping Bear Point beach. michigan travel blog

 

And then you continue driving and the road will end at the Sleeping Bear Point trailhead. The Sleeping Bear Point beach requires a little effort to get to. It’s a hike across sand dunes for maybe 10-15 minutes to get to the Lake Michigan shoreline where there’s a beach area.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

 

While you’re here, you’ll also want to consider doing at least part of the Sleeping Bear Point dune loop trail to get some grand views of sand dunes and Lake Michigan! Take the long scenic route to get to Lake Michigan!

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: sleeping bear point beach. michigan travel blog

 

 

Sleeping Bear Point beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

10. DH Day Campground beach

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

 

At the DH Day campground, there’s a beach trail that will take you to Lake Michigan! This will be a walk of a couple of minutes.

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: dh day campground beach. sleeping bear bay. michigan travel blog

 

 

DH Day Campground beach: See more about getting to this Lake Michigan beach.

 

/end Sleeping Bear Bay

 

 

11. Good Harbor Bay beach(es)

Best Lake Michigan beaches in Northern Michigan. Best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

 

And this brings us to the far northern part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There are 2 access roads to get to a Good Harbor Bay beach. You’ll find the turn-off for both along M-22, the main road that runs through the park. One is County Road 669 (also called Bohemian Road) and the other is County Road 651 (also called Good Harbor Trail).

 

Lake Michigan beach access in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

Lake Michigan beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes: good harbor bay beach. michigan travel blog

 

Good Harbor Bay beach: See more about this Lake Michigan beach.

 

 

And that’s a bit about most of the beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

 

 

The quick list of Northern Michigan beaches that are in Sleeping Bear Dunes:

 

Also see the best of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

 

Explore more of Lake Michigan:

Driving up from south to north.

 

Explore more Michigan beaches in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:

 

Plus, the best of Michigan’s national lakeshore parks.

 

HAPPY LAKE MICHIGAN BEACH VISIT IN SLEEPING BEAR DUNES!

 

Lake Michigan beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Best Lake Michigan beaches in Michigan. beaches near traverse city. northern michigan beach vacation. michigan travel blog

 

 

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Things to pack for your Michigan vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more lightweight than your average beach towel while still being absorbent. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
How to be a little bit more eco-friendly during your road trip!
Instead of using plastic silverware, try out bamboo silverware like this set!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can beach-proof your phone with a simple waterproof phone case like this.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming in Lake Michigan or Lake Superior! Less sunscreen also means less chemicals from that sunscreen will enter our precious Great Lakes!
Get your travel bags more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.