When you think of states with the best beaches, Michigan may not immediately pop to mind, yet Michigan ranks in the top ten for the states with the most coastlines. Michigan lays claim to four out of the five Great Lakes so the waters are unsalted and shark-free. With miles upon miles of sandy shores it is no wonder that Michigan is home to some of the Midwest’s best dog-friendly beaches. Here are some to try.
7. Nordhouse Dunes In Ludington
Nordhouse Dunes, on the shores of Lake Michigan north of the city of Ludington, is located in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, one of the largest National Forests in the lower peninsula of Michigan. The dunes are well over 100 feet in height and the area is rugged. Hiking trails through the woods and the dune grass will take you and your pup to the beach and the sparkling water of Lake Michigan. Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed, and their owner cleans up after them. After a short hike through the trees and up the dunes, you and your canine companion will find yourself in one of the best spots to watch the sunset over the lake.
6. Hiawatha National Forest In West Olive
The trails system at the Hiawatha National Forest is not an expansive as some other parks, but dogs can be off leash at this beach—with a few restrictions—so dog owners love this Lake Michigan beach. Your dog should be trained to listen to your commands and well socialized to be around other dogs. Owners are also responsible for cleaning up after their pups. If your dog yearns to run barefoot on the beach, this might be the spot for him.
5. Zoll Street Beach In Harbor Springs
What makes the Zoll Street Beach in Harbor Springs so popular is that dogs are allowed to romp off leash at this park. On the shores of Little Traverse Bay, the beach boasts a sandy beach as well as a grassy area that is perfect for relaxing in the sun. There are picnic tables so the whole family can pack some snacks and enjoy the day with their favorite pooch. There is even a dispenser for doggie waste mitt bags so clean up is a breeze. Zoll Street Beach is located a short distance from downtown Harbor Springs, a super hip town with plenty of dog-friendly restaurants, craft breweries, and wineries.
4. Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park
Michigan’s largest state park at more than 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park is located in the upper peninsula along Lake Superior. With hiking trails, waterfalls, pristine streams, and sandy beaches along the largest of the Great Lakes, the park is a favorite year-round destination. Dogs are welcome everywhere in the park as long as they are on leashes so your dog can join you for a swim in Lake Superior or a stroll along the beach looking for Petoskey stones, the state stone of Michigan.
3. Tawas Point State Park In East Tawas
Called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Tawas Point is a hook of land that juts into Lake Huron across Saginaw Bay from the tip of Michigan’s thumb. A unique feature of this area is the only true Victorian lighthouse anywhere on the Great Lakes. The state park offers swimming, boating, and camping. The shallow water near the point is warm and welcoming. Near the lighthouse, the state has sectioned off a stretch of land into a designated dog beach. Dogs can splash in the waves and run on the sand near the towering lighthouse.
2. Warren Dunes State Park In Bridgman
One of the most popular state parks in Michigan’s lower peninsula, Warren Dunes State Park offers camping, hiking, swimming, and boating, but the biggest attraction is the 260-foot tall sand dune that overlooks the beach. If you drive to the farthest beachfront parking lot and take the short trail that leads to the north, you will find yourself at the park’s dog beach. On any given summer day, the dog beach is packed with pups eager to get their paws in the sand and their tails in the water.
1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore In Munising
A gem of Michigan’s upper peninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is situated along the southern shore of Lake Superior. This is an aptly named lake—it has the most surface area of any of the world’s freshwater lakes. There is so much water in Lake Superior that you could fill up the other Great Lakes and still have water left over. Visitors flock to Pictured Rocks for the spectacular views. Many of the trails and beaches are dog-friendly in the park, but not all. The National Parks System provides a detailed map of the areas within Pictured Rocks that are open to dogs and ones where pets are prohibited. If you visit Pictured Rocks with your pup, then you won’t have to worry about being left out of the fun. Your dog will be able to accompany you to several of the sandy beaches along Lake Superior. The shear beauty of this popular Michigan destination and the abundance of beaches and hiking trails makes it our number one pick for beachfront fun with your pup.
If you call Michigan home or you are planning a visit to the Great Lakes State this Summer, then you may want to add a visit to a dog beach with your four-legged best friend. A swim in one of the Great Lakes should be on everyone’s bucket list. The state that is comprised of two peninsulas surrounded by inland freshwater seas offers plenty of opportunities to scratch this off your list of must-see places.