Some of the Best Beaches on the West Side of the State

The dawn of summer brings many people out to beaches all over Michigan and along the Great Lakes. Today, guest blogger Aaron Cruz from The Awesome Mitten shares some of the best beaches on the west side of the state along Lake Michigan.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph is a hidden gem. Less crowded then nearby Silver Beach, Tisconia’s shallow water right along the shoreline is perfect for children. You will find picnic shelters but no concession stands on this city beach. Great views can be had walking down the North Pier towards the lighthouse along the south end of Tisconia Park. You will pass by many fishermen at this popular fishing spot. Many boaters will dock in the water just past the swimming areas just adding to the atmosphere of the season. The parking fee is nominal.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach: As you emerge out of the forest in this state park between Holland and Saugatuck, you will realize the ¾ walk down a sandy path was more than worth it. Two-and-a-half miles of secluded, undeveloped beach and shoreline is backed by tall coastal dunes and rolling hills. There are no amenities other than some outhouses, so it is just you and nature. After some swimming in Lake Michigan and relaxing on the beach, hop on a trail which will lead you back at this day use park. We recommend doing some research or grabbing a map as some trails are longer than others.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Grand Haven State Park Beach: A quick walk from downtown Grand Haven, this entire state park is a sandy beach. There will be crowds in the summer, but you will also have the adjoining boardwalk and pier along the Grand River and the historic Grand Haven lighthouses at your disposal. Plan ahead, bring the kids and set up a camper on one of the 100+ paved campsites alongside. Climb the dunes at the end of the beach for some panoramic views. You will find picnic tables, bathroom facilities, concessions and more at this popular summer destination.

Grand Haven State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Grand Haven State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. If you are around Grand Haven and are looking for a quieter scene, head just ten miles north to the Muskegon area and this state park. Upon making the short stair climb to the top of the forest covered dunes from the main parking area, your feet will be the sand. Vast beach, Lake Michigan, dunes and panoramic views will be front and center at Hoffmaster State Park. Hang out on a park bench at the top to soak it all in, then head down to the three miles of relatively undisturbed shoreline. After spending some time in the water and on the spacious clean sand, take a hike on the miles of trails in the area and you will find numerous other spots to take in the lake and beach. This is a pet friendly beach and park, as dogs are allowed.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

What other Michigan beaches would you recommend along Lake Michigan?

Aaron CruzAaron Cruz is a lover and long time resident of The Mitten. When he is not out on the open road, he’s probably drinking coffee in a random indie coffee shop. He loves taking photos and road trips, along with checking out skylines, the seasons, shorelines and hanging around water which makes Michigan the perfect place to live. You can find him on TwitterInstagram and on his personal travel blog.

Fascinating Facts about Five Michigan Islands

Michigan’s islands are stunningly beautiful and rich with history – from functioning as a lush habitat for endangered wildlife to serving as the former stomping grounds of an American king – each island offers unique qualities and attractions. Here are some interesting facts about the islands that you may not be aware of. 

Curious for more information on Michigan islands? Be sure to check out our pages on Belle Isle and Isle Royale, just to name a few!

Les Cheneaux Islands

  1. “Les Cheneaux” is French for “the channels.”
  2. There are 36 islands that make up the Les Cheneaux Islands.
  3. The Les Chenaux Islands Antique Boat Show and Festival is the world’s largest antique wooden boat show. The next boat show takes place on Saturday, August 8 2015.
  4. You can learn how to build boats at the Great Lakes Boat Building School.
  5. Nicknamed Michigan’s Land of Water.
Les Cheneaux Island

Les Cheneaux Islands – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Mackinac Island

  1. Since 1898, motorized vehicles have been prohibited on Mackinac Island- there are more than 500 horses on the island for transportation.
  2. Fort Mackinac is home to the oldest surviving building in Michigan – Officers’ Stone Quarters.
  3. Doud’s Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store, has resided on the island for 131 years.
  4. The island’s Grand Hotel has the world’s largest front porch at 660 feet long!
  5. Five U.S. presidents have visited the Grand Hotel including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island – Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Beaver Island

  1. This island has a population of 600 people, mostly of Irish descent.
  2. Totaling 56 square miles, it is the largest island in Lake Michigan.
  3. The island is home to the Michigan monkey-flower, a federally-classified endangered species.
  4. Protar’s House, the Marine Museum and the Old Mormon Print Shop museum are major tourist attractions.
  5. The island was the only American territory ruled by a king.
Beaver Island

Beaver Island – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Drummond Island

  1. Drummond island is the largest freshwater island in the United States.
  2. The island boasts a population of 1,058 people.
  3. A main attraction is the DeTour Reef Light, an 83-foot tall lighthouse that marks a dangerous reef to help guide ship traffic from and to Lake Huron and Lake Superior through the St. Marys River.
  4. There are more than 13 ecosystems on the island including six forest types, five swamp-marsh types, inland lakes and rivers, and sand dunes.
  5. The island is ideal for bird watching as it is home to a host of avian species including loons, grebes, waterfowls and owls.
Drummond Island

Drummond Island – Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Manitou Islands

  1. The Manitou islands are surrounded by over 50 known shipwreck sites, dating back to 1835.
  2. North Manitou Island is nearly eight miles long and over four miles wide.
  3. South Manitou Island is three miles wide and three miles long.
  4. North Manitou Island is powered by solar electricity.
  5. The South Manitou Island Light is a popular attraction among tourists. Between 1871 and 1958, ships took refuge here during severe thunderstorms.
Manitou Island Light

South Manitou Island Light, Manitou Islands – Photo courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography

Are you planning any trips to see Michigan islands this summer? Tell us below!

Six Pure Michigan Activities to Experience in Lenawee County

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

If you’re looking for a picturesque countryside, hometown charm and more than 50 lakes for recreation and enjoyment, look no further than Lenawee County this summer. The Michigan International Speedway located in Lenawee is known for its NASCAR races, Faster Horses Festival and other exciting events for the whole family. If you’ll be in the Lenawee and Irish Hills area this summer, here are six fun-filled places to visit.

Taking a trip down US-12 or M-50 will lead you to a few local wineries and breweries.

Cherry Creek Winery (15750 US-12, Cement City)

Located in a Historic 1870 Schoolhouse, enjoy a wine tasting at the knotty pine bar. Sample Cherry Creek’s freshly made butter fudge, or Michigan Cherry Preserves. Sample gourmet items like fresh pressed Artisan Olive Oil or 18 year old Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Italy, all bottled on site. Special events, including live entertainment by the vineyard, most weekends.

Pentamere Winery (131 E. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

This Downtown Tecumseh winery offers around a dozen wines to choose from, try a few in the tasting room and take a peak at the cellar where all of the wine is stored and bottled. The winery also offers it’s own wine jellies and gift items.

J. Trees Winery (703 E. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

Located in the Historic Hayden-Ford Mill, this winery’s tasting room also includes small plates and panini sandwiches. Their wines and ciders are crafted from estate grown fruit, as well as other high quality Michigan fruit. Enjoy a drink on the outdoor patio, overlooking the water!

Tecumseh Brewing Company (128 W. Chicago Blvd., Tecumseh)

The brewery offers an extensive selection of craft beer, 12 to 16 beers on tap, ranging from American Ales to German lagers and from hearty stouts to Belgian ales.

Need a place to unwind? The area around Michigan International Speedway includes many parks and lakes, perfect for camping and boating!

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie

Hidden Lake Gardens (6214 M-50, Tipton)

Hidden Lake Gardens is open 362 days of the year with an admission fee of $3 per person. Guided tours, requested at least two weeks in advance, are available for $3 per person. Year-round educational programs for all ages are offered at the Visitor Center, which also houses a library, exhibits, auditorium, meeting rooms and a gift shop. The Conservatory includes tropical plants, arid plants, and a variety of flowering houseplants. A picnic area with shelter is available without reservations. In addition to more than 6 miles of one-way paved drives, there are nearly 10 miles of hiking trails to allow the visitor a closer look at the beauty the Gardens provides.

Enjoy a day on the lake! Great for fishing, boating, or just relaxing, the Irish Hills area offers many lakes. Devil’s Lake and Wamplers Lake are both located near Michigan International Speedway and offer something for everyone!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Dan Cherry

Devil’s Lake located less than 10 miles south of the track off of US-223, with a public boat access located on Southwest shore off Devils Lake Hwy (Across the street from 9555 Devils Lake Hwy, Manitou Beach). Manitou Beach is a great place for a bike ride, with stops at Jenni’s Coffee and Cream for an iced coffee or ice cream cone. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Manitou Bar and Grill and shopping at Devils Lake View Living, and The Buoy at The Lake which both offer jewelry, purses, home décor and more.

Wamplers Lake located in W.J. Hayes State Park (1220 Wamplers Lake Rd, Onsted)

W.J. Hayes State Park, in the heart of the Irish Hills, is bordered by a group of inland lakes frequented by anglers and boaters. It is home to Wamplers Lake, a 780 acre all sports lake great for fishing and all water sports. There are numerous geocaching hides in the park, metal detecting is allowed in designated areas and dogs are welcome visitors, too. The park offers modern campsites, a large swimming area, two boat launches, fishing pier, foot paths, a picnic shelter, activity areas and free children’s programs.

This summer, enjoy Lenawee, the Michigan International Speedway and the communities surrounding it. For more information and deals in the Irish Hills area, visit the Lenawee County Conference and Visitors Bureau’s on Michigan.org.