If you’ve listened to any of the great conversations we’ve had about Michigan state parks on the MRG podcast (and you’ve read about great spots to explore here on the blog), you know all about the spectacular outdoors spots we have here in Michigan. We’re talking about the Great Lakes shoreline in this post — the gorgeous spots along the water, the tent and camper areas we love for exploring and soaking up our state’s beautiful landscape.
Keep reading for our favorite shoreline state parks to check out — this summer, and all year round.
Harrisville State Park
I’m starting with this one because it holds a special place in my heart. Here’s why. Definitely get this sunrise-side spot on your summer camping schedule.
Camp with a view of the Mackinac Bridge, splash in Lake Huron or pop over to Mackinac Island for the day at this St. Ignace park. The onsite Father Marquette Memorial and the interpretive trail make history a part of a vacay. Find 255 modern sites and 15 semi-modern waterfront sites.
Catch the sunrise and the sunset at this park—its location on Lake Huron near Rogers City makes this possible. Overnight in any of the 126 modern sites, or one lodge. Lounge on the mile-long sandy beach, or bike the non-motorized trail connecting the park to 11-mile Huron Sunrise Trail. Fuel-up at The Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, known for award-winning pizza.
The expansive beach at this park on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay sits smack between Harbor Springs and Petoskey—two of Northern Michigan’s sweetest towns. Sand volleyball courts, 180 modern campsites, hiking trails and lots more; be sure to climb the stairs to Old Baldy, a stable dune just behind the beach, for a fabulous view of the bay.
This 1,350-acre park rims Lake Michigan’s Cathead Bay and offers up the restored 19th-century Grand Traverse Lighthouse, 8.5 miles of hiking trails, a rustic campground and two mini-cabins. Bonus: the road to the park leads through the picturesque harbor village of Northport.
This crown in the Michigan state park system boasts two first-class beaches. The sugar-sand Lake Michigan beach stretches for nearly seven miles and is a wonderful spot to catch a sunset; Hamlin Lake Beach offers calmer, warmer waters and a concession stand where you can rent canoes or kayaks for paddling the four-mile Canoe Trail. Find 352 modern sites, three mini cabins and 10 remote sites.
Seven miles of Lake Michigan beach and 75 campsites practically on the beach make this park located just south of Charlevoix primo for spending a day or days. Charlevoix’s got the specialty food and wine shops to round out the experience.
Move into any one of 250 modern sites, 18 full hook-up and nine tent-only sites, then kick back to watch freighters and sailboats spice your evening water-gazing at this park that boasts seven miles of Lake Michigan frontage.
A modern lodge, two tepees, three rustic cabins, 76 modern sites, trails leading to Lake Huron, fishing on Duncan Bay on Elliott Creek and the remains of a 19th-century lighthouse are some of the highpoints at this gem of a park. It’s also just a hop, skip from Mackinaw City, where Colonial Michilimackinac and the ferries to Mackinac Island are located.
Sidle up to Lake Superior (and take a dip if you dare) at this 92-square-mile Upper Peninsula park that also boasts a virgin forest, waterfalls, 87 miles of hiking trails and mountaintop lookouts of Lake of the Clouds and the Presque Isle River. Stay in a lodge, yurts or rustic cabins, or opt for backcountry camping.