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Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches: 9 wonderful beaches you should visit

Are you looking for the best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches? You have come to the perfect place. Our below-mentioned list is full of amazing beaches. 

In the northern part of Michigan lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This beautiful and tranquil destination has beautiful hiking trails and outdoor attractions, but it is perhaps most famous for its towering sand dunes where you can relax or take a challenging climb.

It’s also a great beach destination.

Here we share some of the best beaches near Sleeping Bear Dunes.

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In a hurry? These are the best beaches near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Overview of the best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches

Must visit beaches near Sleeping Bear Dunes

Facilities Highlights
Aerial view of Glen Haven Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan Glenn Haven
  • Toilets
  • Nearby historic area
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Picnic tables with BBQ facilities

The added benefit of the nearby historic area and museum

Path to Platte River Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Platte River point beach
  • Boat ramp
  • Drinking water
  • Modern restrooms
  • Picnic area

The Platte River Point Beach is most unique for its nearby campground and its boat ramp access

Dunes Peterson Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Peterson Road Beach
  • Unpaved parking
  • Restrooms

Peterson Road beach is a beautiful and secluded spot with unmatched views of the sand dunes and the cool blue water

Tiesma Road Beach
  • Small gravel parking lot
  • Walkway to the beach

The peace and quiet of the isolated Tiesma Road Beach is a definite highlight. This unmarked beach is under the radar. If you can do without the facilities it is heaven.

Esch Road Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Esch Road Beach
  • Gravel parking lot
  • Picnic tables
  • Basic restrooms

The creek outlet makes Esch Road beach a great option for children. They love to splash around in the shallow water.

North Bar Lake Outlet Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA North Bar Lake Beach
  • Large paved parking lot
  • Restrooms

The low sand dunes that surround North Bar Lake Beach and the small waterway that connects North Bar Lake and Lake Michigan create a beautiful environment.

Good Harbor Bay Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Good Harbor Bay Beach
  • Paved parking lot
  • Drinking water
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic tables

The beautiful blue waters and the views from the white sand of Good Harbor Bay Beach are a definite highlight

Port Oneida Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Lane Road beach
  • No facilities

Few people, impressive views and a peaceful beach experience. What else can you wish for?

Bohemian Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA Bohemian Beach
  • Drinking water
  • Paved parking lot
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic tables near the parking area
  • ADA accessible

Great beach to spend a complete day. Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach and make a beach fire at night.

Aerial view of Glen Haven Beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Aerial view of Glen Haven Beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Photo credits: jimflix!)

Best beaches around Sleeping Bear Dunes

Glen Haven beach

Short description of the beach

Located near the historic village of Glen Haven, this beautiful Sleeping Bear Dune beach is perfectly located to fit into a larger day out.

Check out the nearby Cannery Boathouse Museum to learn more about the history and culture of the area, or stop by the blacksmith shop which is open during the summer months.

The beach itself is beautiful and is a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the Manitou Islands. You can also see remnants of the old Glen Haven dock.

This place was buzzing with activity in the early 20th century but today it has become a zen retreat.

Highlights

Glen Haven Beach is a prime location all on its own, but the added benefit of the nearby historic area and museum makes it an overall great place to visit.

How to access the beach

Parking lots are located near the museum. The beach can be accessed from the parking lot on the left of the museum.

During the summer months there is a 6-foot wide hard-surfaced deck that can help you access the sand, but note that this is removed during the winter.

Facilities

  • Toilets (about 100 yards from the beach near the General Store )
  • Nearby historic area
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Picnic tables with BBQ facilities near the parking lot.

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Make a right onto S Benzonia Trail. About 3 miles later merge onto M-22N and make a left after the lake onto W Day Forest Rd.

Turn right onto Stocking Rd and then left onto Day Farm Rd. Make a right onto M-109N.

Keep following this road, it will lead straight to the Cannery Boathouse museum.

The beach and historic town of Glen Haven are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore. A park pass is required to visit the area and helps conserve this beautiful park.

Conclusion

Glen Haven Beach is located in a prime spot and the nearby historic area makes it a great destination.

Path to Platte River Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA
The path to Platte River point beach (Photo credits: Ken Bosma)

Platte River point beach

Short description of the beach

Platte River Point Beach is a beautiful sandy beach. If the beach is overly crowded you can relax on the grassy lawns along the riverbed.

Platte River Point is located in the gorgeous area where the Platte River flows into Lake Michigan.

It’s a great beach for relaxing and swimming, but you can also participate in water activities. There’s a boat ramp. Although the river is not deep enough for larger boats, it is a popular place to launch canoes and kayaks.

The river flows rapidly at this point and that makes it also a favorite place for tubing.

This is usually the end point for the Platte River Tubing trips.  You can start at the El Dorado Boat Launch and float all the way to the Platte River Point.  This trip usually takes about an hour.

As you can see, you will have no problem spending a full day in this area. You can use the picnic area at the nearby Lake Township park to enjoy lunch.

There is also a full-service campground located nearby, so you could easily incorporate camping and the beach into your trip. The campground is known as the Platte River Campground and has spaces for tent camping and RVs.

Highlights

The Platte River Point Beach is most unique for its boat ramp access.

How to access the beach

There are three parking lots – two are associated with the National Park Service, and one is associated with Lake Township Park. There is no fee to use the lots of the National Park Service, a daily parking fee applies to the Lake Township lot.

Platte River Point is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore. A park pass is required to visit the area and helps conserve this beautiful area.

There is no official or paved path to the beach – simply walk towards the beach from the parking lot and you’re there.

Facilities

  • Boat ramp
  • Drinking water
  • Modern restrooms
  • Picnic area at the Lake Township Park (for a fee)

Directions:

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn left onto S Benzonia Trail. Continue straight when this road turns into Valley Rd. Make a right onto Fowler Rd and then left onto M-22S.

Turn right onto Lake Michigan Rd and drive all the way to the end.

Conclusion

The Platte River Point Beach is beautiful like the other Sleeping Dune Beaches, but what sets it apart is the nearby campground and the boat ramp that is accessible to those who visit the area.

Dunes Peterson Beach Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Michigan USA
The Dunes at Peterson Rd Beach (Photo credits: Rob Cook)

Peterson Road beach

Short description of the beach

If you love the ambiance of the Sleeping Bear Dune beaches but are visiting during the busy season and hoping to avoid crowds, consider Peterson Road beach.

This idyllic portion of the collection of beaches that make up Sleeping Bear Dunes is located at the end of Peterson Rd. The gravel parking lot is atop a high dune bluff and offers gorgeous views.

As soon as you head down to the beach you will get a full appreciation of the stunning beauty of this isolated beach.

This beach is usually quite private although it is relatively well-developed with boardwalk access and a vault toilet.

Pets are allowed on certain parts of the beach and must remain on a leash at all times.

Highlights

Peterson Road beach is a beautiful and secluded spot with unmatched views of the sand dunes and the cool blue water.

How to access the beach

There is a small gravel parking lot at the end of Peterson Rd.

To get to the beach from the parking lot, you will have to take a walk across 600-feet of loose sand. This walk includes some elevation from minor sand dunes.

This beach is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore. A park pass is required to visit the area and helps conserve this beautiful area.

Facilities

  • Unpaved access road and parking
  • Restroom near the parking lot

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn left onto S Benzonia Trail. Continue straight when this road turns into Valley Rd. Make a right onto Fowler Rd and then left onto M-22S.

Follow M-22S for almost 2 miles. Peterson Rd will be on your right. Turn into this street and follow it to the end.

Conclusion

Peterson Road beach is the most accessible out of the most secluded Sleeping Bear beaches.

You can enjoy the peace and quiet together with some basic amenities such as a parking lot and bathroom.

Tiesma Road Beach

Short description of the beach

Tiesma Road Beach is, like Peterson Rd beach, an isolated option for those who are hoping to avoid the hustle and bustle of the crowds that come with the busy summer season.

Note that there are no restrooms or access to drinking water at this beach. In fact, Tiesma Road Beach has no established amenities.

It’s not marked on most maps, which makes it an idyllic and secluded spot where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of relaxing on a beach.

Highlights

The peace and quiet of the isolated Tiesma Road Beach is a definite highlight. This unmarked beach is under the radar. If you can do without the facilities it is heaven.

How to access the beach

From the small parking lot, find the walkway that takes you on a short 600-meter walk over the sand dunes and towards the beach.

This beach is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore. A park pass is required to visit the area and helps conserve this beautiful area.

Facilities

  • Small gravel parking lot
  • Walkway to the beach

You can use a restroom and stock up and food and water at the grocery store at Riverside Canoe Trips. It is located along N Scenic Hwy just past Lake Michigan Rd.

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn left onto S Benzonia Trail. Continue straight when this road turns into Valley Rd. Make a right onto Fowler Rd and then left onto M-22S.

Turn right onto Lake Michigan Rd and drive past the Platte River Campground. About a quarter mile past the campground make a right again onto Tiesma Rd also known as Isle View Drive. Continue until the road ends.

Conclusion

Tiesma Road Beach is a beautiful and secluded beach along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The beach does not have amenities apart from the parking lot and a walkway to the beach.

Esch Road Beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Esch Road Beach – Photo Credits: Don Harrison (the UpNorth Memories Guy)

Esch Road Beach

Short description of the beach

Esch Road beach is a popular option, but its location three miles south of Empire means it’s not necessarily overflowing with beachgoers.

The beach is nestled next to the mouth of Otter Creek. That’s why it is also sometimes referred to as Otter Creek beach. The exact outlet varies slightly every time you visit as it is impact by the wave activity of Lake Michigan.

If you are visiting the beach with children they will certainly enjoy splashing around in the gentle flowing creek bed.

There is also a historic element to Esch Road beach. It was once the site of a small logging village called Aral – there are interpretive plaques that educate visitors about the region’s history.

Highlights

The creek outlet makes Esch Road beach a great option for children who want to splash around in the shallow water or explore the area a little more.

How to access the beach

There is a small gravel parking lot and the beach starts right next to the parking lot.

Facilities

  • Picnic tables
  • Basic restrooms

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn left onto S Kitlinger Rd and then right onto W Stormer Rd.

Turn left onto M-22S and follow this this road until you reach Esch Road – it will be a turn on your right.

Drive carefully as this road is in bad condition. Continue past the end of the pavement. The parking lot is located at the end of the street.

Conclusion

Esch Road beach is a great option for families with small children, although people of all ages will find something to enjoy at this secluded beach.

The North Bar Lake Outlet in Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The outlet of North Bar Lake into Lake Michigan (Photo credits: jimflix!)

North Bar Lake Beach

Short description of the beach

Not every beach in the area directly borders Lake Michigan and North Bar Lake Beach is one prime example.

As the name may suggest, it’s located along the shores of North Bar Lake, which empties into Lake Michigan. Most people look for beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan, which makes this beach a bit like a “hidden gem”.

Word has however been getting around and the beach is a lot more popular nowadays.

Not only is North Bar Lake beautiful, but the water is crystal clear, shallow, and warm which makes it a great option for beachgoers of all ages and skill levels.

The creek that connects North Bar Lake with Lake Michigan is a gentle stream of mildly warm water and an ideal playground for the little ones.

It’s also possible to hike to Lake Michigan. Climbing the dunes that separate the two lakes will get your heart racing but a dip in Lake Michigan’s freshwaters will instantly cool you down.

Highlights

The low sand dunes that surround North Bar Lake Beach and the small waterway that connects North Bar Lake and Lake Michigan create a beautiful environment. Not to forget the possibility to combine a visit to North Bar Lake Beach with the sandy stretches of Lake Michigan next to it.

How to access the beach

There is a pathway between the parking lot and the beach area. It’s not completely paved but is  made of packed crushed stone making it easier to walk on than sand.

Facilities

  • Large paved parking lot
  • Restrooms

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. In Empire make a left onto M-22S and keep left on S Lacore St. Continue for about a mile to the end of the street – it will become Voice Road at this point. Turn left onto Bar Lake Road and drive about two miles until you reach Larahr Rd with the small parking lot for the lake.

Conclusion

North Bar Lake Beach is situated in a great location for exploring. Not only can you visit the beach itself, but you can follow the waterway to Lake Michigan and spend some time along the shore of Lake Michigan as well.

Good Harbor Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes beach
Good Harbor Bay Beach

Good Harbor Bay Beach

Short description of the beach

Good Harbor Bay Beach has a beautiful sandy beach that borders cool blue water. You can relax on the beach while enjoying the views of the Manitou islands.

The beach is very popular and often referred to as Copacabana by the locals.

This is also a kid-friendly beach. Kids love to play in the warm and shallow water where the Good Harbor bay creek flows into Lake Michigan.

For an additional activity, you can hike the nearby Good Harbor Bay Trail, one of the many beautiful hiking trails in the area. The route takes hikers through the forested area of the region and through some swampier spots. Click here to learn more about this incredible hike.

Highlights

The beautiful blue waters and the views from the white sand of Good Harbor Bay Beach are a definite highlight.

How to access the beach

There is a short walk to the beach that starts at the edge of the parking lot. The path is over soft sand.

Facilities

  • Paved road
  • Paved parking lot
  • Drinking water
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic tables

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn right onto S Cedar Rd (county Rd 651). Stay on this road until the end at the intersection with S Manitou trail. Continue straight, onto Good Harbor trail, and drive to the end of the road to find the beach.

Conclusion

Good Harbor Bay Beach is a good option for both beach activities and hikes.

Driftwood at Port Oneida Beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Driftwood at Lane Road Beach (Photo Credits: Ed McDonald)

Lane Road Beach

Short description of the beach

Lane Road beach, or Port Oneida beach as it is also sometimes called, is a beautiful secluded beach tucked in the unspoiled Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. With no facilities whatsoever it offers the quintessential beach experience.

It offers views on South Manitou Island.

The beach is close to several trails so you can break up your relaxing beach day by doing a small hike if you feel so.

The beach is relatively short and will be completely swallowed by the lake if waves are high.

The short distance from the parking lot to the water attracts many paddleboarders who prefer not to lug their equipment too far.

Highlights

Few people, impressive views and a peaceful beach experience. What else can you wish for?

The lack of a parking lot at Lane Road beach might seem like a disadvantage, but it can be a huge benefit – you do not have far to walk before you’re at the beach!

How to access the beach

There is only a tiny gravel parking lot. Chances are you will have to park alongside the road.

A wooden staircase leads down from the parking to the beach.

Facilities

This is a smaller beach with no amenities, but that can be a benefit for those who are looking for a more natural and less artificial environment.

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn right onto S Maple City Rd (county Rd 667). Stay on this road until the end. Make a left onto M-22S.

From M-22S turn right onto Port Oneida Road before turning left onto S Lane Road. You will find the beach at the end of the road. If the parking lot is complete, you can park along the side of the road.

Conclusion

Lane Road beach is located near several hikes, so you can work up a sweat before cooling off in the waters of Lake Michigan. It’s a secluded hidden gem, with a little bit of luck you have the beach to yourself.

Bohemian Beach in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the best Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches
Bohemian Beach

Bohemian beach

Short description of the beach

Bohemian beach is one of the most popular of the Sleeping Bear Dune beaches, and with good reason too.

This clean beach area has all the basic amenities you could need while you’re enjoying the beautiful landscape.

Beach fires are also allowed here, so you can responsibly enjoy a small bonfire in the evenings after a day of frolicking on the beach.

Pets are welcome, but they are allowed only west of CR-669 and they must be on a leash.

Highlights

This is a beach where you can spend a whole day – there are picnic tables available near the parking area and beach fires are permitted.

How to access the beach

From the parking lot, you can walk down to the beach. It’s about a 50 foot walk in soft sand.

Facilities

  • Drinking water
  • Paved road
  • Paved parking lot
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic tables near the parking area
  • ADA Accessible (beach wheelchair available)

Directions

From Traverse City drive West on M-72 towards Empire. Turn right onto S Maple City Rd (county Rd 667). Stay on this road until the end. Make a left onto M-22S.

From M-22S turn right onto S Bohemian Rd and follow this road until it ends at the parking lot.

Conclusion

Bohemian beach is a fantastic place to be if you want a beach you can spend the better part of a day at.

Conclusion

The beaches at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan are all beautiful and idyllic with plenty of space for you to unwind with your family and friends.

The variety of public sandy spaces and the access to the beautiful but chilly water will give you several options to create a perfect vacation enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

If you are wondering where to stay near Sleeping Bear Dunes, have a look at this post in which we share the best Airbnbs and vacation homes.

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