Are you thinking of visiting Michigan and want to find the best beaches in Traverse City? Well, stay with me here because I have put together a list of the 10 best Traverse City beaches that are well worth a visit.
Traverse City is a fascinating city, and its beaches are beautiful all year round. Did you know that Traverse City beaches are all actually lake beaches?
This means that there are no sharks, no salt water, and no tide. But you will still get that “ocean beach” feeling of sand between your toes, sunshine, and lovely crystal clear freshwater, with magnificent sunsets.
Where Are The Best Beaches In Traverse City?
Northern Michigan is home to the lovely Great Lakes beach town, Traverse City. It sits right at the bottom of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, and Leelanau Peninsula separates it from Lake Michigan.
Most people tend to hang around the downtown area. This creates overcrowding on the main West Bay beaches. But, there are so many more Traverse City beaches for you to visit if you wish to escape the summertime crowds.
Let’s Explore 10 Awesome Traverse City Beaches
Whether you’re looking for a beach in the city, a beach suitable for dogs, a small beach, or even some of the best beaches in Traverse City that are off the beaten track, you’ll find them here.
With over 180-miles of shoreline and more than 100 lakes, with beautiful sand dunes, you won’t find more diverse than the best beaches in Traverse City. So let’s see which of the best beaches in Traverse City I have chosen for you!
Clinch Park is one of the most popular Traverse City beaches, and it is located just minutes from downtown. It’s a lovely sandy stretch along West Grand Traverse Bay and only a short walk from restaurants, coffee bars, and shops.
There are so many reasons why you should visit this beach, and the facilities here are excellent!
Clinch Park Beach features:
- Kids’ splash pad
- Lifeguards on duty
- Volleyball courts
- Picnic pavilion
- Canoes, Kayaks, and Stand-up paddleboard rentals
Clinch Park Beach is adjacent to the Marina and next to the old Traverse City zoo. The beach itself has no parking; however, along Cass Street, a pedestrian underpass will take you right to the beach.
You’ll also have access to the TART Trail. This is a 10.5-mile paved route for joggers, walkers, in-line skaters, and cyclists. So, if you want to stay in town, you’re short on time, and don’t want to venture far, Clinch Park Beach is the place to be.
Just take into account that because this is such a popular Traverse City beach, it is always busy.
Location: East of Union Street & West Grandview Parkway Intersection, Traverse City, MI
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed on the beach, as long as they are leashed. However, they are not permitted in the designated swimming areas.
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Second on my list is Bryant Park Beach, which is west-facing, perfect for sunset viewing, and located just a few minutes drive from downtown Traverse City.
This Traverse City beach is a fabulous spot to have a sunset picnic, with a mix of grass and sandy beach.
Bryant Park Beach Features:
- Dedicated picnic area
- Charcoal grills
If you need to escape the sun, there are some shaded areas under the tall pine trees. And after you’ve had your swim, why not walk over the street and grab an ice cream at Bardon’s Wonder Freeze.
Bryant Park is a family favorite, as it attracts smaller crowds, therefore making it a quieter beach.
Location: Peninsula Drive, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed on the beach as long as they are on a leash.
East Bay Park
If you’re looking for one of the best beaches in Traverse City, just 10 minutes drive from downtown that is ideal for small children, then East Bay Park is the beach for you.
It is a quiet beach with lots of sandy space, so it’s perfect for young families to spread out their beach blankets and spend the day relaxing. Let the kids have fun splashing around in the calmer, warm shallow water.
East Bay Park Features:
- Shaded picnic areas
- Lifeguards on duty in the summer months
- Lots of parking available
This Traverse City beach is the closest if you want to escape the crowds of the downtown area.
Location: 220 East Bay Boulevard South, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are not allowed on the beach. They are permitted along the paved paths and on the grass areas and must always be on a leash.
West End Beach
West End Beach is located on the west end of the downtown Traverse City shoreline, on Grandview Parkway. As West End beach faces the east, it is one of the best beaches in Traverse City to watch the sunrise.
And a beautiful mile-long stretch with boats anchored close to the shoreline. Perfect for that summertime boat-to-shore socializing.
West End Beach Features:
- Volleyball Courts
This Traverse City beach is right across the street from shops and restaurants. Not far to walk if you need a break from the sun.
Location: 716 West Grandview Parkway, Traverse City, MI 49684
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed on the far west end of the beach. And they must be on a leash at all times.
Traverse City State Park
On Grand Traverse Bay, just 2-miles from downtown Traverse City, you’ll find Traverse City State Park. With its 0.4-mile pristine sandy beach and camping facilities right across the street, this is definitely one of the best beaches in Traverse City.
Traverse City Features:
- On-duty Lifeguards
- Picnic Tables
Traverse City State Park has the TART Trail for all who wish to walk or cycle. Sailing and power boating are pretty popular here too.
And if you’re into fishing, you can expect to catch a fair share of trout, salmon, and panfish. It is important to note that you will need a state park permit if you wish to park your car.
You’ll find the boat rental and food concession in the day-use area.
The state park sits on 47-acres of land, and there are 350 campsites available. Camping is available all year round and is directly across the street from the beach. This beachfront site has cozy cabins, and this campground even has heated restrooms.
Location: 1132 N US Highway 31 N, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are not allowed on this beach.
Best Beaches Near Traverse City
Twin Lakes Park
Twin Lakes Park is on my list of best beaches in Traverse City because it’s a more rugged beach. Located on the west side, this small community recreation area is only really known by the locals.
So, if you want to escape the crowds and be surrounded by nature, then this is the beach to come to. There is a small swimming area, but it tends to get deep quite quickly.
Due to the depth of the water, it is highly recommended that you stay within the designated swimming areas. There are also lovely nature trails that go round the lake, with lots of private lakeside spots to relax.
Twin Lakes Park Features:
- Picnic tables
- Nature Trails
You can use the pavilion and book different events at Twin Lakes Park. And in the summer months, there are various weekly camps for all age groups.
If you’d like to stay longer than the day at this Traverse City beach, you have the option to book the cabin. It sleeps two people, so it’s ideally suited for solo adventurers or nature-loving couples.
Location: 6800 N Long Lake Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
Power Island is a 202-acre island located in West Grand Traverse Bay. There is a small island that sits slightly north called Bassett Island. Henry Ford owned both these islands between 1917-1944.
If you love the boating lifestyle, then Power Island should be at the top of your list of best beaches in Traverse City. As this is an island, the beaches are secluded and only accessible by boat.
If you are experienced enough, you can kayak or paddleboard your way to the island too. The nearest boat launch is on Old Mission Peninsula and 3.5-miles away.
Power Island Features:
- Sandy beaches
- Boat dock
- Large picnic areas
- Wooded hikes
If you’d like to extend your stay for longer than just the day, you do have the option to camp. There are 10 rustic campsites available on Power Island.
Each campsite can accommodate a maximum of 6 people.
Reservations are required.
Each campsite has its own picnic table, campfire circle, and cooking grill.
Check-in and Check-out times are both at midday.
With over 5-miles of hiking trails and over 3-miles of sandy beach shoreline, Power Island certainly provides a lot of natural areas for visitors.
This is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Traverse City what will provide an unforgettable experience for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Location: Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed on Power Island but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Old Mission Peninsula Park
Old Mission Peninsula Park is located just outside of Traverse City. It’s easy to get to and a great place to explore, with cherry orchards, wineries, great restaurants, and hotels all along the peninsula.
The park is set on more than 40-acres of land and has an extensive trail system. And the great thing about this Traverse City beach is that there’s also a lighthouse you can visit.
The water here is shallow and warm. But this Traverse City beach seems to have more stones than it does sand.
Visiting Mission Point Lighthouse
On the north end of a magnificent drive through vineyards and cherry orchards, on the M-37, you’ll see Mission Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse is a classic piece of Northern Michigan’s history.
There is a museum on the first floor, which is free to enter. However, to witness the amazing views, there is a small fee to climb the stairs to the tower:
- For 13+ – $5.00 per person
- For 6-12 – $2.00 per person
- Ages 5 and Under – FREE
There are lovely hotels and inns along the Old Mission Peninsula, and you’ll even find there’s a B&B at one of the vineyards.
Other Things To Do Along The Peninsula
If you’re a wine lover, Old Mission Peninsula is a must-visit! There are ten wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail. You can make a day of it and spend time just visiting the wineries in the area. So many of them have tasting rooms with stunning views.
If you feel like a casual pub atmosphere, with a wide variety of beers, you have to try the Jolly Pumpkin. The food is lovely!
While exploring the area, there is so much bird watching to do, with loads of perfect photo opportunities.
Location: Old Mission Point, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Your dogs will thoroughly enjoy walking along the extensive trail system.
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This Traverse City beach is also along Old Mission Peninsula. It’s a pristine park that is seldom busy, making it a bit of a hidden gem. Haserot Beach is about 18-miles north of downtown Traverse City, tucked away in a small harbor, making it a tranquil beach.
With the long stretch of peaceful sandy beach and calm crystal clear waters, you can certainly spend time relaxing here.
Haserot Beach Features:
- Small boat launch
- Picnic area with grills
There are beautiful cottages along the shore that add to this peaceful scenery. And because the bay opens facing southeast, the beach is sheltered from the wind.
Location: Swaney Road, Traverse City, MI 49686
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed, as long as they’re on a leash. However, no dogs are allowed in the swimming or picnic areas.
North Bar Lake
Feel like traveling out a little further for a quieter beach and making a day of it? You need to head to North Bar Lake. It is a lovely sheltered beach, a 40-minute drive from Traverse City, and located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
It is magical here. The water is very calm and so much warmer, so it’s perfect for kids. And if you take a walk around the sand dunes, you’ll find a much bigger beach and access to Lake Michigan.
There is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to get to these beaches. This alone makes this beach not nearly as busy as other Traverse City beaches and worth the hike.
You will need to pay for parking here.
Location: 1030 North Bar Lake Road, Empire, MI 49630
Pet Policy: Dogs are allowed in certain areas on the beach, and they must be on a leash at all times.
Other Fun Things To Do In Traverse City With Kids
Along with all the best beaches in Traverse City and all the outdoor activities Michigan has to offer there are also other fun things to do with the kids.
Center Ice Arena – If you feel like you need to cool off, why not take the kids to the public ice skating rink. Center Ice Arena is home to the Traverse City North Stars ice hockey team.
And if the team is playing, you can even watch the match.
Cognition Science & Discovery Center – This science museum focuses on engaging activities.
Suitable for kids ages 5-12.
Crystal Mountain – About a 40-minute drive from Traverse City, you’ll find this family-owned resort. With a golf course, Alpine slide, swimming pools, and different downhill trails, your kids and teenagers will love their day trips here.
Suitable for ages 3 and up.
Final Notes On Best Beaches In Traverse City
Well, there you have it, 10 awesome Traverse City beaches and a few other things for you to enjoy. I do hope my list has helped you.
There are so many of the best beaches in Traverse City. Depending on when you visit during the year, they may or may not be busy with tourists. But, no matter which of these Traverse City beaches you choose to visit, you will have a lovely time.
If you’re happy to venture away from downtown and escape the crowds, you’ll come across more Traverse City beaches that are quieter, off the beaten track, with plenty space for you to stretch out.
If you’ve been to any of these beaches, please share your experience in the comments below. Or, if you’ve been to any other beaches that you feel should be listed as one of the best beaches in Traverse City, let us know, and we will be sure to add it to the list.