Michigan’s Ann Arbor may be renowned for its illustrious university and eclectic art scene, but those in the know appreciate another side of its charm: proximity to some of the state’s most inviting beaches.
These hidden gems, serve as perfect respites from the urban hustle, offering residents and visitors alike a chance to reconnect with nature, indulge in sun-kissed escapades, and make lasting memories.
From tranquil lakeside retreats to bustling beachfronts, this list unveils the top beaches near Ann Arbor, ensuring your next summer outing is nothing short of spectacular.
Discover the options!
1. Independence Lake County Park
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 12 miles
- Activities: fishing, boating, hiking, biking, picnicking, playgrounds, disc golf
- Facilities: fishing spots, trails, picnic shelters, playgrounds, disc golf, restrooms
Independence Lake County Park, located near Webster, boasts the nearest beach to Ann Arbor which serves as a magnet for both locals and tourists alike.
The primary swimming area along the tranquil shores of Independence Lake offers a serene escape for those looking to swim, sunbathe, or indulge in the simple pleasure of building sandcastles.
Adjacent to the park, Blue Heron Bay Spray Park stands out as a family favorite.
Equipped with slides, geysers, and dynamic water features, it provides an aquatic adventure that promises endless fun.
Those looking for a quick bite or refreshment can be treated at the beach’s concession area, and clean bathrooms ensure convenience for all.
Moreover, the surrounding grassy expanse, maintained meticulously free of any debris, including goose residues, amplifies the beach’s appeal.
The spot guarantees a delightful blend of relaxation and recreation just a stone’s throw from Ann Arbor.
2. Van Buren Park Beach
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 16 miles
- Activities: swimming, fishing, picnics, outdoor games
- Facilities: entry fees, buoyed swimming area, trails, swimming dock, restrooms, picnic tables
Nestled at the southeastern tip of Van Buren Park lies the serene gem known as Van Buren Park Beach which is conveniently located just 16 miles from Ann Arbor.
A hidden haven for seekers of tranquility and family-friendly fun, this Eastern-facing shoreline offers a picturesque escape from the bustle of life.
The beach’s charm extends beyond its shores, with a well-maintained playground for the little ones, abundant picnic areas, and even convenient BBQ grills.
Boasting a capacity for 50 sun-soaked enthusiasts, it’s a retreat monitored by vigilant park staff.
Embracing the beauty of nature, kayakers and paddleboarders find solace in its waters, while a sunbathing platform caters to relaxation seekers.
Versatile and close to Ann Arbor, it’s a must-visit beach to add to your collection of summer getaways.
3. GetAway Bay
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 20 miles
- Activities: beach volleyball, picnicking, kayaking, paddleboarding
- Facilities: beach volleyball nets, picnic tables, bathrooms, parking, swimming dock, inflatable water park
Once the site of sand extraction for US-23’s construction in 1962, GetAway Bay now stands as a 6-acre oasis of relaxation and entertainment just 20 miles from Ann Arbor.
The sun-kissed, warm sands beckon beachgoers while the lake’s spring-fed water provides refreshment and fun.
Sporting enthusiasts can flex their muscles at the beach volleyball courts, and picnickers will find solace under ample shade with generously spaced picnic tables.
Clean bathrooms and a plethora of water activities are available, amplifying the beach’s appeal.
With a modest entry fee of $10/person, visitors receive an experience that rivals state parks.
Under the diligent care of the new owner, GetAway Bay promises a blend of nature’s bounty and thoughtful amenities, ensuring a delightful escape for all.
4. Pinckney Recreation Area
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 21 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, boating, camping, picnicking
- Facilities: trails, campgrounds, restrooms, picnic areas, boat launches
Nestled just 30 minutes from Ann Arbor, Pinckney Recreation Area emerges as a nature lover’s dream, boasting an extensive network of trails and serene lakes.
However, it’s the area’s beaches that truly set it apart.
At Bruin Lake Modern Campground, visitors are welcomed by pristine sandy shores, ideal for sunbathing or building sandcastles.
Similarly, Halfmoon Lake and Silver Lake offer day-use beach access where beachgoers can indulge in BBQ feasts, with dedicated pits dotting the landscape.
Further enhancing the experience, trails, campgrounds, and boat launches support a wide selection of outdoor activities.
With boat etiquette observed diligently, visitors can truly savor a peaceful lakeside retreat.
At Pinckney, the promise of relaxation and recreation intertwines beautifully.
5. Island Lake Recreation Area
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 21 miles
- Activities: mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, swimming, picnicking, fishing
- Facilities: trails, picnic areas, restrooms, parking, playground, volleyball courts, cabins
Island Lake Recreation Area, situated 21 miles north of Ann Arbor, is rapidly emerging as the ultimate summer destination for both locals and tourists.
Nestled within the park’s vast 4,000-acre expanse, Spring Mill Pond stands out, offering an immaculate sandy beach alongside crystal-clear waters.
For those wanting a tranquil escape, Trout Lake boasts secluded mini beaches, enveloped by a dense curtain of trees, making it a serene hideaway.
Alternatively, Kent Lake Beach offers access to the popular and large Kent Lake, adding to the beach options.
Activities abound, visitors can bask under the sun, take a refreshing dip, or partake in kayaking adventures along the pristine shores.
On the amenities front, the beach areas are equipped with picnic tables, pavilions, and exceptionally clean restrooms.
Not just for sun-seekers, Island Lake’s beaches also beckon to pet lovers, offering idyllic spots for a dog’s day out.
6. Brighton Recreation Area
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 19 miles
- Activities: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, camping, picnicking
- Facilities: boat launch, picnic areas, restrooms, equestrian facilities, playground, trails, campgrounds, rental
Nestled within the expansive 4,900 acres of the Brighton Recreation Area are a couple of picturesque beaches, with Bishop Lake being the most celebrated among them.
This outdoor mecca attracts both locals and tourists alike, offering a tranquil escape surrounded by nature.
Lake’s clear waters beckon swimmers while a designated beach area ensures the perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxation.
Beyond just lounging, visitors can engage in kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating, making it an ideal location for water enthusiasts.
The beach is also equipped with amenities such as clean restrooms, volleyball courts, and picnic areas, ensuring a comfortable day out.
The combination of pristine waters, recreational activities, and convenient facilities makes Bishop Lake Beach not just a destination, but an experience.
7. Kensington Metropark
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 24 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, golfing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, camping
- Facilities: boat rentals, golf course, disc golf course, nature center, trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, campgrounds, rentals
Located 24 miles from Ann Arbor, Kensington Metropark provides access to the vast Kent Lake and boasts two designated swimming beaches – Maple Beach or Martindale Beach.
Visitors flock here to bask in the sun, with the soft sands acting as the perfect backdrop for sunbathing and castle-building.
The Splash ‘n’ Blast Water Park at Martindale Beach is children’s favorite, offering hours of exhilarating aquatic fun.
Fishing enthusiasts find solace at the water’s edge, with Kent Lake generously stocked and teeming with diverse fish species.
Picnickers are spoiled for choice, with ample pavilions and picnic areas sprinkled generously around the area.
Clean, brick-built restrooms ensure comfort and convenience for beachgoers.
Kayak, paddleboard, and boat rentals invite adventurers to explore the vastness of Kent Lake.
And for those who prefer spectating, the ferry boat tour offers panoramic views, with frequent bald eagle sightings.
With its fusion of natural beauty and well-thought-out amenities, Kensington Metropark’s beach is an idyllic destination for all.
8. Waterloo State Recreation Area
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 25 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking
- Facilities: picnic tables, grills, campgrounds, restrooms, boat launch, golf course, trails, parking lots, playgrounds, cabins and lodges, rentals
Nestled in the vast expanse of Michigan’s largest state park, the beaches at Waterloo State Recreation Area are a true hidden gem.
Located 25 miles from Ann Arbor, the main swimming area – Portage Lake Beach, boasts pristine, well-maintained shores where visitors are greeted with a blend of sandy expanses and grassy patches ideal for sunbathing or picnicking.
The conveniently located concession stands ensure that beachgoers are never too far from a refreshing treat, while the paddleboard and other watercraft rentals invite adventure-seekers to explore the tranquil waters.
Although parking is abundant, be prepared for a brief picturesque walk downhill via a paved path, with wagons proving handy for those carrying heavier gear.
The blend of natural beauty and thoughtfully designed amenities make Waterloo Recreational Area a popular choice among beachgoers.
9. Lakeshore Park (Walled Lake)
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 27 miles
- Activities: swimming, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, picnicking, hiking, biking
- Facilities: picnic shelters, restrooms, boat ramps, playgrounds, volleyball nets, barbecue grills, parking
Lakeshore Park’s recent renovation has gifted Novi with a pristine beach that’s become the talk of Michigan.
Located 27 miles from Ann Arbor, this Walled Lake beach offers plenty of fun, making it an ideal spot for outdoor lovers.
Visitors can take a leisurely swim in the lake’s clear waters or engage in a spirited game of volleyball on the soft sands.
The convenience of an underground tunnel connecting the beach to the main park ensures safety for all.
The main park offers trails, playgrounds, and plenty of picnic spots while Walled Lake offers boating and water skiing opportunities.
A visit to Lakeshore Park’s beach promises a day of relaxation and fun, making it a must-visit this summer.
10. Hayes State Park
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 31 miles
- Activities: Hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, camping
- Facilities: Picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms, campgrounds, boat launch, picnic shelters, trails, parking, dump station, park office, campsite fire rings, and picnic tables.
Hayes State Park: A Beachside Gem in Michigan’s Irish Hills and is relatively close to Ann Arbor, MI.
Tucked away in Michigan’s scenic Irish Hills, Hayes State Park boasts a sprawling beach area that’s a must-visit for both residents and travelers.
Spanning a vast stretch alongside Wamplers Lake, the beach offers ample space for families to indulge in sun-soaked activities, from swimming to picnicking amidst views of nature.
Surrounded by mature trees, the beach promises an enchanting forested backdrop, elevating the serene atmosphere.
Notably, the park ensures visitors’ convenience with well-maintained restroom facilities, inclusive of changing rooms.
For younger visitors, a creatively designed pirate ship playground awaits, while a concessions stand offers refreshments, sunscreen, and beach float rentals.
Whether you’re planning a family outing or a tranquil day out, Hayes State Park provides a pristine beach setting, complemented by top-notch amenities.
11. William C. Sterling State Park
- Distance from Ann Arbor: 41 miles
- Activities: swimming, sunbathing, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, beach volleyball
- Facilities: boat launch, campgrounds, restrooms, trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, parking
Nestled along the shores of Lake Erie in Monroe, Michigan, Sterling State Park’s pristine beach emerges as a go-to summer haven.
Located 41 miles from Ann Arbor, this expansive stretch of sand is renowned for its cleanliness, even on bustling days like Memorial Day.
Families and sun-seekers can revel in a diverse array of activities, from basking in the sun to engaging in playful beach volleyball matches.
Young ones find delight in the meticulously maintained playground, replete with swings and innovative jungle gyms.
For those looking to refuel after a swim, picnic areas peppered around the beach come equipped with grills and dedicated disposal cans, ensuring a seamless barbecue experience.
Nearby, well-kept brick restroom facilities stand, reflecting the park’s commitment to visitor comfort.
Sterling State Park isn’t just a beach; it’s a curated experience of sun, sand, and serenity.