9 Midwest Beaches You Should Visit This Summer

Last updated on: May 10, 2020

(Last Updated On: May 10, 2020)

The Great Lakes in the middle of the United States and Canada contain 21% of the world’s freshwater. They span a massive area in the continent and, of course, along their shores are lots of places to play and unlikely American Midwest beaches at which to relax.

The beaches on lakes don’t have a lot of cabanas and drinks with umbrellas in them. While you can lay out every day and get a great tan, you can also hike, kayak, swim, and camp. Unlike many beaches in other places, these are places where staying active is easy.

The state of Michigan offers more beaches than any other state simply because it’s made of two peninsulas. Every state along the Great Lakes has beaches, parks, and recreation areas. While this list has many of them, it’s definitely not all. No matter where you are along the lakes, look for a place to catch some sun, a breeze, and swim in water that isn’t salty.

Oval Beach, Saugatuck, MI

One might not imagine of the world’s top beaches being on a lake, but Oval Beach is there. Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 25 Beaches in the World, MTV’s Top 5 Beaches in the USA, and National Geographic’s Top Freshwater Beaches in the World are just a few of the accolades that this beach garners. Rolling dunes provides a backdrop to a pristine beach that makes Cancun and Jamaica envious.

Oval Beach - American Midwest Beaches

Ohio Street Beach, Chicago, IL

Located right on the lakefront in Chicago and adjacent to a beautiful city park, this is an amazing beach with lifeguards and more. The beach and bay are protected, so it’s perfect for open water swimming lessons, not being subject to the currents in the lake. Located next to one of the city’s freshwater treatment plants and just a short walk to Navy Pier, this is a perfect reason to wear a swimsuit in Chicago.

Ohio Street Beach, Chicago - American Midwest Beaches

Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore, Empire, MI

More than just a beach, this is an entire recreation area that offers unobstructed views of the night sky and outstanding swimming in Lake Michigan. The cliffs tower 450 feet above the beach.

There are other inland lakes (not all good for swimming) and lots of wildlife in the lakeshore area to enjoy. Miles and miles of sandy beaches are ideal for running, swimming, and communing with nature in the northern reaches of the main part of Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Park - American Midwest Beaches

Warren Dunes State Park, Bridgman, MI

Three miles of beach and sand make this one of the most outstanding Midwest beaches in the US. There are also six miles of hiking trails and nearly 2,000 acres along the beach to keep you busy. The views are amazing and the water is perfect. You can even camp right in the park and stay for the nighttime skies and fun.

Warren Dunes State Park

Big Bay State Park, Madeline Island, WI

Located in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, Big Bay State Park is one of those places in the world where everyday life meets what used to be. There are a mile and half of beach, a 3-mile boardwalk and over seven miles of hiking trails. Camping and picnicking are available in the park. This is one of the best places in the world to kayak and spend time on the waters of this amazing glacial lake.

Big Bay State Park

Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee, MI

This is a gorgeous state park on Lake Michigan with a bluff that overlooks the beach. A stairway takes you from the top of the bluff, near the camping area, down to the pristine beach. Once privately owned, this beach and park became public all the back in 1921. It even has a building of note, the Limestone Shelter House, made from stone shipped across the lake from Wisconsin.

Orchard Beach State Park

Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA

Located on a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that sticks out into Lake Erie, this is one of the most amazing areas in the world. The park is gorgeous and the beach is massive. You can lay on the beach and watch pleasure boats and commercial freight ships as they glide by. The area is home to many endangered, threatened, and rare species in the park. In fact, more than any comparable area in Pennsylvania.

Presque Isle State Park - American Midwest Beaches
Presque Isle State Park

Park Point Recreation Area, Duluth, MN

Between Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor is a long sand dune worthy of being called one of the great American Midwest beaches. Covered with pine forests and beaches, this is a great place to lay in the sun, run with the kids, or even bird watch. There’s a beach house with concessions, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and much, much more.

Park Point - American Midwest Beaches

Simmons Island Beach, Kenosha, WI

Located right near downtown Kenosha, this makes our list for being a great city beach. It’s walking distance to the city’s sculpture park. There’s a museum, a light station, grassy area to play on, and lots of beaches to relax on. All of this is located right near the central district of Kenosha, a great little city with lots to do and see.

Simmons Island

Come to the Great Lakes and enjoy the sun and sand.

 No salt! Shark-free!

Have you visited any Midwest beaches before? Tell us how your experience was.

Related post: 4 Awesome Things to Do in Rehoboth Beach

9 Unlikely American Beaches That You Should Visit This Summer

Author Profile

Bob Peryea
Bob is freelance writer based in Wisconsin. He spent decades in the hospitality business and has traveled extensively in the US. He lives with his wife and two cats in a quiet town in the land of Cheeseheads.

23 thoughts on “9 Midwest Beaches You Should Visit This Summer”

  1. American certainly has plenty of beautiful beaches and this is a great list. I have been to California and had experience the beachese theres, such as Big Sur and 17 miles. Truly awesome.

  2. I’ve never really explored this part of the country before and this post has inspire my curiosity to check it out. Thank you for all the useful information – I’ll be thinking about these beaches and possibly a vacation to the Grest Lakes soon. ☺️.

  3. I love reading blogs like these to find the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants and the “unlikely”beaches. They make for the best less touristy yet highly recommended spots. Glad to see my hometown made the list. Yay for the windy city!

  4. What an amazing list of beaches along the great lakes. Great to know the facts and interesting information, I would love to visit the Oval beach!

  5. I have never been to Ohio Street Beach in Chicago Illinois. But I always wanted to go there one day.

  6. what an impressive list! These beaches sound really amazing and the kind of place where I like to enjoy a summer vacation.

  7. What a really great list this is. It is so very helpful to anyone who is visiting the US and loves to go to the beach. I am sure this will help a lot of tourists out.

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