8 Michigan Beach Resorts From Sleeping Bear Dunes to Mackinac Island

Summer is here and Michiganders are heading to the beach! Check out these eight Michigan beach resorts from Mackinac Island to Traverse City and start packing.

Growing up in Michigan, we learned early on that no matter where you are in the state, you’re no further than six miles from a natural body of water. (We also grew up pointing out our hometowns on our hands, but that’s another story.)

Still, when you think of beach towns, you probably think of North Carolina’s Barrier Islands, Malibu or Santa Monica, California, or pretty much anywhere in Florida. What the locals know is that Michigan has some of the best beach areas and resorts in the country. You’ll find stunning waterfront resorts with amenities like horse and carriage rides, S’mores around the fire pit, high tea, and Broadway-style shows.

Besides the unique spas, incredible food by award-winning chefs, and quirky beach towns, families will love the kid’s clubs and stepping out into the calm waters of Michigan’s Great Lakes. Even small children can take a dip without the threat of being knocked over by a giant wave. Plan your midwestern summer retreat with these eight Michigan beach resorts.

A Scandinavian Retreat


Inspired by a mix of Scandinavian and modern design, every room in the Marina Grand Resort has both a fireplace and a patio or deck overlooking the New Buffalo Harbor. Choose from a king, double queen, or a variety of suites where you can admire hundreds of boats in the harbor while enjoying your morning coffee. You can even grab some baked goods and a latte from the coffee market, Joe.

After breakfast, take a bike ride around town using the resort’s complimentary bicycle rental and then cool off in the indoor or outdoor pool. Tasty evening offerings on the menu at the Brentwood Tavern include whitefish caught from nearby Lake Superior, Cast Iron Kobe Steak, and Prosciutto & Fig Woodfired Pizza. When you retire to your room, dial up the Ben and Jerry’s Hotline to have your favorite flavor delivered right to your room.

The resort is just a few minutes from New Buffalo’s downtown dotted with art galleries, antique shops, and breweries, many of which are housed in historic buildings. Casey’s Bar and Grill is a great place to enjoy some Michigan beer and history. (It’s housed in the old Goodrich hotel which, built in 1835, was the first hotel in the city.)

Tip: Download this Google Map for a self-guided Harbor Country Cheers and Beers Tour and come in April for the annual Beer in the Buff Festival. And only a 15-minute drive away, you’ll find Warren Dunes State Park with miles of shoreline and hiking trails as well as a 260-foot high sand dune.

Perhaps you’re more of an oenophile than a hophead. You’ll be happy to know that the Marina Grand sits along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. After all, Michigan is the fifth largest wine producing state in the U.S. If you come on the third Saturday in June, be sure to attend the Wine Festival at the Warren Dunes, where you can taste offerings from 20 wineries while dancing to tunes in the dunes.

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Marina Grand Resort

New Buffalo
8.7 Excellent (46 reviews)

Sleeping Bear Dunes


Michiganders adore both the resort town of Traverse City and the unspoiled surrounding nature. Drop your bags at the Bayshore Resort before dipping your toes into the cool blue waters of Traverse Bay along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Then, spend some time wandering around downtown Traverse City — a sophisticated small town full of art galleries and independent bookstores. Back at Bayshore Resort, rent a boat or jet ski or check out the indoor pool and whirlpool with painted blues skies, fluffy, white clouds, and rainbow airplanes to make you feel as if the outdoors came inside.

The following day, head out to the most famous landmark in the Traverse City area, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Voted the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America, you can play in the fine sand reaching up to 460-feet above the shoreline or stand on top after a strenuous climb and contemplate the peaceful view from above. Be sure to check out the Night Sky Programs where park rangers identify the locations of stars and explain the legends behind them.

Return to your room decorated in classic Victorian style and, depending on your room choice, relax on your balcony overlooking the bay, sit by your fireplace and read, or luxuriate in your jetted spa tub.

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Bayshore Resort

Traverse City
8.0 Very good (32 reviews)

A Homage to Grand Hotels


Designed as an homage to the grand hotels of the 19th Century, the Inn at Bay Harbor in Petoskey is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of unique boutique hotels. With its detailed attention to elegance and service, this is the place to escape life’s concerns and simply relax. And while this elegance might sound great for a romantic weekend (it is!), it’s also a wonderful family destination. With nine different room types to choose from, as well as Lakeside Cottages and three bedroom cottages along the 19th fairway at the Crooked Tree Golf Club, you’re sure to find a room for any occasion.

The inn offers a wide variety of activities which will keep the whole family entertained. And you won’t even need to start up the car. Hop on the hotel shuttle to get to local areas of interest including downtown Petoskey’s Gaslight District filled with over 170 boutiques and restaurants. If you prefer to get into town by peddle power, grab a beach cruiser for a couple of hours. Maybe try a fly fishing lesson or practice your golf swing with free range balls at the Crooked Tree or Bay Harbor Golf Clubs.

While you’re perfecting your game, the kids will have a blast exploring their inner Picasso with free Inn Kids activities. In the evening, you can munch on S’mores at a campfire on the beach before heading back to your room to watch a DVD and munch on popcorn and chocolate. All of this is included in the seven percent resort fee.

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Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection

Top rated
Bay Harbor
9.3 Excellent (404 reviews)

Fire Pits and After Dinner Drinks


Start your day off right at The Harbor Grand Hotel (a sister property of the Marina Grand) with an Il Lodi Crepe loaded with lemon mascarpone and seasonal berries before walking into downtown New Buffalo to visit the shops and galleries. Over the coming days, head to the beach for swimming, a sailing excursion, or to rent your own boat. If you come by in September or October, you’ll catch the striking fall colors of beech, maple, and oak trees in nearby Robinson Woods before shedding their leaves for winter. Plus, you can immerse yourself in the fall activities, like pumpkin picking, hayrides, corn mazes, and apple cider.

When you return to the hotel, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prarie School of Architecture, savor a Rustic Italian, fireside dinner at the Terrace Restaurant. Or, if the weather’s nice, take advantage of their waterfront patio seating. Then head to the fire pit for after-dinner drinks and complimentary S’mores.

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The Harbor Grand

New Buffalo
8.6 Excellent (32 reviews)

Beach, Golf, and Swim


Situated along Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes in Bellaire, Shanty Creek Resort boasts over 400 lodging accommodations spread over 5,000 acres in their three villages. My favorite, Summit Village, is a less than 10-minute drive from Torch Lake, which National Geographic has named one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

The chain includes 14 lakes and interconnecting rivers, meaning you could stay at the resort for two weeks and visit a different swimming hole each day. Along the 75-mile long watershed, you’ll also find pontoon rentals, kayaking, and fishing.

After a day on the water, you’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite so head to the resort’s Lakeview restaurant and watch the sun slowly move from the pink sky into the turquoise waters of Torch Lake and Lake Bellaire. While looking down on Lake Bellaire, choose one of their creative cocktails (perhaps a Lakeview Sunset Martini made with Vodka, Malibu rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of Grenadine) followed by a scrumptious entrée from their well-rounded menu. (Go for the Pecan Crusted Walleye or Orange Glazed Duck.) Whatever you do, don’t pass up a scoop of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream for dessert.

If you feel the need to take a day off from the beach, play a round at one of the four golf courses on the resort complex, including the Arnold Palmer designed Legend course, named by Golf Digest among the “Top Resort Courses” in the U.S.

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Shanty Creek Resorts Summit Village

8.0 Very good (1455 reviews)

Live Life at a Leisurely Pace


Mackinac Island is a place where life moves at a leisurely pace and much of the island seems frozen in time. Both locals and tourists alike get around the island by bike, foot or horse and carriage as cars are not allowed on the island. And the historic Grand Hotel, made famous by the film Somewhere In Time, is the jewel of Mackinac Island. Opened in 1897, history surrounds you at this hotel which has welcomed U.S. Presidents and celebrities. Even Mark Twain spent time at the Grand. The 397 guestrooms offer a wide variety of sleeping options including the chance to stay in one of the seven suites named after and designed in collaboration with First Ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson.

If you’re a golfer, you’ll appreciate the unique experience of playing the 18-hole Jewel course. The first nine holes, built in 1901 and redesigned in 1987, are called the Grand, while the second nine holes, a mile-and-a-half away, are called the Woods. Together they make the Jewel, the only course in the world with horse-drawn carriage rides between the nines. After your game, take a dip in the Esther Williams Pool. Named after the swimmer and actress known for starring in the 1940’s “aquamusicals,” parts of her movie This Time for Keeps were filmed here.

Experience the hundred-year-old tradition of afternoon tea at the Grand hotel with sherry, champagne, petite finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones and an array of pastries (oh, and teas, of course), accompanied by live music from the Grand Hotel Orchestra. With six dining options, you’ll find something to please everyone. For a more formal dinner, enjoy a night at the Main Dining Room set to the music of the Grand Hotel Orchestra. Following dinner, dance the night away with the orchestra in the Terrace Room.

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Grand Hotel

Top rated
Mackinac Island
8.6 Excellent (10 reviews)

Stay on the Sunrise Side of Mackinac Island


Situated on ‘the sunrise side’ of Mackinac Island, Mission Point is a wonderful place to watch the sun begin to peak over the waters of Lake Huron before beginning your day of fun and relaxation. Take in the sunrise while sitting in an Adirondack on the lush Great Lawn or, if you’re feeling energetic, take a guided sunrise hike before heading to the Round Island Bar and Grill for a breakfast buffet and made-to-order omelets.

The activities at Mission Point will transport you to a more carefree time with offerings of bocce ball, croquet, bicycle rentals, tennis, and flower pressing. You can even grab a picnic lunch from the Boxwood Coffee Shop and spend some family time nibbling and flying kites in the Great Lawn.

Later, while the kids spend the afternoon at the complimentary kids club, the adults can do their thing; perhaps a round of golf at the historic—built in 1898—par 72, Wawashkamo Golf Club, where you’ll have use of a complimentary golf cart and clubs. If you prefer, relax with a Lilac Facial and Body Treatment at the Lakeside Spa and Salon. No trip to Michigan would be complete without a dip in one of the Great Lakes and, though all beaches on Mackinac Island are rocky (no sand), that shouldn’t stop you from jumping into Lake Huron and, for a little canine fun, bring your dog to swim with you since the Mission Point is dog-friendly. In the evening, the whole family can come together for a movie under the stars before returning to your recently renovated room.

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Mission Point Resort

Mackinac Island
7.7 Good (87 reviews)

A Double Duty Resort


Only five miles from a variety of beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan, Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs does double duty as a beach resort in the summer and a ski resort during the winter months. Through their Adventure Center, they offer enough activities to keep both thrill-seekers and those seeking a more mellow getaway happy.

Spend the morning fishing in their well-stocked pond or sign up for a free fly-fishing clinic. Get adventurous in the afternoon with a horseback riding trip, a hike, or a zip line adventure. Maybe take a Segway tour around the trails within the resort or bring the family on the chairlift and take in the extraordinary views of the crystal blue waters of Little Traverse Bay, the lush green hills and the 26,372-foot-long Mackinac Bridge.

Boyne Highland’s Adventure Camp will entertain kids ages 3-13 (for a fee) where they’ll have a blast participating in a variety of outdoor activities and making new friends. While the kids are enjoying their own activities, get in a round of golf at one of the four courses at the resort. Then, spend the next day basking in the summer sun at one (or more) of nine nearby beaches or book a charter boat and fish for salmon, trout, coho, or walleye.

With all this activity, you’ll work up an appetite and, with eight eat-in or take-out restaurants in the summer months, you won’t go hungry. For a fun night of food and entertainment, take in a show at their Young Americans Dinner Theatre where the whole family will come together for dinner (a children’s menu is available) and a Broadway-style show. If you’re craving a more upscale evening, book the Chef’s Table Dining Experience where, for $99 including taxes and gratuity (not including beverages), you’ll be seated at the best table at the Country Club of Boyne where you’ll be served a five-course meal, cooked personally by Boyne Highlands Resort Executive Chef, Dean Grill. You’ll delight in the local, seasonal flavors served in this five-course meal.

Their many guest room options offer accommodations for a variety of needs. There’s the ivy-covered main lodge, styled after a classic English country estate, the native fieldstone and wood Bartley house, which claims the largest hot tub in the U.S., and pet-friendly rooms are available as well alongside condominiums, cabins, townhomes, and houses.

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The Highlands At Harbor Springs

Top rated
Harbor Springs
8.8 Excellent (1135 reviews)

Feature image courtesy of Tony Demin, Pure Michigan