No need to travel far to get some sun and sand this summer. The beach is closer than you think!
By Karleigh M. Stone
While many people think of the west side of the state as the mecca of Michigan beaches, Southeast Michigan has its share of them too. Several are even a short car ride from Detroit. You could enjoy the sun in Campus Martius Park’s popup beach this summer, or check out these beaches less than 2 hours from the Motor City.
Belle Isle Beach
2 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit
Detroit’s Belle Isle is just a few minutes east of Campus Martius Park. Though it’s not far, the atmosphere is very different from that of bustling downtown. A little more than halfway across the island and on the northern side, is a half-mile stretch of sandy beach along the Detroit River. The secluded, natural habitat of the island, with breathtaking Detroit skyline views, makes it a great place to relax. Picnic pavilions surround the beach area, and a new splash pad is coming. Further inland along the island’s canal, kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and pedal boats are available to rent from Riverside Kayak Connection. A recreation passport is required to enter Belle Isle Park by car. Otherwise, there is no cost of admission.
4570 Huron River Parkway, Milford
Warm water from Kent Lake rolls onto the shores of Milford’s Maple and Martindale beaches at Kensington Metropark. It’s the perfect setting for children and families to play in the water and sand without having to travel too far. This day trip, 45 minutes from Detroit, offers many other aquatic activities as well. Enjoy a cruise around the lake on the Island Queen III, a 46-passenger pontoon boat, with exceptional views of the water, wildlife and wilderness, or explore the waters yourself in a kayak, canoe, paddleboat, row boat or stand-up paddle board. The Splash ’n’ Blast water park features 240-foot waterslides and a kid-friendly spray area. After working up an appetite on the water, head over to one of the lakeside picnic shelters for lunch. A $10 daily pass or annual Metropark permit is required for entry to Kensington. The water park costs $6 per adult. Children under 30 inches get in free.
3670 Gratiot Ave., Port Huron
One hour northeast of Detroit, Port Huron’s Lakeside Park features over 1,050 feet of Lake Huron beach. Pack a picnic for a relaxing day in the sun while sunbathing or reading on the sand. Play a round of beach volleyball, and then cool off in the lake. There is a $15 daily entrance fee per vehicle.
Lake St. Clair Metropark
31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township
Launch your boat from one of two marinas at this Metropark, and spend a day out on the sparkling waters of Lake St. Clair, just a half-hour from downtown Detroit. If a life at sea isn’t for you, the park boasts a 1,000-foot sandy shoreline perfect for sunning, relaxing and swimming. If you covet walks along the beach, there’s a 1,600-foot lakeside boardwalk waiting for you. The park also has an Olympic-size swimming pool with two slides. Entrance to the Metropark is $10 daily or an annual permit, good for all 13 Metroparks, can be purchased for $35 per vehicle. Pool entry is $5 per person per day.
Lexington Public Beach
North of Jefferson Street on Lake Huron shore, Lexington
Head Up North without the drive. Located 1 hour 45 minutes from Detroit, this charming harbor town feels like northern Michigan and has three public beaches: Lake Street Beach, Simon Street Beach and the public beach — all on Lake Huron. The picturesque waters of this Great Lake are warmer here than farther north, but still as expansive and crystal clear. The town is full of quaint bed and breakfasts for those who can’t bear to leave the manicured beaches after a day. Beach, home goods and souvenir shops line the streets, and restaurants — like The Windjammer and Sweetwater Gourmet Deli & Bar — provide delicious eats to beachgoers, just a short walk away.
Point Pelee National Park
1118 Point Pelee Drive, Leamington, Canada
In Southeast Michigan, an international beach adventure can be a day trip. Point Pelee National Park, located in Ontario, Canada, is just an hour from the sandy center of Campus Martius Park. It extends into the waters of Lake Erie and offers nearly 13 miles of pristine beach to visitors. The day will take you away from the hustle and bustle of reality and leave you with a sense of serenity after enjoying all this natural wonderland has to offer. A daily fee of $7.80 applies to adults. Children 17 and younger receive free admission. A family day pass is $15.70.
Stony Creek Metropark
4300 Main Park Road, Shelby Township
Two beaches, Baypoint and Eastwood, reside on Stony Creek Lake at this park. Experience both, just a 45-minute drive north from Detroit. Sandy beaches are not the only treasure this Southeast Michigan park has to offer. A variety of outdoor activities, including 27 miles of woodland trails, as well as baseball diamonds, soccer fields and volleyball and basketball courts, get visitors ready to jump in the cool water. As with the other Metroparks, a permit is required or a $10 daily fee per vehicle.
William C. Sterling State Park
2800 State Park Road, Monroe
Michiganders sometimes forget about Lake Erie, with their desire to travel north or west to find sand and sunshine on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan. However, 50 minutes south of Detroit in Monroe is William C. Sterling State Park, home to a mile-long sandy beach right on the shores of Lake Erie. The water here is warm, unlike its other Great lakes counterparts. Lakefront campsites are available for those looking for a close-to-home, overnight adventure. A recreation passport is required to enter the park.