Soft sand beaches make Muskegon a Michigan’s Best Vacation Spot

Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, bustling Muskegon offers the best of both worlds. Over 25 miles of gorgeous beaches butt up against a bustling city, with mouth watering restaurants, shopping, museums and more to explore. Two Muskegon spots were top finishers in our search for Michigan’s Best Vacation Spot.

Muskegon has the “best beach, and best waterfront restaurants,” according to one reader.

Pere Marquette Beach was our top finisher in our Muskegon and the Lakeshore reader’s poll, and is located close to downtown. It offers a wide expanse of sandy beach along the edges of Lake Michigan, postcard perfect views of the lighthouses, access to the Muskegon channel, and even a dog beach for your furry family members. You can stretch out and sun yourself on the sand, take a dip in that perfect Lake Michigan water, play beach volleyball, and even enjoy one of Michigan’s Best Waterfront Restaurants, The Deck, which is located right on the beach. Pere Marquette is one of only three nationally certified “clean beaches” on the Great Lakes.

RELATED: New sculpture presents ‘moment of delight’ at Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Park

Coming in second in our poll was the general nomination of “anywhere on Lake Michigan”. We can totally get behind this idea, because literally every spot you might visit along the lakeshore is wonderful, no matter the season. As summer goes by, many head to the shore to enjoy summer homes and cottages, or to pay day visits to their favorite areas. From New Buffalo in the farthest southwest corner of the state, to Mackinaw City at the tip of the mitt, there are hundreds of communities along the lakeshore that await you this summer season.

A perennial favorite for anyone in Michigan looking for a classic beach getaway is Grand Haven, which garnered the number three spot in our poll. “Great beaches, lighthouse, great restaurants, shopping, great boardwalk, plenty of places to walk, the Musical Fountain, friendly people, Lake Michigan,” said Teresa Youngdale. Here, you can camp directly on the beach, at Grand Haven State Park, if you can get a reservation that is. The park often can fill up by early January for prime weekends, so plan ahead. City Beach offers a small, free parking lot, and right next door is one of Michigan’s Best Waterfront Restaurants, Noto’s at the Bil-Mar.

Strolling on the pier with a ice cream cone in hand is a summer tradition in Grand Haven, as you watch the boats traverse up and down the channel. It’s great people watching here, and excellent shopping downtown. Charter fishing boats line the marinas, and you won’t find a better spot to head on out to open water to land ‘the big one’.

Another place to put on your list when you head to the westside is Muskegon State Park, our fourth place finisher. What makes it great? “The dunes and the campground,” Kim Plunkett said. “It accommodates hiking, luging, sunsets, the Block House, the bath house, etc. There’s even a bench high up in the dunes that you can see both Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. What a view!”

Silver Lake Sand Dunes was our fifth spot in our lakeshore poll, and it’s the perfect place for big adventures. Gear heads will be in heaven on the dunes, and you’ll see a huge array of specially converted vehicles. Don’t have your own? You can rent Jeep’s and dune buggies, or take a ride on the iconic Mac Woods Dune Rides. “The sand dunes are amazing and so much fun to ride a vehicle or even just walk,” Keri Martin. “Being right off Lake Michigan makes it that much better. The sand is soft and clean, and Lake Michigan is just beautiful. Such an awesome little place to spend a family vacation, so many memories there.”

RELATED: Silver Lake Sand Dunes opens this week, here’s what to expect

One more stop that readers recommend is located near the beach, but is something completely different.

Located just a few minutes from downtown, and a historical step back in time, is the USS Silversides, one of the most highly-decorated Gato-class submarines of World War II. Open for tours year round, you can’t miss this incredible experience, whether you are a history buff or not. Wander the museum, where you can see a complete minute-by-minute timeline of the events of Pearl Harbor, learn exactly how submarines work, and get a taste of the history of subs. Then, head on outside to experience the real deal, first hand. The sub is in it’s original condition, so you’ll get to see what it was really like to serve under the seas. After a visit to the Silversides, you’ll have even more respect for the heroes who did. It’s pretty tight quarters down there.

A “fantastic historical museum that has a real WWII submarine that can be toured and they do a great job honoring Vets and educating the public,” Matthew Post said. “Plus, it’s in a wonderful location.”

“It is so unique,” said Peggy Maniates. “Where else can you visit a real WWII Submarine and walk through. The beach is pretty neat too.” Tom Johnson agreed, and said “It’s on the beautiful side of the state next to one of the best beaches in Michigan.”

“There are no words, once here and experiencing the magnitude of the almost three miles of shore, dunes, woodland of a city owned parkland, well it leaves you speechless but never unmoved and moved to return,” said Muskegon Mayor Steven Gawron.

RELATED: How to spend a Michigan’s Best Day in Muskegon

You can see the full results of our reader poll, as well as more stories about this beautiful region below.

Pere Marquette beach

Beachgoers drive off in a Jeep as the sun sets over Lake Michigan at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon on Saturday, July 25, 2015. (Andraya Croft | MLive.com)

Muskegon & Lake Michigan Shore Poll Winners

1. Pere Marquette Beach, Muskegon – 24.13%

2. Lake Michigan, anywhere – 21.29%

3. Grand Haven, MI – 18.61%

4. Muskegon State Park, Muskegon – 9.78%

5. Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Mears/Hart – 9.62%

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

The dunes at Silver Lake State Park’s scramble area are a favorite spot for ORV riders. (Andraya Croft | MLive.com)

Other great places to visit in the area:

USS Silversides Museum, Muskegon

Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon

Mears

New 'Celebrating Muskegon' sculpture illuminated at night

LED lights illuminate the “Celebrating Muskegon” sculpture at night on the Pere Marquette beach roundabout in Muskegon on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The 22-foot steel-and-glass abstract sculpture, from Muskegon Public Art Initiative, was designed by North Carolina-based artists John Littleton and Kate Vogel. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)Cory Morse | MLive.com

More Michigan’s Best in this region:

These are the 10 best waterfront restaurants in Michigan

44 must-visit waterfront restaurants in Michigan

Local Eats: 6 restaurants to visit in Muskegon’s bustling Lakeside neighborhood

Dr. Rolf’s Barbecue in Muskegon is home to Michigan’s Best Chili

Michigan’s Best Mexican Restaurant is El Tapatio in Muskegon

Why the ‘Bear Supreme’ is in the running for Michigan’s Best Burger

This Muskegon favorite is a finalist for Michigan’s Best Burger

How to spend a Michigan’s Best Day in Muskegon

New sculpture presents ‘moment of delight’ at Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Park

a dune buggy driving on a sand dune

Mac Wood’s Dune Rides at Silver Lake in Mears and Saugatuck Dune Rides in Saugatuck. (Photo by Neil Blake | MLive)

Follow along on our Michigan’s Best adventures!

@mlivemibest on Twitter

@mlivemibest on Instagram

Facebook at MLiveMIBest.

Join in by using the hashtag #mibest. Our most recent search was for Michigan’s Best Fish Fry.

In addition:

Amy Sherman is on Twitter @amyonthetrail, as well as Facebook and Instagram @amyonthetrail.

John Gonzalez is on Twitter @michigangonzo, as well as Facebook and Instagram @MichiganGonzo.

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