For anyone living or visiting Metro Detroit Michigan with kids


Beaches in Metro Detroit the Kids Will Love

metro detroit beaches kids

Surrounded by the Great Lakes, Michigan has the nation’s longest freshwater coastline at over 3,200 linear miles. So, of course, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy in the summer.

However, many of the state’s most well-known beaches are pretty far away from the Detroit Metro area — such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Grand Haven City Beach, and several other beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. 

While these beaches are beautiful destinations, driving more than 3 hours with little ones can be tough — and not really plausible for a day trip idea. So we took a look at the beaches a little closer to home!

Below you’ll find a list of beaches in and around the Detroit Metro area, plus beaches along the “thumb” shoreline of Lake Huron.


belle isle beach
View the Detroit skyline from Belle Isle Beach. Photo from Belle Isle Park – Michigan/Facebook.

Belle Isle Beach

Belle Isle is an island located on the Detroit River in between Michigan and Canada. The entire 982-acre island is a park — home to a conservatory, nature center, aquarium, museum, and more. Belle Isle Park is larger than New York City’s Central Park and there are so many fun things to do there (read more from Awesome Mitten!).

One of the many amenities of Belle Isle in the summer is its designated swimming beach! This half-mile stretch of sand on the Detroit River offers views of the Detroit skyline and is a great place to soak up the sun on hot summer days. There are nearby restrooms, picnic areas and parking. Plus, it’s a sloped beach — so kids can gradually walk into the water and the waves are usually a lot more tame than many of the Great Lakes beaches. Pack a picnic lunch, go for a swim and explore this beautiful island for a great day trip!


*There’s no fee to enter the park as a pedestrian or cyclist; a Recreation Passport is needed to drive onto the island. DDOT also offers bus service to Belle Isle.

pontiac lake recreation
Visit Southeast Michigan’s longest stretch of sandy beach at Pontiac Lake. Photo from Pontiac Lake Recreation Area/Facebook.

Pontiac Lake Recreation

The longest beach in Southeast Michigan is at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Waterford. There’s a ton to do in this 3,700+ acre park in Oakland County — from hiking to mountain biking to horseback riding — there’s even a model airplane flying field! You can even go camping here.

But this park is also the location of a just-over half mile stretch of sandy beach along Pontiac Lake. It’s a great place to lay out in the sun or go for a swim — especially with little ones who need calmer waters than our Great Lakes!

* A Recreation Passport is required to visit this state park.


pinckney state recreation
Build sand castles on the beach in Pinckney State Recreation Area. Photo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.

Pinckney State Recreation

This is one of the largest state parks in Michigan with over 11,000 acres. It has over 40 miles of multi-use trails, remote backpacking campsites, fishing lakes and more.

There are two day-use areas of the park with beaches: Halfmoon Lake and Silver Lake. Halfmoon Lake has a sandy beach area, sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, a playground, picnic areas, boat launch, trail access and more. It’s a gorgeous little “hidden gem” in the park. Silver Lake is the more well-known beach here, and it features all of the same amenities, plus a fishing pier, changing rooms and showers, and rentals for kayaks and other watercraft.

* A Recreation Passport is required to visit this state park.

city of novi lakeshore park
The City of Novi recently revamped Lakeshore Park. Photo from City of Novi – Government & Community Services/Facebook.

Lakeshore Park

Visit the City of Novi’s Lakeshore Park for another inland lake swimming beach. The swimming beach is just under a tunnel from parking and the rest of the park, which includes picnic shelters, a lending library, playground, trails, sports fields and more.

*There is no entry fee.


stony creek metropark
Photo from Stony Creek Metropark photo gallery at

Stony Creek Metropark

Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township has two beaches — Baypoint Beach and Eastwood Beach. Both beaches have restrooms, trailhead access, volleyball and basketball courts, and their own parking areas. But Eastwood Beach is a bit larger, and also includes the “Quadzilla” inflatable water slide (which costs $2 per ride or $10 for a day pass); stand up paddle board, boat and bike rentals and a canoe/kayak launch area; plus concessions and a playground.

There’s a lot more to do in this metropark as well — there are sports fields and courts, plenty of trails, a nature center and a campground.


*Entry fee is $10, or you can buy an annual pass.

Kensington Metropark

Kensington Metropark is located in Milford and is another giant park with tons to do — including boating and other water activities. In the middle of the park is Kent Lake, which is connected to the Huron River. There are nature trails, a nature center, a rookery, a farm center with live animals, disc golf and other sports fields and courts, multiple boat launches and boat rentals, playgrounds, the “Splash ‘n’ Blast” water park and two beaches!

Martindale Beach is the larger of the two beaches and includes the Splash ‘n’ Blast water park. The water park does have a $5-$7 entry fee. It includes two waterslides (riders must be 42” or taller), plus a spray ground/splash pad “with palm trees, serpents and cannons that spray water.” Little ones under 30” tall are free. There is a sandy + grassy beach area here, plus a playground, concessions, and restrooms. 

metro detroit beaches and playground

The other beach — Maple Beach — is across the lake from Martindale Beach, close to the Farm Center, orchard and playfields. It features a universally-accessible playground right on the water, plus a sandy beach area, parking and restrooms. 

*Entry fee is $10, or you can buy an annual pass.


metro detroit beaches
The swimming area at Independence Oaks County Park is roped off by depth. Photo from Independence Oaks County Park/Facebook.

Independence Oaks

Independence Oaks in Clarkston is the largest of the Oakland County Parks system. It has 12+ miles of trails, an archery range, volleyball courts and non-motorized boat launches into the 68-acre Crooked Lake. There are also picnic shelters, a Nature Center, and a playground.

The swimming beach at Independence Oaks is not at the large Crooked Lake, but a smaller lake beside it. The swimming area is roped off so that it doesn’t get too deep, and there’s a sandy beach area called Hidden Springs Beach. There’s also a sand volleyball court, picnic tables and restrooms at the beach area. Right next to Hidden Springs Beach is the Beach Cove area of the park. This area has a playground, horseshoe pits, more sand volleyball courts, baseball diamonds and a pavilion. 

*Daily park entry fee is $5 per vehicle for Oakland County residents, $12 for non-residents, or you can buy an annual pass. Learn more here.


lake st clair beaches
Lake St. Clair Metropark is a great summer destination within 30 minutes of downtown Detroit. Photo from Huron-Clinton Metroparks website.

Lake St. Clair Beaches

Lake St. Clair is a 430 square mile lake in the Detroit Metro area — known as the heart of the Great Lakes — located in between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Since it’s much smaller and shallower than the Great Lakes, it’s also less likely to have dangerous swimming conditions. Here are the two public beach areas on the lake:

Lake St. Clair Metropark

Lake St. Clair Metropark is the largest public park on the lake. It offers a ton of amenities, including spaces for baseball, basketball, croquet, golf, pickleball, shuffleboard, tennis and volleyball. There are also bike and boat rentals, paddleboard rentals, various boat launches, designated shore fishing areas, a marina and a nature center.

The swimming beach is a sandy beach area close to restrooms and a bath house, a beach shop and beachside grill, a playground, and the park’s paid swimming pool and splash pad. The Olympic-sized swimming pool is staffed with lifeguards, and there’s a large splash pad area, an inflatable obstacle course, climbing walls and two water slides. Entry to the pool and splash pad area is $5 per person; kids under 30” are free. Swimmers must be age 7 and older and pass a swim test to use the Wibbit and Rock Wall, and must be 48″ or taller to use the water slide. 

*Entry fee to the park is $10, or you can buy an annual pass.

Walter & Mary Burke Park

This park is on the northern end of Lake St. Clair in New Baltimore. Beyond its swimming beach, the park also has fishing docks, a playscape, two bocce ball courts, two pavilions to rent, and a non-motorized boat launch.


Looking for more beaches within 2 hours of Detroit? Check out these Lake Huron beaches on Michigan’s “thumb”:

  1. City of Port Huron beaches
  2. Fort Gratiot County Park
  3. Lakeport State Park in Fort Gratiot Township
  4. Lexington State Harbor Beach
  5. Village of Port Sanilac beaches
  6. Delaware Park in Port Sanilac
  7. Judge James H. Lincoln Memorial Park in Harbor Beach
  8. Veteran’s Waterfront Park in Port Austin
  9. Huron County Parks — Day Use Areas
    • Bird Creek Park in Port Austin
    • McGraw County Park in Port Austin
    • Philp County Park in Caseville
  10. Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin

Do any of Michigan’s beaches have lifeguards?

Yes! There are a few beaches that still have lifeguards on our beautiful Lake Michigan. However, these beaches are more than 3 hours away from the Detroit Metro area. 

Silver Beach, St. Joseph

Silver Beach in St. Joseph is a great destination for a family weekend getaway or summer vacation. Beyond having a lifeguard-staffed beach, Silver Beach County Park is within walking distance to the Silver Beach Carousel. There’s a ton to do in this charming beach town on the shores of Lake Michigan.

New Buffalo Beach

Another great beach with lifeguards is in New Buffalo. The lifeguard station at this beach also offers a sand wheelchair, plus there are boardwalks, restrooms and foot showers, a snack bar, play structures and a nearby recreation area.

Check out more of the state’s best family-friendly beaches from Grand Rapids Kids.