The Perfect Weekend Camping Michigan’s West Coast

Lake Michigan touches four US states- Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Around 12 million people reside on this magnificent great lake. It’s crystal clear turquoise waters are lined with 275,000 acres of sand dunes, making it the largest freshwater dune system in the world! Lake Michigan has so many beaches it’s often referred to as “The Third Coast” of the United States. In my completely unbiased opinion, it’s the best of the coasts. The fresh water lake comes shark and salt free!


The Perfect Weekend Along Michigan’s West Coast

This past weekend Logan and I explored a new part of Michigan with his family, complete with fur babies and adorable nephews. We headed to the west coast over to Warren Dunes State Park where we camped for the weekend. The west side of the state is so beautiful, and just a short drive from Detroit or Chicago.

Lake Michigan South Haven Beach

Where to Camp

As if setting up in the dark isn’t bad enough, it started to monsoon type rain as soon as we pulled into our campsite (and every weekend we camp, ever). Once again Logan and I questioned if tent camping was still our best option. We’ve been debating all summer if we should bite the bullet and buy a used camper to keep us dry on the rainy weekends (all in favor, say “i”). There are state campgrounds all up the coastline, here’s some of my favorites I’ve camped at along Lake Michigan.

Warren Dunes State Park Pet Friendly beach

Warren Dunes State Park: Three miles of rare PET FRIENDLY shoreline along gorgeous Lake Michigan. The park also includes around six miles of hiking trails through forest and sand dunes. Modern & rustic sites available.

Ludington State Park: My favorite Michigan state park has everything- a lighthouse, hiking trails, lakes, sand dunes, dense forest, adventure activities and so much more. This is a must visit park! Check out my post on 5 Reason’s to Love Ludington. Modern & rustic sites.

Leelanau State Park: Another park home to a magnificent lighthouse. The drive up the peninsula to Leelanau State Park takes you through Michigan’s wine country with water views on both sides. Rustic campground.

Wilderness State Park: This park is a night photographers dream spot, as it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Modern & rustic sites.

Drone shot of Lake Michigan colors

Lighthouse Hunting

Take a drive along the coast and explore the waterfront towns while looking for lighthouses. The western coast of Michigan is dotted with around 35 lighthouses. Two of those reside side by side in the town of St. Joseph. It was about a 30 minute drive from our campground, 80 f degrees and the sun was shining. Perfect lighthouse hunting weather!

Lighthouse hunting on Lake Michigan
South Haven Lighthouse, Michigan

St. Joseph North Pier

Each lighthouse is unique and has its own fascinating history, road tripping around the shorelines of Michigan you’re bound to run into a lighthouse or two.

Saint Joseph Lighthouses, Michigan

South Haven South Pier

South Haven Lighthouse, Michigan

Go for a Swim

Like I mentioned earlier, Lake Michigan is a freshwater lake that comes salt and shark free. Immerse yourself in the crystal clear blue waters to cool down from the summer sun and Michigan humidity.

Lake Michigan Swim

Search for Petoskey Stones

Searching for stones as you walk along the beach shore was a tradition growing up. If you were lucky, you would find a Petoskey stone- the Michigan state stone. The stones are unique to the Great Lakes, and can only be found along the shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula.

Petoskey stone, Michigan state stone

The lake temperatures range from 60s in early summer to high 70s in late summer. The beach entrance at Warren Dunes State park has a sign showing the water temp each day so you can plan accordingly.

dsc_0788

Relax on the Beach

Pack a beach bag, your furry friend or adorable nephew, and a picnic lunch- then head to the beach. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can hike to the beach on one of the many trails that runs through Warren Dunes State Park.

dsc_0816

Hike a Sand Dune

Enjoy the world’s largest dune system, and go for a hike! At 400 ft the highest dune resides in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The dune formation pictured above was the largest at Warren Dunes State park. The dune rises 260 feet above the water with Lake Michigan views from the top.

Sand dunes at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan

Drink Local

We stopped at the local Three Blonde’s Brewing for lunch and a drink to cool down. Michigan’s west coast is crawling with local watering holes. Beer, Wine, Cider. We do them all impeccably well. The craft beer craze has swept through the state like wildfire, with hundreds of local breweries statewide. Just as Michigan has its own west coast, we have our own wine country, much of which resides on the beautiful Lake Michigan. You haven’t tasted anything like the sweet nectar Michigan’s cideries create. Cider is easily my beverage of choice, and I would highly recommend any produced locally, a few of my favorites include Blakes, JK Scrumpys, and Vandermill.

three blondes brewery.jpg


Treat Yourself

After our boozy lunch we decided dessert was a must. Good thing icecream is yet another thing Michigan is awesome at. There was a local dairy farm mere seconds away from the brewery we ate lunch at. Sherman’s Dairy Bar didn’t disappoint. I had a hard time deciding between the yellow cake batter flavor and the birthday cake. With over 70 different flavors of homemade recipes featuring all the Michigan classics, can you blame me? (I went with yellow cake batter 😊)

Spend your weekend getaway road tripping along the Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan. Beautiful lighthouses, pristine beaches, and no salt or sharks. #michigan #travel #roadtrip #destinations #weekend #getaways #thingstodo #summer #winter
dsc_0654

 

Ready for your Michigan West Coast road trip? PIN IT!


The Perfect Weekend Camping Michigan’s West Coast

21 thoughts on “The Perfect Weekend Camping Michigan’s West Coast

  1. The color of the water is amazing! It looks tropical in so many places. Also, I LOVE that there are so many lighthouses to be found! After visiting a couple in the US, Bermuda, and Australia, it’s one of the things I love to keep an eye out for when traveling. Do you know if any of them allow visitors to go up?

    1. Yep! Most all of them are open to visitors, and we have HUNDREDS surrounding the state along the great lakes. They have started to restore a lot of them using the original furniture/layout of the way lighthouse keepers lived. It’s an underrated state, which is nice because there aren’t hordes of tourists so you get to explore more without crowds.

  2. All the campsites you recommended sound like great places! Along the coast with lighthouses and hiking trails. Of course, all the swims and water activities that you can do. Wonderful!

  3. I’d love to go on a road trip on this side of the coast. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to arrive at a campsite in the pouring rain😭😭 I’m also afraid I’d swimming in the ocean bra she’s of sharks so I prefer the lakes.

    1. No salt, no sharks! The great lakes look like oceans as they seem to never end. Other than the great lakes there are more than 11,000 inland lakes, 5 acres in size or larger.

  4. What a great way to spend a weekend in the warmer months. I’m absolutely blown away at the sheer size of Lake Michigan… 12 million people and 4 states. The mind boggles! We’ve definitely partaken is some Lighthouse hunting ourselves. I love the old stories that go with them.

    1. We are trying to visit all the lighthouses along the Great Lakes shorelines. If you’re into swimming there are more than 11,000 inland lakes, 5 acres in size or larger, in Michigan.

    1. They are all so big they look like oceans. In fact there are hundreds of shipwrecks at the bottom of each lake from storms! There are more than 11,000 inland lakes, 5 acres in size or larger, in Michigan.

  5. This sounds like such a fun family road trip! Might have to add it to the list for this summer 🙂

I'd love to hear your feedback on any content! Be sure to leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.