Ultimate Guide to 10 Dog Friendly Beaches in Michigan
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Michigan is surrounded by water on three sides, so finding dog friendly beaches is not as hard as you might think. Taking your dog to the beach is a great way to tire them out while you enjoy a beautiful Michigan summer day. Our dog, Kirby, loves the water and tries his hardest to drink the entire lake!
Tips For Going to Dog Friendly Beaches
Make sure you know which section of the beach is dog friendly. Oftentimes there is a designated area of the shoreline that is dog friendly.
Dogs must be leashed unless there is a sign that specifically states the beach is off leash friendly. Also, know your dog’s limits. Even if the beach is off leash friendly, make sure you have control over your dog and have good recall ability before letting your dog run wild. It will be a lot more fun for you and for others if your dog is well-behaved.
If it is particularly hot, make sure to protect your dogs paws from burning by getting them some footwear.
Always bring water and extra poop bags with you and leave no trace!
You will need a recreation passport to enter any of the state parks. For more information on recreation passports, visit the DNR website.
What to Bring to the beach
Pack a Doggy Beach Bag:
- Life Jacket: We absolutely love the Ruffwear Life Jacket (pictured above on Kirby.) It is strong, very well made and the fact that it has a handle to pull your dog out of the water, (or from experience, back into a boat that he jumped out of) is great.
- Quick Dry Micro-fiber towel: If you have a dog with a lot of fur, like ours, you will thank yourself for getting a microfiber towel. It soaks up so much more water than a regular towel, dries quickly and can be rolled up nice and small.
- Dog Shoes: Depending on if you will be walking in the hot sand for awhile before you reach the water, you should protect your dog’s feet from the hot sand. We’ve had great success with these booties. They have two velcro straps instead of just one and are longer than others we’ve seen so they stay on really well.
- Water and Water Bowl: This is a given, We like these collapsible silicone bowls since you can clip it to the outside of your purse or bag conveniently.
- Water Toys: What fun would the beach be if you can’t throw some toys in the water!
- Leash and Leash Ground Screw: Another given, but definitely don’t forget a leash!
Off Leash Dog Friendly Beaches
Tawas Point State Park – east tawas, mi
Tawas Point State Park is one of the only beaches that has a fenced in area for dogs. The off leash beach is located between the campground and the lighthouse. Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the designated area. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on any of the other beach areas or the Sandy Hook Trail.
mission point lighthouse beach – traverse city, mi
Located at the top of Old Mission Point Peninsula, Mission Point Lighthouse Beach is somewhat of a hidden gem away from the popular city of Traverse City. Dogs are allowed to be off leash, but must be leashed when not on the beach. Dogs are not allowed in the lighthouse.
We love Mission Point Beach because it isn’t super crowded. The beach is somewhat disappearing due to higher water levels, but if you walk along the shore, you’ll find a few spots with a decent amount of room to lay down a towel.
Parking is free here and there is no fee to be on the beach. There is an admission fee for the lighthouse.
kirk park – West olive, mi
Just south of Grand Haven, Kirk Park has a dog beach with specific requirements. Currently it is open with limited hours due to high water. Dogs are allowed at the park daily between 7-10 am and 6-10 pm. Dogs must remain on leash to and from the off leash beach.
There are parking fees in effect in the summer. Click here for more details.
Leashed Dog Friendly Beaches
miner’s beach – Shingleton, mi
Miner’s Beach is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and is dog friendly. Dogs must be on a six foot leash.
If you are interested in visiting Pictured Rocks with your dog, visit the NPS website to find out where your dog is allowed and not allowed within the park.
Peterson road beach – honor, mi
Peterson Road Beach is on the southern part of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and draws in fewer crowds than the popular Empire Beach (dogs are allowed on Empire Beach as well).
Leashed pets are allowed on the south end of the beach, however, they are not permitted on the north end of the beach. You will need a park pass as well.
grand haven city beach – grand haven, mi
Grand Haven City Beach is a great option for anyone visiting Grand Haven, since the beach is located downtown. The only downside is that in the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, dogs are only allowed before 11am and after 5pm. Dogs are allowed at any time before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
port crescent state park – port austin, mi
Located at the top of Michigan’s “thumb” Port Crescent State Park is just outside of the town of Port Austin. You’ll usually find less crowds on the beaches of the “thumb”, so it’s a great option if you aren’t comfortable around crowds with your dog.
A section of pet-friendly shoreline is available near the mouth of the Pinnebog River. This area is accessible via the steel bridge that connects to the hiking trails closest to the campground.
Port Crescent is also a Dark Sky Preserve so it’s definitely worth spending a night or two at the campground and gaze up at the stars with your pup.
warren dunes state park beach – sawyer, mi
Warren Dunes State Park Beach is definitely worth a visit with 2.5 miles out of the 3 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline being dog friendly. You’ll also find a decent amount of hiking trails and a dune that rises 260 feet above the water,
North of the northernmost swim buoy is where the pet friendly shoreline is.
This is a very popular destination, so expect crowds!
silver lake sand dunes – Mears, mi
Another popular spot in the summer would be Silver Lake Sand Dunes. You’ll find Silver Lake to the east and Lake Michigan to the west with a whole lot of sand in between. There is a designated ORV Dune area that is also dog friendly! Dogs are allowed to accompany you in your ride on the sand, but make sure you know what you are getting into and definitely be cautious if you decide to take your dog with you.
Dogs are allowed along the entire length of the Lake Michigan shoreline (3 miles) and the park’s inland lake, Silver Lake, in all areas other than the designated swim beach!
grand mere state park – stevensville, mi
Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville has about a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline that is completely dog friendly. It is a bit of a hike to get to the beach, but once you reach the shore you are greeted with a pretty secluded area for you and your dog to play!
Things to Remember
- Bring plenty of water
- Get a life jacket for your dog.
- Get a pair of dog shoes to protect your dog’s feet if you plan to walk in hot sand.
- Clean up after your dog and leave no trace.
- Dogs must be on a six foot leash unless stated otherwise.
There you have it! I hope you enjoy lounging and playing at one of these awesome Michigan dog friendly beaches. You can find more information about bringing pets to state parks on the DNR website.