As the sun starts peeking through the gray clouds and weather warms ever enough to start thinking of long days and fun in the sun, my mind drifts to vacations and spending time at the beach with my family. In preparation for and because I love my long summer days, I have compiled a list of my top 5 Michigan beaches to help you plan your next trip or just dream about warmer days.
To go along with long days at the beach, I also have a top safety tips for your next trip courtesy of Chris McCuiston from Goldfish Swim School. Chris is the co-founder of Goldfish Swim School and a water safety expert!No matter where you go or the plans you have, when you around water, SAFETY should always be your number one priority. These are some extra tips to ensure that your water fun can last for years and years to come:
- Designated Watcher: Never leave a child unattended in or around water. Make sure there is a designated watcher on duty and ensure that kids aren’t swimming alone. Drowning can happen in the time it takes to send a text message or answer a phone call.
- Always swim with a buddy: No matter your age or skill level, always swim with at least one other person.
- Know how to swim: Making sure your kids know how to swim is the best way to stay safe in the water. Even for kids who “know” how to swim, lessons are still beneficial. One of the key lessons we teach at Goldfish Swim School is if a child falls in the water, have them turn around to look where they fell in, keep their head above water and swim to the edge they came from. Kids often think the easiest way out is across the pool, but they might be closer to the edge than they think.
- Safety Equipment: Ensure that there are life preservers and U.S Coast Guard-approved life vests available for all swimmers, and have a first aid kit onsite as well.
- Keep a phone nearby. You probably always have your phone nearby to be able to take pictures of your kids doing cute stuff while swimming — but you need to be ready to call 911 if needed, too.
- Learn CPR and rescue breathing. Every second counts in an emergency, and you’ll be able to help until medical professionals arrive.
- Respect the Water and No Rough-Housing: Even skilled swimmers can get hurt in the water. It’s dangerous and children of all skill levels need to respect it.
Now that you are better prepared for your next beach trip, here are my Top 5 Beaches in Michigan:
- Duck Lake State Park: Nestled off the beaten path and just a few miles from Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon, MI, Duck Lake State Park is a secluded park right on the coast of Lake Michigan. A quick walk over a wooden bridge and you are at a wide soft, sand beach. This is by far my favorite beach to take the kids because there is a shallow inlet that connects Duck Lake to Lake Michigan that is not only the perfect depth, but the perfect temperature for little ones. The inlet is easy to cross to the even longer stretching Lake Michigan beach and all the waves of wonder of Lake Michigan itself. This also seems to be a local only beach as each time we have been there, the number of visitors have been quite low. A great secret beach for the family.
- Phelps Park: Located just north of Sleep State Park in Caseville, MI is a little known community park that you could drive past in a heartbeat. Phelps is a little community park on the side of the road that requires a quick hike through the sand dunes to get to the beach. Located on a shallow area of Lake Huron, the beach is a nice place to take the family. The beach is clean and because it shallow, the water is warmer then at the main beach. The beach is one the smaller size but it is known well by the locals. A perfect stop for a few hours, some swimming, and a good picnic.
- Bryant Park: Of all the beaches that surround the fun town of Traverse City, MI, Bryant Park is my favorite for the family. The beach is nice and open, and sits right on the Grand Traverse Bay. While the beach and clean waters of the bay are a good enough reason to check out Bryant Park, the play structure adds a bit more fun for the little ones who need a break from the water. If Bryant Park is not you perfect spot, check out any of the smaller parks located around the bay.
- Straits State Park: Just over the Mackinac Bridge in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a great stopping point in any northern trip called St. Ignace. St. Igance itself is a bit of a tourist town but it can boast some great beach areas that offer views like no others. Straits State Park is the largest park in St. Igance and offers the largest area of beach front. The water is a bit cooler, being the top and mixing point of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and a bit rockier then some of the beaches of the Lower Peninsula. The views however, especially of the bridge and Mackinac Island makes this beach worth checking out. Plus, there is some great pizza in town.
- Bestie Lake Area: The Bestie Lake Area in Frankfort, MI is a the last of my top five beaches in the state. Bestie Lake give you an inlet like Duck Lake with access to Lake Michigan. This area is a bit more rocky then other beaches but the views are spectacular and there are plenty of the activities for the kids, besides swimming. One nice thing about Frankfort is the ability to get up close with the lighthouse, a unique experience. Since Frankfort is a tourist town, the only problem that arises with the Bestie Lake Area is the beaches get crowded quickly, so if you are looking for a less occupied retreat, check out some of my other top choices.
Michigan beaches and summer fun is a staple in our lives and could easily be a staple in yours. It does not cost much to head to a local beach and have a fun family day. These are my top beaches, with some important safety tips that everyone should remember. A day the beach can be both fun and safe at the same time. Learn more about water safety here on the Goldfish Swim School website and if you like my picks, let me know! If not, tell me your favorite beaches to go visit?