Great Lakes Beaches
 This year, the director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research is starting a new tradition: a list of recommendations for beaches along the Great Lakes. Coastal communities were asked to complete a survey and submit sand samples, and Dr. Beach assessed overall beach quality based on about 60 factors, including sand and water cleanliness, safety, environmental quality and management.

Bayfield Main Beach, Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada. The small village of Bayfield on Lake Huron has earned the “Blue Flag Beach” designation for its main beach. This is a European system of rating environmental quality and services. Crowds are never a concern at this remote beach, which boasts plenty of nearby amenities. The sandy beach grades into cobbles offshore. Bayfield is a delightful town to explore, and the town pier is a favorite place to watch sunsets.
Grand Haven State Park, Lake Michigan, Michigan. This state park boasts swimming, camping on the beach, a picturesque red lighthouse, golfing and boating. The city of Grand Haven has several other fine beaches, including Grand Haven City Beach, Rosy Mound Park and its 65 acres of dunes and hiking trails, and Hoffmaster State Park with its hiking trails and nature center.
North Beach, Lake Michigan, Racine, Wis. Among Great Lakes beaches,
this one is perhaps the most improved. In summer, this beach becomes the center of activity for the city of Racine. As an example of its proactive management, the beach has handicap ramps.

What is your favorite Great Lakes beach? Post a comment on the Travel blog.
Oak Street Beach, Lake Michigan, Chicago. Oak Street Beach is on Chicago’s famed Lakeshore Drive. This 26-mile lakefront is used by cyclists, runners and parents with strollers; the fine-sand beach has lifeguards, making it a safe place to take a dip. This strand of sand provides stunning views of the historic architecture of Chicago and Lake Michigan. “I recommend public transportation to the beach, as there is limited street parking,” Leatherman said. While in the area, check out Chicago’s many attractions.
Presque Isle State Park, Lake Erie, Pennsylvania. This 7-mile-long sand spit is host to a range of water-based activities, including 11 popular swimming areas and unique, uncrowded ecological areas. The 3,200-acre peninsula offers many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, bird watching, fishing, hiking, bicycling and in-line skating. While you’re in the area, take a two-hour drive up the coast and visit Niagara Falls.
Sand Point Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Michigan.
This small beach is protected from waves by offshore islands and the water is shallow. “These factors make the water warm enough to go swimming, which I did in August,” Leatherman said. This is a huge park with spectacular and picturesque cliffs, which are best seen by boat. The water is crystal clear and surprisingly emerald green in shallow water areas. Pictured Rocks lies between the township of Munising, which has a lumberjack theme, and the community of Grand Marais.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Lake Michigan, Michigan. This area has some of the most spectacular coastal dunes in the world. “I especially liked trekking up the huge dune on the north end of this expansive park,” Leatherman said. A variety of beaches here offer fine to grainy sand and clean, clear water. Children often play and look for Petoskey stones in the small, shallow creeks, where the water is warmer than the lake. Nearby Traverse City has many attractions, including wineries and breweries.