Not the typical beach town, Detroit doesn’t feature many palm trees, surfers or shell-necklace vendors, but you’re never more than six miles from a body of water, 11,000 of which are lakes. The metro Detroit area is no exception. These pleasant public beaches offer more than just sand and water, providing a variety of recreational activities, so keeping the entire family entertained really is a day at the beach.
Addison Oaks County Park
1480 W. Romeo Rd.
Leonard, MI 48367
Price: $5 parking per resident car/ $10/car (non-resident); Annual parking $30 (resident), $46 (non-resident)
Part of the Oakland County Parks system, Addison Oaks offers 1,140 acres of park land, including two lakes. Enjoy a sandy beach, the ideal spot to soak up the sunshine, or take advantage of paddle and row boat rentals for a little time on the water. Kids may play on the beach playground, which includes six swings, four climbing structures and three slides. For a break from the beach, Addison Oaks includes 11 miles of walking trails and 6.8 miles of mountain bike trails and nearby mountain bike rental. A 24-hole disc golf course and geocaching spots also provide beach and water sport alternatives. The park is open year round, except Christmas Day.
Jefferson Avenue and East Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48207
Price: free island and beach/$3 all-day slide pass
Located just five minutes from downtown Detroit, Belle Isle is a 983-acre oasis in the midst of Detroit’s urbanity. The island is nestled in the Detroit River, between Detroit and Windsor, and offers breathtaking views of the city skylines and the Ambassador Bridge. A half-mile of warm sand welcomes sun worshipers, while swimmers enjoy the lake waters. The beach is staffed from the second week of June through Labor Day, during which time the Belle Isle Water Slide is also open. Belle Isle also offers activities for all ages, including a playground; bicycle and hiking trails; a running track; basketball, handball, tennis and racquetball courts; baseball diamonds; paddle boats; a family mini-golf facility; driving ranges and putting greens.
1700 General Motors Rd.
Milford, MI 48380
Price: $4 daily parking per car for residents/$6 per car for non residents/$25 seasonal parking $25 for residents/$35 for non residents
Camp Dearborn is more than just a campground. The 626-acre grounds include rolling hills, six lakes and a half-mile public-access swimming beach. The beach’s nearby picnic area and playground make for a fun lunch break, while the camp’s amenities allow land-lovers to spend a fun day in the sunshine and fresh air. Nearby Mystic Creek offers 18 holes of golf and a mini-golf course perfect for bored kiddos. Canoe and paddle boat rentals are available, and fishers will find ample opportunities to cast their lines on the camp’s lakes. Pets are not permitted at Camp Dearborn.
2240 W. Buno Rd.
Milford, MI 48380
Price: $5 Metroparks daily pass/$25 annual pass/free walkers, cyclists and skaters are admitted with no charge
No list of Detroit area beaches would be complete without mentioning Kensington Metropark, one of the state’s most popular parks for families. With 4,481 acres of land encompassing the 1,200-acre Kent Lake, Kensington offers a wide range of activities to make a day at the beach a new adventure every time. Swimming and sunning are best accomplished at the park’s Martindale Beach, which is open May 26 through Labor Day. Visitors may rent rowboats, paddle boats, canoes and kayaks; 93 boat slips are available for rent each season, and 16 boat launches accommodate boat owners who want to spend the day on Kent Lake. The Splash n’ Blast water park is open May 28 through Labor Day, and admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children. The park also features a nature center, farm center, 18-hole regulation golf course, 27-hole disc golf course, and several miles of trails for hiking, biking, fitness and horseback riding.
Related: Best Beaches in Detroit
Wm. C. Sterling State Park
2800 State Park Rd.
Monroe, MI 48162
Price: $10 annual Michigan recreation passport for residents/$29 non residents
Sterling State Park holds the distinction of being the only state park on Lake Erie. The 1,300-acre park includes more than a mile of sandy beach for sunbathers and swimmers. Picnic areas and nature trails provide opportunities for viewing wildlife. Anglers may enjoy shore fishing on Lake Erie, or fish in one of the park’s lagoons. A public boat launch area and camping facilities make this the perfect weekend option for the whole family. Hikers and history buffs may take the park trail to the River Raisin Heritage Trail and visit the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, commemorating a battle during the War of 1812.
Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer living in Detroit. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.