Bell Bay Road
Charlevoix Michigan 49720United States
fees for camping; annual vehicle permits $24$29; daily vehicle permits $6$8
This surprisingly quiet park encompasses a swath of Lake Michigan beach outside the tourist town of Charlevoix and is ideal for camping or picnics.
Despite sitting just a few minutes outside the busy tourist town of Charlevoix, 2,678-acre Fisherman's Island State Park is largely undeveloped. That means that on a bright summer day, you might have a large swath of the 5-mile Lake Michigan beach to yourself (but can dart back to town if you get a fudge-craving). Not bad! Most popular as a rustic camping destination (75 sites, no electric/water hookups), Fisherman's Island is also a great place for a quiet day of wading and bird-watching. There are a few designated picnic sites along the main access road that feel almost private, surrounded by trees and opening up right onto the sand. Alternatively, you can park at the end of the road and cross a small creek and cut through the woods to the dunes, where interesting grasses and wildflowers take root in the sand. There is one 2.2-mile trail that you can make a 4.4-mile loop by returning on the beach, but you get the impression that it's not highly used. On the day we visited in June, we spotted ducks and swans paddling in the shallows, and we found several of the area's uniquely speckled Petoskey stones on the beach. Mosquitoes weren't too bad midday, but bring repellant if you come in spring or early summer. Even though Charlevoix's close by, this is Up North, after all!