2475 M-119 Hwy.
Petoskey Michigan 49770United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Along Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey State Park's wide swath of beach is a perfect spot for a long walk or sunbathing (with plenty of bug repellent).
Who needs Malibu? No one near Petoskey. The discreet sign tucked into the woods along State-119 is so subtle that the outdoorsy joys within might be easily overlooked, even though the park is smack-dab between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, two of the region's most touristy towns. Upon entry down a shady, windy road, it's a pleasant, if not too exciting, drive for a mile or so. To the right, there's a hint of a dune, and then suddenly, the trees clear. On each side, a mile of wide, sandy beach emerges, with piney, duney bluffs in the distance. Luckily, a $6 entrance fee is all anyone needs to gain admittance to one of Michigan's nicest beaches. Most of the local shore along 119 is privately owned by cottage colonies and condominium developments. While Petoskey State Park is not large -- just 304 acres -- it is a prime piece of real estate, and the narrow slip of park utilizes its diminutive size to full advantage. Two separate campgrounds, Tannery Creek and Dunes, offer a total of 168 campgrounds, all with electric hookups and modern bathroom facilities. The entire park, in fact, is extremely clean. Across the highway, delis offer picnic provisions. Both picnic tables and changing facilities are beachfront In summer, the beach is claimed by teens lolling on rows of beach towels, armed with coolers and iPods. The lake's calm waves are the realm of boogie boarders and tentative toddlers collapsing in the surf. The silky sand extends into the water, so cut feet are a rarity. The beach falls dead-center on the bay's curvy shoreline, and those renowned million-dollar sunsets practically fall in visitors' laps. Because it is Northern Michigan, it is important to remember strong bug repellent in addition to sunscreen, especially in late spring and early summer.