21 underrated beach towns you should be spending more time in

Being surrounded by giant lakes gives us ample opportunities to lay out at a beach over the summer months. We complied a list of our favorite towns that have beautiful beaches. Not only are the views in these towns amazing, but the towns are charming, cute, and full of that small town vibe that everyone loves.

 

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Harbor Springs
4 hours and 9 minutes from Detroit
Is there any “up north” town better than Harbor Springs? Not only does the marina in town lead out to the chilling Lake Michigan, but the bars, restaurants, and cookies (hello, Tom’s Mom’s!) make people come back and back. Photo via IG user @syd_n_ey.
Harbor Springs
4 hours and 9 minutes from Detroit
Is there any “up north” town better than Harbor Springs? Not only does the marina in town lead out to the chilling Lake Michigan, but the bars, restaurants, and cookies (hello, Tom’s Mom’s!) make people come back and back. Photo via IG user @syd_n_ey.
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Alpena
3 hours and 58 minutes from Detroit
Ahh, Alpena. You cheeky little town. The beach in Alpena overlooks the gorgeous Lake Huron, but the community life in Alpena is what really draws you in. There are tons of trails and hikes that you can take, and the community theatre program in town is always putting on amazing performances. Photo via IG user @lakeshorerealty.
Alpena
3 hours and 58 minutes from Detroit
Ahh, Alpena. You cheeky little town. The beach in Alpena overlooks the gorgeous Lake Huron, but the community life in Alpena is what really draws you in. There are tons of trails and hikes that you can take, and the community theatre program in town is always putting on amazing performances. Photo via IG user @lakeshorerealty.
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Rogers City
4 hours and 9 minutes from Detroit
Not too far away from Alpena, Rogers City also looks out on the glorious Lake Huron. Rogers City is a lot smaller than Alpena, so if you want an even smaller small town feel we suggest you go here. Photo via IG user @travispeltz.
Rogers City
4 hours and 9 minutes from Detroit
Not too far away from Alpena, Rogers City also looks out on the glorious Lake Huron. Rogers City is a lot smaller than Alpena, so if you want an even smaller small town feel we suggest you go here. Photo via IG user @travispeltz.
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Manistee
3 hours and 56 minutes from Detroit
Another small town that is located on Lake Michigan, the downtown area is charming with a slew of local shopping and a historical museum about the town. Oh — and the beach is pretty fabulous, too. Photo via IG user @glennpakulak.
Manistee
3 hours and 56 minutes from Detroit
Another small town that is located on Lake Michigan, the downtown area is charming with a slew of local shopping and a historical museum about the town. Oh — and the beach is pretty fabulous, too. Photo via IG user @glennpakulak.
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Pentwater
3 hours and 27 minutes from Detroit
You technically have two options for water in Pentwater. There is Pentwater Lake which is beautiful and gorgeous, as well as big ole’ Lake Michigan. Don’t forget to check out the great restaurants in shopping in town, too. Photo via IG user @lindsaykate92.
Pentwater
3 hours and 27 minutes from Detroit
You technically have two options for water in Pentwater. There is Pentwater Lake which is beautiful and gorgeous, as well as big ole’ Lake Michigan. Don’t forget to check out the great restaurants in shopping in town, too. Photo via IG user @lindsaykate92.
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Caseville
2 hours and 34 minutes from Detroit
Caseville may be the ideal beachside city. From the dunes, forests and plentiful beachfront property, to the great variety of restaurants and shopping centers downtown, this gem on Saginaw Bay is truly one of Michigan’s best vacation destinations. Photo via IG user @canaro_detroit.
Caseville
2 hours and 34 minutes from Detroit
Caseville may be the ideal beachside city. From the dunes, forests and plentiful beachfront property, to the great variety of restaurants and shopping centers downtown, this gem on Saginaw Bay is truly one of Michigan’s best vacation destinations. Photo via IG user @canaro_detroit.
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Grand Haven
2 hours and 52 minutes from Detroit
Grand Haven is the mecca when it comes to beach towns in Michigan. Not only is there a huge beach that outlooks Lake Michigan, but the boardwalk is fabulous, and let us not forget about the Pronto Pub corn dogs which are amazing and should be cherished forever. Photo via IG user @visitgrandhaven.
Grand Haven
2 hours and 52 minutes from Detroit
Grand Haven is the mecca when it comes to beach towns in Michigan. Not only is there a huge beach that outlooks Lake Michigan, but the boardwalk is fabulous, and let us not forget about the Pronto Pub corn dogs which are amazing and should be cherished forever. Photo via IG user @visitgrandhaven.
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Silver Lake
3 hours and 27 minutes from Detroit
Alright, so Silver Lake technically isn’t a town, but it is home to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes which is the craziest sand dunes you can find in all of Michigan. Tons of people head to the dunes over the summer to go wild. Plus, the view of the lake isn’t half bad, too. Photo via IG user @silverlakedunes.
Silver Lake
3 hours and 27 minutes from Detroit
Alright, so Silver Lake technically isn’t a town, but it is home to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes which is the craziest sand dunes you can find in all of Michigan. Tons of people head to the dunes over the summer to go wild. Plus, the view of the lake isn’t half bad, too. Photo via IG user @silverlakedunes.
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South Haven
2 hours and 53 minutes from Detroit
Lounging on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan isn’t the only thing to do here. With strong agricultural roots, visitors will delight in the top-notch farmers markets, and U-Pick stops. Plus, with a deep water harbor, the town is a good spot to check out tall ships rolling on by. Photo via IG user @visitsouthhaven.
South Haven
2 hours and 53 minutes from Detroit
Lounging on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan isn’t the only thing to do here. With strong agricultural roots, visitors will delight in the top-notch farmers markets, and U-Pick stops. Plus, with a deep water harbor, the town is a good spot to check out tall ships rolling on by. Photo via IG user @visitsouthhaven.
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Empire
4 hours and 15 minutes from Detroit
If you’re not going to the sand dunes when you’re in town of Empire then what are you even doing with your life? Located at the top of Lake Michigan near Traverse City, the sand dunes in Empire are simply breathtaking and look over gorgeous Lake Michigan. Seriously, you need to go there. Photo via IG user @puremittenpride.
Empire
4 hours and 15 minutes from Detroit
If you’re not going to the sand dunes when you’re in town of Empire then what are you even doing with your life? Located at the top of Lake Michigan near Traverse City, the sand dunes in Empire are simply breathtaking and look over gorgeous Lake Michigan. Seriously, you need to go there. Photo via IG user @puremittenpride.
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Ludington
3 hours and  42 minutes from Detroit
This quiet beach town only gets roaring in the hot summer months, but besides then it is cozy and wonderful. Located right on Lake Michigan, it’s not a far drive and the big beach is the perfect place for you to spend hours hanging out. Photo via IG user @ebeth_ryan.
Ludington
3 hours and  42 minutes from Detroit
This quiet beach town only gets roaring in the hot summer months, but besides then it is cozy and wonderful. Located right on Lake Michigan, it’s not a far drive and the big beach is the perfect place for you to spend hours hanging out. Photo via IG user @ebeth_ryan.
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St. Joseph
2 hours and 52 minutes from Detroit
Ahh yes, the “Riviera of the Midwest” -- did you know there was a Riviera of the Midwest? Well, now you know, and you should plan to visit immediately. With some of the nation's finest orchards and vineyards, and a quaint downtown shopping district (with Victorian architecture though) filled sweet treats and tourist gifts you wouldn’t mind giving, this southwestern city is a hidden gem. Photo via IG user @lizraye.
St. Joseph
2 hours and 52 minutes from Detroit
Ahh yes, the “Riviera of the Midwest” -- did you know there was a Riviera of the Midwest? Well, now you know, and you should plan to visit immediately. With some of the nation's finest orchards and vineyards, and a quaint downtown shopping district (with Victorian architecture though) filled sweet treats and tourist gifts you wouldn’t mind giving, this southwestern city is a hidden gem. Photo via IG user @lizraye.
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Lexington
1 hour and 32 minutes from Detroit
Just slightly north of Port Huron, Lexington is a cute little town that has miles of beach and camping. We suggest that you rent a cabin during any weekend in the summer because there is always something going on downtown. The craft fair is one of our favorites. Photo via IG user @apasque.
Lexington
1 hour and 32 minutes from Detroit
Just slightly north of Port Huron, Lexington is a cute little town that has miles of beach and camping. We suggest that you rent a cabin during any weekend in the summer because there is always something going on downtown. The craft fair is one of our favorites. Photo via IG user @apasque.
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Cheboygan 
4 hours and 1 minute from Detroit
Located at the top of the Upper Penninsula, Cheboygan has a funny name and is charming as hell. The small town has a real sense of community and is not too far of a drive from Mackinaw City and other “up north” towns. Photo via IG user @joe_spike5.
Cheboygan
4 hours and 1 minute from Detroit
Located at the top of the Upper Penninsula, Cheboygan has a funny name and is charming as hell. The small town has a real sense of community and is not too far of a drive from Mackinaw City and other “up north” towns. Photo via IG user @joe_spike5.
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St. Ignace
4 hours and 13 minutes from Detroit
Come for the pasties and stay for the beaches! St. Ignace is the first town you run into once over the Mackinac Bridge, and the history of fishermen and fur trappers goes deep in this town. The best part of the beach is that you get a beautiful view of Mackinac Island, plus the bridge and the Straits of Mackinac. Photo via IG user @dadbemused.
St. Ignace
4 hours and 13 minutes from Detroit
Come for the pasties and stay for the beaches! St. Ignace is the first town you run into once over the Mackinac Bridge, and the history of fishermen and fur trappers goes deep in this town. The best part of the beach is that you get a beautiful view of Mackinac Island, plus the bridge and the Straits of Mackinac. Photo via IG user @dadbemused.
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New Baltimore
40 minutes from Detroit
Located smack-dab in the middle of Anchor Bay on Lake St. Claire, New Baltimore is a great distillation of the Michigan experience. The New Baltimore Farmer’s Market runs from mid-May to mid-October, and features an excellent variety of homegrown products. Photo via IG user @kimberlyjanderson.
New Baltimore
40 minutes from Detroit
Located smack-dab in the middle of Anchor Bay on Lake St. Claire, New Baltimore is a great distillation of the Michigan experience. The New Baltimore Farmer’s Market runs from mid-May to mid-October, and features an excellent variety of homegrown products. Photo via IG user @kimberlyjanderson.
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Gibraltar
32 minutes from Detroit
A nice little city located right where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie, Gibraltar is home to many scenic waterside views and a welcoming small-town atmosphere. When not enjoying yourself on the water, headtown the one of the many great restaurants or clubs, or head to the countryside to take in the sights at Kennedy Park. Photo via IG user @davidsyck. 
Gibraltar
32 minutes from Detroit
A nice little city located right where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie, Gibraltar is home to many scenic waterside views and a welcoming small-town atmosphere. When not enjoying yourself on the water, headtown the one of the many great restaurants or clubs, or head to the countryside to take in the sights at Kennedy Park. Photo via IG user @davidsyck. 
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Tawas City 
2 hours and 50 minutes from Detroit
Tawas should be one Michigan’s premier beachgoing destinations. Whether you’re staying at one of the upscale resorts or a quaint motel or the beachside campgrounds, there’s plenty of attractions on the water. Tawas also has a compact little downtown area where you can often find an outdoor market or craft show going down. Photo via IG user @kloughrige
Tawas City
2 hours and 50 minutes from Detroit
Tawas should be one Michigan’s premier beachgoing destinations. Whether you’re staying at one of the upscale resorts or a quaint motel or the beachside campgrounds, there’s plenty of attractions on the water. Tawas also has a compact little downtown area where you can often find an outdoor market or craft show going down. Photo via IG user @kloughrige
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Copper Harbor
9 hours and 31 minutes from Detroit
It might be a bit of a drive, but life is about the journey, no? Once you’re there you can delight in the unconventional beachscape (no sandy coasts here), what you’ll find are tons of great hiking spots, unparalleled views of Lake Superior, and cool swimming spots like Devil’s Washtub. Photo via Shutterstock. 
Copper Harbor
9 hours and 31 minutes from Detroit
It might be a bit of a drive, but life is about the journey, no? Once you’re there you can delight in the unconventional beachscape (no sandy coasts here), what you’ll find are tons of great hiking spots, unparalleled views of Lake Superior, and cool swimming spots like Devil’s Washtub. Photo via Shutterstock. 
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Arcadia
4 hours from Detroit
Located along Lake Michigan, Arcadia has sandy beaches and areas for boating and fishing, and anyone who’s been there wouldn’t be surprised to know the town was nominated Michigan’s most scenic drive by National Geographic for Traveler Magazine. Photo via Shutterstock.
Arcadia
4 hours from Detroit
Located along Lake Michigan, Arcadia has sandy beaches and areas for boating and fishing, and anyone who’s been there wouldn’t be surprised to know the town was nominated Michigan’s most scenic drive by National Geographic for Traveler Magazine. Photo via Shutterstock.
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