Michigan is home to over 11,000 lakes.  In fact, I read a statistic that claims Michiganders are never more than 6 miles from a body of water.  And we have the most freshwater shoreline of any state. (You can read more fun Michigan facts here)

But what I really wanted to know is…..out of all those lakes, which have dog friendly beaches?  I’ve seen this questions come up in all of the dog groups I’m in on Facebook so I’m apparently not alone in my quest for information.

A black newfoundland dog along the rocky shore of Lake Michigan

To be honest, I’m not really a beach person.  I tend to burn in the sun and I’m not very good at sitting still.  But if you tell me I can hang out with dogs on the beach, well, now we’re talking!  And as pet mom to a Newfoundland, natural water rescue dogs, I almost feel like it’s my duty to find water they can play in, right?

So I set about to create a comprehensive list of all of the dog friendly beaches in Michigan, with a map for easy reference.

An English shepherd dog along the sandy edge of a lake in Michigan

Researching the beaches

I was surprised at the relatively limited information and confusing rules I came across in my research. Sometimes dogs are allowed in a park, but not in the beach areas. I can understand some of the concerns, and all it takes is a few irresponsible pet owners to make everyone look bad.  At other locations dogs can be on the beach but must be on a 6’ leash at all times.

The Michigan DNR website says “There are many pet-friendly solutions to get you and your pet into Michigan’s great outdoors together. Pets are welcome on a 6-foot leash in Michigan state parks, park campgrounds, state forest (rustic) campgrounds, state forests, non-designated bathing beach areas, harbors and the majority of trails and boat launches.” Some dog friendly areas are listed on the website, but not a full list.

I’ve combed through and cross referenced all the articles and pet friendly websites (I’ve listed a number of sources at the end of this post).  I’ve also tried to go to a number of these beaches myself, but while I hope to see them all eventually, some of my information is based on other’s experiences.

A happy pitbull prances through the water of Trout Lake in Island Lake State park


How to read the map

The map of dog friendly Michigan beaches is color coded.

– Yellow diamond pin points indicate that dogs must be on a 6’ leash at all times, even while in the water.  So don’t throw a ball far out in the water unless you also feel like going for a swim!

– Green stars indicate there are either designated areas or reports of dogs allowed off leash to swim.

– Orange crosses indicate that dogs are only allowed in the off season – before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

Many of these locations have an access fee or require a pass like the Michigan recreation passport.  Parking is limited in some areas. I recommend going to the website (links are included for each beach) to confirm details before you make a trip.

A wet dachshund plows through the water at Old Mission Lighthouse state park in Traverse City

A list of my favorite or highly recommended dog friendly beaches in Michigan

Kruse Park, Muskegon

Old Mission Lighthouse, Traverse City

Island Lake Recreation Area, Brighton

Dodge #4 State Park, Waterford

Kirk Park, Olive

Maple Bay Natural Area, North Williamsburg

Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer

A sign at Kruse park along Lake Michigan indicating the dog friendly section of the beach

The full map of dog friendly beaches in Michigan

I hope this helps you plan your summer adventures with your pup! And if I’ve missed any dog friendly beaches in Michigan please let me know in the comments below. Or share which beach is your favorite.

And if you want to get some gorgeous images of you and your dog playing on the beach schedule a consultation with me today!

A golden dachshund amongst the green dune grasses in Traverse City, Michigan


And here are some additional resources and articles that you may want to read: