Those wanting to enjoy the beauty of Michigan’s beaches might want to use a wheelchair-accessible beach or discover a local park that offers a wheelchair for wheelchair-to-beach access. We sought out the top handicap accessible beaches in Michigan and provide a little review of the features and capability of each beach.
There are two types of accessibility in the Great Lakes State: wheelchair-accessible and beaches with handicapped beach chairs. The first kind has plenty of options with access mats and paved paths to the water, while the latter is still being put into place by park managers and local park authorities.
Don’t overlook some of Michigan’s great beaches when planning a vacation. With a bit of planning and research, you’ll be able to find accessible beaches where handicap beach wheelchairs are available.
Many people cannot get to the beach as easily as others. We don’t think that should keep them from experiencing it, so we set out to find accessible beaches all over the state. The following beaches provide either a stable surface to allow easier access to the waterfront, a beach access chair (a lightweight all-terrain wheelchair that can also go into the water), or both.
The featured image is the beach at Grand Haven. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Bay City State Park Beach
The park offers a seasonally accessible walkway down to the water’s edge. The park also has a beach wheelchair that is available for use year-round. The chair is made from PVC pipe, floats, and can be driven into the water. It is available first-come, first-served, and can be checked out at the Park Store daily from 8 am to 9 pm. A driver’s license or other photo ID must be left with the store as a deposit. Call 989-667-0717 for availability or to reserve for special events.
The park’s accessible fishing pier is designed to accommodate persons in wheelchairs and others with mobility impairments. It extends approximately 400 feet into Saginaw Bay from the park’s beach area. A wheelchair lift provides access to the pier from a parking lot off Scharer Drive. Fish cleaning stations are located at either end of the pier and nearby restrooms. There is no fee to use the pier, and it is open year-round during regular park hours (6:00 am – 10:00 pm).
Belle Isle State Park
Accessibility at the Belle Isle State Park – A playground and picnic shelter are accessible attractions. The track chair at Belle Isle allows guests to explore sections of the park that standard wheelchairs may not be able to reach. These off-road electric chairs can readily handle trails, snow, sand, and up to 8 inches of water and are provided free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
Brighton Recreation Area
Bishop Lake beach has been remodeled and is now universally accessible. Features include a beach house, beach area, picnic shelters, and a sand volleyball court. Vending machines are available at the beach house. This beach offers an accessible walkway down to the waterfront. This park also has a beach wheelchair that is available for use.
Caseville County Park Beach
A great beach located within the city of Caseville in the Thumb. Two hours north of Detroit. Accessibility at Caseville County Park Beach – Caseville County Park features a barrier-free walkway from the parking lot toward the waterfront.
Dodge #4 State Park
A sandy beach and a one-mile shoreline on Cass Lake make Dodge #4 State Park an excellent location for summer and winter water activities. This beach offers an accessible walkway down to the waterfront.
East Tawas City Park
The Tawas region has stepped up to provide ADA-accessible beaches in a big way. There is access to the beach on Lake Huron at the East Tawas City Park. The park provides those needing assistance with a MOBI-Chair, a floating beach wheelchair. In addition, access matting to put over the sand was acquired to make use easier. The chair is placed at the park office and is free to users.
Frankfort Public Beach and Playground
Frankfort Public Beach was recently updated with a beautiful new playground and accessible surfacing. It is quite the destination for Frankfort residents, visitors, and families throughout Northern Michigan.
Families will find accessible beach access and even an accessible fishing pier. The playground has multiple play structures for children of all ages and abilities.
Accessibility at the Frankfort Public Beach and Playground – Accessible sitting is provided via benches, and ADA walkways offer access to the beach. There are public restrooms accessible.
Fort Custer Recreation Area
Fort Custer State Recreation Area is a 3,033-acre park located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The park features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River, a modern and equestrian campground, a swimming beach, boat rentals, more than 40 miles of trails, paddling and fishing opportunities, second-growth forests, and remnant areas of prairie.
A designated swim area is located on Eagle Lake. There is an accessible walkway down to the waterfront.
Grand Haven City Beach
City Beach Park is approximately 19.6 acres in size and is located on Lake Michigan along Harbor Avenue, south of Grand Haven State Park. This sandy public beach is more than three-quarters of a mile long. The park holds a variety of special events, including sandcastle competitions, kite activities, pole vaulting, and beach weddings. Surfers, kite surfers, paddle boarders, and kayakers frequently use the City Beach parking lot as a Lake access point
Accessibility of the Grand Haven City Beach – There is an ADA walkway within the park for water access.
Grand Haven State Park
Grand Haven State Park is a 48-acre park with a half-mile of sandy Lake Michigan beachfront on the west side and the Grand River — near the river’s mouth – on the north side. The park is mostly made of beach sand and offers beautiful views of the Grand Haven pier and two lighthouses. Along the park’s whole beachfront, there is a designated swimming area. The water’s edge is accessible by an ADA-compliant path. The campsite office also has a number of beach wheelchairs that may be borrowed.
- ADA Accessible path
- Wheelchairs available
Harrisville State Park
Harrisville State Park is a campsite and day-use area tucked in a stand of pine and cedar trees along Lake Huron’s sandy shoreline. The park is within walking distance of Harrisville, a resort town that organizes a variety of activities. The park is near Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and Negwegon State Park.
There is a designated swim beach in the day-use area and water access from the campground to Lake Huron. There is water access from the campground with an accessible walkway.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park Beach
The park, located in Muskegon, is set on three miles of the beautiful Lake Michigan beachfront and includes a contemporary campsite, towering dunes, ten miles of picturesque trails, and the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center.
There are two approved swimming places in the park, one in the day-use area and another within a five-minute walk of the campground. There are two beach wheelchairs that may be borrowed. Check with the park or the contact station.
- Beach wheelchair available
Holland State Park
Holland State Park is famous for its sugar-sand beaches, stunning sunsets, and views of the famed “Big Red” lighthouse. The park features two popular beaches on Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa, two contemporary campsites, concessions, paddle rentals, a new playground, and access to Holland’s non-motorized trail system. There are designated swim sites in the Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa day-use zones. This beach has an accessible path leading down to the water’s edge. There is also a beach wheelchair accessible for use at this site.
- Accessible path to the beach
- Beach wheelchair available
Holly State Recreation Area
Holly State Recreation Area is located in northern Oakland County, between Pontiac and Flint, and is less than an hour’s drive from Detroit. Hiking, camping, kayaking, disc golf, fishing, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities are available on the park’s 8,007 acres of undulating forests and open fields.
A designated swim area is in the park’s day-use area on Heron Lake. There are accessible walkways to the beach house and beach. At this time, there are no accessible mats into the water.
- Accessible pathway to the beach
Interlochen State Park
Michigan’s first state park is located in the northwestern part of the state. Interlochen State Park, located about fifteen miles southwest of Traverse City, is sandwiched between two well-known fishing and bathing lakes: Green Lake and Duck Lake. This beach has an accessible path leading down to the water’s edge. There is also a beach wheelchair accessible for use at this site.
- Accessible path to the beach
- Beach wheelchair available
Island Lake State Recreation Area
The Island Lake State Recreation Area is a state-run park in Green Oak Township, Livingston County, Michigan, near Detroit. The 4,000-acre park is located on the Huron River, directly downstream of Kensington Metropark, and is linked by a bike route. Kent Lake and Spring Mill Pond each have two permitted swimming sites. Visitors with mobility issues can explore the park using the park’s track chair. These off-road, electric chairs are free and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The beach at Kent Lake has an accessible boardwalk down to the water’s edge.
- Off-road track chairs are available
- Accessible boardwalk
Lakeport State Park
Lakeport State Park, located along Lake Huron, gives people of southeast Michigan access to the Great Lakes. Noted for its beautifully clear water and great swimming. While the beach is a bit small, it is accessible. This beach has an accessible path leading down to the water’s edge.
- Accessible path to the edge of the water
Ludington State Park Beach
There is an accessible walkway down to the waterfront in the Lake Michigan day-use area. In addition, there are beach wheelchairs available to borrow in both the Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake day-use areas.
These chairs have large balloon tires that provide flotation on soft surfaces and can be operated with minimal upper body strength. The chairs are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
- Specialized beach wheelchairs are available
- Accessible walkway to waterfront
McLain State Park Beach
Located on Lake Superior, this park is a popular place for picnics, swimming, and camping. The lake is at its warmest for swimming in July and August.
A handicap-accessible walkway leads from the parking lot down to the beach area. A concession stand offers snacks, sandwiches, and beverages. The park also has a playground, picnic tables, and grills. McLain State Park is located 8 miles northwest of Hancock on M-203.
- Accessible pathway to the beach area
Mears State Park
Charles Mears State Park is located along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the quaint village of Pentwater. Paved camping areas are surrounded by beautiful sand, and a swimming beach is located near the port pier. This beach has an accessible path leading down to the water’s edge. There is also a beach wheelchair accessible for use at this site.
Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area
The Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area is located in Lapeer County, about eight miles south of Lapeer. A defined swimming beach, concession, boat and paddleboat rentals, a picnic shelter, and a universally accessible fishing pier are all part of the day-use area. This beach has an accessible boardwalk from the concession stand to the beach and across the beach to the waterfront.
Muskegon State Park
Muskegon State Park features 3 miles of stunning beachfront (2 miles along Lake Michigan and 1 mile on Muskegon Lake), Snug Harbor, wooded dunes, two campsites, picnic spaces, and several hiking paths. On Lake Michigan, there is a dedicated swim area in the park’s day-use section. This beach has an accessible path leading down to the water’s edge. There is also a beach wheelchair accessible for use at this site.
- Beach wheelchair available
- Accessible path
Otsego Lake State Park
Otsego Lake State Park, located near Gaylord and conveniently accessible from I-75, is a favorite family getaway with 62 acres of lakefront activities. The park is well-known for its lovely half-mile sandy beach, and the renowned boat launch offers easy access for boats. The park’s day-use section has a designated, universally accessible beach and swim area. There is an accessible boardwalk, and beach wheelchairs are supplied on a first-come, first-served basis. To the north of the day-use area, there is another accessible swim area.
- Wheelchairs are available at this location.
Petoskey State Park Beach
The park’s wheelchair-friendly beach is located in Sylvan Beach. The beach has a ramp that runs down to the water’s edge and a matting system (Mobi-Mat) that covers the sand at this access point. In addition, there is a beach wheelchair available to borrow. Please visit the concession stand located in the beach house.
The beach house was recently replaced with a new building that contains accessible restrooms, showers, and a first aid area. The building also has a concession stand for snacks and ice cream. The accessible parking spaces are located near the walkway to the beach and on top of the dune overlooking the lake.
In addition to these improvements, there are two new kayak launches located next to each other that are wheelchair accessible. Both of these sites put individuals close to Lake Michigan.
If you are interested in using one of these chairs, please make arrangements with the park staff before your visit so they can be sure to have one available for your use. The park has a limited number of chairs.
Pere Marquette Beach
Accessibility of Pere Marquette Beach – There is a 200-foot pathway to the beach and waterfront
Port Crescent State Park
Port Crescent State Park is located in Michigan’s Huron County, about an hour and a half away from the Detroit area. It sits right on the sandy shores of the beautiful Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron and is just a few minutes away from Port Austin, Michigan.
The park itself is packed full of activities, including hiking trails perfect for short or long walks. You can also fish at the pier, take a swim in the water, camp within the park, or even rent one of their mini cabins.
Yes, Port Crescent State Park Beach is handicapped-accessible. The beach has handicapped parking available and a paved trail down to the beach and into the water. There is water access at the campground beach with an accessible walkway. The trail does become sand halfway down the beach, so if you are in a wheelchair, it will be difficult but not impossible without assistance.
Seven Lakes State Park
Seven Lakes State Park is located in Holly, Michigan, and offers guests a chance to play on 300 acres of land near lakes. Guests can camp in the park, hike on trails, view wildlife, or participate in other outdoor activities. The park is handicap accessible with paved pathways leading to and around the lake and many parking areas for those that need it. The beach offers an accessible mat down to the water.
Silver Lake State Park
Mears, Michigan, is home to Silver Lake State Park. Silver Lake State Park is a 1,000-acre park near Mears, Michigan, located on the famed Silver Lake Sand Dunes. The park is well-known for its spectacular sand dunes and shoreline. There are several things to keep you occupied here, such as hiking, biking, swimming, ORV riding, and much more! There are two beach wheelchairs for rent, one at the park entry station near the lighthouse parking lot and the other at the campsite office.
Silver Beach County Park – St. Joseph
Accessibility at Silver Beach County Park – Silver Beach County Park features a barrier-free walkway from the parking lot, along the beachfront, and throughout the Park. Beach wheelchairs are available in the summer on a free, first-come-first-serve basis. Stop in the beach office (the building next to the Restroom buildings) to reserve a beach wheelchair.
Sleeper State Park – Caseville
Sleeper State Park is located near the little town of Caseville in Huron County, Michigan. This area is known as the “Thumb” of the state because of its location on the peninsula that extends eastward from the rest of the state. The park itself occupies a tiny piece of land, but it offers 200 acres of freshwater beach and beautiful views of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay.
Accessibility at the Sleeper State Park – There is a gently sloping sidewalk to the beach. However, there are no indicated accommodations to the water’s edge.
Sleepy Hollow State Park
Sleepy Hollow State Park spans approximately 2,600 acres and includes a river that winds through the woods, farmland, and paths. Lake Ovid, located in the heart of it all, was created by damming the Little Maple River and spans 410 acres. This beach offers an accessible walkway down to the waterfront. This park also has a beach wheelchair that is available for use.
South Higgins State Park
South Higgins State Park has 1,000 acres. Higgins Lake lies to the north, while Marl Lake and 700 acres of maple, oak, and pine forest area to the south. Higgins Lake, a big spring-fed body of water famed for its cleanliness and fishing potential, is over one mile long in the park.
There is an accessible walkway down to the waterfront (near the boat launch). A beach wheelchair is available to borrow by calling the park or visiting the campground office.
Stearns Park Beach – Ludington
Of all the handicap accessible beaches in Michigan, this one ranks high for accessibility. There are three accessible walkways built at the north and south concession booths and in the center of the beach. Wheelchairs, strollers, and anybody who has difficulty going through the sand may now utilize the boardwalk from the parking lot down to the beach. The personal transportation site Scootaround.com named Stearns Park Beach as one of the 8 Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in the United States. USA Today noted the park has to have as the fifth most accessible walkway in the nation and one of the top 50 beaches in the US.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
To offer an exceptional experience, Sleeping Bear Dunes caters to disabled beachgoers. The Duneside Accessible Nature Trail at the Dune Climb is built of crushed limestone, which makes it simpler to maneuver a wheelchair. Sand wheelchairs are also available at the Maritime Museum at the Dune Climb. Sleeping Bear Dunes has begun to offer and initiate services for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, ranging from ranger-led treks to portable wireless gadgets.
Tawas Point State Park Beach
Tawas Point State Park, located on the end of a sand spit that creates Tawas Bay in Lake Huron, features 183 acres of lakefront leisure and has been dubbed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Two-path networks link numerous sights throughout your stay, including a historic lighthouse dating back to 1858. The park’s day-use section on the Lake Huron side of the point has a designated swim area. Except for the designated pet-friendly section, pets are not permitted on any park’s beaches. Due to excessive water, the disability-accessible path is closed.
Traverse City State Park
The Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park Beach is located in the heart of Traverse City. It’s a fantastic spot to visit if you’re staying at one of the many downtown hotels or visiting for the day. You can easily walk from downtown to the beach, and there’s even a paved path that leads from the city’s famous Front Street to the waterfront.
The beach has a nice playground for kids, restrooms, changing areas, kayak rentals, and concessions (including ice cream!)
Accessibility: The Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park Beach is a great place for those with disabilities who want to enjoy Traverse City’s famous waterfront. An accessible walkway down to the waterfront and a trail leading to the water’s edge is available. A beach wheelchair is available to borrow if you need it – ask at the park office!
Tiscornia Beach – St. Joseph
Tiscornia Beach is a popular beach destination at the south end of Sturgeon Bay. It offers a nice sand beach, picnic tables, grills, playground equipment, a swimming area, and a fishing pier.
The City of Sturgeon Bay operates this beach and charges a fee for parking. There are no concessions or restrooms available at Tiscornia Beach.
Accessibility: Tiscornia Beach is accessible to individuals with disabilities from the parking lot through the pavilion to the beach. This includes an accessible entrance and parking lot. The beach itself is not handicap accessible at this time.
The beach sits at the end of Silver Beach County Park, featuring an ADA-accessible playground and picnic area.
Warren Dunes State Park Beach
If you’re looking for a place to get away from the busy city life, Michigan’s Warren Dunes State Park is an easy drive from Chicago, Illinois. The park is located in Sawyer, Michigan on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and is approximately 90 miles from downtown Chicago. You can reach the park by driving north on the I-94 or the I-80/90 toll road and then turning onto Red Arrow Highway. It will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach the park using this route. The park also has ample parking available if you’re visiting with family or friends.
Warren Dunes State Park is known as one of America’s best beaches due to its wide array of activities, pristine water quality, and incredible views. The beach is also handicap accessible with specially-designed boardwalks that are ADA-compliant.
A designated swim area is located along the day-use area on Lake Michigan. There are three 100-foot, accessible walkways between the day-use sidewalk and the water (please note the walkway doesn’t quite meet the water’s edge). There are also two beach/aqua wheelchairs available to borrow at the ranger station.
Wells State Park
In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wells State Park is a distant wilderness excellent for campers searching for a private area to get away from it all. Green Bay is roughly 30 miles south of Escanaba. Its 678 acres contain a three-mile sandy beach for swimming, a huge picnic area, a contemporary campsite, and rustic cottages. This beach offers an accessible walkway down to the waterfront.
Wilderness State Park
Wilderness State Park, located just 11 miles west of Mackinaw City, is home to 26 miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, 20-plus miles of trails, a designated swimming, and pet-friendly beach, and unique camping opportunities. Wilderness State Park is located in Carp Lake Township, Michigan. The park is about 15 miles from Mackinaw City and 60 miles from Petoskey. While many parts of Wilderness State Park are not handicap-accessible, the beach area is wheelchair-friendly. There is an accessible walkway down to the waterfront. A beach wheelchair is available to borrow from the campground host (campsite #416).
Young State Park
Young State Park Beach is located on the shoreline of Lake Charlevoix near Boyne, Michigan. The park is a 572-acre tract of land located on the banks of a huge inland lake. The park provides tourists with a variety of outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and biking. Visitors who want to bring their own lunch to the park can do so in one of the numerous picnic spots. Wheelchair users may completely use the beach at Young State Park. The park’s day-use portion has a dedicated swim area. The water is accessible by a footbridge.
Final Thoughts on Handicap Accessible Beaches in Michigan
We hope this listing will continue to grow. There are likely many township and county parks that have strived to bring ADA capability to their own local beaches. If you know of a local beach that should be on this list please reach out to us via email at email@example.com