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Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Key Info

111 E Grandview Pkwy

Price & Hours

Free
24/7

Details

Beaches, Free, Parks and Gardens, Swimming/Pools Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

You can't visit any of the Great Lakes without heading to the beach. Traverse City's location right along the waters of Lake Michigan gives visitors that opportunity. If you don't feel like making the trek to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, consider an afternoon at Clinch Park. Clinch Park is Traverse City's most popular beach. And for good reason. Not only is the beach park located smack dab in the middle of the city, but it also offers a lengthy stretch of shore with beautiful views of the nearby peninsulas. The park is also equipped with convenient amenities, such as restrooms, a snack bar, bike racks, picnic tables, a grassy park and during the summer, lifeguards. It's the perfect place to take a dip or simply gaze upon the beauty of Lake Michigan. 

Recent visitors enjoyed their time at Clinch Park, complimenting the beautiful lake views, the available amenities and close proximity to downtown Traverse City. Travelers were also pleased with the park's clean beaches and publicly shared spaces. Families noted that this park is perfect for the kiddos thanks to the calm waters and abundant amenities. 

Clinch Park has no set hours nor does it require a fee for entry. You can find Clinch Park just a few blocks north of East Front Street in downtown Traverse City. For more information, visit the Traverse City tourism board website.

 

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#1 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the few places in the world that visitors can see perched dunes. The lakeshore's towering dunes, which stretch 35 miles long Michigan's eastern coast, were formed by glaciers. The slopes left behind by the glaciers turned into dunes as a result of Lake Michigan's tide pushing sand up onto the shore overtime. It's this unique phenomenon that garnered the park National Lakeshore status in 1970. 

Today, Sleeping Bear Dunes is enjoyed by more than a million visitors per year, who flock to the park to experience the dunes and enjoy an eyeful of the lakeshore's vibrantly colored waters, forested hiking trails, beaches and bevy of outdoors activities. First-time visitors won't go wrong starting their journey with the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a 7 1/2-mile drive that takes travelers through forested landscapes and along sand dunes to various overlook points. For hiking, you're spoiled with more than 100 miles of trails. For an easy trek, check out the Empire Bluff trail, a 1 1/2-mile round-trip hike that takes visitors directly to the edge of the dunes. The Pyramid Point trail is a more moderate, hilly option, while the 9-mile Alligator Hill trail takes hikers away from the dunes and higher up to provide sweeping views of the lake and the forests that flank it. If you're looking to do more than just hike, know that you can also bike, kayak, canoe and even scuba dive here. During the winter, the park is open to visitors for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and more. 

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