A Surprising Midwest Beach Destination

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In a struggling economy, one of the first items trimmed from the family budget is, regretfully, that exotic vacation to Hawaii, Europe, or Mexico. This is a painful sacrifice, but it does allow room for a little R and R creativity, and the possibility of discovering some surprising destinations that are nearer, cheaper, and surprisingly… wonderful.

People don’t generally think of Michigan as a beach destination. They think of car manufacturing, too much snow, and a deteriorating Detroit. But just as upstate New York is an entirely different world from New York City, the western coast of Michigan is far removed from the struggling urban east side of the state. In fact, all along the western shore, visitors will find miles of soft sand beaches, windswept dunes, and quaint waterside towns, offering a slower pace and a true escape.

Pentwater, Michigan is one of these largely undiscovered villages. Located only 4 hours from Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Pentwater is true beach destination during the summer season. Boasting a mast-filled harbor, boutique shops, outdoor dining with live music, and numerous art galleries and antique shops, the town is surprisingly reminiscent of New England. Lodging is abundant with charming bed and breakfasts, hotels, private vacation rentals, and campgrounds (including a state park on the beach), and fun activities abound!

Lake Michigan, Pentwater Lake, and numerous local rivers also allow for all manner of water activities, including waterskiing, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, and swimming. On dry land, the region offers local farmers markets to explore, dune buggy rides in nearby Silver Lake, horseback riding, nearly a dozen inexpensive golf courses, shopping, gallery browsing, go-carting, and more! Though simply relaxing on the beach with a good book might be all you need.

Sailing

Pentwater Public beach is one of the finest in all of Michigan, and truly holds its own among any in Florida, Mexico, or California. Here you’ll find warm, clean sand, playgrounds, beach volleyball, a walking pier, boardwalk, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world! What’s more, the water is salt-free, coral-free, and shark-free (though generally kid-friendly, the waves and undertow should NOT be underestimated. The Great Lakes have claimed 5000+ shipwrecks in recorded history.).

Although the beach season is sadly limited to the warm summer months, it will not disappoint as this year’s vacation destination. In fact, most guests find themselves returning year after year. You would be more than welcome to do likewise.

Chris Adema is a native of West Michigan, a lifelong visitor to Pentwater, and the owner of www.LovePentwater.com, a travel resource for the community.

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