Skip to Content

7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan (with YouTube Video Tours)

7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan (with YouTube Video Tours)

7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan (with YouTube Video Tours)

Staying in campgrounds on Lake Michigan is the best way to experience the iconic Great Lake. Sandy beaches and refreshing cool waters are Lake Michigan’s staples.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together seven of the best State Park campgrounds around the lake for you.

Let’s dive in!

About Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is a freshwater lake that’s 118 by 307 miles. Because of its size, the lake borders the four states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Sitting on its more than 1,600 miles of shoreline, you’d think it’s an ocean.

It’s an all-sports lake, and Chicago sits on the south end of its shores. Therefore, travelers from around the world visit Lake Michigan. In truth, you won’t have to look far to see people boating, swimming, paddling, kiting, and fishing in the summer months. \Among the lake’s many fish species, some of the most popular are Atlantic Salmon, Largemouth Bass, Trout, and Walleye. Lake Michigan also has 102 lighthouses that are bucket list destinations for many.

Best Time of Year to Visit Lake Michigan

The best time of year to hit the campgrounds on Lake Michigan is from the end of May to the beginning of October. Since the states surrounding the lake experience all four seasons, this sweet spot of time is when you’ll get the best weather for enjoying the lake.

Accordingly, water temperatures are warmest from mid-July through September. State Park campgrounds around the lake vary in their open dates, but most allow campers between April and October.

On the other hand, if you prefer a quiet stay with fewer people, visit Lake Michigan in October. You may even get a beach all to yourself!

Moreover, this is a great time of year for a color tour around the lake because leaves typically change colors from late-September to mid-October. 

7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan

These campgrounds are all in State Parks located in the four states that border Lake Michigan. The Michigan and Indiana campgrounds are on the east side of the lake.

At these, you can experience those legendary Lake Michigan sunsets.

While campgrounds in Illinois and Wisconsin are on the west side of the lake. These, in fact, are a tad more rural than the eastern side, particularly the Wisconsin campgrounds. 

#1 – Ludington State Park, Michigan

Ludington State Park has four camping areas. They’re nestled between the shore of Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. While the park is perfect for a beach vacation, it also has premium hiking trails through woods and sand dunes.

As a matter of fact, one of the hiking trails will lead you to Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Furthermore, Ludington State Park is one of the most picturesque locations in Michigan for photographers.

Downtown Ludington, Michigan, is a short drive from the campground. It’s a walkable town with shops, restaurants, cafes, and art studios. In addition, the S.S. Badger arrives and departs from Ludington.

The S.S. Badger is a car ferry that takes you from Michigan to Wisconsin across Lake Michigan. This is a great option for transportation if you’re visiting both states and want a unique experience with less mileage on your vehicle.   

Price: $25 per night for semi-modern; $33 per night for 20/30 amp; $37 per night for 50 amp ($25-29 in off-season); $49 per night for mini cabin; and $17 per night for rustic site in off-season.

*Fees and taxes are not included in the rates.

Amenities: Sites have 20/30 amp electricity, a picnic table, and a fire pit. There are some sites with 50 amp service spread throughout the park as well as some without electricity.

The campground also has three mini, rustic cabins available for booking. Water filling stations are available in the park, and there is a dump station. A boat launch is available on Hamlin Lake. Pets are allowed in the campground, but not on the beaches.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 10 out of 10 for its hiking along Lake Michigan and access to a lighthouse

Keep in Mind: The S.S. Badger offers stops at multiple destinations, and you can even take your RV on the ferry. Check out all the details here!

#2 – Illinois Beach State Park, Illinois

An hour north of Chicago, you’ll find Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Illinois. Believe it or not, its campground is the only State Park camping on Lake Michigan in Illinois. The natural area is a prime spot for hiking, fishing, and wildflower and wildlife viewing. Moreover, the park also provides a sandy beach and clean water versus the city beaches in Chicago.

Since the park is inside a nature preserve, there’s a lot of space to relax and explore. Take a morning hike in the preserve, then an afternoon stroll on the beach.

However, if you’re only passing through the area, you may choose to stop for a picnic and short hike or swim. 

Price: $25 per night.

*Fees and taxes are not included in this rate.

Amenities: Each site has 20/30 amp of electricity, a picnic table, and a fire ring. In addition, there are water stations in the park and a dump station. Plus, it’s a pet-friendly campground.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 8 out of 10 for its nature preserve, beach access, and price.

#3 – Orchard Beach State Park, Michigan

Located in Manistee, Michigan, Orchard Beach State Park sits on a more rustic piece of coast than other campgrounds on this list. With its raw beauty, this is certainly a great option for a stop on a fall color tour. For recreation, the area boasts of good fishing all camping season. You can fish from the shore, Manistee harbor, or charter a boat. 

If you’re a history buff, you can tour Manistee via trolley or on your own. Believe it or not, the coastal town once had forty sawmills.

It was known as a town of millionaires in the late 1800s. The forests in the area continue to abound in plenty and beauty.  

Price: $30 per night for 20/30 amp; $34 per night for 50 amp; $34 per night for pull-thru; and $42 per night for full hookup.

*Fees and taxes are not included in rates.

Amenities: Each site has 20/30 amp or 50 amp electricity, a picnic table, and a fire ring. There are minimal sites with sewer or full hookups.

But, some campsites have a view of Lake Michigan. In addition, the campground has cabins for rent. There are water fill stations in the campground, a dump station, and a fish cleaning station. Orchard Beach State Park is pet-friendly.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 9 out of 10 for its views of Lake Michigan from the bluff, fishing, and option for full hookups

#4 – Harrington Beach State Park, Wisconsin

Harrington Beach State Park is located in Belgium, Wisconsin. The campground is a short walk from Lake Michigan. You have the options of kayaking, bird watching, and stargazing from this mile-long shoreline. 

Harrington Beach is a great escape for the outdoors person, especially because it has a developed trail system for hiking. You can also bike on the roads and along the shuttle bus route. Then, after your activity on a hot day, you can take a dip in Lake Michigan. Though, do be aware that the lake can be very cold in Wisconsin. Use your own judgment since there are no lifeguards at this beach.

Price: $18 per night without electric or $30 per night with electric.

*Fees and taxes are not included in rates.

Amenities: The campground has sites with and without electricity. In addition, each site has a picnic table and fire ring. The park has one non-electric group site and an accessible cabin. Water stations are available in the park, as well as a dump station. Pets are allowed in the park.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 9 out of 10 for its natural beauty and trails.

#5 – Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana

Indiana Dunes State Park is popular among campgrounds on Lake Michigan. It also provides a rare opportunity to visit the lake in the state of Indiana. Located in Chesterton, Indiana, the campground is a short distance to downtown Chicago entertainment or outlet mall shopping in Michigan City. Even so, you wouldn’t know the hustle and bustle of cities are close to the park’s 2,182 acres of raw landscape.

The nearly 200-feet-high sand dunes are the park’s main feature. You can catch a spectacular sunrise and sunset from them since this State Park is on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Children and adults alike love running (or rolling) down the dunes.

Price: $30-44 per night for full hookup; $23-33 per night for electric-only; $16-22 per night for non-electric; and $12 per night for primitive.

*Fees and taxes are not included in rates.

Amenities: Sites range from full hookup to primitive. Water stations are accessible in the park, as well as a dump station. Indiana Dunes State Park is pet-friendly.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 10 out of 10 for its sand dunes and location.

#6 – Mears State Park, Michigan

Mears State Park is a favorite among all the campgrounds on Lake Michigan. The beach is a 2- to 5-minute walk from any site in the park. Plus, you can see the lake from some of the sites on the campground’s south end.

What’s more, the water at this park is some of the clearest blue water in Lake Michigan. In addition, there’s a boardwalk you can access from the campground that extends down the channel and pier. Plus, there’s a dog beach at the south end of the beach, next to the pier.

Mears State Park is located in Pentwater, Michigan. This quaint town has everything you need in restaurants and shops and is a 15-minute walk from the campground. Bigger box stores are a short 20-minute drive up the road to Ludington.

Price: $33 per night.

*Fees and taxes are not included in rates.

Amenities: Each site has 20/30 amp of electricity, a picnic table, and a fire ring. There is potable water within the park, a dump station, and a modern bathhouse. The park is pet-friendly.

Mears State Park also has a rental house that sleeps eight people. Dune Grass Villa is $116-221 per night and $852 to 1,357 per week, seasonally. Pets are not permitted.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 10 out of 10 for its easy access to Lake Michigan, a dog beach, and walking distance to town.

#7 – Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin

Located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Kohler-Andrae State Park is known for its sweeping views of Lake Michigan. The sand dunes give you a bird’s eye look at miles of shoreline. Hiking options abound here, including nature trails and boardwalks.

Plus, there is a 2.5-mile trail that allows horses.

The city of Sheboygan is only a 15-minute drive from the campground. You can find various entertainment here, including a children’s museum and a shipwreck displayed in Deland Park. Bookworm Gardens, a botanical garden, is also an inspiring place to spend a few hours.

Price: $20 per night without electric or $35 per night with electric.

*Fees and taxes are not included in rates.

Amenities: The campground has sites with and without electricity, a group camping area, and an accessible cabin. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. There are water stations in the park and a dump station. Pets are allowed in the park.

Lake Michigan Camping Vibes: 10 out of 10 for its sand dunes and hiking.

Take Your Pick at Lake Michigan

These seven campgrounds on Lake Michigan have a variety of activities and settings. Each provides a million-dollar view and easy access to the lake.

If you’re looking for a summer beach vacation, you can’t go wrong with one or more of these options.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

What Are The Most Dangerous Creatures in Lake Michigan – Truck & RV Electronics

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

[…] Pro Tip: Don’t let the creatures of Lake Michigan stop you from some amazing campgrounds. We explored the 7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan. […]

What Are The Most Dangerous Creatures in Lake Michigan | Drivin' & Vibin'

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

[…] Pro Tip: Don’t let the creatures of Lake Michigan stop you from some amazing campgrounds. We explored the 7 Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan. […]

%d bloggers like this: