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This is the Most Underrated Beach in Michigan

The Michigan coastline has some hidden gems that are a dream in the summer. The beach at Charles Mears State Park is one of the state’s best and most underrated beaches, with plenty of engaging activities. You won’t want to miss it! 

Keep reading to learn more about what makes the state park’s beach unique.

We also share what amenities you’ll find there. Let’s dive in!  

Where Is Charles Mears State Park? 

Charles Mears State Park sits on Lake Michigan in the small town of Pentwater. Forests and sandy beaches surround it. To the south of Pentwater, you’ll find the famous Silver Lake Sand Dunes, where you can ride vehicles through dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.

A few minutes north of Pentwater is the town of Ludington, which also has a state park. 

Pro Tip: Find yourself wondering Is Northern Michigan Worth a Visit? We took a look to find out!

What Makes the Mears State Park Beach Special? 

The sandy beach at Mears State Park provides views of the blue water and shoreline of Lake Michigan. It has a walkable pier looking out into the clear waters, where you can see schools of fish in the lake.

In addition, you can access a boardwalk from the dock that takes you along the channel to Pentwater Lake. It’s fun to watch the boats go by, and if you continue your walk through the little neighborhood, you’ll end up in downtown Pentwater. You’ll find unique shops, restaurants, a marina, and more. 

One of the best aspects of the beach is that it can be less busy than other beaches in the area. It’s a relatively large beach, so there’s ample room to find a spot and enjoy your day. The state park also has a beachside campground, with several sites in view of the water.

Woman standing on pole in beach at Charles Mears State Park
Head to Charles Mears State Park for the perfect beach vacation!

What Amenities Does Mears State Park Have? 

Mears State Park has something for everyone. Here are five of its top amenities. 


The beach at Mears State Park is sandy and clean. The parking lot is only a few steps from the beach, so you don’t have to carry your gear too far. You’ll find a bathhouse and small concession stand on the beach, open during the summer months.

There is also a playground, benches, and picnic tables along the paved boardwalk for those who want to observe the water without getting in the sand. 


The campground is on the beach, and it has paved roads and lots. Campsites have electricity only, but there are water stations throughout the park and a dump station.

There is also a large, modern bathroom and showers in the campground. It has WiFi, fire rings, activities for kids, and pets are welcome. 

Little girl chasing seagulls on beach at Charles Mears State Park
Charles Mears State Park is perfect for both friends and family adventures.


You can rent a paddleboard at Mears State Park. The rentals are seasonal, typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You can rent paddleboards near the bathhouse on the beach. 

Pentwater Outfitters also rents paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. They’re in downtown Pentwater, a short distance from the state park on foot or by car. You can rent by the day and enjoy lake or river paddling. The river trips include a shuttle service. 

Fishing Pier

Mears State Park has a fishing pier on the south end of the beach. It extends down the channel for about a quarter-mile. You’ll find residents frequent the spot. Common fish in the area are bluegill, brown trout, largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout, and walleye.

Be sure to secure your fishing license before casting your line in Michigan. 

Nearby Pentwater

The small town of Pentwater is within walking or biking distance of Mears State Park. It has a quaint shopping and restaurant district with views of Pentwater Lake and the marina.

There’s a waterfront park excellent for picnics and watching sailboats. The town also hosts many festivals, so check out their events calendar during your visit.

Man sitting on sand dune in Charles Mears State Park while hiking.
Go fishing, hiking and camping in Charles Mears State Park.

Are Dogs Allowed At Mears State Park?

There is a dog beach at the south end of the state park’s beach. It’s a large area and a rare find on Lake Michigan. You can walk your dog on the boardwalk, pier, and paved areas. The state park campground is also dog-friendly.

Pro Tip: While in Michigan make sure to check out these 7 Underrated Michigan Tourist Attractions.

What Is a Recreation Passport in Michigan? 

Michigan offers a recreation passport to get into Michigan state parks, recreation areas, and boat launches. It excludes local, county, municipal, and metropolitan parks. The recreation passport can be cost savings if you frequent state parks. It costs $12 per year for Michigan residents and $34 per year for non-residents. 

Is Mears State Park Worth Visiting?

Mears State Park is one of our favorite Lake Michigan beaches. It’s truly a hidden gem. Whether you’re a sunbather, swimmer, angler, or boater, you won’t lack things to do at this state park. With Pentwater just around the corner for entertainment, food, and shops, you’re likely to want to stay for a while.

Have you been to any Michigan beaches? Let us know in the comments below!

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