A show of paws…who loves going to the beach with their dogs? If you and your furry best friend are big on spending beach time together, you’re both in luck! West Michigan loves dogs as much as you do and offers plenty of dog-friendly beach options. Take a look at this list before you head west to Lake Michigan’s coastline, and be sure to pack everything you need. With so many beautiful dog beaches, you’ll definitely want to sit and stay for a while (see what we did there?).
From Muskegon to South Haven along the West Michigan shoreline, here are some sandy selections that welcome dogs, as long as you’re a good boy or girl and obey the rules.
West Michigan Dog-Friendly Beach #1: Norman F. Kruse Park
There’s definitely a lot of tail-wagging going on here! Dogs love this large and expansive mile long beach, with the entire north end designated for their delight. Located in Muskegon, Michigan, Krus Park also features dog-friendly trails and a picnic area. Dogs don’t need to be on a leash to swim and there are always plenty of other dogs eager to play. This is a local favorite, though, and while it does offer ample parking, it can get busy on perfect beach days.
West Michigan Dog-Friendly Beach #2: Grand Haven City Beach
Dogs are sure to dig going here! Located on the southern end of the City Beach in Grand Haven, Michigan (adjacent to Grand Haven State Park), this section of beach with its dune backdrop and close proximity to a dog-friendly downtown is a favorite among four-legged friends as well as their two-legged companions.
There is a catch, however. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Grand Haven City Beach only allows leashed dogs before 11 am and after 5 pm, so plan to head out early or come after dinner for the sunset. Either way, your pooch is sure to enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan and rolling in the sand. Just make sure to stand back when you anticipate the shake!
West Michigan Dog-Friendly Beach #3: Kirk Park
South of Grand Haven, in West Olive, Michigan you’ll find Kirk Park, complete with picnic areas and picturesque trails, and yes, a designated section of beach for dogs to enjoy some serious off-leash fun! Spend a day at this dog-friendly beach and park, and your dog will be begging to come back again and again!
West Michigan Dog-Friendly Beach #4: Holland State Park
While most state park beaches tend to have signs clearly stating, “No Dogs Allowed”, when you visit Holland State Park, in Holland, Michigan, you’ll discover a little secret. The main beach is indeed not open to dogs, however right across from the Lake Macatawa Campground inside the park, there is a small beach area that allows dogs to come dip their paws in the sand and surf. They must be kept on a leash at all times, though, both in and out of the water.
West Michigan Dog-Friendly Beach #5: Pilgrim Haven Natural Area
Located in South Haven, Michigan, Pilgrim Haven Natural Area features a wooded trail that takes you to a section of dog-friendly beach. Though the West Michigan shoreline is typically sandy, this area tends to be a bit rocky, so beware: tender-footed dogs might not take to it as much as some other options. Luckily there are a few additional dog-friendly beaches nearby where you and your fur baby can fetch some fun:
Van Buren State Park
Like the state park in Holland, Van Buren State Park does offer a beach area (on the southern end of their main beach) where dogs can take a dip in the lake and enjoy a romp in the sand. Not far from Pilgrim Haven and just south of the Van Buren County line, this park also offers dog-friendly trails, picnic areas, and camping. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, though, and the beach can get a bit crowded.
In nearby Coloma, you’ll find Hagar Beach, where a long, 100-step staircase takes you from the parking lot to a spot where dogs are welcome to go for a swim or stroll for miles along the shoreline, though they must be leashed at all times. There are also picnic areas and lots of trees to provide shady places for your pet to rest.
Also in Coloma is a place called Roadside Park where you’ll find natural dunes and easy access to Lake Michigan so you and your dog can take a break and play in the waves and sand as long as you wish.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Dog-Friendly Trip
When you’re packing to go explore any or all of these West Michigan dog-friendly beaches, don’t forget about Fido! Follow these tips on what to pack for your dog to ensure you’re not the only one ready to hit the beach.
- Haul in plenty of H2O – Staying hydrated is important, for you and your pup! Though dogs can lap up all they want from the big lake, if you’re planning on hiking, walking around a nearby town, picnicking, or camping, be sure you have enough water to share with your canine companion.
- Keep it clean – Coincidentally, tip #2 has to do with your dog going #2! While most dog-friendly beaches provide bags to pick up after your pet, just in case they’re depleted, too far away, or there aren’t enough to go around, it’s always a good idea to B.Y.O.B. – bring your own bags! After all, picking up after your pet is proper etiquette at every dog beach, everywhere.
- Don’t let go of your leash – Though off-leash opportunities are often available, most every beach and park has certain areas in which dogs must be leashed, so be sure to keep yours handy.
- Take along extra towels – Let’s face it, your dog is going to get wet and full of sand. Unless you want to smell like a wet dog or bring home a car that’s wet and sandy (and smelly!) too, plan on packing a designated dog towel or two.
- Bring some booties – Remember, sand can sometimes get really hot, and if it’s too hot for your feet, it’s also too hot for your dog’s! When you feel the need to throw on some flip flops, consider bringing along some dog booties to slip on your pooch’s paws too. Besides providing protection from the heat, these might even come in handy at that rocky beach we mentioned earlier.
- Stash something other than a stick – Dogs can pretty much find all sorts of stuff to play with at the beach, but bringing along a tennis ball or frisbee will ensure you’ll always have something to keep them occupied.
One last helpful hint: Take precautions to curb the possibility of Kennel Cough. This contagious dog illness is easily spread from dog-to-dog, and since you won’t be the only dog lover taking advantage of a nice beach day, it’s wise to make sure your favorite pal’s shots are up to date.
Wish you could enjoy West Michigan dog-friendly beaches on a regular basis? Nothing says you can’t stay for good! If you love spending time with your furry best friend, you’ll find West Michigan is incredibly dog-friendly. If you’re considering moving, reach out to BlueWest Properties. Dog owners and dogs alike love living on the West Michigan lakeshore, and we have the perfect home to help you make the most of your lives here together. Give us a call or reach out to us online to learn more.