Our home state of Michigan — The Great Lakes State — borders four of the Great Lakes and contains more than 11,000 inland lakes. So, when you’re looking for a summer swimming destination, this is a good place to be.
And in the communities around Ann Arbor, we get to take advantage of countless swim beaches, state parks and pristine waters. To help you on your water-themed summer adventures, we rounded up a handful of the best options around Ann Arbor. From just a few minutes away to about two hours away on the shores of Lake Michigan, these should all be on your summer bucket list!
Distance from Ann Arbor: 12 miles | Get directions
Photo courtesy of Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission
Operated by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, Independence Lake Park offers countless, year-round attractions. During the summer months, the park’s 360 acres feature trails for biking and hiking as well as fishing, boating and swimming in Independence Lake. Featuring both a small dock and a boat launch, you can take off in your kayak or leap off the dock into the water. When you’re done, you can sunbathe on the beach or continue the water-themed fun at Blue Heron Bay Spray Park, which features water canons, geysers and water slides.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 14 miles | Get directions
Ypsilanti’s Rolling Hills Park is a 439-acre park and one of the most recreational-diverse destinations in Washtenaw County. Anyone looking for swimming adventures and water-themed fun can enjoy a splash in the waves, a float on the lazy river, or a ride down the slides of the Water Park.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 16 miles | Get directions
Van Buren Park Beach is one of Southeast Michigan’s most popular spots for lake swimming. Just a 20 minute drive from Ypsilanti, the entire park offers hiking trails, three play structures, picnic areas, pavilions, horseshoe pits, a volleyball court, a basketball court, grills, a community garden, restrooms and, of course, the beach with its own concession stand for snacks and refreshments!
Distance from Ann Arbor: 20 miles | Get directions
Covering a whopping 11,000 acres, Pinckney State Recreation Area is one of our favorite outdoor destinations in the Ann Arbor area. Known for its extensive trail system and chain of excellent fishing lakes, the park also offers over forty miles of multi-use trails, picnicking, playgrounds, beaches, a concession stand, boat launches and rowboat, canoe, paddle boat and kayak rentals.
For swimmers, there are two public beaches, one at Silver Lake and one at Halfmoon Lake. A third beach at Bruin Lake is only open to campers and you can see a list of available campgrounds here.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 19 miles | Get directions
Covering 4,947 acres, Brighton Recreation Area is a hilly, outdoor paradise interspersed with a number of picturesque lakes. The best swimming lake can be found at Bishop Lake. The remodeled, universally accessible beach features a beach house with vending machines, picnic shelters and a sand volleyball court.
In addition to the lake and beach attractions, Bishop Lake is also home to Jump Island! This lake waterpark features an inflatable iceberg, inflatable slides, runways and more so you can slide, run, walk and play atop the water.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 22 miles | Get directions
The largest park in the Lower Peninsula, Waterloo Recreation Area consists of more than 20,000 acres. Across these grounds, you’ll find two modern campgrounds, a rustic campground, an equestrian campground, swimming beaches, several picnic sites, 11 fishing lakes, eight boat launches, 12 miles of interpretive nature trails, 47 miles of hiking trails, four rustic cabins, a yurt, equestrian trails, mountain biking trails, and the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center.
Day-use swimmers should head to the public beach at the Portage Lake Unit. And registered campers can also take a dip at the beach accessible from the Sugarloaf Campground.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 22 miles | Get directions
At 4,000 acres, Island Lake Recreation Area offers a bit of northern Michigan just 30 minutes from Ann Arbor. In addition to mountain biking, hiking, boating and fishing areas, you’ll find two beaches available for swimming. There’s one at Kent Lake and one at Spring Mill Pond, a spring fed pond with more than 100 feet of sandy beach!
Distance from Ann Arbor: 25 miles | Get directions
Just 40 minutes from Ann Arbor directly above Island Lake Recreation Area, Kensington Metropark is one of the most popular parks in the state of Michigan. Throughout 4,486 acres, you’ll find an 18-hole golf course, a 27-hole disc golf course, a nature center, a farm center, beautiful picnic areas as well as scenic hiking and biking trails for hours of enjoyment.
And, on the 1,200-acre Kent Lake, you can swim at Martindale or Maple beaches, get soaked at the Splash ‘n’ Blast, or just spend the day fishing, boating and picnicking along the water.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 37 miles | Get directions
Offering 5,900 acres of forest, marshes and lakes in the rolling hills of Southern Michigan, Highland Recreation Area is a destination for equestrian riders, mountain bikers, hikers and boaters during the summer months. Boat access can be found on four lakes within the park for fishing and recreational boating and swimmers can enjoy the public beach on Teeple Lake!
Distance from Ann Arbor: 43 miles | Get directions
An hour north of Ann Arbor, Seven Lakes State Park is made up of farmland, rolling hills, forested land and 230 acres of water. During the summer months, you can rent or bring row boats, canoes and paddle boats, or embark on a hike across more than six miles of trails. Near the swim beach, you’ll find a boat launch, a concession stand for snacks, restrooms and changing courts as well as horseshoes, volleyball and playground equipment!
Distance from Ann Arbor: 140 miles | Get directions
One of the most popular beaches for swimming along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, South Beach Park offers concessions, a playground and historic memorials in addition to the sandy swimming beach. Just steps from the beach, visitors can enjoy the skatepark or walk out onto the pier to watch the sunset against the beautiful South Haven Lighthouse.
Distance from Ann Arbor: 165 miles | Get directions
Within three hours of Ann Arbor, Grand Haven State Park is the furthest on our list, but offers some of the best views. The 48 acre park consists entirely of sandy beach with Lake Michigan bordering on the east and Grand River bordering on the north. From the beach, you can dip your toes in the water and enjoy scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse.
Just keep swimming!
In the comments below, let us know where you’re headed this summer.