Guide to Metro Detroit Beaches and Parks

Swimming Holes and Great Lakes

As might be expected, the Great "Lake" State has plenty of swimming and beach opportunities. From small swimming holes to Great Lake beaches, the Metro Detroit area has it all. This guide to Metro Detroit beaches and parks includes crowd information, boat rental availability, general descriptions, and other amenity information. And don't forget other wet and wild options like water parks and slides.

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Brighton: Brighton Recreation Area

Brighton Recreation Area in Michigan
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Brighton Recreation Area is run by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and covers 4,947 acres with high, irregular ranges of hills plus attractive lakes ideal for water recreation.

Bishop Lake allows swimming by a picnic area, but there is no real sand “beach.” Amenities include boat rentals, concession stand, and volleyball court.

Chilson Pond has a big lawn with a wetland-type swimming area containing marshy, brown water. Fishing is usually allowed but there is currently an advisory against fishing for several bodies of water on the Huron River. The area has a concession stand, volleyball court, boat rental, and a playground.

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Brighton: Island Lake Recreation Area

Kent Lake sunset
Barbara Eckstein/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Kent Lake beach area has a large lawn and sprawling beach area with rough, dirt-like sand. The swimming area is large with warm water. Canoes are popular and can be rented along with paddle boats, rowboats, and bicycles. The area is close to a freeway, the noise of which sometimes filters through the sound of splashing water. There is also a fishing dock.

The Spring Mill Pond area has a more scrubby lawn area with a beach frontage that doesn’t seem as well maintained. The water is somewhat brown. The area does, however, have a large concession stand and boat rental. Island Lake Recreation Area is off of Kensington Road.

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Clarkston: Independence Oaks County Park

Independence Oaks County Park
Boating 5 / CC by 2.0

The beach area is small and narrow on a small, man-made lake. Fresh water is pumped into it to make a current and the water is very clear. There is a shallow, roped-off swimming area staffed by lifeguards and a floating dock where the water gets deeper.

The sand on the beach front is coarse. The beach area has a large concession stand and boat rental. A boat launch is also available. Independence Oaks County Park is off of Sashabaw Road.

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Commerce Township: Proud Lake Recreation Area

Proud Lake State Park, Michigan
Adam McDonald/CC BY-SA 2.0

The beach area is in a relatively small pond area on Proud Lake. It is man-made with trucked-in sand. The area does, however, have a small island for fishing that is reachable by wading in the water. Campers and boaters have a separate, small beach with a boat ramp. Proud Lake Recreation Area is off of Wixom Road.

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Detroit: Belle Isle

Canada geese, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit.
Rain0975/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

Situated on Belle Isle, an island on the Detroit River by downtown Detroit, the beach is a mile-and-a-half long and provides a great view of summer activities along the Detroit River.

The sand is coarse but gives way to cleaner sand by the water. The water is not that clear, but you can swim in it. In addition to a concession stand and water slide, there are several other attractions on the island.

Belle Isle attractions include an aquarium, conservatory, and the James Scott Memorial Fountain, and more. The area also hosts jazz concerts on some summer evenings.

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Holly: Groveland Oaks County Park

The beach area is not that large. It has soft sand and the swimming area is roped off and patrolled by lifeguards. It also has a concession stand with terrace, water slide, a large playscape, mini-golf, bike rentals, camping, and three rentable islands. Groveland Oaks is off of Dixie Highway.

07 of 17

Holly: Holly Recreation Area

Holly Recreation Area
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Heron Lake has a large, long beach and the lake is fed with natural spring water. The area is often crowded with young adults and towels as far as the eyes can see. Although spring fed, the water has a brownish green tinge. In addition to a concession stand and boat rental, the beach area has a volleyball court.​

Wildwood Lake is much quieter and more remote with more shade trees. Again the water is brownish green. Holly Recreation Area is off of Grange Hall Road.

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Holly: Seven Lakes State Park

Seven Lakes Park
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The beach area is somewhat removed from the park entrance and has a large meadow leading up to the beach that is used for special events, such as a hot-air balloon launching. The beach itself is 800-feet long with a large area of gravel, dirt-like sand. More shade can be found for picnics nearby.

The beach area has a large concession stand offering food and beach merchandise. There is also a play structure, volleyball court, and boat rental. Seven Lakes State Park is a good family beach with special events. It is located off of Fish Lake Road.

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Lake Orion: Bald Mountain Recreation Area

Lake Orion: Bald Mountain Recreation Area
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The beach area, voted "Best of Detroit," by Detroit Monthly has a large, sandy area. It also has a hilly, grassy area adjacent. There are trails, trout streams, and inland lakes to discover.

The water at the beach is clear, shallow and good for small children. Bald Mountain Recreation Area is located off of M-24 (Lapeer Road).

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Leonard: Addison Oaks County Park

Addison Oaks County Park

More of a swimming hole than a lake beach, the beach area is not conducive for large, holiday crowds. It has a lawn and lifeguards. There is also has a concession area with a large, outdoor deck and wooden play structure.

A new native wildlife habitat is being installed at Addison Oaks creating a more natural shoreline with native plants that will attract bird, bee, turtle, and fish populations.

Addison Oaks County Park is located off of Romeo Road.

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Metamora: Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area

Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area
 Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The beach area is located at the tip of a long, narrow lake. Some of the beachfront faces a camp area directly across the lake’s narrow width, but a section of the beach faces down the length of the lake. The beachfront has a large lawn with little shade, a fine-sand beach, and a narrow swimming area.

Floating islands and boats can be rented. The beach area is pretty free from power boats and accompanying noise. A concession stand and fishing pier are nearby. Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area is located off of Hurd Road.

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Milford: Kensington Metropark

Biking in Kensington  

Maple Beach is spacious and attracts big crowds. The beach area has coarse sand and the swimming area is marked with ropes and patrolled by lifeguards. Floats are allowed only in the children’s area. There is a large concession area with boat rental, including kayaks and sailboats. The area plays host to several annual activities. It also has a volleyball court.

Martindale Beach is also spacious. It is similar to Maple Beach in terms of size and population. It, too, has a large, lifeguarded area. It also has a concession stand, playscape, and ball field.

Kensington also has the Island Queen II pontoon boat for excursions and the Splash’n’Blast waterslide. Kensington Metropark is located off Bruno Road.

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Mount Clemens: Lake St.Clair Metropark

Lake St.Clair Metropark

Located on Lake St. Clair and formerly known as Metro Beach, the beach area is very large and the large-bodied lake has some water movement and waves. Metro Beach is actually more of an entertainment complex with marinas, a pool, volleyball court, ​​water slide, and boardwalk.

The sand is somewhat coarse with pebbles, and the beach sometimes closes when the water quality is iffy. The area is monitored by lifeguards. While a large lawn leads to the beach area, no picnicking is allowed on it. There is a large concession stand with a patio. Metro Beach is located at the end of Metropolitan Parkway.

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Shelby Township: Stony Creek Metropark

Stony Creek Metropark

Baypoint Beach on Stony Creek Lake is known to have more of a singles crowd. It has a sloping lawn leading to a nice-sized beach. Although the sand is soft, it does have some rock chips. The swimming area has clear water and is roped off by lifeguards. Amenities include a concession stand with food and beach merchandise, volleyball court and boat and bicycle rental. There is little Jet Ski traffic.

Eastwood Beach is similar in size and such to Baypoint, but it is more of a family destination with play areas, volleyball court, fitness trail, basketball court, disc golf course and a concession stand with patio. There is also a store and bike rental. Stony Creek is located off of Shelby Road.

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Waterford: Dodge #4 State Park

Dodge #4 State Park
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Off of Cass Lake, the swimming area is long and shallow, but the short beachfront gets very crowded on holidays and weekends. The amenities include a concession stand and boat rental. Fishing is also available. Dodge #4 State Park is located off of Cass Lake Road.

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Waterford: Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

Waterford: Pontiac Lake Recreation Area
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The beach area along Pontiac Lake is a third-of-a-mile-long. The swimming area along it is relatively narrow and the deep water means jet skis are nearby. The beach area itself has great sand, fine in texture.

A large flat lawn is just beyond the sand and a large picnic area wraps around with plenty of shade for picnics. In addition to swimmers, there is a large population of swans. Amenities include a volleyball court, baseball diamond, and concession area. Pontiac Lake Recreation Area is located off of Gale Road.

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Whitmore Lake: Independence Lake Park

Boats lined up on the shore at Independence Lake County Park  

The park itself is down several miles of maze-like dirt roads. The beach area has a gravel parking lot, but once you make it through the strand of trees, there is a large sloping lawn down to the beach area. Shade and lifeguards are abundant.

The beach itself has two, small dirt-like sandy areas. The water, however, is clear and shallow. It is also roped off and heavily patrolled. Amenities include boat rental, play area, and water playscape.