Port Huron, MI
Port Huron and the Blue-Water area offer Detroit and the rest of southeast Michigan the Great Lakes experience without the long drive. The beaches here offer good day trips. This makes Lakeside Beach very popular throughout the summer. Lakeside Beach is also the largest beach in the Blue-Water area. Many times, throughout the summer the beach has been packed especially on weekends. I went on a Monday and it had a decent crowd, but not too bad. I think this year, the beach has been even more crowded because of the government restrictions on what people can do. Less traveling, plus fewer other things to do equals a super crowded beach. I came to Lakeside Beach for the first time 3 years ago on a weekend and it wasn’t super crowded like it has been this year.
Thumb Michigan, Lake Huron
Detroit: 64 miles ( 1 hour 1 minute)
Ann Arbor: 102 miles (1 hour 35 minutes)
Flint: 69 miles ( 1 hour 3 minutes)
Lansing: 124 miles (1 hour 51 minutes)
On a hot humid day (95 degrees Fahrenheit real feel), the 74 degrees Fahrenheit crystal-clear water was amazingly refreshing. The water is so clear you can see the bottom, even at 6 feet deep, which is important to see the large rocks that are prevalent in the swimming area. I would recommend lake shoes to swim here because of all the rocks. This is my only complaint with the water. On the day I went, the water was calm and mostly flat. Occasionally the wind would make some small waves. Also, past the swimming line, there is a sand bar about 50 yards from shore. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get there unless you are a strong swimmer because you have to swim through deep water to get there (7 feet deep or more). This sand bar is a popular place for boaters to drop anchor and swim.
Sand and Land:
Lakeside Beach is a very large beach with 1050 feet of lake frontage. The sand is also about 20 to 30 yards wide along the beach. I would bet in other years when the Great Lakes are lower, that Lakeside Beach is even larger. In addition, the sand is backed up by a large grass picnic area, shaded by large mature trees. There is also a newer playground and swings and young kids are sure to enjoy the splash pad (open as of August 2020). You will find plenty of grills, making Lakeside Beach a great place to have a family picnic. The one drawbacks on the beach are the metal breaker walls. I think they are an eyesore. Many kids were jumping off the breakers, so at least they enjoy it. There is a police kiosk and I have seen patrol cars there on busy days, so you should feel safe.
Like many Great Lakes beaches, you will see the endless horizon to the north and east. Take a look to the southeast and you will see Canada (Sarnia, Ontario). Around the corner is the Blue Water Bridge, you can’t quite see it, but it is a good place to see freighters enter Lake Huron. I love the beauty and the power of Lake Huron. You can truly see why the Port Huron area is called the “Blue Water area” (especially on a sunny day). Looking out over the water has a soothing effect on people. Now is a better time than ever to relax at the beach.
Lakeside Beach has a newer bathroom built a few years ago. It has 8 individual bathrooms. It is your typical concrete floors and cinder block construction. They were decently clean and I saw the staff cleaning them throughout the day. The beach also has shower and foot wash station. I also saw a cluster of port-a-potties near the parking lot. At the beginning of the summer according to the city’s website, they closed the bathrooms and they put out port-a-potties instead. How is that cleaner?
Parking / cost:
Lakeside beach is run by the city of Port Huron, so if you aren’t a local, be prepared to pay. Port Huron, Port Huron Township and Fort Gratiot Township residents get in for free. St. Clair county (local county) residents, the entrance fee is $5 per car. For everyone else, the entrance fee is $20 per car. I think the city is having tourists pay for the upgrades they did a few years ago. The weekends can be very crowded at Lakeside Beach. So, it’s up to you to decide if it is worth $20. I prefer to go on a week day to avoid the crowds (I went on a Monday). I don’t find it worth it to pay $20 to go to a super crowded beach. There are a few hundred parking spots at Lakeside Beach and it needs it. I have driven past on the weekend and the park put out a “lot full” sign. At the beginning of the summer, the city blocked off half the parking lot with concrete blocks as part of Corona precautions.
Beach size: 4.5/5
Swimming conditions: 4.5/5
Port Huron is one of my favorite day trip beach areas. Lakeside Beach should be at the top of your list if you live in metro Detroit and are looking for a day trip. If you plan on going on a weekend, head there early and be prepared for the crowds.