Life Saving Station Beach

Glenn Arbor

Lake Michigan



            I first came to Life Saving Station Beach along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore during the winter a few years ago and I was amazed by the majestic beauty of the teal water and the gray winter sky. On that day, I started planning on when I could come back in the summer. I was not disappointed when I came back this summer. Come summer, the water is Caribbean-crystal-clear and refreshingly cold. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has many amazing vistas, beaches and sites to see. Life Saving Station Beach is one worth seeing.


Northwestern Michigan. Lake Michigan

Distance from:

Traverse City: 29 miles (44 minutes)

Grand Rapids: 165 miles (2 hours 46 minutes)

Mackinac Bridge: 136 miles (2 hours 52 minutes)

Lansing: 205 miles (3 hours 29 minutes)

Flint: 213 (3 hours 33 minutes)

Detroit: 278 miles (4 hours 40 minutes)

Swimming Conditions

            The water is majestically clear and looks like the Caribbean but, it is much colder. Being in a cove, the water is very calm, with no current. It’s a great place to swim laps, kayak or paddle board. After a day of climbing sand dunes, the cold water is a good way to refresh your aching body.

Sand and Land

            Life Saving Station Beach is a section of the continuous beach along Sleeping Bear Bay. It has about 4,000 feet of shoreline from Sleeping Bear point to the beginning of the private homes along the beach. The beach is about 40 to 50 feet wide, but part of the beach was roped off when I was there to protect the nests of the endangered Piping Plover (bird). The sand is beautiful fine white sand that wasn’t too hot. However, water’s edge is rocky, so I recommend water shoes, not only for the rocks, but also to help keep your feet warm. Once you get past the rocky water’s edge, there is the same beautiful white sand in the deep water as on the beach. Check out the Life Saving Station Museum while you are there.


            The colors of Lake Michigan here are just spectacular- all teals and cobalts. To the east, you will see the cove and the village of Glenn Arbor. On the day I went to the beach, it started out foggy and rainy, but thankfully the sun came out and burned away the fog. To the north the hilly shoreline was still partially obstructed by fog. On a clear day, you can see the Manitou Islands (north and south) to the northwest, but on this day, I couldn’t see them.


            There is a bathroom at the museum buildings, but it is only open when the museum is open (11 AM to 5 PM daily).


            The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area has an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle per week.  It’s definitely worth it, even if you are just visiting for one day. The parking lot is small at the museum, about 30 spots, so it can easily fill up on a busy day.

Beach size: 5/5

Views: 5/5

Bathroom: 3/5

Swimming conditions: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Travel rating:

            Start planning your trip now for this summer or next. Up for more adventure? Come visit in the winter. This beach is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking beaches I have ever seen. While you are here, you might as well check out the rest of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, -they don’t disappoint either. About half of the cars at Sleeping Bear Dunes, had out-of-state license plates. I can’t wait to go back again. 

Winter 2018
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