Pere Marquette Park
Pere Marquette Park is THE beach in Muskegon with its white sand beach stretching two and a half miles on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Formerly known as Lake Michigan Park, it has been open to beach goers since the late 1800’s. At the turn of the 20th century, there was a theater, Ferris wheel and a roller coaster, earning it the nickname “Coney Island of the Midwest” or the “Riviera of the Midwest.” Today those attractions are gone, but there is plenty of space to enjoy the surf and sun. In the last few years, it has become home to the Great Lakes Surf Festival. On the day of my visit, there was a Cross-Fit competition going on, -the fun continues. This park will make you feel like you are at the ocean, not the lake.
West Coast Michigan, Lake Michigan.
Grand Rapids: 44 miles (47 minutes).
Kalamazoo: 94 miles (1 hour, 27 minutes).
Lansing: 110 miles (1 hour, 44 minutes).
South Bend, IN: 129 miles (2 hours, 17 minutes).
Flint: 155 miles (2 hours, 27 minutes).
Detroit: 200 miles (3 hours).
Milwaukee, WI: 89 miles (3 hours, 11 minute car ferry).
Chicago, IL: 191 miles (3 hours, 16 minutes).
On the day of my visit, the waters of Lake Michigan were very calm, with little to no wave action. These conditions were perfect for swimming laps along the beach if you can bear the cold water. The weeks before my visit had been stormy, bringing cold water from the deeper parts of Lake Michigan, close to shore. I imagine the waves can get big on a windy day, making it the perfect venue for the Great Lakes Surf Festival.
Sand and Land:
Pere Marquette Park consists of beautiful fine white sand throughout its two and a half miles. The north end of the beach is very wide allowing for events. It is also the home of the restaurant “The Deck.” As you go south along the beach, the beach gets narrower. The beach is sandwiched in between Lake Michigan and Beach Street. South of the water filtration plant, large sand dunes tower over the beach. You can walk along the base of the sand dunes on the boardwalk.
Like other Great Lakes beaches, off to the west is the endless horizon. Because the beach faces west, it makes for a perfect place to watch the sun set behind the lake. This beach is also popular with boaters, because the breakwaters for the shipping channel create a small harbor, great for boaters to drop anchor and visit the beach. With the shipping channel connecting Lake Muskegon with Lake Michigan, Pere Marquette Park beach is a good place to see the car ferry that connects Muskegon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, via a three-hour ferry ride. Walk out to the breakwater to see the Muskegon South Breakwater Light and Muskegon Pierhead Light.
There are average bathrooms with outdoors showers at the main, wide portion at the north end of the beach. Along the southern, narrow portion of the beach there are the beach are Porta Pottys.
Parking / Cost:
There is a decent-sized parking lot at the north end of the beach and parking along the beach’s edge at the southern half. It does cost $10 to park, well worth it. That being said, I would make sure to arrive early on warm weekend days, I can imagine the parking lot fills up.
Beach size: 5/5
Swimming conditions: 5/5
Come spend the weekend in Muskegon to see the beach and see why tourists have been coming to Pere Marquette Park for over 100 years. It’s a convenient weekend get away for most of the central Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, lower Michigan and Eastern Wisconsin).