Ludington is a very popular summer destination in Michigan, and Sterns Park is at the center of it. Located on the northern end of the breakwater entrance to Pere Marquette Lake is this beautiful white sand beach. Soak up the sun, and watch boats go by at Stearns Park. This beach is also close to other fun activities immediately nearby and in town.
Northwest Michigan (lower peninsula), Lake Michigan
Grand Rapids: 97 miles (1 hour, 28 minutes)
Kalamazoo: 147 miles (2 hours, 11 minutes)
Lansing: 163 miles (2 hours, 24 minutes)
South Bend, IN: 180 miles (2 hours, 58 minutes)
Flint: 187 miles (3 hours, 1 minute)
Detroit: 253 miles (3 hours, 43 minutes)
Chicago, IL : 242 miles (3 hours, 52 minutes)
Manitowoc, WI: 4 hour ferry ride (car ferry)
Milwaukee, WI: 3 hour, 30 minutes ferry ride plus 1 hour drive
Like most beaches along Lake Michigan, the water at Stearns Park is stunningly clear and beautiful. On the days I was in Ludington, Lake Michigan was very calm. Sometimes the Great Lakes can be rough and brutal. Even though I went in mid-July, the water was very cold. According to NOAA, the water temperature was in the high 50s and low 60s in this area. The previous few weeks had been stormy and windy, bringing water from the deep middle close to shore. I would run into the water to surprise my body and after a few minutes, run back out to get warm. The beautiful white sand extends deep out into the water, taking it easy on your feet. The lack of waves and currents make it a great place to swim.
Sand and Land
With over 1,000 feet of beautiful white sand frontage along Lake Michigan, the park offers plenty of places to set up your picnic and enjoy the surf and sun. The beach has held up well against erosion as it is about 300 feet from the sidewalk to water’s edge. There are several volleyball nets to get your spike on. On either end of the beach is a concession stand with bathrooms if you run out of snacks (or nature calls). Adjacent to the beach is an epic skate park with a large pool-like bowl. I got southern California vibes with this skate park right at the beach, something out of the Nickelodeon kid’s TV show Rocket Power. From the beach, you can walk out on the cement breakwaters to see the Ludington breakwater lighthouse.
Lose your troubles at the beach, daydream as you stare out at the endless horizon and use your imagination as the clouds drift by. Stearns Parks offers many sights to see. If you are up and at em’ at 9:00 AM, you can see the S.S. Badger leave Ludington for Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Come back in the evening at 7:00 PM to see the Badger return from Wisconsin. Walk out to the lighthouse to get a closer look at the Badger and other boats coming and going. Look off to the north and you can see the undistributed natural beauty of Ludington State Park. From the breakwaters you can see the bluffs to the south. Being a beach that faces west, Stearns Park is a popular place to see the sunset. Sun set over Lake Michigan is spectacular, -the sun dips below the horizon and it is still light out. There are plenty of benches along the sidewalk perimeter to take in the show in the sky
The Park has decent bathrooms located at the concession stands at each end of the beach. They are clean with nice tile, all the essential elements.
Parking / Cost
You’ll find convenient parking along the edge of the beach, probably about 100 spaces. On the weekdays I went, there were enough spots. I bet on a weekend with nice weather, the lot will fill up quick. Get there early. There is no cost to visit Stearns Park.
Beach size: 5/5
Swimming Conditions: 4/5
Ludington is a popular vacation and weekend getaway destination and Stearns Park is a big part of the reason why. If spending more days near Ludington, there are many other places to explore in the region (watch for future blogs).