Van Buren State Park

South Haven, MI 4/5 Stars


            Van Buren State Park is another Great Lakes beach in South Haven. Michigan’s west coast is home to the only freshwater sand dunes in the world and Van Buren State Park is a great place to check them out exploring the tree covered sand dunes is a fun weekend adventure. If you are looking to avoid the crowds of North and South beach and are looking for a natural beach, this is the place to be.  My only concern with this beach is that it borders the Palisades nuclear powerplant.


            Southwest Michigan, Lake Michigan

Distance from:

  • Chicago 125 miles (1 hour 56 minutes)
  • Detroit   181 miles (2 hours 47 minutes)
  • Kalamazoo 38 miles (50 minutes)
  • Grand Rapids 64 miles (58 miles)

Swimming conditions:

No lifeguards

Sand / Land conditions:

            Van Buren State Park has over 1 mile of natural beaches in the park. This beach is definitely more natural than North and South beaches also found in South Haven. Walking along the beach, you will find a mixture of white sand and small pebbles. Because of the sand dunes along the shore, the width of the beach is very narrow. The beach is about 10 to 15 feet from water to dunes depending on the water levels. Climbing the sand dunes are a great adventure with views that are worth the climb for those up for the challenge.


            There are amazing views to be found up and down the shores of Lake Michigan. These views are still amazing on a cloudy day as you can see from the pictures. All of the beach faces west, making it a great place to take in a sunset in South Haven. The best views in the state park are found looking out from the top of the sand dunes up and down the shore. From atop the sand dunes, you can also see the expanses of forest inland and down town South Haven to the north.


            The park has decent bathrooms close to the entrance to the beach. It is a typical bathroom that you would expect to find in a state park. There is also a foot washing station outside the bathroom.

Cost/ Parking: 

            For Michigan residents with the recreation passport on their license plate, entry is free. For everyone else a day pass is $11. The recreation passport is $11 per year, there is no reason for Michigan residents not to get it every year. For $11 you can go to any state park in Michigan unlimited times. It’s a no brainer. The park also has 220 campsites available.


 Beach size: 3/5

Views: 4/5

Bathroom rating: 3/5

Swimming conditions: 4/5

Overall: 3/5

Natural beach and amazing water make up for the narrow beach width and average bathrooms.

Travel rating: I rate this beach as a state treasure. If you live in Michigan you should put Van Buren State Park on your list of beaches to check out.  Paired with the other beaches in South Haven can make for a great weekend of surf, sand and dune climbing. If you live in Indiana and Illinois it is worth the drive for the weekend during the summer.

%d bloggers like this: