***This post originally appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission. ***
Because the winter in Traverse City is so short compared to the rest of the country, we like to have everything ready to seize the day and enjoy the beach.
Having a family-friendly beach with a 6 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old is essential to enjoying our time at the beach. Here are our favorites.
While I wasn’t sure I wanted to include this one, ultimately it’s a pretty family friendly option. There are new restrooms and a fun splash park. Hopefully they have the kinks worked out of that this year! The beach is plenty large and has a buoyed swimming area and even has a lifeguard at times. There is a large grassy area with shade at the top and food & drink are only a short walk away. There are a few big drawbacks, though. Parking is across the street. Though you go under Grandview Parkway through the tunnel, it’s still a long way with little kids and all the gear you need, if you are by yourself. Also, it’s not fenced in and is by a really busy road. Diligence is necessary! If your family has older kids, you COULD bike there via the TART trail which is nice.
East Bay Park
This quiet little park is fabulous if you have small children. Located on East Bay Blvd, East Bay Park has tons of features making it ideal for families. It’s on a quiet little side street with no major roads and the water is crazy shallow, making it pretty safe. There are bathrooms and water fountains — also essential for a kid-friendly beach. Parking is close to the beach & play structure, as well as amply provided. East Bay Park also has a big grassy area with a play structure for all ages and swings, all in good repair. Its a great park for parties & BBQ’s, too. This is our personal favorite.
Traverse City State Park
If you’ve shelled out the $10 for the Michigan Passport, you can take advantage of the beach near Traverse City State Park. Newly redone, they have a fun pirate themed play structure as well as a good length of sandy beach. There are restrooms and a picnic table or two. The parking lot runs the length of the park and it gets pretty busy. Also, it’s on the edge of a super busy road with no fence, so again, diligence is a must.
Honorable Mention: Acme Shoreline Park
Acme has been buying up lakeshore along US-31 and tearing down buildings to make a large waterfront park. Currently entering Phase 3, it’s not yet complete, but I had several people tell me this was their favorite family beach. I’m not sure how the amenities and such are since I don’t get over there often, but it might be worth checking out.
Where is your favorite family-friendly beach in Grand Traverse Co?