Michigan is home to the amazing Great Lakes. Michigan is also home to awesome towns that are on the water. Michigan has a town that made the list of 20 Greatest Beach Towns in America.
Considering the number of beach towns on the Great Lakes, the shorelines of both the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and other beach towns on inland lakes, a Michigan town ranking in the top 20 is impressive.
What criteria determines the best beach towns?
For me, I like a beach town that has a nice beach, that's not too overcrowded and has plenty of parking. I also can appreciate dining, experiences and other activities to do in town when I am not on the water.
Thrillist sums it up:
The US has beaches for every taste. And the towns that crop up around these blissed-out beaches—from New England to New Jersey, from California to Michigan—are world-class destinations unto themselves. The 20 below represent the best of the best, places where those sands give way to dreamy towns, where the locals vibe with the visitors, and the food and drink become the stuff of endless summer memories. Pack extra sunscreen.
What kinds of towns made the list? Who was the competition for best beach town?
Asbury Park, New Jersey
In the not-so-distant past, Asbury Park was best known as a dated Springsteen reference—a once-great tourist destination turned as stale as months-old saltwater taffy. The tide has shifted. AP's iconic boardwalk vibes have now made way for a "Brooklyn on the beach" feel, an energy that extends into the city's legendary (and recently returned!) music scene. Want to drink? Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten is on point for al fresco imbibing, holding rank alongside the always-lively Johnny Mac's and the delightfully divey Bond Street Bar atop the list of the 50-plus bars in town. Wanna try out vintage pinball? The Silverball Museum Arcade has more than 600 machines. A bustling art scene, a longstanding LGBTQ community, and (obviously) a beautiful beach make Asbury Park worth fully greeting again, boss.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
At once abuzz and sleepy, Cannon Beach is home to one of Oregon’s most recognizable icons: Haystack Rock, which rises from the Pacific like the centerpiece of a titan’s rock garden. That Goonies-famous landmark might be the postcard star, but tiny Cannon—with its dog-thronged beaches, smattering of restaurants, wealth of breweries, and overabundance of galleries—is bursting at the seams with treasures. This is a highly walkable slice of West Coast pleasures, where the waterfront is dotted with cabin rentals and micro hotels that beg for extended stays. Here, you'll feel like a local after all of five minutes.
Rincón, Puerto Rico
Rincón’s Caribbean cred is strong, but its “hang ten” vibes are imported by surfers from all over the world. Waveriders, tourists, and longtime locals alike are drawn to this tropical outpost for some of the hemisphere's best surf and sunsets. Drive along the legendary routes 413 and 4413 and you’ll quickly see why Rincón is catching up to bustling San Juan in popularity: Surfboard-carrying dudes contribute a Boho feel unique to the island; lines of food trucks continue some of the best culinary traditions in Puerto Rico; and there are plenty offerings for active travelers like world-class scuba diving, horseback riding, and whale-spotting.
Santa Barbara, California
The palm tree-lined coast of this bougie SoCal oasis has a Mediterranean flair and a magnificent backdrop of scenic mountains and crystal blue water. Don’t skip the deservedly hyped Urban Wine Trail in the Funk Zone, a span of 10 colorful blocks where converted warehouses and art galleries operate alongside 20 wine tasting rooms (read: wine crawl). On top of all the delicious Mexican food (try Lilly’s Taqueria), Santa Barbara boasts some of the best produce on the West Coast, so hit up the Santa Barbara Public Market, a food lover’s paradise showcasing local food vendors where you can get a little taste of everything under one roof. SoCal visitors can also ditch the car and take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner for a scenic route that drops you off a stone’s throw away from the ocean.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Aside from hosting the supremely fun annual Hangout Music Festival, Gulf Shores is very likely the scenic highlight of Alabama, a picturesque mash-up of pastel houses and high-rises. The sand is perfect powdery white and the water is clear and blue, a big reason why this is one of the best destinations on the Gulf Coast. It’s generally cheaper than its Florida counterparts and offers the added bonus of Gulf State Park’s zip lines and near-empty beaches. Plus it’s only a short drive to one of Florida’s weirdest, wildest bars, the legendary Flora-Bama, where you can attend a boozy church service and send up a much-needed prayer for all the Florida Men out there.
Those are some impressive and notable beach towns in the U.S. Having a town from Michigan ranked in the top 20 is pretty cool.
What Michigan town ranks in the top 20 beach towns in America?
Saugatuck, Michigan ranks in the top 20 Beach towns in America. I went there a couple of times when I was a kid and can remember getting lots of rock candy on a string and taffy.
Why was Saugatuck on the list?
Saugatuck is to western Michigan what Provincetown is to Cape Cod. It is thoroughly a tourist's beach town—invaded in the summer—but like many of Michigan’s best beach towns, its character is impeccably maintained despite the influx of visitors. It’s also a destination for the arts and antiques, thanks to ties to the Ox Bow School of Art, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, art galleries like the Armstrong De-Graaf International Fine Art Gallery, and the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion.
With so many awesome beach towns in Michigan I'm surprised more didn't make the list. Hanging with competition in states like Florida and California is something to be proud of.