Ludington is best known for its unspoiled natural resources and unrivaled outdoor recreation – and now more than ever, visitors may be craving these experiences. With 28 miles of sugar-sand Lake Michigan shoreline, Ludington’s Mason County is a beach-lover’s dream. Even with Lake Michigan’s rising water levels over the past few years, Ludington still has plenty of sandy shoreline for beach-goers, with a beach for every personality.
Lake Michigan beaches – With more than 28 miles of shoreline, Ludington offers many choices for the perfect place to swim, build a sandcastle or relax. Favorites include Stearns Park Beach, Ludington State Park, and dog-friendly Buttersville Beach.
- For Convenience/Amenities: Stearns Park Beach. Consistently rated one of the Midwest’s top beaches, this beach offers a half mile of sandy beach along Lake Michigan while walking distance to downtown – with a bathhouse, volleyball courts, food concession, picnic tables and grills – plus adjacent shuffleboard courts, mini golf course and skate park. This free city beach also features a walkable pier to the Ludington North Breakwater Light, plus free Sunset Beach Bonfires.
- For Nature-Lovers: Ludington State Park Beach. This 5,300-acre gem offers seven miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan coastline bordered by grassy dunes along scenic M-116 to find your nook (and you’ll sound like a local if you refer to the points along the drive by the geography like “First Curve” and “Second Curve”). If you prefer a spacious beach with more amenities, hit the Lake Michigan beach past the park booth – complete with a historic circa-1935 beach house that houses a concession, restrooms and Great Lakes-themed exhibits. A south section of the beach allows dogs.
- For Dog Owners: Buttersville Beach. Ludington offers a couple of great spots to let your dog enjoy the beach too – the biggest being Buttersville Beach just south of downtown, also offering a more secluded and natural setting in this smaller beach (note: no facilities).
- For Warm-Water Fans: Hamlin Lake Beach. If you’re looking for calmer (and warmer!) waters, Hamlin Lake Beach in Ludington State Park has warm, shallow waters and lots of shady areas. Restrooms and food concessions also make the park convenient. For a day of fun, rent a pontoon boat or a non-motorized boat like a pedal boat, kayak, canoe or Stand-Up Paddle Board.
Trails – Ludington has more than 40 miles of hiking trails, from the paved one-mile Cartier Pathway, to 25+ miles of trails in Ludington State Park, to 10 miles in Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Cyclists have 10 miles of single-track mountain biking, between School Forest, Cartier Park and Memorial Tree Park.
Lighthouses – Ludington is home to two historic lighthouses: Ludington North Breakwater Light via a half-mile walk along the breakwall in Stearns Beach, and Big Sable Point Lighthouse via a two-mile hike. While tower climbs are closed this year due to COVID-19, you can still get close to these beauties.
River fun – Mason County has 2,000 miles of streams, three rivers and 40 inland lakes – perfect for dropping in a kayak, canoe or fishing line. A favorite is the 66-mile Pere Marquette River – Michigan’s first National Wild and Scenic River. Local outfitters rent canoes and kayaks.
Fishing – Ludington is Michigan’s #1 salmon fishing port, with more than 45 licensed charter boats. Or head to the Pere Marquette River with its legendary steelhead and salmon runs. Hire a guide through the Ludington Charter Boat Association for lake or river fishing.
Disc golf – Mason County boasts six disc golf courses, making a great outdoor activity with plenty of space for social distance. Mason County Park has three 24-hole courses – including Goliath, the third largest disc golf course in the world!
Scenic drives – A favorite stretch is M-116 north to Ludington State Park, following seven miles of dune-swept shoreline. Or head south along Lakeshore Drive for a view of Lake Michigan from the Consumers Energy hydroelectric plant. Or learn about Mason County’s heritage along six self-guided Cultural Trails.