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Michigan’s best beach can be found in Manistee

Manistee's First Street Beach was voted the best beach in Michigan in USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice Awards.

Manistee’s First Street Beach was voted the best beach in Michigan in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate

MANISTEE — Manistee’s First Street Beach is receiving statewide recognition.

The local attraction was voted the best beach in Michigan in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, it was announced Wednesday.

“First Street Beach in Manistee beckons with its wide, sandy expanse, mellow waves and family-friendly atmosphere, making it a great destination for beachgoers of all ages,” USA Today wrote. “Whether you’re making epic sand castles with the kids, lobbing the beach volleyball with friends, or lounging in the sun while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Michigan, First Street Beach offers many opportunities for fun and relaxation by the water.”

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Nominees for the list were chosen by a panel of relevant experts, but the top 10 was determined by a public vote.

First Street Beach earning the distinction came as no surprise to Jermaine Sullivan, Manistee mayor, who said in a news release “First Street Beach has it all.”

“If you are looking for a family-friendly beach; a dog park; or breathtaking, panoramic views of Lake Michigan, First Street Beach is the best place in the state to experience your perfect beach vacation,” Sullivan said. “I’m really proud of all the great things happening in Manistee and excited to share it with everyone — those of us who live here and the guests from all over the world.”

First Street Beach in Manistee

First Street Beach in Manistee

File photo

The beach is one of Manistee County’s largest beaches and recreation areas. It boasts multiple parks and playgrounds, a full-service concession stand, ball fields, fish cleaning stations and permanent bathrooms.

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“It’s clean, it’s spacious and it has something for everyone,” the release reads, in part.

Ludington’s Stearns Park Beach was runner-up in the contest, while Silver Beach County Park, of St. Joseph, finished third.

Rounding out the top 10 were Hunter’s Point Park, of Copper Harbor; South Beach, of South Haven; Pere Marquette Park, of Muskegon; Oval Beach, of Saugatuck; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, of Muskegon; Tawas Point State Park, of East Tawas; and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, of Empire.

First Street Beach includes Douglas Park, which has multiple baseball and softball diamonds, basketball courts and tennis courts. Four playgrounds also make up First Street Beach.

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Sammie Lukaskiewicz, Manistee County Tourism Authority executive director, said in the release she was grateful to everyone who recognized what First Street Beach has to offer and voted for it.

“Manistee County has 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 10 Lake Michigan beaches, each as beautiful as the next,” she said. “It’s really special one of our beaches is named in such high regard across all beaches in the state. A lot of people work really hard to make our beaches an experience where families, travelers, locals, anyone who goes there, can create special memories that last a lifetime.”

In this file photo, Genna Short prepares to hit a forehand during the MRA/Kiwanis youth tennis camp at the First Street Beach tennis courts in 2017.

In this file photo, Genna Short prepares to hit a forehand during the MRA/Kiwanis youth tennis camp at the First Street Beach tennis courts in 2017.

Though dogs are not allowed on the beach between Memorial Day to Labor Day, it has a soon-to-be-revamped dog park and a dedicated dog beach on the waterfront below the observation deck near the Lions Pavilion.
 
First Street Beach features separate picnic areas with charcoal grills, an 18-hole disc golf course, boat launch and access, Rocket Park, Lighthouse Park, showers, a fish cleaning station, Lake Gulls concession stand, a waterfront Hampton Inn by Hilton with a full-service restaurant, a 16-foot slide and the Origins Walk, an interpretive sculpture park and historic site that tells the story of Manistee with a series of steel sculptures. 
 
“What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler,” Sullivan said. “Some prefer wide stretches of sand with ample activities and throngs of people to watch, while others desire deserted shorelines with calm waters. First Street Beach has all that — and more.”

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The beach is Americans with Disabilities Act accessible and has a life vest and safety station. 

First Street Beach is on one end of the Manistee Riverwalk, and is undergoing a strategic master plan.

“The beach is maintained by the city of Manistee and used by tourists and locals alike year-round,” reads the release, in part. “Concerts, fireworks, fishing tournaments — you name it — all take place at First Street Beach throughout the year.”

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Parking at the beach is free. The boat launch is $5.

Visit visitmanisteecounty.com for more information about First Street Beach or to view a live cam to check out beach conditions.

Anna Harden

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