West Michigan’s Tunnel Park

West Michigan has no shortage of beaches; some require a portage over sand dunes and others are inches from a surf shop and concession stand. Some beaches are enveloped within the State Park system, others are free and open to the general public. You’ll find dog-friendly beaches, clothing-somewhat-optional beaches, and beaches ideal for a group picnic or family reunion.

Lake Michigan and DunesIf you have young kids, one of my favorite West Michigan beaches is Tunnel Park. Located north of Holland at 66 North Lakeshore Drive, Tunnel Park is maintained by Ottawa County Parks & Recreation.

We visited Tunnel Park a few weeks ago and I paid $7 for an out-of-state day pass. If you are a Michigan Resident, your Recreation Passport won’t work here and you’ll pay $5 for the day. Many people park for free in the lot directly across the street and walk in (here’s where a wagon or a stroller would come in handy). Inside the park, most parking spots are in the shade.

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Holland, Michigan from traditional hotels to private vacation rentals through Stay22.com:

Tunnel Park PlaygroundI spent lots of time at Tunnel Park as a kid, and I can tell you we didn’t have anything close to today’s modern playground equipment.

OverlookThe Lake Michigan Overlook is still the same; your kids will love running down the sand dune in the direction of the playground.

Sand Dune RunTo the north of the playground area, you’ll find picnic tables, sand volley ball courts, indoor restrooms, and a concession stand (closed during our visit). The Tunnel Park website also mentions a horse shoe pit, but I wasn’t looking for that.

Life JacketsAnother “improvement” to today’s beach experience is the ability to borrow a children’s life jacket. Lake Michigan is not unlike an ocean; gusty winds, crashing waves, and rip currents surprise even the strongest swimmers. Observe the red/yellow/green flags for swimming conditions and keep an eye on your kids. One nice thing about the Michigan side of Lake Michigan is the relatively shallow waters, allowing you to walk out quite a ways until you are over your head. TunnelAs you might suspect, there’s an actual tunnel at Tunnel Park. While you can take the stairs down to the beach from the overlook, I think it’s more fun to go the tunnel route. This way also brings you past the restrooms and life jackets.

Other favorite kid-friendly beaches are Kirk Park and Duck Lake State Park. Read more about Duck Lake State Park here: https://www.roadtripsforfamilies.com/2012/07/lake-michigan-beaches-duck-lake-state-park/

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.