Life Along a Great Lake

Welcome to BEACHES, the first of two special Michigan BLUE Magazine bonus editions being distributed along Lake Michigan’s shoreline and mailed to our regular subscribers this summer of 2012. Pick up complimentary copies of BEACHES in July, and look for TRAVEL & ADVENTURE this August.

Photography by Todd and Brad Reed

IN THE GREAT LAKES STATE, we’re drawn to water. Big water. It’s what makes Michigan special.

But what makes one horizon of Great Lake more special to us than others and instills our sense of place on that water is its beach.

From New Buffalo up to Mackinaw and winding west into the Upper Peninsula, the beaches blanketing Lake Michigan’s shoreline attract us with distinct attributes, including the world’s longest stretch of freshwater dunes. “Thanks to the open country and high vistas that dunes create, trails often lead to sweeping views and dramatic scenery,” says wilderness guide writer Jim DuFresne, whose own favorite treks include excursions in Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness and Warren Dunes State Park (page 22).

While geology fuels our love for some stretches of sand, man-made landmarks bond us to beaches, too. Visitors were first drawn to the Silver Beach Carousel in 1910: The three-row, Coney Island-style attraction featured majestic mares and steeds hand-carved by a master artisan (page 14). Today, decades after the original band-organ ride’s demise, a new menagerie of custom creatures spins riders below the bluff, magic reborn from a treasured beach tradition.

Enjoying such traditions with family was the prime motivation behind 2011’s record-breaking sales of whole and fractional resort properties, say varied brokers, and though Michigan’s market is on the mend, owning a slice of Great Lake life is a continuing trend (page 41).

Still, some of us have an appetite for more: more walks, more waves, more sunsets, more camaraderie.

Legacies of big water and small-town community also lure us to Michigan’s Gold Coast beaches; each is a personal paradise that’s timelessly, rhythmically summoning someone home.

“No more wishing and dreaming. No more worrying we might not make it to age 65. Thirteen years ago, my husband and I sold our house, quit our jobs, said goodbye to family and friends, and left Chicago,” reflects Jane Lemme (page 31). “After spending many summers vacationing in Pentwater with our children, we finally decided to make this idyllic resort community our year-round home. We’ve never regretted our complete lifestyle change — and we’re not alone.”

Whatever draws you to beaches this summer — from the billowing sails of a Great Lake race to a starlit, ankle-deep stroll — revel in what makes them special.

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