Hidden Gems: Family-Friendly Beach Destination


Why do we travel with our children? The list of reasons could be infinite, but for many of us, it would all come back to the destination itself and the memories we create there. While we are busy exploring, broadening our horizons and diversifying our world views, sometimes we stumble upon completely wonderful and equally unexpected places. These are our hidden gems… the places we soak up and yearn to go back to. Our Hidden Gems series will uncover one-of-a-kind places discovered by our readers while traveling or exploring their own city. Whether it’s a beach, park, cafe, family-friendly hotel, hiking trail or other, enjoy discovering these best kept secrets and be sure to add them to your list of places to go! Read on to discover our very first Hidden Gem, a warm and shallow sand bar area perfect for the kids to splash around in with a tranquil beach where parents can relax and enjoy the scenery. 

North Bar Lake Beach

Location: North Bar Lake, Empire Township, MI 49630

Discovered by: Juliet Perrachon was just looking on a map for a beach to visit near Sleeping Bear Dunes. Living in Chicago, this one is about 5.5 hours drive away. After choosing this one on a whim, they loved it so much they made sure to go back again.


Why We Love It: This beach connects two lakes, Lake Michigan and North Bar Lake. The latter is a lovely little lake that is quite shallow at the edges and becomes really shallow where it connects with the Great Lake Michigan. Compared to other lakes, Lake Michigan is practically an ocean. There is a large section that is lukewarm and shallow, perfect for kids and toddlers to splash around in. If you want to swim in the waves, just walk 5 steps out and dive into Lake Michigan! This tranquil little spot offers two beaches and two lakes in one. It’s remote, peaceful, and just the perfect place to lay around and sunbathe for a few hours with the kids. It feels like a little corner of paradise and is a short drive for families living in the busy city of Chicago… the perfect weekend or day trip escape!

Why It’s Kid-Friendly: The North Bar Lake is much warmer and shallower than Lake Michigan. The little stream of water connecting the two lakes is fun for kids to play in. If you have two adults present, one can supervise the kids splashing around while the other enjoys the deeper waters of Lake Michigan or sunbathes on shore.


Tips & Important Details: There is a parking lot, and it’s a short walk to get there. When you first arrive to North Bar Lake, there is beach all around, but you have to continue walking until the two beaches connect. This is where it’s really special! Avoid a stroller because of the sand, and consider bringing a parasol to block the sun and a baby play tent for the beach. If you’re in the market for an easy to pop-up beach tent for babies and toddlers alike, check out the one by Babymoov. Bring all the stuff you need for beach time (parasol, towels, sand toys, etc.) as there isn’t a shopping centre nearby. The water is so shallow we weren’t worried about forgetting swimmies for our toddler, but if you have them, bring them.

Cost: Free!

Kids are always hungry! Know anywhere to eat nearby?: Bring a picnic! This beach is too remote and there are no food options nearby.

About Juliet: She is the Co-Founder of Bebe Voyage. Juliet visited this beach last summer while pregnant with her then 2.5 year old son. Chicago is the city she currently calls home and her dream travel destination with her kids is Nicaragua. You can find her on Instagram @julietperrachon.

We are continually adding to our list of Hidden Gems, so, if you have a favorite secret spot that we need to know about, please fill out our form and it will be written about for the Bébé Voyage community.

And be sure to let us know how your trip goes if you’re able to make it to this secret location! We love to see where our members go and hear about new and exciting places to travel with bébé. Use the hashtag #bebevoyage on any social media to share your trips or tips with us too. Happy travels!

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family friendly secret beach


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