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Mears State Park in Pentwater: A Visitor's Guide

Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater Michigan
12 Feb

Mears State Park in Pentwater: A Visitor’s Guide

Charles Mears State Park, nestled along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, stands as a natural gem in Pentwater, Michigan. Known for its picturesque landscapes, sandy beaches, and campground, it offers visitors a tranquil escape in the outdoors. In this visitor’s guide, we’ll delve into the allure of Mears State Park, helping you plan an unforgettable visit to this haven.

Location and Access

Mears State Park is open year-round and is conveniently located just north of the quaint Village of Pentwater, Michigan. The 50-acre park’s address is 400 W. Lowell Street, Pentwater, MI 49449. It’s easily accessible by car or a short bike or walk from the village. 

Mears State Park Features

The state park in Pentwater has many features with the beach as the central focus. Check out the top things to do at Mears State Park.


The crown jewel of Mears State Park is its expansive Lake Michigan beach. A sandy shoreline stretching along the crystal-clear waters of the lake invites visitors to indulge in sunbathing, picnicking, beachcombing, and refreshing swims. It’s also the perfect location for watching sunsets. You can bring your chair or blanket, or enjoy one of the many benches or picnic tables located along the upper section of the beach.

The state park also has a dog beach. It’s located on the south end of the beach right next to the pier. You’ll see signs marked for where it begins and ends. It’s a great opportunity to take your dog to the beach for the day or to get some exercise. Just remember to clean up after your pup and obey the posted rules.


A cement boardwalk starts at the Mears State Park’s beach parking lot and leads to the pier. At the end of the pier, you’ll find the lighthouse called Pentwater Pierhead Lights. In the opposite direction of the pier, the boardwalk takes you along the entire length of the channel. It’s a great walking path for exercise or a leisurely stroll to watch boats, take in the sunset, and get a panoramic view of the Village of Pentwater. Along the channel, you’ll also find signs that tell the story of the history of the waterway and area. 

Mears State Park Campground in the Fall
Camping at Mears State Park in the fall is a great way to enjoy a quiet stay by the lake.


Mears State Park has a modern campground that’s a short walk to the beach. It’s open from mid-spring to mid-fall. The opening and closing dates vary slightly from year to year. Several of its 175 campsites have a view of Lake Michigan but plan on booking early to grab one. Camping in the shoulder seasons – May and September – typically offers more availability and a quieter stay than the summer months. The pet-friendly campground’s amenities include electricity on each site, Wifi, bathrooms and showers, several water stations, fire pits, and a dump station. It also offers activities with a convenient information board at the campground host’s site. The state park also offers additional lodging options, such as a rental camper and a lodge.

Outdoor Activities

The state park’s Mears-Old Baldy Interpretive Trail is a popular quarter-mile trail. It can be reached in the campground and has a set of stairs that wind to the top of a dune to provide beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Pentwater. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the wooded area for glimpses of local flora and fauna. You might even spot migratory birds or deer wandering around the park. Other regular activities at Mears State Park include fishing off the pier, paddle boarding, kayaking, and kitesurfing. There are also paddleboard rentals, ice cream, and food at the beach during the summer months.

In addition, Pentwater hosts many activities and festivals throughout the year. For example, the village’s Homecoming Celebration in August is an annual event that draws in visitors from near and far. From fireworks to sand sculpture contests and much more, it’s just one of many memorable weekends in Pentwater and at the state park. 

Travel Tip: Check out our Pentwater Travel Guide and events calendar for more things to do and see in the area.

Visitor Tips

  • Park Hours: Mears State Park is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the campground, food pavilion, and bathrooms have seasonal hours. Check the Michigan DNR website for up-to-date information.
  • Entrance Fees: A recreation passport is required for entry from spring to fall. Michigan residents can purchase an annual pass when renewing a license plate. Non-residents can obtain a day pass at the gate.
  • Beach Essentials: If you plan to spend time on the beach, pack essentials such as sunscreen, beach towels, hats, lots of water, and beach games for a day of fun in the sun.
  • Parking: There’s a parking lot inside the state park by the beach. It sometimes fills up in the summer. If it’s full, there is limited parking on the road or you can park in the village and walk to the state park.
  • Campground Reservations: We highly recommend booking early, as the Mears State Park campground is extremely popular given its proximity to Lake Michigan. Camping reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

One Visit to Mears State Park in Pentwater Will Lead to Many More

It’s likely you’ll fall in love with Mears State Park in Pentwater, and want to come back year after year. Whether you’re drawn to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan or the convenience of being close to amenities in the village, the park offers an epic experience for visitors of all ages. Plan your visit to this destination and create lasting memories.

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