Ludington State Park Beach House

Photo by: Craig Sterken

Your Shelter and Headquarters for the Lake Michigan beach

The Beach House has a long history of weathering the changing Michigan seasons within the Ludington State Park. This landmark has now received a makeover, and it’s a real showplace for the state park system. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, the Lake Michigan Beach at 116 ft. long and 35 ft. wide, has been a familiar sight for visitors to Lake Michigan within the State Park. Though it has held up well, it was time for some changes and structural work. Since the demise of the old Visitors Center due to heavy snow, park officials felt they should relocate to the Beach House, where people congregate during the summer. As the crowds head to and from the beach, they can stop into the Beach House, catch a weekly event or view the interactive exhibits.

Beach House Renovations

Thanks to a $160,000 Great Lakes Fishery Trust Fund Grant, the upper level of the beach house has been turned into an interpretive and interactive area. You’ll find two large aquariums, one for salmon and one for lamprey. The picnic tables on the second floor will have customized graphics installed to give visitors additional information as they eat their lunches. There will also be reader rails on the outside, so visitors can be on the veranda and read text to help better understand Lake Michigan. Two movable pedestals have been installed that contain electronic video displays about Hamlin Lake, the park, and Great Lakes Fisheries. Plans are also in place for a large touch screen television to be installed. 

A group plays volleyball just outside of the Ludington State Park Beach House. | Photo by Craig Sterken

Beach House Amenities

During the winter and spring of 2013, renovations were made to the beach house, which included a new roof and the replacement of the outer layer of bricks. The building was stained using the color from the 1935 Beach House. The second floor, which was once subdivided into two different areas is now one large room, complete with hardwood flooring. At the south end, a fireplace is surrounded by new chairs built by a local ranger, making it a cozy spot to sit and read. There are doors on three sides that lead out onto the veranda, which was also restored. Possibilities include a counter with bar stools so people have a place to sit, read, have a cup of coffee- all while listening to the waves splash on shore. Visitor Services occupy this floor, with both permanent and seasonal exhibits that depict the Park’s natural and cultural history. The main focus will be on Lake Michigan’s geology and ecology. The upper level is accessible by a new staircase on the north end. The Lake Michigan Beach House will be open during the spring, summer and fall, depending on weather.

The lower level has new windows which will provide lots of natural light. Concessions occupy the north side, with an improved kitchen and dining area. All restrooms were updated to provide access to all. The center of the basement will be kept open for programming by Park Interpreter Alan Wernette. A new outdoor patio has been built, looking over the lake- perfect for outdoor seating and scheduled programs. Outside there are some picnic tables, which have been sanded and clear-stained.

More State Park Improvements

The north shore of the Big Sable River has had some bank stabilization work done, providing erosion control. The walkways provide fishing access and allow those with physical disabilities to use the walkways. Other areas of the park that received upgrades were the water system and electrical system for the campgrounds, as well as moving the RV dump station about a mile south of the park on M-116. A new accessible walkway from the Lake Michigan Beach House to the edge of Lake Michigan was also installed- the cost of the project was split with the Friends of Ludington State Park, which works tirelessly on events and repairs within the park. There are also three beach chairs that are available for the public’s use.

Interesting Beach House Facts

The Lake Michigan Beach House is unique in nature due to the fact it is the only Arts-and-Craft inspired design bathhouse found on the shores of Lake Michigan. Also of significance is the role the CCC played in its construction–from architect Ralph B. Herrick to all the CCC workers who built the Beach House from recycled brick and pressed mortar. This style has not been found at any other state park in Michigan…and it is the largest and most intact of the CCC-built structures within the Ludington State Park.

The Ludington State Park gets 900,000 visitors each year and is almost 100 percent full every summer. In addition to the campgrounds, there is a tent loop for those who wish to camp in more solitude away from the RVs.

Ludington State Park Contact Info:

Camping Reservations (Michigan DNR) or Ludington State Park Michigan DNR reservations- (800) 447-2757 
Ludington State Park Local Office- (231) 843-2423
Concessions & Watercraft Rental- (231) 843-1888
Snowshoe Class Reservations/Special Programs- (231) 843-9261

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