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Hidden Gems

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When the sun beats down on West Michigan during the humid summer months, the beautiful beach at Grand Haven State Park fills up faster than a frosty mug in a beer tent.

On days like these, savvy local beach-goers seek more out-of-the-way spots to soak in the rays and splash in the shallows.

Check out these hidden gems on a sunny summer afternoon:

• Rosy Mound Nature Area, 13925 Lakeshore Drive, Grand Haven. It takes a little work to reach this beach, as the three-quarters-of-a-mile trail features hundreds of steps, so carrying a heavy cooler and an armful of beach chairs might not be the best idea. But if you’re willing to travel lightly, you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque stretch of sand.

• Pottawattomie Park, 15600 Comstock St., Grand Haven. This popular park offers a great spot to swim. While the beach here isn’t as sandy as those situated along Lake Michigan, the big advantage is the water temperature. The bayou warms up much faster than the Big Lake. Come Memorial Day weekend, you’ll find kids splashing in the pleasant water at this park while those at Grand Haven State Park will have their teeth chattering as they wade in up to their knees.

• Lakeside Beach, located at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Beach Drive in Spring Lake. When the red flag is waving at Grand Haven State Park, those looking to cool off in the water can instead head to Lakeside Beach on Spring Lake. This small beach offers free admission and a lifeguard who watches over swimmers during the summer months.

• North Beach Park, 18776 North Shore Drive, Ferrysburg. If it’s the white sand beaches along the shore of Lake Michigan that you want, try this beach, which features 745 feet of Lake Michigan frontage. In addition to the beach, there’s a wooden stairway that climbs to the top of an adjacent dune, offering a panoramic view of Lake Michigan.