The Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Michigan

August 4, 2020

best places to watch the sunset in michigan

I’ve watched sunsets from nearly every corner of the state. I’ve also watched sunsets from many different corners of the world. Sure, orange and pink wisps over glacial lagoons and moody deep red accents in South American jungles are great, but there’s something cleansing about an evening light show framed by the largest freshwater lakes in the world.  

And I know I’m not alone.

Michiganders love chasing sunsets, which isn’t surprising considering The Great Lakes State is also unofficially known as the sunset state. With over 3,000 miles of coastline and the area’s unpredictable and everchanging weather, every evening offers the opportunity to display something magical.


1. Donegal Bay, Beaver Island

Twenty-seven miles off the coast of Charlevoix is a remote island with a desolate beach called Donegal Bay. It’s only accessible by ferry or plane, making the location difficult for an average sunset chaser. Yet, because of its unique location in the middle of Lake Michigan, the western-facing cove often has one of the latest sunsets in the state. From Donegal Bay, the waves crash against the sandy shore while the sun illuminates nearby Trout and High island on the horizon.


2. Big Sable Lighthouse, Ludington

instagrammable places michigan

It’s a straight-forward five-mile hike to make it Big Sable Lighthouse, but the sunset views offer magnificent rewards. There is no better accent to a Michigan sunset than one of the grandest lighthouses tucked peacefully against the lakeshore. Just remember to pack headlamps for the trek back!

Want more sunset-worth lighthouses? Check out some of my favorites here.

3. Sleeper State Park, Caseville 

best places to watch the sunset in Michigan

Contrary to popular belief, not all sunsets must be enjoyed from the western side of the state. Sleeper State Park, located on the western shoreline of Michigan’s thumb, gives sunset-chasers a unique perspective from the northern end of Saginaw Bay. Many times, the calmer bay offers something lake Michigan doesn’t: a chance for an epic sunset reflection.


4. Sugarloaf Mountain, Marquette 

Sugarloaf Mountain offers something hard to find in Michigan: elevation. Most of our sunsets are enjoyed from a lakeshore, but a trek to the Upper Peninsula and a quick hike means a taller perspective with grand views of the surrounding Lake Superior shoreline.


5. Empire Beach, Empire 

Empire Beach is a true Michigan classic. The small town offers a big punch when it comes to evening light shows, and the best sunsets are those accompanied by an approaching storm over Lake Michigan. Although the most popular time to visit is in the summer, fall is the best time to catch a moody sunset. 

Outdoor travel blog

At any given moment, Shalee is either lost, hunting for ice cream, or obsessively planning her next adventure.

Born and raised in rural Michigan, she began exploring the shores of Great Lakes as a teen, often sleeping in her car to save money. Eventually, her urge to explore pushed beyond her Midwest borders. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure and outdoor tourism. Her pack now includes two spunky hiking cats and her partner, Josh. Learn more about her here.

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  1. Marie Holmes on August 4, 2020 at 9:03 AM

    You picked some of my favorites! I have not seen the Caseville sunset; but the rest are just stunning!

  2. Pamela Peach Burke on August 4, 2020 at 10:56 AM

    All beautiful!

  3. Kellen Kautzman on August 4, 2020 at 1:06 PM

    Shalee is the guru of Michigan Sunsets! Excellent blog as always!

  4. Jill May on August 6, 2020 at 10:09 AM

    Absolutely Love these pics! I’ve have been fortunate to be at each of these places. Your pictures took me back to them! Thanks for your travel and pictures.

  5. jobsalertblog on August 29, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    very nice thanks so much for sharing

  6. Stephanie Martin on October 11, 2020 at 9:12 PM

    We hope to go to the UP in the middle of October. I hope it is not too cold and we get to see some of the beautiful places you have outlined.

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