This has been our go-to beach during our time at less than an hour away and never crowded. The dunes are much taller than your average beach dunes. It's quite a hike to climb them! It's worth it, though, for several reasons: the accomplishment, the views, and the joy of rolling, sliding, or running down them. You can then cool off in the waves. The waves have always been rather gently when we visited, but there are signs elsewhere along the coast of Lake Michigan warning of rip-tides. I have also been there in bitter winter when the waves were frozen, creating an alien and beautiful landscape.
The kids love the sand. It is their reason for begging to go to the beach. The water is nice, but they're not big swimmers. I also like that I can take the dog to the beach (although he must be on a leash even in the water.) Being a Lab, he loves playing in water so it's nice to include him in our fun. Be sure to pick up your Junior Ranger workbook before hitting the beach.
There is more to the park than the beach, although that is the big draw of course. This is the only place within the National Park System (NPS) that makes maple syrup. How's that for a fun bit of trivia? Visit the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm while at the park as well. In the fall, they have an apple fest there.
Enjoy a few photos. In one, you can see a 9 year old about half way to the top of the dune.