Holiday weekends have been really crowded at Lake Michigan. Last summer, we weren't able to visit our favorite beaches a couple of times since all the parking spots and the overflow parking were full. On Sunday, of the Fourth of July weekend, we were in Douglas, MI and didn't want to face the congestion at Saugatuck Dunes State Park or Oval Beach, so we drove south to see what we could find.
Driving about 5 miles brought us to West Side County Park, where we easily found a parking space. The park had a big picnic area with two pavilions and a lot of picnic tables, occupied by several groups. There was a grassy play area and a fenced playground.
We walked the length of the park to a nice beach overlook, with benches and a small gazebo. Access to the beach was fenced off and a small sign said to use the north stairs.
We walked the width of the park through the woods and found a steep stairway down to the beach. A visitor in the parking lot said she had counted 80 steps initially, but only 77 after drinking a few White Claws.
The beach wasn't huge, but it was a nice stretch of sand with a little bit of shade at the edge of the dune. The sand changed to pebbles at the waterline, making walking less comfortable. There were plenty of people of all ages using the beach on what I imagine was one of its busiest days of the season.
This was a new beach for me and a nice option when everything else was likely to be full. It looks like the park had a wheelchair accessible ramp to the beach at one point, but we didn't see any traces of it. A cooler would be difficult to manage on the current stairs and a wheelchair would be impossible.
West Side County Park
2152 Lakeshore Dr,
Fennville, MI 49408