Torch Lake Michigan: Sand Bars, Snack Boats & Unmatched Fun Days – Everything You Need to Know About this Aquamarine Playground

torch lake michigan

The Best Ways to Experience Torch Lake Michigan

Nothing shouts “summertime” like a trip Up North for us Michiganders!

Starry nights, crisp air, beach breezes – Torch Lake has all of the prerequisites for an epic Michigan summer vacation – plus the crystal clear, Caribbean blue waters it’s famous for.

Crystal clear blue waters of Torch Lake Michigan
No filter used! These are the true colors of Torch Lake Michigan. Photo: Susie VanSkiver

In fact, it’s often referred to as the “Caribbean of the North” and we’re pretty sure you’ll want to experience its refreshing waters for yourself after reading this article.

The Torch Lake Sand Bar Draws People In

The lake was a local hidden gem for years but social media has changed that for good.

Now, it’s a summer hotspot, drawing hundreds of boats to its sandbars in June, July, and August – especially its epic Fourth of July sand bar celebrations. (Local law enforcement has upped their presence so things don’t get as crazy as they used to.)

From what I have heard, Kid Rock owns (or did at one point) a vacation home on Torch Lake and mentions its famous sand bar in his 2008 song “All Summer Long.”

Although we haven’t spotted Kid Rock at Torch Lake, what he says is true – Torch Lake is amazing – all summer long!

Swimming at the torch lake sand bar
Swimming in Torch Lake Michigan. Photo: Andy Low

Consequently, Torch Lake Michigan is on many people’s bucket list, whether it’s to join in at the sand bar or to cruise parts of the lake and enjoy the crystal clear waters

Visiting Torch Lake Often Requires Planning

What first-time visitors don’t realize, however, is that a Torch Lake visit presents several challenges, like securing rentals, finding the beach, and accessing the water.

Boating at the Torch Lake Sandbar on the south end of the lake
Photo: Susie VanSkiver

Don’t worry – read on for how to plan the best Torch Lake Michigan visit.

Here are all of the things you need to know:

Torch Lake Sandbar

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About Torch Lake Michigan

Torch Lake Michigan is an amazing place to see.  It’s simply beautiful.

Jumping from a Pontoon Boat into Torch Lake
Jumping from a Pontoon Boat into Torch Lake. Photo: Susie VanSkiver

To understand the depths of its beauty and appreciate the deep aqua and turquoise colors throughout this lake, you really have to take it in with your own eyes.

Torch Lake Stats

  • Max Depth: 285 feet – making it the deepest inland lake in Michigan.
  • Average Depth: 111 feet.
  • Length: 19 miles – Michigan’s longest inland lake.
  • Size: Approximately 18,770 acres.
  • Width: About 2 miles wide.
  • Rank: State’s second largest inland lake.

Torch Lake Sandbar

If you’ve heard of Torch Lake Michigan, you’ve heard of the sand bar.

The almost 2-mile stretch of shallow water at the south end of Torch Lake is home to lively, sometimes rowdy, parties over the fourth of July weekend.

Torch Lake Sand Bar - VanderWeide

There’s even a floating food truck!

Torch Lake Sand Bar Food Truck - VanderWeide
Torch Lake Sand Bar Food Truck

People come from near and far to hang out, listen to music, play games, and have a good time on the south end of the lake at the sand bar.

Truly, the sandbar is a summertime hangout magnet that is monitored by the police due to its popularity.

Torch Lake Sandbar. Photo: William Sweetman

It’s a popular place to anchor and swim the day away with friends and family.

Is the Sand Bar Family Friendly?

Most of the time, the Torch Lake Sand Bar is family-friendly. There are times, though, like the Fourth of July weekend, when the party atmosphere ramps up and the crowd’s conduct will likely not be G-rated.

If you are looking for a family-oriented visit, aim for going on a weekday at a time earlier in the day.

Torch Lake Sand bar with kids

Packing Lists for the Sand Bar

In addition to life jackets, we recommend bringing along these items on your sand bar adventure:

Boater’s List

  • Sunglasses, Lake-friendly Sunblock, Hat
  • Fun: Beach ball, Swimsuit, Towel, Floaties, Football, Speaker
  • Cooler: Ice, Drinks, Beer, Snacks
Torch Lake Sand Bar Games - VanderWeide

List for Kayakers & Swimmers

Once you get out to the sand bar, you’re going to want to swim and play in the water.

A way to anchor your floats and create a floatilla will be appreciated.

clear kayaks anchored torch lake sandbar

Here’s what to pack to make that happen.

kayak anchor torch lake sandbar

Sand Bar Location

The Torch Lake Sand Bar is located at the southern end of the lake near where Torch Lake meets Torch River at the Torch River Bridge.

The bridge over Torch River is narrow.

The Torch Lake Sandbar is Located Near the Torch River Bridge Public Access Site

Getting to the Torch Lake Sandbar

The Sand Bar is best accessed by boat or kayak, as the sand bar is several hundred yards away from the shore. Swimming (or walking, depending on lake levels) to the sand bar is also an option in certain areas.

Note that public parking spaces in the area are in short supply.

Torch Lake Sand Bar - Photo: Susie VanSkiver
Torch Lake Sand BarPhoto: Susie VanSkiver

Can you swim to the sand bar on Torch Lake?

You can swim out to the sandbar if you start at the Lake Street Public Access.

Water conditions can change, but as of August 2023, you can walk on the sandy lake bottom out to the sand bar from here. The water is waist-deep on an adult.

If you choose this option, be sure to use this packing list.

Floating to Torch Lake Sand bar

Use Kayak Rentals to reach Torch Lake Sand Bar

Add a splash of adventure to your trip by renting a see-through kayak from Clear Water Kayak, a locally owned business.

The transparent design makes it easy to enjoy the crystal clear waters of Torch Lake. You’ll be shocked to find just how clear the water is, even when it’s obviously quite deep.

Kayak to Torch Lake Sand bar
  • 2023 Pricing: $60 for 2 hours.
  • Rental Options: Single or tandem kayaks are available. Do note that the tandem kayak has a weight limit of 425 lbs. In some cases, it’s even possible to accommodate kids.
  • Additional Amenities: Every rental includes paddles and PFD (life jackets).
  • Book online. Walk-ups are available as inventory allows.
  • Launch spot: If you opt for the clear bottom kayaks, they’ll be launched from Torch River Bridge Torch Lake Access site, located on Cherry Ave on the west side of the river.

Fun Stuff: Floating Food Truck & Jet Packs

Torch Lake Food Boat

How fun is a floating food boat?! Torch Lake Tiki serves up delicious burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, ice cream, pop and more from the Torch Lake Sand Bar.

Torch Lake Tiki Food Boat - VanderWeide
Torch Lake Tiki Food Boat

But the Tiki isn’t just about food – they also cater to your adventure side. Rent a pontoon boat, kayak, paddle board, or even a floating platform.

Put in your reservation and Torch Lake Tiki delivers right to the shore.

Jet Pack Rentals

Flyboard and Hoverboard rentals are available, weather permitting.

Torch Lake Flyboard and Hoverboards rentals
Torch Lake Flyboard and Hoverboards rentals are available. Photo: William Sweetman

Call 231-599-2649 to reserve a water jet pack.

Sand Bar Parking Information

Parking at Torch Lake, particularly near the south end where the Torch River pours into the lake, can be a bit challenging.

However, for your convenience, a DNR parking lot is located just opposite Gil Roy’s Hardware. Remember, you’ll need a Michigan Recreation Passport to park here. You can get one here.

Here’s a handy map to help you find your way:

Torch Lake Public Access Sites

Torch Lake Public Access points are quite numerous, but most of them are located at the end of a street and do not have beaches. They also have very limited parking, at least in the vicinity of the Torch Lake Sand Bar.

But, if you are lucky enough to find public access parking, it’s free.


Lake Street Public Access

7586 Crystal Beach Rd NW, Rapid City, MI 49676

Labeled in Google Maps as Torch Lake Sand Bar Public Access Point, the sign from the water reads Lake Street.

This is the best place to launch sand bar trips if you don’t have a boat. It’s shallow all of the way out to the sand bar and you can swim out to the sandbar from here.

It’s also tricky to find parking here. If your group wants to launch from this site, plan to have someone drop off your gear and park elsewhere. Limited street parking is available, as is the DNR lot.

Torch Lake Public Access Lake Street Beach - VanderWeide
Torch Lake Public Access Lake Street Beach - VanderWeide
Tight Parking at Lake Street Public Access

Pine Street Public Access

Pine Street Public Access is about 2 miles down from the main boat launch at the river. The access is long and narrow with parallel parking as the only option.

You can swim here but there is not much of a beach at all. The sandbar is also accessible from here, but if you’re looking for the food truck, you’ll be quite far from it.

Torch Lake Public Access Pine Street - VanderWeide
Torch Lake Public Access Pine Street - VanderWeide
Pine Street Public Access – Torch Lake

Torch River Bridge Parking & Boat Ramp UPDATES Coming Soon!

In 2020, the DNR expanded the Torch River Bridge Boating Access Site by purchasing 1.5 acres of adjacent land. The old structures on these parcels were removed in May 2022. Public comment sessions in June 2022, the upcoming improvements include:

While the exact start date remains unspecified, construction will likely last around four months. A detailed design of the proposed site is here.

  • Parking: Ample spaces for vehicles with trailers, and walkways for boaters.
  • Access: Dual launch ramps.
  • Special Features: A dedicated launch for non-motorized vessels with its own parking.
  • Facilities: A basic vault toilet.
  • Additional Parking: An overflow area.
  • Traffic Flow: Improved patterns on Torch Lake Drive.

Boating Torch Lake

One of the best way to experience Torch Lake is by boat (see below for rental locations). The lake is perfect for tubing, waterskiing, and riding jet skis.

There are multiple boat launches and public access points around the lake so everyone doesn’t have to put in near the sand bar.

Chain of Lakes

You can also get a boat out on Torch Lake using the Chain of Lakes, as Torch is connected to many bodies of water via a network of rivers.

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail is an inland water trail made up of interconnected lakes and rivers which flow into the East Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.

The river directly south of Torch Lake, the Torch River, connects Torch Lake to Lake Skegemog.

Boating Lake Skegemog to Torch River can be tricky, as you need to navigate a stump field, but it’s doable and will take you about 30-60 minutes to reach Torch Lake depending on traffic. You’ll enter Torch Lake very close to the Sandbar.

Clam River entering Torch Lake
Dockside Restaurant on Torch Lake. Photo: Brandi Berta

You can also access Torch Lake by renting a boat in Bellaire and floating down the Clam River from Clam Lake.

That’s where you’ll find the Dockside restaurant. It’s a popular trip and will likely take you over an hour to reach Torch Lake from Bellaire.

No matter where you start from, be sure to keep an eye on your fuel gauge. Gas is only available in a few locations and Torch Lake is huge!

Torch Lake Boat Rentals

As I mentioned, the best way to experience Torch Lake Michigan is by using Torch Lake rentals.

Rent a boat and have it delivered to your vacation rental, or pick it up at a local marina for a day on the water.

Torch Lake Sandbar. Photo: Lesley Hassenrick

Torch Lake Boat rentals book up far in advance, especially for popular times like the Fourth of July. Be sure to get your rentals locked in as far in advance as possible.

If you’re looking to make it out to the Sand Bar, a kayak or SUP rental can suffice, too.

Here’s a list of places offering Torch Lake boat rentals, kayak rentals, jet ski rentals, and paddleboard rentals.

Rental Business NameDetailsPhone
Crazy Waves RentalsPaddleboards, Pontoon boat rentals, Jet Skis
Free pickup and Delivery. They have 3-seater SEADOO jetskis.
(231) 633-4091
H2O Sports RentalsPontoon boat rentals, SUP rentals, Fat Tire Bikes delivered to your location(231) 944-3339
call or text
Dewitt’s Marine Inc.
6509 Crystal Springs Rd Bellaire, MI 49615
Captain for hire, pontoon boat rentals, Tritoon rentals.(231) 377-6611
Torch River Marine
12906 Cherry Ave Rapid City, MI 49676
Pontoon boat rentals, tritoon boat rentals, ski boat rentals(231) 322-4495
Luhrs Landing Marina
13707 Torch River Road
Rapid City, MI 49676
Full-service marina with gas, food, boat rentals, public launch, repairs. Including pontoon Boat Rentals, kayak rentals(231) 322-2868
Riverside Marina
115 West Cayuga Street
Bellaire, MI   49615
Pontoon rentals, small boat rentals, kayak rentals, canoe rentals, fishing gear.(231) 533-8559
Northaire Pontoon Rental
Clam Lake, Near Dockside, and Bellaire
Three Locations
-Northaire Resort – Clam Lake Location Pontoon rentals
-Northaire Torch Lake Location 6349 Old Torch Lake Dr
– 204 W Cayuga St, Bellaire, MI 49615
(231) 377-7764
Dockside Torch Lake
6340 Old Torch Lake Dr Bellaire, MI 49615
Located on Torch Lake at the mouth of the Clam River
Pontoon & Wave Runner Rentals
(231) 377-7777
M&K MarinePontoon boat rentals delivered to your location. Kayak& Tube rental by request.(231) 620-8783
Bellaire Pontoon Rental
204 W Cayuga Street, Bellaire, MI 49615
Pontoon boat rentals, E bike rentals.
Hourly and Daily parking rates at boat docks on Intermediate River in Bellaire, MI.
(231) 377-7764
Butch’s Tackle & Marine
6235 Crystal Springs Rd. Bellaire, MI 49615
Pontoon boat rentals, speedboat rentals, jet ski & WaveRunner rentals, fishing boat rentals, kayak rentals, towable tube rentals, SUP paddleboard rentals, Water carpet rentals.(231) 377-6787
Alden Marine
11988 SE Torch Lake Dr. Alden MI 49612
Rentals for Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle Boards, and a Pontoon. Launch point is on the SW end of Torch Lake within 5-minute paddle from the SANDBAR. (231) 331-6245
Torch Lake Tiki
Torch Lake Sand Bar
Pontoon rental, kayak rental, SUP, Lilly Pads(231) 322-3070

Torch Lake Public Boat Launches

Even though it’s 19-miles long, there aren’t many public boat launches that can handle motor boats directly on Torch Lake. (There are quite a few places you can launch a kayak or stand up paddleboard.)

However, because it’s part of the Chain-o-Lakes, boaters often use the boat ramps on connected rivers and lakes and then motor over to Torch for the sand bar, tubing, and other fun.

Map of Torch Lake Boat Launch Locations

Map of Torch Lake Boat Launches for Motor Boats
Map of Torch Lake Boat Launches for Motor Boats

Torch River Bridge Boat Launch

Torch River & Cherry Ave, Rapid City, MI 49676

  • sand bar access
  • Michigan recreation passport required

This boat ramp is technically on Torch River but it’s so close to the rivermouth, it’s practically in Torch Lake. The boat launch is near the sand bar and is the one most people drive to. However, there is no parking at this tiny launch – you’ll need to put your trailer and vehicle elsewhere. Also, it’s operated by the DNR, so a Michigan recreation passport is required. This single boat launch has portable toilets and is scheduled for a major upgrade in the near future.

Aarwood Rd Torch River Boat Launch (DNR)

8548 Aarwood Trail, Rapid City, Michigan 49676

  • Launches into Torch River
  • short distance to Torch Lake and the sandbar

This boat launch is very busy in summer, being the option many boaters use to access the Torch Lake sandbar. There’s limited parking here. Facilities include 2 concrete boat launches and a small seasonal dock. Gas is available at the nearby Luhr’s Landing.

Alden Boat Ramp

9180 Helena Road, Alden, Michigan 49612

Paved boat launch at the bend in the road. Alden Safe Harbor has shopping docks and a boat launch. Easy walk into Alden for shops and restaurants. Portable restrooms. Parking at nearby Alden Depot Park.

Clam Lake Boat Launch (DNR)

7989 Hoy Dewey Drive, Bellaire, Michigan 49615

Not as busy as some of the other sandbar boat ramps. Located on the north side of Clam Lake. Consists of a single concrete boat ramp with dock.

Eastport Boat Launch

Eastport Landing, Central Lake, MI 49622 (just off of M-88)

Located on north end of Torch Lake. Not close to the sandbar. This is a small boat launch with a large parking lot (55 parking spaces.) Pit toilets. Has a small beach area off to the side. Very busy on weekends. Recreation passport required.

Torch Lake Day Park

12201 Public Dock Road, Kewadin, Michigan 49648

On the north end of Torch Lake (not by the sand bar.) The boat launch is next to a park with beach, playground and other amenities. Concrete single-lane boat ramp with concrete dock. Small parking area. Fee: $10 per trailer to park in trailer lot. $5 to launch Kayak ,canoe, stand-up boards.

Torch Lake Beaches

Torch Lake is known for it’s sandy spots like the sandbar – but the these spots aren’t found on the Torch Lake beaches.

Rather, it’s the lake bottom itself that is sandy in many places – once you get past the rocky shoreline.

Most of the Torch Lake beaches and public access points are either rocky or grassy and water shoes are recommended.

If you’re looking for a sandy beach to lay out on, your better bet is a visit to nearby Lake Michigan or Grand Traverse Bay.

Here’s a helpful map of the swimming beaches located around Torch Lake, MI.

Places listed below offer public swimming beaches on Torch Lake.

Torch Lake Township Day Park and Boat Launch

12201 Pub Dock Road, Kewadin, MI 49648

Torch Lake Township Day Park is one of the few Torch Lake public beaches where you may find a sandy beach (depending on the water level) to play on.

It’s also the location of the Torch Lake Township Boat Ramp.

In addition to the beach and boat launch, this park has a basketball court, a nice playground, restrooms, and two pavilions.

The water here is crystal clear, and depending on the time of year you visit and how warm the summer has been, may be quite cold.

Water shoes are helpful when swimming here – the area close to shore is rocky for about 5-10 feet out. After that, you’ll hit the sand and the swimming area is quite large.

The beach area is shaded and mostly grassy.

Torch Lake Beaches in Alden, MI

There aren’t big, sandy beaches in Alden, but you can make your way to the water from one of several public access points. The Train Depot Park, the Ballfield, and the public access at the boat docks all provide Torch Lake access points.

If you’re looking to launch a kayak or SUP, these places are ideal. If you’re looking for a place to lay on the beach, you may want to choose another spot.

Archie Valleau Landing Torch Lake Beach

There’s a small Torch Lake swimming beach in Alden at Archie Valleau Landing near the safe harbor docks downtown.

Forest Home Township Family Park

Bellaire, MI 49615

Forest Home Township Family Park (aka Family Day Park) is a park on the upper northeast side of Torch Lake.

This small, secluded, peaceful little park is open for day use only with picnic tables, grills, a portable toilet, parking area, and stairs down to the lake for 103 feet Torch Lake Public Beach access.

The park also has a carry-in boat launch as well as a dock. The walk-in trail to the beach/boat launch is windy and is suitable for small boats such as kayaks and canoes.

The beach here is rocky – it’s a good place to go rock hunting. You’ll want water shoes or sandals. There’s no sand here for laying out.

Torch Lake 4th of July

Few places celebrate Independence Day like Torch Lake.

The Torch Lake Fireworks, funded by donors, are always on July 3rd.

Torch River Bridge over the 4th of July.
Torch River Bridge over the 4th of July. Photo: Sheli Langejans

The fireworks are shot off from the south end of Torch Lake near the sand bar at dusk, which is around 10:30 pm.

Torch Lake Fireworks are on July 3rd Every Year. Photo: Sheli Langejans

The following day, the Fourth of July, is the biggest sand bar day, drawing lots of people in pontoon boats ready for fun.

Take a look at the sand bar from 2020:

Torch Lake FAQs

Where is Torch Lake?

Torch Lake is in the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula.
Thankfully, this Michigan treasure is just over a 2 ½ hour drive from the Grand Rapids area (airport GRR), and just 30 miles (45 minutes) from Traverse City, MI (airport TVC).

Torch Lake Michigan Map

Can I put Torch Lake in my GPS?

Yes, but if you do put Torch Lake into your GPS, it will likely show results for Torch Lake township, a small municipality on the north end of the lake. There is no beach here, and it is 18 miles (25 minutes) away from the sand bar access.

map of torch lake with torch lake township

Can you get to Torch Lake Sand Bar without a boat?

Yes! If you want to go to the sandbar but don’t have a boat, you’re in luck. You can wade out to the sandbar from the public lake access pocket park that’s just north Torch River Marine.

The water depth varies and can be anywhere from calf-deep to chest-high (on and adult.) If you have kids, consider using pool floats and life jackets to reach the sand bar.

Is there a beach near the Torch Lake Sand Bar?

There aren’t any sandy beaches near the sand bar. If you’re looking for a place to build sand castles on Torch Lake, you’ll need to head to Torch Lake Day Park on the north end of the lake, some 20 miles away. That said, if sand castles and beach umbrellas are your thing, there are great beaches in nearby Elk Rapids that would be perfect for you.

Does Torch Lake have Swimmer’s Itch?

Swimmers itch has been reported in the area on occasion. If you do visit the sand bar, apply and maintain a thick layer of sunscreen and shower after exiting the water to help keep your skin itch-free.

Things to Do Near Torch Lake

Everything in Northern Michigan is spread out and you will generally need a car to get from one place to another.

torch lake michigan map

This is a list of some of the more popular places to visit and things to do near Torch Lake.

1 – Visit Alden, MI

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake:

Alden is a small town located on the east side of Torch Lake.

If you’re visiting via boat, they have a Safe Harbor with docks that you can use for daytime docking so you can shop and have lunch in Alden. (They do not allow overnight docking but there is no limit for daytime docking.)

alden michigan torch lake

The main street through Alden is lined with unique little shops and adorable white picket fences covered with bright, colorful flowers.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Alden, be sure to stop at the general store for ice cream and then walk down to the boat dock to enjoy your treats, relax, and soak in the lake sights.

And be sure to shop at The Alden Mill House for their proprietary spice blends.

These spices are perfect for summer grilling and gifts. (Miracle Blend and Bavarian seasoning are the best!)

alden millhouse michigan

After ice cream, the playground at the Village of Alden Park (10472-10480 Tyler St, Alden, MI 49612) is a great place to let the kids to run and play.

alden michigan playground
Playground at Village of Alden Park, MI

Alden is where you’ll find the Inn at Torch Lake, too, as well as the Torch Lake Beer Co.

2 – Play a Round at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort

627 A-Ga-Ming Dr, Kewadin, MI 49648

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake Michigan:

Play a round of golf on the Torch Course for sweeping lake views.

Or, stop into the clubhouse, perched high above the lake, and have a drink on the patio. It’s the perfect vantage point!

View of Torch Lake from the clubhouse at A-Ga-Ming Golf Course

3 – Stop by the town of Central Lake, MI

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake Michigan:

Central Lake is part of the Chain of Lakes and is located on Intermediate Lake.

The little village is a great stop.

Central Lake’s Thurston Park has a sandy beach and is a great place to launch kayaks or SUPs as well as motorized boats. There is a small campground here with several waterfront sites as well!

Be sure to stop into Brownwood Acres (2473 North East Torch Lake Drive Central Lake, MI 49622) early on Sunday morning (check their FB page and go with cash in hand) for amazing donuts.

Mammoth Distilling’s original tasting room is in Central Lake, too. Visit for cocktails and tours.

4 – Hike or Paddle Grass River Natural Area

6500 Alden Hwy Bellaire, MI 49615
(231) 533-8576

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake Michigan:

Seven miles of trails & boardwalks, open year-round from dawn to dusk at Grass River Natural Area.

The Grass River Center is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sat and Sun November through April and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. 7 days a week from May through October.

They offer ski rentals, snowshoe rentals, and kayak rentals as well as kayak tours, pontoon cruises, and guided river walks.

Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire, MI. Photo: Alison Sklarczyk

5 – Hike or Pedal Glacial Hills

3169 Eckhardt Rd, Bellaire, MI 49615

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake Michigan:

Find 31.5 miles of hiking, mountain biking, fat tire biking, and winter sports trails at Glacial Hills Pathway & Natural Area‘s 765 acres.

Paddles & Pedals is a great place to rent mountain bikes.

6 – Skip Stones at Antrim Creek Natural Area

9890 Old Dixie Hwy, Ellsworth, MI 49729

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake Michigan:

With 156 acres, 2.3 miles of hiking trails, Antrim Creek, and one mile of primitive Lake Michigan shoreline, it’s hard to believe that this place is off the beaten path, but it is!

If you’re at Torch Lake, you’re close to Antrim Creek Natural Area.

7 – Spend Time in Bellaire, MI

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake:

Bellaire is a small village in Antrim county and if you stop by, be sure to take a look at the historic courthouse here.

downtown bellaire michigan

There are several fun shops along the main street, as well as the famous Short’s Brewing Company.

shorts brewery bellaire michigan

The Intermediate River (part of the Chain of Lakes) runs through downtown Bellaire and is the stunning backdrop for Stone Waters Inn.

Bellaire is also home to Shanty Creek Resort for golf, ski, and other resort year-round fun.

In the winter, their tubing hill is a great draw.

They typically have great lodging rates and in the summer they have an awesome outdoor pool.

8 – Swim & Shop in Elk Rapids, MI

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do near Torch Lake:

Elk Rapids is at the end of the Chain of Lakes. This small harbor town packs a huge punch when it comes to charm.

The small main street is filled with shops and restaurants and an old-fashioned movie theater.

Down the road, you’ll find a large park with an excellent beach on Grand Traverse Bay.

Footbridge to the Island House in Elk Rapids, Michigan

Elk Rapids has a large harbor and marina, as well as a small golf course.

For a great meal, visit Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen in Elk Rapids. There is ALWAYS a wait but it is worth it.

A dam separates Grand Traverse Bay from the Elk River. If you want to enter the Chain of Lakes here, you’ll need to do it from the Elk River.

9 – Paddle Your Heart Out in a Kayak or SUP

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Torch Lake:

There’s nothing like experiencing the waters of Torch Lake Michigan firsthand in a kayak or SUP.

Paddle Antrim is a non-profit organization using paddle sports to connect people to Antrim County’s waterways in order to protect those water resources.

Their resources can be used to plan a paddling trip on the Chain of Lakes Water Trail.

Most places offering Torch Lake Boat Rentals also offer kayak rentals and SUP rentals as well.

10 – Take the Torch Lake Tour – Winery & Spirits Trail

Why It’s One of the Best Things to Do on Torch Lake:

Torch Lake Tour is Northern Michigan’s brewery, cidery, distillery, meadery, and winery tour/trail.

Visit the craft breweries, fresh-from-the-farm cideries, grain-to-glass distilleries, buzz-worthy meaderies, and boutique wineries that surround the breathtaking waters of Torch Lake.

There are 3 separate trails and each one takes 4-5 hours to complete.

Torch Lake Michigan Rentals – Cabins, Vacation Rentals & Other Lodging Options

If you want to stay ON Torch Lake in the summertime, book as early as possible. Many rentals are scooped up a year in advance, for example. Also, know that the shores of Torch Lake are filled with million-dollar homes that have been slowly replacing the tiny vacation cottages of the old days.

Torch Lake Rentals are hard to come by in the prime months of July and August as summer gets closer because demand is sky-high. For waterfront rentals, expect to pay premium rates.

Another option – find a lakefront property to rent on one of the Chain of Lakes and motor over to Torch Lake via the network of rivers and lakes. Popular options include renting on Intermediate Lake, Lake Skegemog, or Elk Lake.

You can also look for nearby non-waterfront lodging if you want to trailer your own boat or rent directly from a marina.

Ask the local marina if you can dock your boat rental at the marina overnight – this may be an option if you are staying nearby but not at a waterfront property.

Torch Lake Vacation Rentals

Torch Lake House Rentals can be found on VRBO and Airbnb, on or near the lake.

VRBO vacation rentals tend to have longer minimum night stay requirements than Airbnb rentals. Many times in the summer months, the houses and cottages rent by the week from Saturday to Saturday.

Here are several that caught our eye:

Torch Lake Michigan vacation rental
Hot Tub Torch Lake Vacation Rental on the east side of the lake. Sleeps: 9, 4 Bedrooms, 2 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Vacation Rental on the Clam River. Sleeps: 8, 4 Bedrooms, 2 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Vacation Rental near Alden, MI. Sleeps: 6, 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Vacation Rental near Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 6, 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Vacation Rental near Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 6, 2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Cabin in the Woods
Torch Lake Vacation Rental near Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 8, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath 📷 VRBO
1930s Cabin rental near Torch Lake. Sleeps: 5, 2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath 📷 VRBO
Torch Lake Vacation Rental
Bunk bed Torch Lake Vacation Rental near Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 8, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath 📷 VRBO

More VRBO Vacation Rentals at Torch Lake, MI

500′ to Torch Lake & the park– Walk to quaint Alden, MI. Sleeps: 6, 4 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
Lakefront Cottage – Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 6, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
Cute Cottage in Alden – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 6, 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath
Sandy Beach Cottage – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 8, 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath
Family Friendly Lakefront Home – Central Lake, MI. Sleeps: 12, 4 Bedroom, 3 Bath
Cute Cottage Walk to Torch Lake – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 4, 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath
Lovely Home on East Side – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 8, 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath
Quaint Cottage on Torch Lake – Central Lake, MI. Sleeps: 6, 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath
Summer on the Beach at Torch Lake – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 6, 3 Bedroom, 1 Bath
Waterfront Torch Lake Cottage – Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 8, 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath
Torch Lake Dream Cottage – Rapid City, MI. Sleeps: 5, 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath
Rare Sandy Beach Frontage – Central Lake, MI. Sleeps: 8, 2 Bedroom, 3 Bath
Exceptional Lakefront Cottage – Alden, MI. Sleeps: 6, 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath
Beautiful Lake Sunset Views – Clam River, MI. Sleeps: 9, 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath
Lakeside Cottage – Elk Lake, MI. Sleeps 24, 6 Bedroom, 4 Bath

Look at the map see all available VRBO Torch Lake vacation rentals.

B&Bs Near Torch Lake Michigan

Inn at Torch Lake

9076 Helena Rd, Alden, MI 49612

If you can, stay in the Torch Lake Room at the Inn at Torch Lake in Alden and let Harvey make you a scrumptious breakfast!
The Inn has 5 Rooms are available, including one apartment. The Inn at Torch Lake is a featured Romantic Getaway.

Inn at Torch Lake Alden MI

Torch Lake Bed and Breakfast

4417 Trillium Ridge, Central Lake, MI 49622

Torch Lake Bed and Breakfast’s claim to fame: they are the only bed and breakfast located on world-famous Torch Lake. Stay here and be treated to fabulous views, free breakfast, kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, and dock fishing. 

Torch Lake bed and breakfast

Torch Lake Michigan Campgrounds

Several campgrounds will get you close to – but not on – Torch Lake Michigan.

Head to Torch Grove RV Campground to get close to the Torch Lake sand bar – just make sure you’re camping in an RV.

Barnes Park is a good option if you can snag a reservation.

Chain O’Lakes Campground is a bit of a drive but puts you near the Grass River Natural area and downtown Bellaire.

Torch Grove RV Campground
6815 Crystal Beach Rd NW Rapid City, MI 49676
Located near the south end of Torch Lake (Sandbar!)
No tents allowed – only RVs. 32 sites. Located across the road from Torch Lake’s public access.
Barnes Park Campground
12298 Barnes Park Road
Eastport, MI 49627
Antrim County owns and operates Barnes Park Campground. It is close to Torch Lake but is actually located on Grand Traverse Bay. This is a great place to catch a sunset.
Chain O’Lakes Campground
7231 S M 88 Hwy
Bellaire, MI 49615
Located near Lake Bellaire and Clam Lake, this campground is 7 miles from Torch Lake. Full hookup RV sites, tent sites, and cabins.

Condos Near Torch Lake

A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort is perched on a bluff overlooking Torch Lake.

It offers 1-4 bedroom lodging options, many with lake views.

Condos overlooking Torch Lake at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort

Mom & Pop Resorts On or Near Torch Lake

These Torch Lake resorts book up almost instantly – a year in advance. Get on a waiting list and grab an open week ASAP if you find one.

Sunrise Acres Cottages

889 N. West Torch Lake Dr.
Kewadin, MI 49648

(231) 883-4714
Sunrise Acres is an 8-acre parcel with four small pet-friendly cottages.  Each non-smoking cottage has 2 bedrooms (sleeps 6), a bathroom, living area, and small kitchen.

In between the cottages and the beach is a large community fire pit (limited wood provided), horseshoes and a playground area.  Just off the beach are 4 mooring buoys for boats or personal watercraft (limit 1 per cottage).
Northwind Resort

12553 S West Torch Lake Drive
Rapid City, MI  49676

(231) 322-4554
Northwind Resort is situated directly on the spectacular shores of Torch Lake, across from the world renowned “Sandbar” and within view of Torch River.
Northwind has its own small private beach on which children can play or sunbathe. One free mooring spot per room is available for our guests, and will be assigned at time of check-in.
Northaire Resort

7067 Crystal Springs Rd.
Bellaire, MI 49615

Their cottage & cabins are located along the south shores of Clam Lake/Torch Lake in Antrim County.

They also rent pontoon boats on Torch Lake. 
Torch Bay Inn and Cottages

4871 US 31
Eastport, MI 49627

8 rooms and 6 cottages located within a 1/2 mile of Torch Lake

Torch Lake Restaurants & Food Stops

The following are restaurants and convenience stops you can access by boat from Torch Lake Michigan.

Dockside, Torch Lake
6340 Old Torch Lake Dr
Bellaire, MI 49615
If you want to reach a restaurant by boat on Torch Lake, Dockside it is – this is a Torch Lake icon. You can dock your boat here and eat. They also offer pontoon rentals.
Johnny’s Torch Riviera
12899 Cherry Avenue Rapid City, MI 49676
Short walk inland. Italian & American sit-down restaurant located at the mouth of Clam River at Torch Lake. (231) 322-4100
Torch River Shack
7711 Crystal Beach Rd NW
Rapid City, MI 49676
Riverside convenience store, accessible by boat. Serves pizza, sandwiches, beer. Offers pontoon rentals. (231) 322-4000
Clam Shack at DeWitt Marine
6309 Crystal Springs Rd
Bellaire, MI 49615
Boating convenience store located at Dewitt Marine on Clam River, Torch Lake. Gas, beer, wine, snacks, boating accessories, apparel, etc.
Torch Lake Beer Company
9149 Helena Rd
Alden, MI 49612
Short walk, directly across from boat launch in Alden. Serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pizza, beer, fish & chips and more.

Vacationing at Torch Lake Michigan is a dream come true. Let us know if you have any tips for us to add!

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