Mears is a small unincorporated community located in Oceana County, Michigan. With a population of just a few hundred people, Mears offers a peaceful lake town atmosphere.
Though small in size, Mears has plenty of natural beauty and outdoor recreation that makes it a great weekend getaway or day trip destination from larger cities. Here are my top picks for things to do in Mears, MI.
1. Lake Michigan Beach
Mears has over 2 miles of shoreline along the eastern coast of Lake Michigan. The sandy public beach provides swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing and gorgeous sunset views.
No trip to Mears is complete without spending time at the Lake Michigan beach. Feel the sand between your toes as you take a relaxing stroll along the shoreline.
Swim in the cool, clear waters of Lake Michigan – the gradual sandy bottom makes it ideal for waders and swimmers of all ages. Don’t forget your beach towel so you can sunbathe on the sand and take in the lakeside views.
One of my favorite things to do is search for interesting rocks and beach glass along the shore. The sunsets over Lake Michigan are spectacular as well. With its family-friendly swimming, hiking, gorgeous scenery and peaceful atmosphere, the Mears Lake Michigan beach is a must-visit.
2. Silver Lake State Park
Address: 9679 W State Park Rd, Mears, MI 49436
For expansive recreation opportunities including hiking, camping, swimming and fishing, I head to the nearly 3,000 acre Silver Lake State Park. The park’s 450 acre namesake lake offers a beautiful sand swimming beach with a graduated bottom, perfect for wading and swimming.
Paddle a canoe or kayak across the lake to take in the views. Miles of hiking trails loop through forests, tallgrass prairie, and wetlands – keep an eye out for wildlife like deer and turkey.
The campground has over 250 sites for tents and RVs if you want to spend the night under the stars. With its diversity of landscapes and activities, Silver Lake State Park lets you experience the best of Michigan’s natural beauty.
3. Little Sable Point Lighthouse
One of my favorite local attractions is the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. Standing at 107 feet tall, the Little Sable Point Lighthouse has been guiding ships along this stretch of Lake Michigan since 1874.
Visitors can climb the 130 steps to the top for panoramic views of Lake Michigan. The lens room still houses a working 4th order Fresnel lens produced in Paris in the late 1800s.
Inside the former living quarters, you can see what life was like for past lighthouse keepers and their families. The keepers’ logbooks dating back to the 1870s provide a glimpse into daily lighthouse operations.
Winding nature trails surround the lighthouse tower as well. The Little Sable Point Lighthouse remains an important navigational aid along what’s known as the “Graveyard Coast” while also offering an intriguing look at Great Lakes maritime history. Don’t miss a tour!
4. Orchard Beach State Park
For gorgeous scenery paired with recreation, I love spending time at Orchard Beach State Park. The park encompasses 78 acres of sand dunes, woodlands, and of course – that incredible Lake Michigan shoreline.
Walk along the sandy beach searching for unique stones and swimming in the clear water. From the fishing platforms extending into the lake, you can try catching species like perch, bass, and pike.
Shaded picnic areas make a great spot for an afternoon snack. Rustic campsites are also available – fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the shore!
With its peaceful setting and variety of activities, Orchard Beach State Park lets you fully experience the beauty of a Lake Michigan beach.
5. Pentwater Riverwalk
One of my favorite quick walking excursions is the Pentwater Riverwalk. This 1.5 mile paved trail follows the beautiful Pentwater River through downtown Pentwater, just 10 minutes south of Mears.
This paved path parallels the Pentwater River through the charming downtown of Pentwater. As you stroll along the trail, you’ll have views of boats passing through the river channel.
Abundant benches line the path, perfect for taking a breather and enjoying the riverside scenery. Interpretive signs explain some of the history and ecology of the Pentwater River.
The path also connects to other trails heading further along the riverbank, so you can extend your walk if you choose. With its easy walking, pretty views, and educational elements, the Pentwater Riverwalk trail makes for an enjoyable waterfront stroll.
6. Oceana County Historical & Genealogical Society Village Museum
I’m fascinated by local history, so one of my favorite rainy day activities in Mears is visiting the Oceana County Historical & Genealogical Society Village Museum. This museum explores the local history of Oceana County through historical buildings and artifacts.
The outdoor museum has reconstructed several historic buildings from the late 1800s, all furnished with artifacts to depict life back then. Inside the old Pentwater jail, you can see prisoners’ graffiti on the walls!
There’s also a sheriff’s residence, one-room schoolhouse, barber shop, and doctor’s office. Friendly docents are happy to answer questions and provide additional context. With its engaging hands-on displays, the museum lets you step back in time to early life in Oceana County.
7. Pentwater Farmers Market
One of my favorite summer traditions is attending the lively Pentwater Farmers Market just 10 minutes south of Mears. With over 40 vendors, it’s the place to get just-picked fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, honey, and more from local farms and artisans
I like to arrive early to find the best selection. The market has a lively, festival-like atmosphere with live music as you browse.
When you get hungry, grab lunch from the array of food trucks on site – anything from pizza to tacos. Kids will love the free activities like face painting too.
With its delicious local goods and fun atmosphere, the Pentwater Farmers Market is a summer highlight. Don’t forget your reusable tote bags!
8. Lake Michigan Shoreline Kayak Tour
One of my favorite ways to experience the Lake Michigan shoreline near Mears is by kayak! Paddle along the Lake Michigan shoreline on a guided kayak tour and take in scenic views of sand dunes, wooded shorelines, and the big lake waters.
On a guided tour, you’ll paddle along the lakeshore taking in gorgeous scenery and learning about the ecology and history. The guides identify native plants and point out interesting rock formations carved by waves.
See the towering perched sand dunes left behind from an ancient geologic era. If we’re lucky, we may spot bald eagles, herons, terns or piping plovers.
The sound of the kayak paddle dipping into Michigan’s inland sea along this remote stretch of shoreline is so peaceful and relaxing. With helpful guides and awesome waterfront scenery, a Lake Michigan kayak tour is a must during any Mears visit.
9. Pentwater Theatre
For top-notch local theater productions, I head to the Pentwater Theatre located 10 minutes away in downtown Pentwater. Housed in a beautifully restored 1906 building, this cozy venue puts on an impressive lineup of shows year-round – everything from popular Broadway musicals to children’s theater.
Thanks to the dedicated cast members and crew, the production value rivals much larger regional theaters. Plus, there’s no huge auditorium – every seat in the house provides great views of the stage.
With its intimate setting, talented performances and variety of productions, the Pentwater Theatre is one of my go-to spots for an enjoyable night out. It’s a short drive into Pentwater for an evening of culture and entertainment.
10. Charles Mears State Park
For expansive Lake Michigan access with hiking, camping, and beach fun, I head just north of town to beautiful Charles Mears State Park. The park covers 770 acres stretching between Pentwater Lake and Lake Michigan.
Walking the woodland hiking trails overlooking Lake Michigan is incredibly peaceful and scenic. Inland, you’ll find the smaller Pentwater Lake with a swimming beach, fishing dock, and picnic tables.
Rustic campsites are nestled in the woods if you want to spend the night – fall asleep to frog songs and loon calls! With its panoramic Lake Michigan beachfront and scenic inland lake, Charles Mears State Park offers some of the best outdoor recreation in the area.
Whether you’re paddling a kayak along the shoreline, wandering through a living history museum, or cheering on a local theater production, you’ll find ample options for adventure and entertainment.
With its peaceful surroundings, variety of recreation, and wealth of natural beauty, Mears provides the ideal Michigan lake town getaway. Its manageable size makes it easy to relax and focus on appreciating the simple pleasures northern Michigan has to offer.