More than a Beach…
New Buffalo’s Beach and Lakefront Park (Lions Pavilion Park) are located on the North end of Whittaker Street, just across the Galien River Bridge.
Beach & Park amenities include:
- 800′ beach frontage on Lake Michigan with Lifeguards
- 18-acre recreation area
- Boardwalk nature trail along dune line
- Restrooms and foot showers
- Full service snack bar
- Handicap access – a sand wheelchair is available from lifeguards.
- Boardwalk extending from the parking lot to the concession area and then toward the beachfront area.
- Play structures and benches.
- Bicycle parking
- Paved auto parking (fee required during peak season)
- Fishing access to Galien River Nature Preserve and boating channel
- Eight boat launch ramps and trailer parking
- Dune can be used for sledding in Winter
- Swimming is only permitted in designated, signed areas.
- No pets, fires, or glass containers.
- No alcoholic beverages
- Park closes at 10pm
- No overnight parking
Best time to go: Mondays through Wednesdays are quietest. Most people come at 11 am. There’s a lull around dinner time (5 – 7 pm) and then the beach gets busy again around 7:30 pm.
Helpful information for a day at the beach:
- Southern Lake Michigan surface temperatures
- New Buffalo Beach water quality
- Check Rip Current Warnings
Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Duty hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Additionally, there are ‘Warning’ flags to indicate lake conditions.
A new law in Michigan prohibits water access from a beach when risks are present
If you see double red flags, you are not allowed to enter the water from the beach. Unless otherwise directed, visitors can still enjoy spending time on the beach. Risks can include, but are not limited to:
- Severe weather events identified by the National Weather Service.
- Hazardous waves and/or dangerous water conditions present.
- Active rescue or recovery efforts.
- Water contamination.
- Unsafe debris washing ashore.
Closures/limits can also be identified by park signage and/or by verbal communication from DNR parks or law enforcement staff.
An exception is made for surfers using wind-powered or self-propelled wave-riding boards when they enter at their own risk and follow safety rules.
Beach visitors seeking one of the 207 (200 standard and 7 handicapped) parking spaces can freely enter the parking lot, find a spot and then pay @ one of the kiosks or via the mobile app – Passport. Parking fees for 2021: $15 per day and $7.50 per half-day (with the full-day rate rising to $20 from July 1 through August 16). Violators will be fined $50 (if the ticket is paid within 24 hours). After 24 hours an additional $25 is added to the cost.
Visitors can leave the parking lot and re-enter without being assessed a fee again – subject to the availability of a parking space. Since access to the lot is no longer restricted by a gate, drivers may (based on congestion) be able to drop off beachgoers.
- There is no attendant at the parking lot. Pay with a credit card at one of the two kiosks located at the entrance or near the beach warning flags.
- The Passport Parking app is available at Apple App Store or Google Play Store. and the kiosk only accepts credit/debit cards.
- The parking fees are in effect 7 days/week from April 1 through Labor Day and then weekends only through the end of September.
- Collection hours are between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Visitors using the parking lot after these collection hours do not have to pay. Parking before 8 am is a free stay until the collection period begins. There is no charge after 8 pm, so sunsets are free.
- Police patrols will verify car license plates with vehicles registered in the parking payment system and violators will be ticketed.
Beach Snack Bar (Kona Ice)
Their signature treat, Kona Ice – a healthy twist to a snowcone (Dye Free & Sugar-Free Options for any dietary needs) is available on weekends and holidays.
1/4 # Angus Beef Hot Dog is a featured favorite along with a wide selection of summer-time snacks like nachos & cheese, pretzels, ice cream, and beverages. The snack bar also carries sundry items including sunscreen, pain relief, beach umbrellas, and sand toys.
Memorial Day Weekend thru Mid-August: Open Wednesday to Sunday (and holidays) 11 am to 6 pm
Mid-August thru Labor Day Weekend: Open 11 am to 6 pm on weekends/holidays only.
Thinking about getting married on New Buffalo’s Public Beach? See our New Buffalo Beach Weddings.
The National Weather Service Meteorologists now make warnings available for New Buffalo area beaches based on the heights of waves and how they hit the shoreline. These warnings are an extension of those that have been in place on the country’s east and west coasts for several years.
Swimmers should be aware of how to react if caught in a rip current. If you the caught in one of these currents (you will know if it happens) you must react properly. Do not fight the current – swim parallel to the beach until out of the current, then swim back to shore.
Although the New Buffalo Public Beach is staffed by lifeguards during peak swim times, all swimmers should be aware of how to react if caught in a rip current. If you the caught in one of these currents (you will know if it happens) you must react properly. Do not fight the current – swim parallel to the beach until out of the current, then swim back to shore.
Those most vulnerable to rip currents are swimmers who like to body surf in high waves on Lake Michigan.
People going in the water during potential rip current conditions at the public beach in New Buffalo are subject to $500 fines. Boaters also face the same penalty if heading to Lake Michigan in the city’s public channel during lake conditions viewed as too dangerous for their watercraft.
In addition to swimming, there are dunes, wooden walkways, and kayak/paddleboard rentals/instruction. The Lakefront complex is often used as a scenic backdrop for professional photographers and a location for weddings and reunions.
Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals (lessons available)
Paddle the river and the BIG Lake (on calm days) for an unguided tour of the Nature Preserve that is the Galien River basin. Third Coast Surf Shop operates the Beach Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals as a City-approved concession.
- Beach Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals are available from 11:00 – 5:00 (Eastern Time,) 7 days a week, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, all summer long! All equipment is available on site and reservations are not necessary or accepted – show up any time they are open.
- Dress for the weather; come prepared to get a little wet from the drip of your paddle and be out in the sun. Lightweight, synthetic clothing is best. Sunglasses, sunblock, and a hat. You can bring cameras, but they do have the possibility of getting wet, so bring a waterproof bag. No alcohol allowed!
- Pricing: (1) $20 per hour for a single kayak or paddleboard with paddle and life vest or $25 per hour for a double (tandem) kayak with paddles and life vests.
- First timer? No problem, Third Coast has people on-site to teach you how to safely kayak or paddleboard.
Lions Pavilion Park
This pavilion is the home of the New Buffalo Lions Club. It is located just across the street from the Beach and is considered part of the Beach Park complex. There is a pavilion, several picnic tables, grills, a playground, and benches. The pavilion is often used as an entertainment venue (see our events calendar).
How to get there…
If traveling on I-94 use Exit #1 or Exit # 4. Traffic flows into New Buffalo from US-12 or M-239. From the town’s center – the intersection of US-12 and Whittaker St. – go west, down Whittaker St, across the bridge (the Public Marina will be on the left, the Stray Dog Restaurant on the right)– proceed to where Whittaker St. ends. Turn left for the Beach Park. Turn right if you are towing a boat (public boat launch).
For additional information on the Beach Park, please call New Buffalo City Hall at
(269) 469-1522. For an interactive Map of New Buffalo, click here.