Why should catching waves and relaxing in the sun be reserved exclusively for the coasts? Right smack in the middle of the country lie a true wonder of the nation: the Great Lakes. Famed for their sparkling fresh water and ocean-like appearance, at over 94,000 square miles, the Great Lakes is the largest freshwater system in the world. Comprised of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, the fierce five border eight states, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, offering countless access to beachy fun.

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Oak Street Beach - Chicago, IL

Oak Street Beach is one of the city’s most popular beaches because its proximity to the city center offer amazing skyline views. A reprieve right in the middle of downtown, it's a fantastic place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. It can get pretty crowded during summer months so get there early to stake your claim in the sand. Oak Street is Chicago’s best kept secret, don’t miss it!

Grand Haven State Park Beach - Grand Haven, MI

Michigan is known for a lot: killer football, cherries, and of course, the Great Lakes. Grand Haven State Park is rustic and woodsy, offering some of the best sunsets anywhere. It’s slightly reminiscent of the northern California coast with rocky terrain and blue waves. Many people take advantage of the gorgeous terrain to camp. A mecca for outdoorsmen, there's plenty of room to hike, bike and fish all while looking out at the beauty in the banks of Lake Michigan.

Big Bay Beach - Apostle Island, WI

Ah, Wisconsin. Land of cheese and Midwestern hospitality. Turns out that in addition to friendly faces, Wisconsin also has one of the best beaches in the area. Big Bay looks almost exactly like a saltwater beach and could easily be mistaken for the ocean since you can't see across to the other shore. It’s the perfect place for a lake day to lay out and lose yourself. The shallow sections of the beach are unique in that they don’t have much sand under the water, but rather huge, sloping boulders.

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Indiana Dunes State Park - Chesterton, IN

With over 2,000 acres of lush greenery and fresh, glittering water, you cannot miss the chance to take a trip to Indiana Dunes. There are simply massive piles of soft powdery sand to play on, making the dune a Midwestern gem. This place is great for families, you can take advantage of the area by playing volleyball, building sandcastles or just relaxing by the waves.

Promontory Point - Chicago, IL

Promontory Point isn’t a traditional beach, but it’s waterfront beauty needs to be mentioned, nonetheless. A manmade peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan, it's a popular spot for swimmers and water sport enthusiasts on Chicago's South Side. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city and one of the best walking trails in the state, just feet from the blue waves with green rolling hills surrounding you. Promontory has all the charm of a lake-side getaway with the added bonus of being mere miles from one of the coolest cities in the world.

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Huntington Beach - Bay Village, OH

It's not that Huntington Beach, but it’s arguably just as good. The “Huntington of the Midwest” is located in northern Ohio on Lake Erie. Like all the beaches on this list, it’s simply spectacular and one of the oldest state parks in in Cleveland. While it does get crowded in the summertime, it’s a huge stretch of sand so there is plenty of room to spread out. Pack a lunch and some beach toys and spend the day taking in Ohio's charm.