Whenever I think about a beach trip, I usually think about an escape to the Gulf Coast of Texas. But did you know there are actually some great sandy beaches in Kansas you can enjoy that are so much closer to home? And while, yes, during my years in Kansas I did go to the Gulf to catch some waves, but I also enjoyed Kansas beaches every summer!
Yes, these are Kansas lake beaches, but what’s more Americana than a lake vacation? Here are the best Kansas beaches perfect for a day trip, weekend getaway, or even a full week beach vacation!
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How to Get to the Beaches in Kansas
Well, if you’re a Kansas local then you probably already know that getting around the state is really tough without a car. I didn’t have a car the first two years I lived in Kansas, and it made life really rough. It was hard to get to the other side of town, let alone all the way to the local lake!
Since you really need your own vehicle to make this work, I have tips below for renting a car if you don’t have one.
The good news is that most of these are easy day trips from many parts of Kansas, so hopefully, you can find one or two Kansas beaches that pique your interest. However, if you do decide to stay nearby, all of these would make excellent Kansas weekend getaways.
The Best Beaches in Kansas
In no particular order…
Bloomington Beach at Clinton Lake
Spoiler alert, this one is my favorite! I have so many wonderful memories swimming at Bloomington Beach at Lake Clinton. Because of its proximity to Lawrence, it was always the quickest beach for us to make a getaway to whenever we needed to get some sun.
Besides a sandy beach, Clinton State Park offers many amenities for parkgoers, from disc golf to hiking trails to a sand volleyball court.
Overland Beach at Cedar Bluff State Park
Overland Beach is right at the Cedar Bluff State Park offering a beach, lake, and swimming hole. There are numerous outdoor activities to enjoy at this beach. You can grab some hiking boots, join a volleyball game, or just relax by the shore. Visitors also have the opportunity to bike, boat, paddle, and swim.
There is also a bathhouse, a picnic table, clean restrooms, and a shady area. You can bring in the entire family, including your pet on a trip to this Kansas Beach.
Swimming Beach at Crawford State Park
Crawford State Park sits on a 100-acre lake in Arlington, in southeastern Kansas. It has a playground, a restaurant, and great hiking trails.
The 500-acre park is rich in history, with gorgeous scenery and modern amenities. There are great campsites, volleyball courts, playgrounds for kids, and swimming beaches. Boating, jet-skiing, and water skiing are some of the popular activities in the park.
Crawford State Park also sees a lot of anglers, hikers, and boaters on its western slope.
Walnut River Beach at El Dorado State Park
Walnut River Beach is located right below the dam of its small lake. The beach offers great opportunities for camping, swimming, and boating.
There are huge trees around, and they serve as shaded areas for the beachgoers. You will find a lot of trails for biking, hiking, and horse-riding. Also, wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy observing a wide range of animals and birds.
This beach is quite child-friendly, and there is a large playground for little children who visit. Walnut River Beach has three camping areas and cabins for visitors who want to stay awhile.
Crooked Arrow Beach at Cedar Bluff State Park
Boating, swimming, and fishing are some of the popular activities on Crooked Arrow Beach. The beach has an abundance of facilities. There are several utility campsites, boat ramp facilities, shower houses, and campgrounds.
Crooked Arrow Beach is a favorite spot for boaters, skiers, group outings, and relaxation. The water in this lake is also crystal clear, which makes it popular amongst scuba divers.
While visiting, enjoy outdoor activities like horseshoes, sand volleyball, shore side basketball, and swimming.
Lake Scott Park Beach
Lake Scott Park Beach on Scott Hill is a 100-acre family-friendly beach with gorgeous scenery. The park makes one of the USA’s 50 must-visit parks with about 150,000 visitors yearly.
It boasts a beach house and a Spanish Revival architecture-style building where visitors get food and rent boating/camping supplies.
Lake Scott Park Beach offers the ideal setting for swimming, hiking, boating, and wildlife observation. Also, the park features incredible natural trails; a dream come true for hikers and horseback riders.
People Beach at Shawnee Mission Park
People Beach is a part of Shawnee Mission Park, the largest park in America. It opened in 2018 and is the most visited beach in Kansas.
People’s beach offers numerous activities to enjoy. Canoeing, sailboarding, biking, boating, and fishing are just a few out of the countless activities here in People Beach.
This charming lake boasts a volleyball court, 11 shaded concession areas, picnic shelters, playground, golf course, swimming pool, and other features to ensure visitors have a fun time.
River Pond Beach at Tuttle Creek State Park
There are many things to do in River Pond Beach, such as kayaking, jet-skiing, and canoeing. This beach sits at the 1,200-acre Tuttle Creek State Park and is especially popular among tourists. They have numerous trails visitors use for biking, hiking, and horse riding.
You can take advantage of the eleven cabins available by making a reservation before you visit. Each cabin features an equipped kitchen, bathroom, grill for barbecue, fire ring, and table service for up to six people.
The Beach at Wilson State Park
The beach at Wilson State Park is one of the most beautiful lakes in Kansas. It sits in Smoky Hill, and its views can rival an oceanfront.
There is something for everyone. Besides the sandy beach and sparkling waters, there are sightseeing opportunities and outdoor recreation options like fishing and skiing.
In addition, the park offers kayak/canoe rentals for visitors who want to explore the water and a picnic area to eat delicious meals. You can also rent an on-site cabin for a longer adventure.
The Beach at Milford Reservoir
Located in Junction City, this 16,000-acre Milford Reservoir is the largest lake in the state. Milford Reservoir is particularly popular amongst fishing lovers looking to sink in their hooks into different fish species like catfish, bass, and walleye.
Asides from the beach, there is a 19,000-acre wildlife area beside the reservoir where visitors spot different animals, including the bald eagles. Due to its size, the park sees a large crowd, especially during the ‘Float Your Boat’ event, where participants ride boats made from cardboard.
Beach at Waconda Lake at Glen Elder State Park
Glen Elder State Reservoir sits on the Glen Elder State Park located at the west of the city. As a beach that isn’t well known, Glen Elder is perfect for a quiet getaway. It is very serene and doesn’t attract large crowds. Therefore, you can enjoy the beach to your heart content with minimal noise from visitors.
You can go there to relax, make art out of the fine sand, or go into the waters for sports like skiing and kayaking.
The Beach at Big Hill Lake
Located in Labette County, in an oak-bluestern forest, Big Hill Lake provides a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife.
Big Hill Lake is considered one of the clearest lakes. It holds about 1240 acres of water, and 367 acres are available for public use. It’s a top-rated site for fishing and fishing tournaments, with its major fish species being the largemouth bass.
There are 95 campgrounds, 3 camping areas, and 3 great trails, which provide a variety of terrain for equestrian visitors.
Doggy Beach at Shawnee Mission Park
Shawnee Mission Park has 2 beaches, the People Beach and the Doggy Beach. The Doggy Beach covers 53 acres and is a designated off-leash beach for dogs. However, people are allowed to wade in too. So, if you are headed to the Shawnee Mission Park, you can bring your pet to Doggy Beach for its own time out.
Although the major attraction is the beach, you can explore several other places like the forest trails or the open field covered in grass.
The Beach at Lake Perry at Perry State Park
Perry State Park is a charming coastline located between Topeka and Lawrence. It’s a perfect getaway spot featuring a beach house, lawn, rolling hills, horse trails, catfish channels, and hiking trails.
It also features an 11,000-acre wildlife area, making the park a perfect location for all outdoor activities. You can fish, hunt, observe wildlife, kayak, hit the beach, or set up a tent at the camping areas. And when you’ve had a fill of the outdoor activities, you can enjoy a lovely picnic.
Swimming beach, camping opportunities, and equestrian trails are just a few reasons Cherryvale Park is a must-visit site. The park sits on a lake located in Southeast Kansas and is surrounded by thick Oak-hickory forests.
Visitors often can take a stroll through the forest, where they spot some spectacular animals like the whitetail deer.
If the forest doesn’t interest you, you can go horseback riding or get into the water. Or you can just sit by the water to soak in the relaxing environment.