Lake Michigan Vacation – Plan your Stay

You are welcome to Lake Michigan!

Lake Michigan is the fifth-largest lake in the world. Lake Michigan is huge. It is large in size, big on entertainment and big on opportunities to make lasting travel memories. It’s easy to find a place for a romantic getaway or long vacation along Lake Michigan’s stunning shores.

Lake Michigan: Freshwater Playground

You’ll love the beautiful Great Lake of Michigan, which has approximately 1000 miles worth of freshwater. The entire coast offers endless opportunities for adventure, from beautiful beaches to bustling coastal towns to miles of tranquil dune trails and wide-open views.

We have everything you need for a Michigan vacation idea: the best beaches, the best wineries tours, tours of craft brewery tours; cabin rentals; campgrounds along Lake Michigan and the best Lake Michigan towns.

Michigan has been home to me my whole life. I grew up swimming along the beaches. Here are some tips that will help you find this beautiful Michigan shoreline.

Use our Lake Michigan Travel Guide for help planning an unforgettable trip! Point Betsie in Frankfort, MI

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Explore the Lake Michigan Coast

You’re sure to enjoy a wonderful experience if you’re new in the Great Lakes Region and Lake Michigan’s Freshwater Coast.
Imagine a sparkling ocean with no salt or sharks. Just pure Michigan beauty.

Aqua-striped waters that reflect the blues above are what we’re referring to. Wild waves can be seen crashing onto sandy shorelines or rolling gently on the shores.

It’s difficult to believe that this beautiful shoreline is located in the Midwest of the United States just a short distance from Chicago. Explore the beauty found by thousands of visitors to Lake Michigan’s shores.

Lake Michigan offers many options for vacations, including a lighthouse tour on Lake Michigan, sport fishing, and a quick getaway to a beach town.

Lake Michigan is a perfect vacation destination

The shores of Lake Michigan are a wonderful sandy playground for all year round, from the Indiana Dunes to the Grand Traverse to Charlevoix, Petoskey, and beyond.

Beaches and coastal towns are top destinations for tourists. You will find endless outdoor recreation options, tourist attractions, and public sandy beaches. This is the perfect spot for a relaxing vacation. Lake Michigan, Glen Arbor

Where to start your Lake Michigan Vacation Adventure

The stunning coast stretches from Sawyer in the south to New Buffalo in New Buffalo, and all the way to Mackinac Bridge. The Upper Peninsula, north shore of Lake Michigan, is equally stunning with its diverse coastline that stretches from St. Ignace through Manistique to Escanaba.

You’ll find unspoiled natural areas along the coast, as well as fun beach towns.

There are also beautiful bodies of water, including inland lakes or rivers that are fed by Lake Michigan’s waters. These are all worth exploring.

This is a quick guide to the top spots along Lake Michigan’s coastline. Click on any location to find more information, and a detailed vacation guide for each spot.

For more places to see in Michigan, you can use our interactive Michigan Travel and Beach Map.

New Buffalo (Harbor Country)

A beautiful public beach is located just 90 minutes from Chicago. The town and its surrounding areas are filled with boutiques, country markets and eateries. The Galien River is ideal for kayaking and paddling.

St. Joseph

It’s not the “Riviera in the Midwest”, but they do call it that. It’s located on a high bluff with a view of Lake Michigan. It’s a popular tourist destination. This lighthouse leads large fishing boats and yachts into the charming downtown harbor. There are charming shops and restaurants in the downtown area, as well as wineries and museums. There is also plenty to do for kids and .

South Haven

There are beautiful beaches, a charming downtown, with cafes, shops, and wineries, as well as charming streets. Many vacationers return year after year to this area for the summer ritual of walking the long pier towards the red lighthouse.

Saugatuck- Douglas

Oval Beach is the place to be this summer. Saugatuck has been named one of the best beaches in the world. This area is also known as Michigan’s Art Coast. It boasts a charming shopping district with trendy boutiques and restaurants.


Holland is a working city that has a charming downtown and well-tended parks. The ADA-Accessible State Park of Holland is also located in this city. You won’t regret adding it to your Michigan travel bucket-list.

Grand Haven

It is one of the most well-known Michigan beaches, with two sandy Lake Michigan beaches that are open to the public. Although it’s very touristy, the grand have still retains its charm. It boasts a boardwalk that leads to a long, pier-like lighthouse and is a place you don’t want to miss.


Pere Marquette Park’s sprawling beach with its playground, volleyball courts, and restaurant may be one of the most well-kept secrets along the entire coast. But let’s not forget that. Muskegon was once more of an industrial town than a beach town for many years. But that has all changed recently. In the summer, you’ll find a lively beach town vibe with plenty to do.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

There are miles upon miles of sandy beaches. There are dune buggy rides and hiking trails, as well as small towns like Whitehall and Montague. Both are worth a visit. You’ll love the beautiful Little Sable Point Lighthouse and its pristine beach. It is my personal favorite beach. Big Sable Point, Ludington


This town is home to two major attractions: the S.S. Badger Car ferry from Milwaukee and Ludington State Park. It is one of the most visited towns in Michigan in summer. It’s not surprising. There are beautiful beaches, hiking trails , and a bustling fishing scene. Ludington State park’s campground is one of the most beautiful in the state. It is also accessible.


The charming little Manistee is located on a lovely stretch of coastline that runs along the Manistee River. It’s a must-see. This charming spot is not just a beach resort; it also has an old-fashioned downtown, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into time, surrounded by magnificent, mostly restored Victorian mansions.


Most people have probably seen Point Betsie Lighthouse along a stretch of windswept shoreline in a photo or on a calendar. It is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Michigan. This lighthouse is worth a visit, as well as Frankfort, which has its own brewery. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Empire, Glen Arbor)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been named the “Most Beautiful Place” in the United States. It is a must-see on any Lake Michigan vacation bucket list. There are 26 miles of sandy beaches, towering dunes, and wooded trails that lead to high-altitude hardwood forests. The lake is also a beautiful aqua-blue.

Leelanau Peninsula

You can start in Leland, the home of “Fishtown”, and then travel through Michigan’s wine country. There are charming towns like Suttons Bay, which have pretty lighthouses scattered among Petoskey Stones and “Leelanau Blues”.

Traverse City

Traverse City, the largest city in northern Michigan is located on the stunning Grand Traverse Bay. Despite the massive growth, this popular vacation spot has maintained its small-town charm and still enjoys the natural beauty surrounding it. Traverse City offers a wide range of activities year round, including shopping, dining, hiking, biking, and skiing. Front Street is a must-see. Good Hart Beach


This upscale resort town is known as “Charlevoix the Beautiful”. It’s easy to fall for this charming place. It is located between Lake Michigan’s picturesque Round Lake and the well-tended downtown. You’ll also find excellent fishing charters and top-notch golf courses.

Petoskey, Harbor Springs

These two Michigan beaches are located on the same shoreline, Little Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan. They both have beautiful waterfront parks. Harbor Springs is more luxurious, and has a smaller downtown area with boutiques and art galleries. Petoskey is a paradise for outdoor lovers, offering endless hiking, biking routes, and the beloved Petoskey State Park.

Cross Village and Good Hart

Enjoy a scenic drive through Michigan’s “Tunnel of Trees”, which runs from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. As you travel towards Cross Village, you’ll pass Good Hart. Don’t miss Good Hart General Store with its delicious cookies. You’ll find the shore more wild here. Make sure to stop by Legs Inn. This restaurant serves the finest Polish food in the state, and is a popular choice for tourists to the area.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is the world’s largest lake and one of five Great Lakes.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the western shore of Lake Michigan. It continues north to the Chicago River where it eventually flows into the Mississippi River. It continues up the Chicago lakefront, passing numerous north shore Illinois beaches before reaching Door County and Green Bay.

Lake Michigan Facts

  • These interconnected lakes, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean via St. Lawrence Seaway, are the largest freshwater system on the planet and provide more that one-fifth the world’s freshwater.
  • It is part of the Lake Michigan Basin, which covers nearly 50,000 square miles and includes parts of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
  • It is the second-largest Great Lake in volume, with just over 1,180 cubic miles water. It’s also the only Great Lake that is entirely located within the United States.
  • This huge body of water covers 22300 square miles. It is also home to many small islands, including Beaver Island and North Manitou.

Best Lake Michigan Beaches

We are sharing the top beaches in the area. You might also like our guide to the Best Family-Friendly Beaches or our guide to 10 Must See Beaches.

  • Esch Road Beach in Empire
  • Grand Haven City Beach
  • Holland State Park
  • P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
  • Silver Beach in St. Joseph
  • Stearns Park Beach, Ludington
  • Zoll Street Beach, Harbor Springs

Access to the beach for wheelchairs and ADA

Many beaches on Lake Michigan offer wheelchair- and other device-friendly access to the shoreline, as well as to surrounding areas.

Accessibility is made easier by the availability of ramps, wide, paved walkways, beach wheelchairs and mobility pads at certain locations. My Michigan Beach is dedicated to improving accessibility to Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches.

Dog-Friendly Beaches at Lake Michigan

Michigan is a dog-loving place. Many beaches along Lake Michigan’s shoreline are open to furry friends. For the safety of your dog and other pets, be sure to follow leash regulations.

For more information on Michigan beaches that are dog-friendly, see the Michigan Beach Map.

Lake Michigan: Where to Stay

Plan your summer vacation today: The beach towns along Lake Michigan’s coast provide a variety of lodging options, including summer getaways, fall road trips, and extended day trips in winter.

Michigan has many lakeshore resorts, some of which are right at the beach. Many others are nearby and offer outdoor adventure, tranquil relaxation, and a short walk to Lake Michigan’s beach.

Private beachfront rentals, lake home and cabin rentals, hotels, motels, full-service resorts, and campgrounds are all possible.

You can choose from luxury beachfront accommodations or more practical and economical options like Michigan State Park campgrounds and cabins.

Lake Michigan Cabin Rentals

By looking for lodging options in the city or near the water, you can save money and still have fun with your Michigan vacation rental.

If you are looking for beautiful accommodation on the Lake Michigan freshwater coast, you can choose to stay in the town or just a short distance away.

Many beach towns along the coast also offer information about lodging through their visitors bureaus.

You can also check out local real estate offices and agencies that specialize in Michigan vacation rentals.

Lake Michigan Ferry

There are two ferry services that offer transport across Lake Michigan. One departs from Wisconsin, the other lands on the west coast of Michigan.

The S.S. Badger Carferry

The S.S. Badger is a carferry that runs May to mid-October between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc (Wisconsin).

You can enjoy a comfortable carferry ride across the lake. Each trip takes approximately 4.5 hours and offers various accommodations.

A cruise on the SS Badger, from Manitowoc’s carferry port to Ludington Michigan, is a great way for everyone to travel across Lake Michigan. It also provides a quick route for those who want to avoid traffic jams in Chicago and Milwaukee.

It is worth noting, however, that this historic badger carferry was designated as a continuation of route U.S.10 which runs through the Midwest starting in Michigan.

People flock to Ludington to see the SS Badger carferry ferry across Lake Michigan. It is a spectacular sight, and visitors with their cars are often captivated by its beauty.

It was the last passenger ship on the Great Lakes that used coal to power its engines.

The Lake Express

This high-speed passenger ferry, also known as “fast-ferry”, travels between Muskegon (just north from Grand Haven) in Michigan and downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The speed ferry carries passengers across Lake Michigan in 2.5 hours. It also provides a variety of accommodation options. The lake express ferry allows you to take the Michigan Circle tour shortcut and avoid traffic in Chicago or Milwaukee.


Is there a shark in Lake Michigan?

There are no sharks found in Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is not a saltwater lake. The Michigan sea grant is a partnership between commercial fisheries and the Michigan Sea Grant. It establishes policy to address invasive species and ensures that the lake is clean.

What is Lake Michigan’s water temperature?

The water temperature in Lake Michigan varies through the year. The average July temperature was 74 degrees in 2021. However, it is much colder during the winter months.

The EPA and the lakes commission report on climate change annually indicate that surface water temperatures have slightly increased for each of the Great Lakes over the past year.

What is Lake Michigan-Huron?

The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, making them one lake from a hydrological perspective.

How deep is Lake Michigan?

Lake Michigan’s deepest point is 922 feet.

Why is Lake Michigan so dangerous?

Rip currents can be dangerously created by waves on Lake Michigan. Jamie Racklyeft is the executive director for the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium. He says that winds blow from the west, creating big waves on the lake.
These waves create rip currents.

Do not swim in the water and be aware of water temperatures.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe on Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes.

Is Lake Michigan a source of drinking water?

More than a million people live in the vicinity of Lake Michigan, which provides water for their daily needs.

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