A day spent at the lake can be a highlight of a Michigan summer vacation. There are hundreds of lakes in Michigan, so it can be difficult to make the right choice.
We’ve compiled a list with the top lakes in Michigan, both inland and on the Great Lakes waterways. These lakes are great for water skiing, fishing and boating . You can swim, fish, boat, or sail with confidence because they’re some of the best lakes in the state.
Scroll down for information about the 25 best Michigan lakes for swimming. Also, check out our interactive map of Michigan’s inland lakes.
The Great Lakes
Michigan’s Great Lakes are the most famous lakes, and there is plenty to do while visiting them. Each Great Lakes has something to offer, with four of the five preferring Michigan.
Lake Michigan towards the west is lively and filled with great breweries. Lake Huron to the northeast is more laid back with spectacular sunrises. Lake Erie, to the southeast, has excellent fishing spots for northern pike and lake trout. Lake Superior, north, invites people in for a cold swim even during the warmest months.
Northern Michigan’s Best Inland Lakes
Mullet Lake is located near Cheboygan and is one of the largest inland lakes in Michigan. Although it was once an important part of Native American trade routes and tourism, today most people use it for recreational purposes. Visitors love to swim in the lake and explore the surrounding trails, parks, and beaches. Many make a day of it by camping at Aloha State Park. One of Michigan’s most treasured secrets is this Cheboygan County park.
Bass Lake, a 344-acre glacial lake, is the perfect place to relax and escape the bustling atmosphere of downtown Traverse City. The sandy shores invite beach-goers to step on the sand, while the tall trees provide shade from the scorching summer sun. Visitors spend a lot time at this lake swimming or kayaking . But locals know that it’s a great place to spend a day fishing for walleye, pike and rock bass.
It is located in Grand Traverse County and sandwiched between Silver Lake and Long Lake in Traverse City.
Crooked lake, located just outside of Petoskey, has a maximum depth only of 20 feet. This makes it ideal for swimming. Summer visitors flock to Crooked lake to enjoy its tranquil waters and cozy cabins. You can jump in the water to take a dip, then glide along the surface of the lake in a kayak or parasailing over it. Then, explore the surrounding communities.
The inland waterway connects this popular Emmet County lake to Pickerel Lake. Nearby is Round Lake in Petoskey.
Although there are many lakes in Michigan with this name, the 40-acre lake located just outside Traverse City in East Bay Township has the best swimming. Enjoy the tranquility of the quiet, unpopulated beaches. The lake is protected from motorboats and makes it a great place to take a dip or cruise around on a paddleboat. Glen Lakes
Big and Little Glen Lakes
Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake are great spots for a day at Lake. This pair of lakes is located in Leelanau County just outside Glen Arbor near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They were created millions of years ago by glaciers, making them among the most clean and clear lakes in Michigan. They are perfect for swimming, despite being glacial lakes.
These beautiful aqua blues are breathtaking. Take a ride on the 7.5-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and stop at Glen Lake overlook to enjoy some beautiful views.
Black Lake is named after the mysterious waters that are caused by the deep water depths. Black Lake, which is home to the largest fish in the Great Lakes, is where you can spear-hunt them.
Black Lake is a beautiful spot near Cheboygan. It’s surrounded by fine sand, towering trees and a sparkling lake. Although there are many good spots to take a dip in the lake, the best is at the Onaway State Park’s southern end. This park is one of the oldest Michigan parks.
Nearby Mullet Lake, Burt Lake is located south of Mackinaw City. This gives you access to Lake Huron as well as Lake Michigan. Tourists love to stop by this shore because of its proximity to Mackinac Island and the natural areas around it. Take a picnic to Colonial Point Memorial Forest and Burt Lake State Park. Then, cool off in the ocean for a refreshing afternoon.
Elk Lake is part a larger network of lakes but it’s often less visited due to its distance from larger cities. Antrim County’s Elk Lake makes a great place to spend a relaxing evening or a fun afternoon with your family. Here, many visitors enjoy fishing and try their luck at catching fish to cook for dinner.
Lake Charlevoix, Michigan’s third-largest inland lake, is also one of the most picturesque. It’s a popular tourist destination and a favourite among locals and tourists alike. This Charlevoix lake is lined with charming resort towns and waterfront restaurants. To satisfy history lovers, Ironton Ferry is nearby. Ernest Hemingway’s childhood home in Horton Bay is a delight for literary lovers.
Portage Lake can be found in Houghton County on the Keweenaw Peninsula’s upper peninsula. The beautiful lake is rich in history and its iconic lift bridge is a key part of that story. The lift bridge was built by sawmill workers who established a route for lumber to be transported to Lake Michigan. This allowed the area to prosper.
This boom led to a greater population and more resorts that could be used for vacationing. Many of these still exist today. Divers love exploring the wrecks that lie beneath the lake, in addition to swimming and other water sports.
Roscommon’s Higgins Lake is located in central Northern Michigan. It is one of the most picturesque lakes in Michigan. Higgins Lake has a beautiful, clear, and sandy shore. It is also warm during the summer, despite being formed from glacial water.
You can take a dip or take a boat on the water to fish for trout, pike, and bass. After you’re done, take a walk on the trails of North or South Higgins State Park to find a spot for a snack.
Torch Lake, located in northern Michigan, is one of the most well-known lakes. It is Michigan’s longest and most deepest inland lake. However, it retains a beautiful turquoise color. Boaters love to anchor at sandbars for socializing, swimming, and eating – a local pizza place is known to deliver directly to boats!
Crystal Lake, as the name implies, is a beautiful spot for swimming and other water activities. Only the tiny village of Beulah is located on this massive lake, which helps to maintain its clarity and keep it free from toxic substances. Beulah is a wonderful spot to visit along Crystal Lake’s shore. After lunch, you can launch your boat onto the water for an exciting cruise and swim.
Make sure to visit Frankfort in MI, one of the most beautiful beaches in Michigan!
Michiganders love Paradise Lake for its stunning beauty. Paradise Lake was popular as a resort area in the 20th century until cottages and family homes took over its shores.
The area is largely undeveloped outside of the populated areas. This preserves the natural beauty that has made northern Michigan so popular. The lake is serene but there are still plenty of things to do. You can go boating, jet ski, or rent kayaks and canoes to explore it.
Lake Leelanau lies between Suttons Bay and the coast of Lake Michigan. Its name is derived from the peninsula it occupies. Although it can be easy to overlook, Lake Leelanau is a great lake for swimming in Michigan.
Splitting the lake into two sections is a good idea. Each section has its own temperature and depth. The lake is a popular spot for boating, fishing and swimming. However, there are still many things to do on the shore, including visiting vineyards and exploring Traverse City. You can also take a ferry trip to the Manitou Islands. Gull Lake Michigan
Best Lakes of West Michigan
Muskegon Lake is located in Muskegon County on Michigan’s west side. The name refers to the lake. Muskegon Lake is a popular inland lake in Michigan. Visitors love to swim there, but boating is also very popular. When they’re not racing on the beaches, sailboats can rest and relax at the sandy beaches. Marinas are also available along the coast.
Between Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek, Gull lake attracts crowds in summer with its stunning blue-green waters. The lake is popular for fishing for perch, rainbow trout and bass. However, you can also enjoy the sun, swim or just relax in the shade. Birding is a popular activity close to Gull Lake, especially on the eastern shore at the Kellogg Biological Station.
Kalamazoo Lake, which is located between the Lake Michigan beaches of Douglas on one side and Saugatuck the other, offers a smaller alternative to Lake Michigan. Both locals and tourists love to swim in this lake. However, it is also great for canoeing and kayaking. You should visit Douglas and Saugatuck, and stop at any of the numerous art galleries.
Best Lakes of Southeast Michigan
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair, sometimes called the forgotten sixth Great Lake is a favorite of metro Detroiters. Lake St. Clair is a link between Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and was once used as a shipping route. However, today it is more popular for recreational purposes.
You can access the lake via Lake St. Clair Metropark, near Mount Clemens. Then you can jump in the water to take a dip or get on a boat for an exciting cruise. There are also great opportunities for fishing and other water sports. After you’re done, enjoy dinner at one the many lakeside eateries and take in the beautiful view while you eat.
Pontiac Lake is a favorite among those living in the metro-Detroit region. It’s not hard to see why. Pontiac Lake Recreation Area offers a sanctuary from the bustling cities of southeast Michigan. It is a place where you can get away from it all and reconnect with nature. This is the longest stretch of beach in southeast Michigan, stretching for more than a mile. There are plenty of places to put up towels and go for a swim.
You can also find scenic trails to go hiking or riding horses around the region. Pontiac Lake, despite being created by man, has been a remarkable getaway in the city.
Best Lakes of the Upper Peninsula
Lake Michigamme captures the wild spirit and higher peninsula better than anything else. The inland lake covers more than 4,000 acres and has 16 islands. However, you will need a boat to reach them. There are still many things to do on one of Lake Michigamme’s three beaches, even if you don’t own a boat.
Set up camp at Van Riper State Park, then fish for your next meal. Then, go for a swim, or just relax on the beach. The lake is spread over two counties, Marquette County and Baraga County. You should not miss the chance to visit Marquette. is a beautiful and hip city that offers endless outdoor activities.
Manistique Lakes is a collection of lakes in the upper peninsula. Birdwatchers can often spot bald eagles and sandhill cranes at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Fresh water flows continuously and birdwatchers are often able to see loons and ospreys. There are more than 10,000 acres of land available for exploration and activities. You can take a boat out and explore the waterways, swim along the sandy beaches, or catch some bluegills, perch, and walleye.
Big Manistique Lake is a beautiful spot in autumn. It’s located in Luce County as well as Mackinac County. This is a great spot to take a Michigan autumn color tour.
Silver Lake, Michigan’s west coast has an unusual location against the towering sand dunes that separate it from Lake Michigan. Silver Lake State Park is known for its warm waters and golden sandy beaches. There are also plenty of vacation rentals.
The lake is popular in summer when it is warm enough to swim, but this is not the only activity. Many people love to kayak, fish and hike the dunes nearby to Lake Michigan.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a top tourist destination in Michigan and a true gem of west Michigan!
The largest lake in Kent County can be found in Grand Rapids. This beautiful urban lake is just a short drive away from downtown. It offers many activities and clear water. On a hot summer’s day, you can either cast a line or hoist the sails to get in on the water. John Collins Park is on the western shore.
- The Best Lakes in Michigan for Swimming
- The Best Lake Huron Michigan Beaches (A Must Visit)
- New Buffalo Michigan Beaches – Which is the Best?
- The Best Beaches to Visit on Lake Huron
- The Best Beaches to visit in Michigan
- Fun Things to do in Port Austin Michigan
- Lexington Beach Michigan – Ultimate Travel Guide
- Silver Beach Michigan
- The Best Places to Find Petoskey Stones in Michigan
- Why does Michigan have so many Lakes?