Spending your time daydreaming about where to go this summer? Wanting to stay in the U.S. but explore somewhere beautiful and exciting? A Great Lakes vacation might be the answer you didn’t know you were looking for. Check out this handy guide for ideas and information on leisure, fishing, water sports, camping, and hiking. When you return, don’t forget to celebrate your trip to the Great Lakes with Wood Chart lake art to keep the memories close.
What are the Great Lakes?
Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario are the Great Lakes in order from west to east. They are an important element of North America's physical and cultural heritage. These immense, interior freshwater oceans, shared with Canada and extending more than 750 miles from west to east, offer water for consumption, transportation, power, recreation, and more. So, get to planning your next Great Lakes vacation today for a trip you won’t soon forget.
Why are the Great Lakes so Special?
The Great Lakes were formed thousands of years ago by melting glaciers, which also created Michigan's famous peninsulas. Here are 11 fun facts about these stunning natural wonders that you might not know, but warning, they may make you want to plan a Great Lakes vacation today.
- Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake
- Lake Michigan has the largest freshwater sand dunes
- The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system
- More than 20% of the worlds freshwater
- Lake Superior holds half of the Great Lakes' water
- Lake Michigan is wholly within the United States of America
- Lake Superior is deeper than the Empire State Building is tall
- Great Lakes Region provides water for more than 40 million people
- Longest stretch of freshwater coastline
- Michigan Triangle
- Lake Erie marine monster
1. Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area.
With a surface area of approximately 32,000 square miles, Lake Superior is not only the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area but also the world's second-largest lake, in general, second only to the Caspian Sea. In fact, the volume of Lake Superior would be equal to the sum of the water in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and four of Lake Erie. This lake art helps you visualize the scale and scope of Lake Superior.
2. The world's largest freshwater sand dunes are found along Lake Michigan's shore.
The earth's greatest collection of freshwater sand dunes is found along the western coast of Michigan, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and several more protected dunes. Sleeping Bear's tallest dune rises around 450 feet above Lake Michigan's beach. Seeing these sandy giants alone is a great reason to have a Great Lakes vacation.
3. The Great Lakes are the world's largest freshwater system.
The five Great Lakes - Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario - cover 94,600 square miles and are connected by a network of lakes and rivers, making them the world's biggest freshwater system. Get a clear visualization of this vast freshwater network when you bring home one of our lake art topographical maps or serving trays.
4. The Great Lakes contain more than 20% of the world's freshwater.
On the surface of the globe, there are roughly 24,000 cubic miles of freshwater. The Great Lakes contain about 5,400 cubic miles of water, accounting for more than 20% of the world's freshwater.
5. Lake Superior is home to half of the Great Lakes' water.
Of the Great Lakes 5,400 cubic miles of water, Lake Superior holds 2,900 of them. That’s equal to 3 quadrillion gallons! More than 500 billion additional gallons would have to be added to Lake Superior to raise the water level by just one inch.
6. Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake wholly within the United States of America.
The Great Lakes pass through eight states, but Michigan is the only one to have borders on four of them: Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie. Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake that does not touch Canada, despite the fact that two Canadian provinces share the Great Lakes. Here’s a great topographical lake art map that shows this beautifully.
7. The Empire State Building would be sunk beneath Lake Superior's surface.
The Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall from base to roof, while Lake Superior's deepest point is 1,330 feet. The only thing visible above the waves if you built the Empire State Building on the deepest point of Lake Superior would be the antenna.
8. More than 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes Region for their water.
It contains more than 90% of the country's surface freshwater. The freshwater system also serves as a vital maritime route, tourist attraction, and source of energy.
9. Michigan boasts the longest stretch of freshwater coastline of any state in the United States.
In addition, Michigan has one of the top 10 shorelines in the United States. When you can go boating, surfing, paddle boarding, and swimming in the fresh waters of the Great Lakes, who needs the ocean?
10. Lake Michigan has its own 'Bermuda Triangle.'
The Michigan Triangle, which is related to the Bermuda Triangle, is an area of Lake Michigan where many inexplicable phenomena have left people perplexed. Unaccounted-for and aviation disappearances have been reported. A bizarre, Stonehenge-like rock formation lies beneath the lake's surface north of the triangle near Traverse City. Some people feel the two phenomena are linked.
11. Lake Erie is said to be home to a marine monster resembling the infamous Loch Ness Monster.
Bessie, a sea monster-like creature that has been observed on several occasions for decades, is said to live in Lake Erie. Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters baseball team is named after this mythological creature. If this is fascinating for you, make sure to plan a Great Lakes vacation and get some lake art to help you remember the depths Bessie swims in.
3 Reasons to Visit the Great Lakes on Vacation
- White-sand beaches
- Clear and fresh water
- Natural wonders
1. White-sand beaches
When most people think of the most beautiful beaches in the world, they think of the Caribbean or Hawaii. But did you know that the Great Lakes also boast white-sand beaches? In the United States, you’ll find 4,530 miles of Great Lakes coastline—not including Canada’s sandy shores—with locales like Saugeen Shores, Sauble Beach, Port Dover, and Wasaga Beach boasting the sugary white sands. Clear, fresh water is one of the many reasons to take a Great Lakes vacation.
2. Water that is both clear and fresh
The great thing about the Great Lakes is that there are so many sites where you may swim in pure, fresh water. You can discover family-friendly swimming in shallow water or locations where the lake descends straight into the depths. A Great Lakes vacation makes for a great swim or dive.
3. Natural wonders
The Great Lakes are one of the world's natural wonders. Islands, beaches, and the escarpment provide stunning vistas. The Great Lakes area is home to one of North America's most popular tourist attractions. The Niagara River, where Lake Erie empties into Lake Ontario, is home to Niagara Falls. The Bruce Peninsula, which lies between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, boasts some favorite limestone cliff views. Sunsets on the Great Lakes are one of the many highlights of your Great Lakes vacation.
How to Commemorate Your Trip to the Great Lakes
The time you spend at the Great Lakes is worth celebrating and remembering with a piece of unique lake art. Some great pieces to bring home to remember your Great Lakes vacation are a cribbage board, featuring a laser-etched topographical map, and this lake art wood clock that pairs function with beauty. A nautical wood map helps showcase the beauty of the lakes and makes for a great conversation starter.
A Great Lakes vacation is a great way to stay in the U.S. and support local artisans when you decide to purchase hand-handmade lake art. There is no shortage of activities and no shortage of facts to wow your friends and family with. Enjoy your trip!