More Than the Great Lakes: The Best Lakes in Michigan

Pure Michigan. The beating heart of the nation's heartland. The beauty is found throughout this great state and across its two peninsulas. The Mitten and the U.P. boast not only the most beautiful scenery but some of the most glorious coastlines one can behold.

Walloon Lake wood chart

A trip to Michigan is more than just an adventure to the Great Lakes. Explore the roads-less-traveled and you will find some of the most iconic water basins in American history. Walloon Lake, for example, was home and muse to the great Ernest Hemingway. Surprised? Wait…there's more.

Michigan contains over 10,000 lakes and 3,288 miles of shoreline. Many of these miles are pristine and unspoiled, bordering smaller lakes that enhance the lives of the residents that surround them. Without a doubt, the Great Lakes top the list as legendary bodies of water, but give some of these other lesser-known stunners a chance.

In addition to Walloon Lake, there are at least twelve other lakes worth the ride through the Michigan peninsulas.

12 Lakes as Good as (or Better Than?) the Great Lakes

  1. Lake St. Clair
  2. Torch Lake
  3. Crystal Lake
  4. Lake Charlevoix
  5. Higgins Lake
  6. Burt and Mullett Lake
  7. Lake Leelanau
  8. Glen Lake
  9. Silver Lake
  10. Houghton Lake
  11. Lake Ann
  12. Arbutus Lake

1. Lake St. Clair

Lake St Clair wood chart

Lake St. Clair is a beautiful freshwater lake that lies between the Canadian Province of Ontario and the state of Michigan. It has the distinction of connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie. An average depth of eleven feet is revealed in the bathymetry of a lake of wood, requiring both the United States and Canada to maintain a deep shipping channel through the shallow lake to ensure an uninterrupted waterway. 

2. Torch Lake

One look at the crystal blue waters of Torch Lake and you will think you have found a Caribbean oasis! The fjord-like bay of the lake has long been popular with Michiganders, with trolls and tourists quickly learning the poorly kept secret in "All Summer Long" (thanks, Kid Rock!).

The "Caribbean of the North" stretches long and narrow for nineteen miles with a sandbar that draws hundreds of visitors each summer, providing refuge for boats and partygoers alike. So, bring your sunscreen and your cooler - you may have just found the hottest spot in Michigan!

3. Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake wood chart

Crystal Lake is close to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, a popular vacation destination along the shores of Lake Michigan. Before the Civil War, Crystal Lake was known as "Cap Lake" due to the white caps that could appear on the water surface during high winds. The lake is fed by a small watershed which limits the effects of pollutants in the water, keeping the water clear and giving the lake its current name, Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake is a popular location for various water sports, including boating, jet skiing, and fishing. However, for those who enjoy communing with nature, the slower speed of paddleboarding and kayaking may be more your speed. In addition, the clear waters are home to a variety of fish for ample angling, including:

Fish in Crystal Lake

  • Northern pike
  • Rock bass
  • Yellow perch
  • Bluegill
  • Smallmouth bass 

4. Lake Charlevoix

Next time you are on Lake Michigan, pass through Round Lake to the quieter, pristine waters of Lake Charlevoix. This lake was voted the second-best in the United States, topped only by the incomparable Lake Tahoe. Its beauty and variety of recreational activities keep Lake Charlevoix on the top of must-see lists every year.

Recreational Activities at Lake Charlevoix

lake Charlevoix wood chart

  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Fishing
  • Diving Boating
  • Relaxing on the beach

Get lost in the tropical waters - meet up with friends on the sand bar and stay awhile. Plan your souvenirs wisely. This locale demands the purchase of lake art to satiate your desire to see this lake every day while you plan your escape back to the shores of this northern stunner. 

5. Higgins Lake

Higgins Lake is known for its deep, crystal-clear waters and excellent recreational opportunities. With state parks at both its north and south ends, Higgins Lake is a popular vacation destination for those wishing to experience unspoiled, natural beauty. With half its water coming from submerged springs, Higgins Lake remains a prolific fishing destination as well. 

6. Burt & Mullett Lake

Burt and Mullett Lake wood chart

Burt and Mullett Lakes are two lakes at the tip of The Mitten, just a stone's throw from two Great Lakes - Huron and Michigan. Follow the Cheboygan River from Lake Huron to enter the Inland Waterway, and you will pass the bustling riverside town of Cheboygan, where you can find dining, lodging, and local lake art.

Named after John Mullett and William Burt, land surveyors from the 1840s, these waterways are popular vacation destinations due to their proximity to the Great Lakes. A relaxing ride through the Inland Waterway takes you from Lake Burt, through Lake Mullett, and on to Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac. A unique and inspiring journey, to be sure. You might even want a lake of wood to remember it by! 

7. Lake Leelanau

What if I were to tell you that award-winning wineries are located near the shores of Lake Leelanau? The rolling countryside surrounding this lake boasts more than 26 wineries and offers a wine tour that will quickly become the most memorable part of your Up North experience. Lake Leelanau is divided into two bodies of water, and both are in high demand as features on wine tours.

Lake Leelanau has twenty-one miles of fresh water and is just east of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, making it a popular recreation destination. As the largest inland lake in the region, many seek these calm waters for boating, swimming, fishing, or simply soaking up the sun from the pristine shoreline. 

8. Glen Lake

Glen Lake wood chart

Comprised of two large lakes, Big Glen and Little Glen, these basins also deliver all the Caribbean feels while exploring the landscape Up North. The crystal blue water of these lakes connects to Lake Michigan through the channel at the Narrows, flowing through Crystal River to the Great Lake. 

Enjoy Local Hot Spots

The décor and authentic nautical feel of the local boutiques and restaurants will draw you in and leave you wanting lake art of your very own! High-quality lakes of wood will catch your eye as you shop and wander these lakeside towns. The hand-crafted beauties will remind you of your vacation to the best lakes in Michigan long after you have returned home. 

9. Silver Lake

Regattas, fishing, and wildlife, oh my! Silver Lake has all that and more to appeal to the adventurer in you. Ever wanted to ice fish from a hut? This is the place for you. With just over four miles of shoreline and relatively shallow water, much of the lake near the shore and beyond freezes over, creating excellent ice fishing opportunities. 

10. Houghton Lake

Houghton Lake Wood Chart

Houghton Lake is the largest inland lake in Michigan. Located in the heart of The Mitten, Houghton Lake is the destination of choice for the annual Tip-Up-Town USA, a large winter sports festival that includes fishing and other events on the frozen lake. This lake is a popular year-round resort and fishing area and is the ideal location for the Perfect Winter Sunset.

Lake Houghton is truly a vacationer's paradise with a little something for everybody. For the outdoors enthusiast, you will find fantastic camping, hiking, historical sites, and beaches. For the local flavor enthusiast, you will find theatre, amusement parks, fine dining, and shopping. Bring the natural vibe of this destination to your home with a handmade lake of wood. 

11. Lake Ann

Lake Ann has picturesque views and welcoming qualities that make visitors want to call this area home. Just a short stay will convince you that this lake has all the qualities that make you want to settle into this relaxing oasis. Snuggled between Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, and Crystal Mountain, this lake has it all.

Looking for an off-the-beaten-track gem? Check out Loon Song Covered Bridge. You will have to pay attention because there is minimal signage marking the route to this classic wooden bridge. The site consists of a single-lane wooden bridge with large beams and a belfry with a bell. The ninety-foot bridge crosses a ravine and small creek. The view is spectacular!

12. Arbutus Lake

Lake Arbutus wood chart

Arbutus Lake is known throughout the region as a popular destination due to its wineries, beautiful resorts, and campgrounds. Ever the perfectly genial host, Arbutus has a little something for everyone. Despite its irregular shape and shallowness, Lake Arbutus is famous for water activities such as rowing and fishing, among others.

Arbutus is large enough to accommodate sporting activities and calm enough to support paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing. The sandy bottom and gradually increasing depth make the perfect playground for children and younger swimmers. Enjoy the quiet and calm that makes Arbutus Lake a popular vacation destination and remember it forever with a lake of wood. 

More Than the Great Lakes

Silver Lake wood chart

Michigan is so much more than just the Great Lakes! While the five main lakes are, indeed, great, any lake of wood will show the topography of Michigan and reveal the many bodies of water with the wonder and beauty of HOMES. For any person that appreciates lake art, Michigan presents a fascinating study. 

Great Lakes of Michigan

  • Huron
  • Michigan
  • Erie
  • Superior

As seen in detailed lake art, only four of the five Great Lakes border Michigan. Lake Ontario is the only Great Lake that does not shape Michigan, making Ontario no less great! Study the bathymetry of Lake Ontario on any high-quality lake of wood to find great interest in the depths and shallows that keep this lake in good company with the other four Great Lakes.

Commemorating Your Time Among Michigan's Lakes

After spending time traversing the great state of Michigan and its two peninsulas, there is no better way to memorialize your time than with high-quality lake art. The beauty you will find throughout The Mitten and the U.P is some of the most defining moments in travel you may ever find.

Your home will become an art gallery - displaying the various lakes of wood you have collected to reflect your love for traveling in Michigan and the remarkable lakes you encountered throughout this colorful state. You can keep your collection eclectic by adding multiple styles of lake art to your collection, including: 

Various Forms of Lake Art

  • Wall art
  • Clock
  • Cork map
  • Cribbage board
  • Serving tray

Each lake of wood will provide both beauty and function within your home. A serving tray will be the perfect vehicle for afternoon tea while encouraging conversation about your time in Michigan, while a cribbage board encourages a rowdy match while putting your favorite piece of lake art in the center of the conversation. Plus, is there anything better than a wood map clock to remind you it is time to plan another trip to the heartland?

Each Trip Deserves Lake Art

Lake Ann wood chart

There is simply no such thing as too much lake art! Each trip to Michigan will inspire you to explore further into The Mitten and cross the Straits of Mackinaw to the Upper Peninsula. Each time you explore, you will be inspired to bring home another memory - a stunning lake of wood that depicts the depths and mysteries of one of the crystal-clear lakes in Michigan.

And certainly, don't be shy - you know if you love lake art, it will make the perfect gift for a fellow traveler or that friend or family member that is forever planning their first trip to the Winter Wonderland.

Support lake art! Recommend it to fellow travelers and compare collections. You never know how far you can travel when swapping stories with others who crave a life of adventure! 

The Great Lakes are Great

The Great Lakes are fantastic, but there is so much more to Michigan than the Big Five. Take time to get to know the many other remarkable lakes, extend your knowledge of the heartland, and increase your collection of lake art. The Winter Wonderland awaits!


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