It is summertime, and travel is on the itinerary. When you pull out your maps, travel bucket list, and adventuring articles you have been saving all year, one destination rises to the top – Lake Michigan. You have wanted to visit this Great Lake for as long as you can remember and now is the time.
Lake Michigan is best known as the second largest of the Great Lakes, second only to Lake Superior. It is also the only Great Lake that is entirely within the United States. As a result, its waters and shorelines welcome thousands of visitors each year. Yoopers, trolls, and non-Michiganders alike travel all distances to experience the dunes, beaches, and forestry that make this lake a favorite in The Mitten.
Lake Michigan offers over 1600 miles of shoreline, the most famous stretch of which runs along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The lengthy shoreline also stretches through quaint beach towns and past lofty Michigan lighthouses. There are so many sights to see and enjoy along the sugar sand beaches that slope down to azure-blue water. So, grab a pop and keep reading while we outline a perfect trip to the Water Wonderland, Lake Michigan.
Where to Stay Near Lake Michigan
Summer is the perfect time to hit the road and enjoy the beautiful weather. Whatever lodging you prefer, Lake Michigan is sure to have an option that will keep you comfortable while you explore all the Great Lakes area has to offer. Everywhere you look, nature will be putting its best lake art on display, creating picturesque scenes that will stay with you long after you return home.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park offers the perfect compromise between staying at the beach and camping in the woods. Whether you choose to stay in the dunes perched over four hundred feet above Lake Michigan or closer to the long, narrow lakeshore, you will marvel at the lakes, streams, bogs, and landforms. There are two campsites close to the lake or you can choose the adventure of backcountry camping for a more rustic experience.
Backcountry Camping Experience on Lake Michigan
- White Pine Backcountry Camping
- South Manitou Island
- North Manitou Island
Step back in time at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, sip lemonade, and travel by horse-drawn carriage on the property of this 1886 historical landmark. The main dining room and expansive front porch overlook the Straits of Mackinac, providing a unique view from the tip of The Mitten.
A special occasion outside of the summer months takes place on the last night of the season, October 31st, when guests are invited to take part in the closing of the hotel for the winter. Everyone joins in cleaning out the food and wine cellars, ringing the bell to signify the end of the season and the presentation of the Employee of the Year.
Where to Eat Near Lake Michigan
Where to eat becomes the most challenging question of the day when you are traveling near Lake Michigan. The sheer number of choices makes this an adventure for your taste buds and a treat for foodies searching for great grub. In the Big City of Chicago or quaint beach towns along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, you are never far from elevated dining with a comfortable, Midwest vibe.
Windy City Picks on Lake Michigan
The Best Eateries in the Beach Towns
- The Toasted Pickle
- The Southerner
- Pennyroyal Café and Provisions
- Flagship Specialty Foods and Fish Market
As you cruise down the coastline of The Mitten, you will be drawn into the small towns with their unique boutiques, lake art galleries, and whimsical eateries. The friendliest people you have ever met will greet you on your travels and the Great Lakes will solidify their place in your heart as a natural wonder.
The lodging and food alone will reinforce Lake Michigan as your favorite vacation destination, but you will also be entertained by the activities you encounter along the way.
What to Do Near Lake Michigan
There are so many things to do and explore near Lake Michigan. Off the water, there are miles of hiking trails to explore. Plus, there are miles of watershed for boating, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and soaking in the sun on sandbars. Spending time in the fresh air is what being on Lake Michigan is all about!
If you spend the day on the lake, choose your speed – paddleboard, dinghy, pontoon boat, or jet ski! You can enjoy first-class fishing from the shoreline or many piers anytime without hopping in a boat. Summer fishing from the shore will bring optimal opportunities to catch some of Michigan’s finest, including:
Fishing In Lake Michigan
- smallmouth bass
Check Out Lighthouses Along Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan has one hundred and two lighthouses along its shores. These lighthouses have long cast their lights over the treacherous shoreline, warning ships of danger. As you visit these historical sites, learn more about the ships that were lost in the depths of the lake and the legend of the Michigan Triangle. Even in the heat of summer, you may shiver thinking of the ghostships that lie on the lake floor, some perfectly preserved in the ice-cold water.
Great Lakes Art is a Popular Find
It will not take long to lose yourself in the quaint art galleries and boutiques of the many beach towns along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Lake art, specifically Great lakes art, can be found in many mediums, shapes, and sizes and will end up being the perfect addition to your art collection at home.
Some of the best Great Lakes art can be attributed to local artists. The photos they snap capture the majestic nature of Lake Michigan and reflect it back to all who gaze upon the picture. This lake art inspires memories of time spent near the dunes and in the shallows of the lake, savoring precious time with family and friends. There is no better lake art than the piece that captures the joy of family.
You have admired the vibe of beach town décor for years – now it is time to bring it on home and make it part of your daily ambiance. The best part of the Great Lakes art you bring home is that purchasing lake art supports local artists. You can also create your own lake art with family photos or snapshots of your favorite sights. Either way, you bring the best of your experience at Lake Michigan home with you to remind you of that amazing travel experience.
In addition to the Great Lakes art you find in your travels, you will want to commemorate this memorable summer vacation with a high-quality Lake Michigan wood chart to capture your days spent along the shoreline of this genuinely great lake.
The Great Lakes have been high on your list for years, and you are finally making it to The Mitten. Pack your cooler and enjoy a long road trip along the lakeshore!