600,000 gallons of water fall right before your eyes at Niagara Falls — Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA Beaches, biking, boating, canoeing, hiking and even scuba diving can be enjoyed along the Great Lakes. Truly, there are thousands of places of interests along the world’s largest body of fresh water which includes five lakes: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. From a famous waterfall to national parks and art galleries, visitors can experience a full spectrum of activities at each unique destination.
Niagara Falls, New York
The backdrop to many honeymoon and family photos, the combination of the height and volume of this waterfall makes Niagara Falls one of the most beautiful places to visit and part of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Considered a crown jewel on Lake Erie, the tiny two by four mile island is filled with historic, Victorian-era homes and family-friendly activities from gem mining to cave tours and go-kart racing.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Soaring limestone bluffs, stunning vistas and rolling forests enchant visitors who prefer to spend days on the island in Lake Huron. Catch an art show, enjoy some locally handmade fudge, watch butterflies flutter, bike the coastline or just go for long walks that you won’t want to end.
Traverse City, Michigan
Sleeping Bear Dunes overlook — Photo courtesy of Snikeltrut/iStockClimb to the top of Sleeping Bear Dunes, ride along one of the best coastal drives and take in the natural beauty that surrounds Traverse City nestled along Lake Michigan. Plenty of restaurants offer farm-to-table. Don’t miss a stop at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Previously a mental asylum, the 63-acre site is now home to an historic arboretum, hiking and biking trails and an expansive indoor marketplace that features eclectic shops and dining options.
There are thousands of miles of back roads, marked trails, logging roads, cross-country ski tracks, national and state forest trails as well as and paved biking paths to explore in Marquette making this destination along the largest fresh water lake, Lake Superior, among a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts.
Best known for its art scene, Saugatuck’s beauty lies within its vintage, small-town Americana feel with quaint shops and art galleries that line Lake Michigan. This charming beauty recently landed the #1 spot in our USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice contest for Best Weekend Escape.
Chicago's Oak Street Beach steps away from many Chicago attractions. — Photo courtesy of ©Choose Chicago
Unlike many destinations along the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan in Chicago is very much a cosmopolitan city complete with not only a great bike trail along the lake but also world-class attractions including museums, dining options and beaches.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Visitors can watch otters play, kayak beneath Lake Superior cliffs or shop boutiques and wander through art galleries in this historic village. It’s also home to the longest-lived art colony in Minnesota. The Grand Marais Art Colony began as a summer refuge for artists seeking study in the wilderness in 1947.
Along Lake Superior, visitors can camp, kayak and rock climbing at Madeline Island. — Photo courtesy of Madeline Island
Madeline Island, Wisconsin
Along Lake Superior in Wisconsin, the island is largest of the Apostle Islands. Take a ferry over to the island and then head to Big Bay State Park where camping, kayaking, swimming, hiking and rock climbing can be enjoyed. Near the ferry is Greunke’s Restaurant and First Inn Street where one can enjoy fish boils and trout liver.
Surrounded by Lake Michigan, Door County features 300 miles of shoreline — Photo courtesy of Door County, Wisconsin
Door County, Wisconsin
A four-season destination, Door County offers 300 miles of shoreline and five state parks as well as 11 lighthouses, unique communities, performing arts and cuisine that ranges from gourmet to casual.