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Best Lakes in Michigan

Best Lakes in Michigan

If you are looking for white-sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters, look no further than Michigan! Continue reading to discover the absolute best lakes in Michigan for your next freshwater adventure.

The state of Michigan has the most freshwater coastline in the United States. It sits nestled between four of the five Great Lakes including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie with plenty more inland lakes in between.

With all of this freshwater, Michigan is one of the best states for boaters, water sports, and getaways.  

1. Lake Michigan

Best Lakes in Michigan: Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan, Michigan

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes and is the only Great Lake located wholly in the United States. In fact, Lake Michigan is the largest lake by area in one country.

The shoreline runs along West Michigan and is home to the most beautiful sand dunes and sand beaches in the state.

Located in Northern Michigan, you will find Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, known for its long sandy beach, white sand, and Caribbean-like clear water.

Another popular Lake Michigan beach is Grand Haven Beach, which is located close to Grand Rapids and Holland. Grand Haven is also a favorite destination for sailors and power boaters. You can boat from Lake Michigan, the Grand River, and Spring Lake.

2. Torch Lake

Best Lakes in Michigan: Torch Lake
Torch Lake, Michigan

There ain't no party like a Torch Lake sandbar party! Torch Lake is home to a renowned 4th of July party that brings in hundreds of boaters to this popular destination.

The crystal clear turquoise waters of Torch Lake look like something that should come with palm trees instead of pine trees, making it one of the most unique and beautiful lakes in Michigan.

The lake itself used to be part of Lake Michigan until it was separated by the formation of a large sandbar. This sandbar now has boats anchored around it all the way through the boating season. Torch Lake is located close to Charlevoix and Traverse City in the Lower Peninsula.

All of this beauty attracts many rich and famous to Torch Lake as well. Kid Rock, Michael Moore, and Eminem all have homes on Torch Lake.

3. Lake Huron

Best Lakes in Michigan: Lake Huron - Mackinac Island
Lake Huron – Mackinac Island, Michigan

Lake Huron is another Great Lake located in Michigan. It sits on the east side of Michigan and connects to Lake Michigan with a 5-mile-wide stretch of open water called the Straits of Mackinac.

On the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac is where you will find Mackinac Island, a very popular beach town and vacation spot filled with historical landmarks. Mackinac Island has marinas for docking your boat and is a fantastic full-service boating destination.

Along the northern shoreline, Cheboygan State Park is a Michigan favorite for camping, hiking, kayaking, and fishing on Lake Huron.

4. Muskegon Lake

Best Lakes in Michigan: Muskegon Lake
Muskegon Lake, Michigan

Muskegon Lake is a gorgeous 4,232-acre lake with harbor access to the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. This makes it an awesome lake for boating.

A popular point of interest on Muskegon Lake is the Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse. This distinctive all-red lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots in Michigan.

Around the shores of Muskegon Lake, there are a number of yacht clubs and boat launches. It is also a very popular lake for water sports like waterskiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.

For anglers, Muskegon Lake does not disappoint with plentiful walleye, northern pike, largemouth, and smallmouth bass.

5. Lake Charlevoix

Best Lakes in Michigan: Lake Charlevoix
Lake Charlevoix, Michigan

Lake Charlevoix is the largest inland lake in Michigan. It is located near Boyne City and is a full-service vacation destination with many historical sites, unique shops, golf, craft beverages, and recreational opportunities.

For boaters, there is a lot of water to explore with a lake surface area of over 17,200 acres. You can also charter and rent boats to get out and explore if you don't have your own.

You can do pretty much any recreational water activity on Lake Charlevoix including fishing, all sorts of paddlesports, or just taking an evening cruise to see the beautiful homes that line the 56 miles of shoreline.

6. Higgins Lake

Best Lakes in Michigan: Higgins Lake
Higgins Lake, Michigan

Higgins Lake is located in Roscommon County in Michigan and is a premier destination for recreational boating and fishing. Higgins Lake is a very clear lake and beloved by pontoon boaters.

The lake is bookended by South Higgins Lake State Park and North Higgins Lake State Park where you can find public boat launches for accessing the lake.

These parks are also very popular for camping with plenty of hiking trails to explore.

7. Silver Lake

Best Lakes in Michigan: Silver Lake
Silver Lake, Michigan

Silver Lake is a 690-acre lake located just inland of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It is rimmed by Silver Lake State Park and the spectacular Silver Lake Sand Dunes, which are 2,000 acres of living and moving sand dunes.

From Silver Lake, boaters get to take in the natural beauty of the rolling sand dunes across the horizon. You can also ent a variety of boats, such as pontoons, fishing boats, canoes, and jet skis.

If you want to explore the lake from shore, you can rent dune buggies and ATVs for a unique recreational experience. There are also plenty of camping and lodging options if you want to make a getaway out of your trip to Silver Lake.

9. Lake Superior

Best Lakes in Michigan: Lake Superior
Lake Superior, Michigan

A list of Michigan lakes would not be complete without a nod to the greatest of all the great lakes. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the whole world and is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

For lighthouse lovers, the Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan has over 30 lighthouses. Some are still operational, and many have been turned into historical sites and even unique bed and breakfasts.

Boating on Lake Superior is not for the faint of heart. The lake can produce very large swells and waves. It is also a very deep lake. In spots, it is so deep that it would cover the Empire State Building.

Some points of interest on Lake Superior in Michigan include the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Copper Falls State Park.

10. Big Glen Lake

Best Lakes in Michigan: Big Glen Lake
Big Glen Lake, Michigan

Big Glen Lake is an almost perfectly round all-sports lake that is loved by local Michiganians and tourists alike. Like many Michigan lakes, Big Glen Lake is beautifully clear and has a turquoise hue.

It is located in Leelanau County near the charming little town of Glen Arbor. It is part of the greater Glen Lake that also includes Little Glen Lake. From the lake, you can see the rolling sandhills of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Big Glen Lake is a very popular lake for boating, swimming in the clear waters, and doing some fishing for yellow perch, smallmouth bass, northern pike, brown trout, and lake trout.

​Honorable Mentions

With so many beautiful lakes in Michigan, it was difficult to narrow down the list to just 10. Below are some honorable mentions that just missed the cut:

  1. Lake Leelanau
  2. Burt Lake
  3. Crystal Lake
  4. Gull Lake
  5. Lake St. Clair
  6. Portage Lake
  7. Lake of the Clouds

Bottom Line

Michigan's lakes are nothing short of a natural wonder. No other state touches more Great Lakes than Michigan, and great lakes don't stop there! Michigan is filled with Caribbean-like freshwater lakes that will instantly put you in a vacation state of mind.

Get out and explore Michigan's best lakes! They will not disappoint.

Deb Sauve
About Deb Sauvé

Deb is a Canadian outdoor enthusiast, journalist, and photographer. Raised in rural Northern Ontario, Deb is no stranger to extreme environments, remote fishing spots, and great lakes boating.

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