Are you looking forward to spring and summer, when you can start getting your boat out into the water and spending some quality time with your friends and family?
Did you know that in the Mitten, you are never more than six miles from the nearest body of water? The state is home to the Great Lakes and boasts the nation's longest freshwater shoreline at 3,300 miles.
Here are some great places for you to explore when the weather heats up:
- Lake Huron – Les Cheneaux Islands: This chain of 36 islands is very popular among boaters. The calm waters of Lake Huron are perfect for boating, each summer season capped off by the August antique wooden boat show. Be sure to check out the E.J. Mertaugh Boatworks, the area's first Chris-Craft boat franchise, and the Great Lakes Boat Building School -- the only non-profit school of its kind in the Midwest.
- Torch Lake – Alden: This unique lake is one of the more popular lakes in Michigan. Torch Lake is the state’s deepest lake, and one of the most clear. The many sand bars are great for anchoring the boat and hanging out with friends for a few hours, and the small village of Alden on the lake’s southeast curve boasts one of the few public beaches and the Dockside Restaurant.
- Lake St. Clair – Detroit: This historic lake was discovered in 1679! Today, the six-mile long lake that connects Lake Erie to Lake Huron and the Detroit River. The lake is 26 miles by 24 miles, and numerous islands and channels make it great for a day out on the water. In 2013, Bassmasters named it the number one bass fishing lake in the world.
- Spring Lake and Lake Michigan – Grand Haven: Grand Haven is a popular tourist town that has rich boating history. It was once a leading port for vacation ferries and passenger lines, and now hosts the annual Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival with ship tours as well as live music, parades, and more. Besides boating on Lake Michigan and Spring Lake, there’s also miles of shoreline, dunes, and a boardwalk to enjoy!
- Big Manistique Lake – Curtis: This 20,000 acre lake is the largest of the Manistique lakes, and connects to hundreds of miles of rivers and streaks. The lake is well stocked with muskie, perch, and whitefish, making it a fisherman’s dream destination. There are several summer festivals featuring food and music, and lots of waterfront restaurants to discover.
- Lake Charlevoix – Charlevoix and Boyne City: This lake was once named the second most beautiful lake in the country by USA Today, second only to Lake Tahoe. Its clarity and the surrounding green hillsides make it a perfect summer getaway. Check out the annual Venetian Festival highlighted by the candlelit boat parade!
- Grand Lake – Alpena: In Alpena, check out the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan to see wooden sailing vessels and motorized ones built in the area to really get a feel for how boating culture has impacted the region. Grand Lake is seven miles long, 1.5 miles across, and has several islands to explore.
- Mullett Lake – Topinabee: Mullet Lake is known as “the lake with room for everyone”, with 26 miles of surface area. On the lake’s shores is Aloha State Park which is very popular for boaters. Part of the Inland Waterway, this series of connected lakes and rivers can take you from one side of the state to the other by water.
- Lake Leelanau – Leland: This lake has been a central feature of this region since early settlement of the state, and is very popular for boating. The lake is dividing into two sections, North and South Lake Leelanau, connected by the Narrows. The slower-traveled Narrows are great for paddling, and wildlife spotting, and the Boathouse Vineyards are right on the shores.
- Gull Lake – Battle Creek: This lake is in close proximity to population centers like Chicago, and its deep, clear waters are great for divers. Many homes and cottages dot the shoreline of Gull Lake, and with a surface area of more than 2,000 acres, this lake is great for sport fishery for trout, salmon, small mouth bass, smelt, and yellow perch.