One of the five Great Lakes of North America, Lake Michigan is an impressive expanse of water that borders the four states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, Lake Michigan boasts more than 1,600 miles of shoreline and has a plethora of fantastic places to stay on and around the lake.
Lake Michigan is an all-sports lake and offers all kinds of outdoor and water-based activities from boating, swimming, paddling, and fishing to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, trekking, and more. Lake Michigan is also home to 102 lighthouses that are fascinating destinations to visit.
Pyramid Point, Lake Michigan by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory – 5254 / WikiCommons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Best Time of Year to Visit Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan experiences all four seasons during the year, depending on where you are based, however, the best time of year to hit the campgrounds on Lake Michigan is from the end of May to the beginning of October.
Mid-July through September sees the warmest water temperatures in the lake, while late September to mid-October is the best time to enjoy the changing of the season and leaves turning into golden hues of reds, oranges, and ochres.
Best Campgrounds on Lake Michigan
Ludington State Park, Michigan
Nestled between the shores of Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park has four camping areas that cater to tents, trailers, and RVs. The park is perfect for both enjoying the beach, as well as hiking through beautiful woods and dunes. The campground is a short drive from downtown Ludington, which is home to many shops, cafés, restaurants, and quaint little art studios.
Amenities in the campground within the park include electricity and water hook-ups, picnic tables, fire pits, water filling stations, and a dump station. The campground also has three mini, rustic cabins available for booking and a boat launch is available on Hamlin Lake. Pets are allowed in the campground, but not on the beaches.
Nestled between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake just north of Ludington, Michigan, Ludington State Park encompasses almost 5,300 acres comprising several ecosystems, including dense forests, lush marshlands and wetlands, lakes, rivers, sandy beaches, and scenic dunes.
Campground facilities include swimming pools, playgrounds, laundry rooms, games rooms, convenience stores, and fish freezers, and other activities include interpretive programs, nature hikes, classes, and a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431, United States, Phone: +1 231-843-2423
Illinois Beach State Park, Illinois
Located an hour north of Chicago, Illinois Beach State Park is home to the only campground on Lake Michigan in Illinois. The park boasts beautiful landscapes for hiking, wildflower and wildlife viewing, fishing, and boating and the park has a sandy beach and lovely clean water for swimming.
Campground amenities in the Illinois Beach State Park include electricity and water hook-ups, water stations, and a dump station, as well as picnic tables, and fire rings. In addition, there are water stations in the park and a dump station. Illinois Beach State Park Campground is a pet-friendly campground; however, dogs need to be on leads when hiking through the nature reserve.
1 Lake Front Dr, Zion, IL 60099, United States, Phone: +1 847-662-4811
Orchard Beach State Park, Michigan
Located on a stretch of rugged coastline in Manistee, Michigan, Orchard Beach State Park is one of the best places to visit to experience the changing colors of fall. The pet-friendly campground has full amenities such as electricity and water hook-ups, water stations, and a dump station, as well as picnic tables, and fire rings, and activities include fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and mountain biking.
The town of Manistee is well worth a visit. Once renowned as a town of millionaires in the late 1800s, today the town has lovely old buildings to explore and plenty of shops, restaurants, cafés, and more. Leisure boats can be chartered from Manistee Harbor, and tours of the surrounding forests can be arranged from the town.
2064 Lakeshore Rd, Manistee, MI 49660, United States, Phone: +1 231-723-7422
Harrington Beach State Park, Wisconsin
Harrington Beach State Park is a lovely, pet-friendly state park with a campground in Belgium, Wisconsin. The campground is a short walk from Lake Michigan and offers sites with and without electricity, picnic tables, fire rings, water stations, and a dump station.
The campground is ideal for enjoying a range of outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, kayaking, paddling, and fishing on the lake, as well as hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and stargazing from this mile-long shoreline. There is an excellent and well-developed trail system for hiking, as well as roads for biking.
531 Co Rd D, Belgium, WI 53004, United States, Phone: +1 262-285-3015
Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana
Indiana Dunes State Park is a 2,182-acre park that features pristine landscapes ranging from white sandy beaches, rolling dunes, marshy swamps, and wetlands to hardwood forests and white pine groves. Amenities in the park include camping and picnicking to hiking and mountain biking on 16.5 miles of trails that wind through the park’s diverse landscapes.
The park is renowned for its towering dunes that have taken thousands of years to form, reaching up to heights of 200 feet and providing habitats for an array of fauna and flora. The park has a campground that boasts a variety of campsites of different classes for walk-in tent camping and RV camping, all of which have water, electricity, sewerage hook-ups, and bathrooms with showers, hot running water, and flush toilets.
1600 N 25 E, Chesterton, IN 46304, United States, Phone: +1 219-926-1952
Charles Mears State Park, Michigan
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Pentwater, Charles Mears State Park is a family-friendly campground with lovely lake views and ample amenities. Based within a short walk from the beach, the campground offers full amenities including electricity and water hook-ups, picnic tables, fire rings, potable water, a dump station, and a modern bathhouse.
The campground is linked to the channel and pier by a boardwalk and there’s a dog beach at the south end of the beach, next to the pier. The quaint town of Pentwater is a 15-minute walk from the campground and has several restaurants, cafés, and shops.
400 W Lowell St, Pentwater, MI 49449, United States, Phone: +1 231-869-2051
Kohler-Andrae State Park, Wisconsin
Located a few miles south of Sheboygan, the Kohler-Andrae State Park is made up of two state parks, namely the Terry Andrae State Park and the Michael Kohler State Park, which are managed together as one.
The park is home to beautiful natural landscapes and offers an array of activities, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, boating, fishing, sailing, kayaking, swimming, and relaxing on the beach. A Nature Center is open seasonally from May through October and offers a wealth of information on the area, and there are several cross-country skiing and beach trails. There is also a 2.5-mile trail that allows horses.
Resting on the shores of Lake Michigan and fondly known as ‘The Spirit on the Lake,’ the city of Sheboygan is a charming coastal community that offers an enchanting mix of historical and cultural attractions and outdoor recreational activities. From museums, galleries, cultural events, and festivals to white sandy beaches, pristine golf courses, and the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan, Sheboygan has something for the whole family.
Enjoy world-class sailing and premier charter fishing on the lake, explore the historic downtown district that boasts an array of unique shopping, dining, and entertainment, or head into the great outdoors at one of the 34 beautiful parks or three athletic complexes to have some outdoor fun.
1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI 53081, United States, Phone: +1 920-451-4080
Soaring Eagle Hideaway RV Park
Resting on the shores of Grewe’s Lake, Soaring Eagle Hideaway RV Park is a spacious campground with full hook-ups and some pull-through sites for those who aren’t comfortable backing their RV up. A variety of amenities at the park include clean restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities, as well as an onsite ATM and store.
You’ll also find a games room, swimming pool, and hot tub, and there is a restaurant and cocktail bar located in the campground. A casino is located on the same property at the campground with a complimentary shuttle service to and from the campground and the lovely Grewe’s Lake provides a wealth of fun activities from boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing.
If you want to get out of the park and take a day trip, the campground is a short drive away from Ludington State Park and the beautiful Silver Lake.
5514 E Airport Rd, Mount Pleasant, MI 48858
Northpointe Shores RV Resort
Located right on the shore of Lake St. Clair, Northpointe Shores RV Resort is a small, intimate, adults-only park with a first-class marina with a boat ramp. Boasting just 36 sites for RVs with paved pads and full hookups, the campground is ideal for a quiet, hassle-free getaway.
Each site also features a patio, and a picnic table and park amenities include clean restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, a recreation center and exercise room, and some outdoor games. Nearby attractions include hiking and mountain biking, the Henry Ford Museum, and Lake Huron.
10413 Dixie Highway, Ira Township, MI 48023
Holiday Park Campground
Holiday Park Campground is a large, family-friendly campground with 217 sites of various sizes with full hook-ups, water stations, and a dump station. Park amenities include laundry facilities, a playground, outdoor games, and onsite shopping, and the in-park lake presents opportunities for fishing, swimming, boating, and soaking up the spectacular scenery.
The park is within a short distance of Interlochen State Park where there are excellent hiking and mountain biking trails, a local casino for some gambling fun, the family-friendly fun Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park, and several beautiful sandy beaches.
Last but not least, we need to mention what a great area this campground is in. Not only are you right by a local casino and plenty of hiking opportunities, but you’re also right by Interlochen State Park, fun roadside attractions (like the world’s largest cherry pie and the “Hippie Trees” art installation), the super fun Pirate’s Cove Adventure Park, and a variety of sandy beaches! Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is only 45 minutes away and other day trip options include Big Sable Point Lighthouse and Hamlin Lake.
4860 US-31S, Traverse City, MI 49685
Houghton Lake Travel Park Campground
Houghton Lake Travel Park Campground is located on Houghton Lake and just north of the lovely Roscommon State Forest and offers a wealth of outdoor activities such as archery, fishing, boating, mountain biking, hunting, and more.
The campground has sites for both tents and RVs with either water and electric hook-ups or full hook-ups and can accommodate all sizes of trailers and rigs. Park amenities include a heated swimming pool, a children’s playground, a games room, Wi-Fi, horseshoes, and shuffleboard, and a host of planned activities available to campers throughout the year.
370 Cloverleaf Lane, Houghton Lake, MI 48629
Camp Lord Willing RV Park & Campground
Located just south of Detroit, Camp Lord Willing RV Park & Campground is an ideal place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s also a great base to stay in if you plan to explore Detroit. The campground features 100 large sites with full hook-ups, picnic tables, and fire rings. Rubbish pick-up is available for all guests.
The campground features a variety of amenities, including restrooms with showers, laundry machines, a playground, firewood and ice for sale, bike rentals, and onsite Wi-Fi. Guests also have access to Lord Willing Lake, so they can enjoy activities like fishing, swimming, boating, and paddle-boating.
Detroit is full of exciting and intriguing spots to keep the family and the kids entertained from the Henry Ford Museum where they learn more about the history of the motorcar and the Detroit Zoo with its variety of animals and bird species to snacking on delicious food at the Eastern Market and enjoying nature hikes, swimming, and some fun in the sun at the Belle Isle Nature Center and Aquarium. Here are some of the best things to do with children in Motor City.
1600 Stumpmier Rd, Monroe, MI 48162
Waffle Farm Campgrounds
Renowned as a paradise for “water-lovers,” Waffle Farm Campgrounds offers campers access to a chain of no less than seven lakes. Campers can enjoy a wealth of water-based activities from boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming to canoeing, paddleboarding, and more.
The sites at Waffle Farm Campgrounds offer tent-only sites as well as spacious RV sites, many of which can accommodate large rigs. All RV sites have full hookups, water, and sewer disposal. There are also picnic tables, fire rings, and rubbish collection. Other amenities such as Clean, well-kept restrooms with showers, cable TV and Wi-Fi, and a shop selling essentials like firewood, groceries, ice, RV supplies, and fishing gear.
Guests can enjoy a range of fun activities from a games room, a bounce pillow, a playground, mini golf, and a driving range.
790 N Union City Rd, Coldwater, MI 49036
Somerset Beach Campground & Retreat Center
Located about an hour outside of Ann Arbor, Somerset Beach Campground & Retreat Center is an excellent place for visitors to make their base who wish to explore the city. The RV sites have plenty of shade from large trees and offer 30-amp electrical hook-ups, fire rings, and picnic tables, and cabin rentals are also available for campers who prefer to stay in a cabin.
RV and camping supplies are available for purchase at the campground and an onsite snack bar offers refreshments. There is Wi-Fi available throughout the park, as well as worship services for those you require. The lake offers a variety of outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing, as well as hiking, mountain biking, and more around the lake.
9822 Brooklawn Ct, Somerset Center, MI 49282
Things to do in Ann Arbor
Located just west of Detroit, Ann Arbor is a pretty university city that offers a wealth of things to see and do when visiting. Home to the sprawling University of Michigan, which is known for its world-class research programs, Ann Arbor is also home to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, with plenty of child-friendly interactive exhibits.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum offers imaginative and interactive learning experiences to inspire visitors to discover the wonder of science, technology, art, math, and engineering. Established in a historic firehouse in downtown Ann Arbor 33 years ago, the Museum quickly grew to become the cornerstone of science education in the community and today boasts over 20,000 square feet of exhibition space with more than 250 interactive displays devoted to promoting science and literacy.
Signature exhibits include ‘The World Around You, where visitors can explore The Bubble Capsule, Climbing Wall, and Magnet exhibits that will spark the imagination, ‘The Lyon Country Store,’ a 1930s shopping experience, and ‘Michigan Nature’, which presents an interactive nature walk, a native fish lake, and a soundscape from Michigan. The Museum also hosts special events throughout the year, such as Walk This Way, which explores the science of locomotion with the U of M Robotics and Motion Laboratory.
220 E. Ann Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Phone: 734.995.5439, https://www.aahom.org/
Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two properties operated by the University of Michigan that feature an array of botanical and display gardens, a conservatory, natural areas with hiking and walking trails, and several research-quality habitats.
The Botanical Gardens include display gardens like the Great Lakes Garden, Bonsai and Penjing Garden, the Garfield Children’s Garden, and a network of trails for walking, hiking, wildlife, and bird watching. A beautiful 10,000+ square-foot conservatory designed by architect Alden Dow is the largest university-operated display greenhouse in the United States and features a hot house, temperate house, arid house, and world-renowned Bonsai Collection.
The Nichols Arboretum is a haven for students and visitors alike and is home to the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden, as well as several collections of native and historic plants. Both gardens are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
1800 N. Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, Phone: 734-647-7600, http://www.lsa.umich.edu/mbg/
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum is located on the north campus of the University of Michigan. One of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is a valuable repository that houses important items on the life, career, and presidency of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States of America.
Other important items in the library include a variety of materials on U.S. domestic issues and political affairs during the Cold War era, including letters, memos, reports, multimedia, and other historical documents. Facilities at the library range from an expansive lobby, which offers an exceptional venue to hire, a 1,700 square foot stage and audiovisual-equipped auditorium, classrooms for meetings and lectures, and a library courtyard for periodic functions.
1000 Beal Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Phone: 734-205-0555, http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/
Kerrytown is a historic district in Ann Arbor that is renowned for its quaint brick streets, vibrant culture, and diverse array of shops. Named after County Kerry in Ireland, Kerrytown was established as part of the original town of Ann Arbor and was later meticulously restored to its former glory into what it is today.
Kerrytown now features several bustling markets, outstanding restaurants, and locally owned shops selling everything from fashionable clothing and jewelry to handmade art, vintage treasures, and toys. Traditional markets include Zingerman’s Deli, the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, and the Ann Arbor Artisans’ Market, which sell a range of locally sourced products, farm produces, gourmet food, and baked goods while the Kerrytown Concert House and Braun Court are lovely to visit.
407 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, http://kerrytown.com/
Standing in the center of the University of Michigan campus, the Hill Auditorium is a large performance venue that hosts a variety of large public events and highlights the best performing artists in the world.
Designed and built by Albert Kahn in 1913 and named in honor of Arthur Hill, the auditorium boasts a unique, hemispherical stage, superb acoustics, and seating for up to 3,500 people. The famous hall has seen performances by world-renowned artists, including Rachmaninoff, the Vienna Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra, Elton John, and The Grateful Dead.
825 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Phone: 734-764-2538, http://www.music.umich.edu/about/facilities/central_campus/hill/
University of Michigan Museum of Art
Built as a war memorial in 1909, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is one of the largest university art museums in the country. The Museum is home to the newly renovated Alumni Memorial Hall, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel, and the Frankel Family Wing and features a comprehensive collection of more than 19,000 works that span an array of periods, cultures, and forms of media.
The collection boasts work by Pablo Picasso, Franz Kline, Claude Monet, Randolph Rogers, and Kara Walker and represents over 150 years of the art collection at the University. The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and classes for both students and visitors, as well as docent-led tours of the museum and unique art-based events throughout the year.
525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1354, Phone: 734.764.0395, http://www.umma.umich.edu/
Hudson Mills Metropark
Located 12 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, the Hudson Mills Metropark is an outdoor park that is made up of more than 1,500 acres of dense woodlands, rolling meadows, and shimmering wetlands teeming with wildlife and birds.
The park offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, such as canoeing and kayaking on the Huron River, shoreline and fly fishing, hiking, biking, and trekking. A beautifull 18-hole, par-72 golf course, and two disc golf courses are ideal for lovers of the game while groups of friends can enjoy a game of basketball, volleyball, softball, or soccer.
Other amenities in the Metropark include picnic shelters, a children’s play area with swings and slides, a canoe camp, and tennis and shuffleboard courts. Winter offers cross-country skiing trails for groomed skiers.
8801 N. Territorial Road, Dexter MI 48130, Phone: (734) 426-8211, http://www.metroparks.com/hudson-mills-metropark
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is located on the University of Michigan’s central campus and is a unit of the University’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The Museum has a comprehensive collection of over 100,000 ancient and medieval artifacts from civilizations of the Mediterranean and the East, including ancient Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan, Persian, and Islamic objects.
In addition to the vast collection of archeological artifacts, the museum is also home to valuable objects regarding the study of archeology, such as excavation records and archeological photographs. Among the museum’s most significant holdings are a rare collection of Egyptian mummy masks, ancient Greek coins, Roman brick stamps, and the largest collection of Parthian pottery outside Iraq. The Kelsey also offers to evolve special exhibitions, educational programs for children, and various fieldwork projects.
434 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Phone: 734-764-9304, https://www.lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/
Yost Ice Arena
Formerly known as the Fielding H. Yost Field House after Michigan’s legendary football coach and Director of Athletics, the Yost Ice Arena is home to the University of Michigan varsity ice hockey team, who currently plays in the Big Ten Conference.
Recognized as one of the premier college hockey venues in the country, the 6,600-seat arena has served as the home of Michigan hockey for over 40 years, as well as the University of Michigan’s Senior and Collegiate Synchronized skating and freestyle teams. Local high school teams, recreational leagues (AAAHA), and the university’s intramural hockey league also call the Arena home, which has hosted the NCAA Hockey Tournament games five times.
1116 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Phone: 734-764-4600, http://yost.umich.edu/