From Cherry-licious Traverse City to Windmills and Tulips in Holland: Lake Michigan’s Got You Covered
Lake Michigan is the third-largest of the Great Lakes, and its 1,640-mile shoreline is dotted with charming towns, breathtaking beaches, and stunning natural landscapes–from the rugged shores of northern Michigan to the vibrant city of Chicago, and it offers many opportunities for travelers to explore and enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, a scenic road trip, or an urban adventure, the towns along Lake Michigan have something to offer everyone. This guide will highlight some unique towns to visit along Lake Michigan and share what makes them worth experiencing.
Here are some of towns to explore:
- Traverse City, Michigan: Located on the eastern shore, Traverse City is known for its beautiful beaches, wineries, and cherry orchards. Visitors can explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, take a scenic drive along M-22, or sample local wines on the Leelanau Peninsula.
- Holland, Michigan: Known for its Dutch heritage and colorful tulip festival, Holland is a popular destination for visitors. Visitors can tour the Windmill Island Gardens, walk along the Holland State Park beach, or visit the DeZwaan Windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States.
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin: As the largest city on Lake Michigan, Milwaukee offers a blend of big-city amenities and waterfront charm. Visitors can tour the Milwaukee Art Museum, stroll along the RiverWalk, or enjoy a cold beer at one of the city’s many breweries.
- Saugatuck, Michigan: This charming town on the western shore is known for its picturesque harbor, art galleries, and boutique shops. Visitors can explore the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, ride the historic Star of Saugatuck paddleboat, or sample locally-made chocolates.
- St. Joseph, Michigan: This small town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan offers stunning views of the lake and a charming downtown area. Visitors can explore the Silver Beach County Park and the St. Joseph Lighthouse or take a sunset cruise.
Did you know?
Lake Michigan is home to more than 60 species of fish, including salmon, trout, perch, and whitefish. However, the lake’s most famous fish is probably the lake sturgeon, which can grow over six feet long and weigh over 200 pounds.
These sturgeon are considered a threatened species due to overfishing and habitat loss, but conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore their populations. In some areas, there is a catch-and-release sturgeon fishing season to help promote conservation efforts.
A little history:
The region was originally home to several Native American tribes, including the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Menominee, who relied on the lake for transportation, fishing, and trade. In the 1600s, French explorers and fur traders arrived, establishing trading posts and settlements along the lake’s shore.
During the 1800s, the towns along Lake Michigan played an essential role in the development of the Midwest. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 made it easier for goods and people to travel from the East Coast to the Midwest, and many towns became important transportation hubs.
As the region grew, so did its industries. The timber industry boomed in northern Michigan, while the steel and shipping industries thrived in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee.
In the early 1900s, the automobile industry began to take off, and towns like Benton Harbor and St. Joseph in Michigan became popular tourist destinations for travelers exploring the country by car.
The towns along the water continue to evolve, with many embracing their rich history and natural beauty to attract visitors worldwide. From historic lighthouses and museums to vineyards and beaches, these charming communities are worthy of exploration.