BRING YOUR BOAT SOMEWHERE BEAUTIFUL THIS SUMMER
Who doesn’t like the idea of towing your boat to somewhere new and beautiful? Most can agree to this, but the question is, where do you pull your boat? Michigan has plenty of lakes to visit (46,199 to be exact) which all range in size, scenery, and attractions to see. Michigan also has the unique privilege of bordering four out of the five great lakes!
We’ve visited our fair share of lakes over the years, and it’s tough to nail down a “must see” list. However, here are a few that stand out:
1) TORCH LAKE
Torch Lake is arguably the most famous inland lake in Michigan! Located in northern Michigan, it was voted the 3rd most beautiful lake in the world by National Geographic. It’s crystal blue water resembles the Caribbean and reflected sun rises and sets make it feel magical. The topography makes for steep banks without any great beaches. No need to fret though because crowds gather at a large sandbar on the south side of the lake. Even on cloudy days, hundreds of boaters anchor down and tie up for a fun day on the lake. Not feeling the crowd? It’s easy to find a quiet cove to relax being Michigan’s second-biggest inland lake. It’s popular for fishing and the development of resorts. Rumors have it that Kid Rock, Michael Moore, and Eminem own vacation homes on the lake!
SIZE: 18,770 Acres
AVERAGE DEPTH: 111 FT
ABOUT THE CITY
Bellaire is about a 20-30 minute drive from Torch, but worth every second. The village is peaceful and full of unique shops, restaurants, and even a state-of-the-art movie theater! Perhaps the most well-known attraction is Short’s Brewery. The brewpub is known for great live music, games, and a fantastic selection of beer.
WHERE TO EAT
Perfect place to tie up, relax, and enjoy the beauty of Torch Lake! It features a large outdoor deck that oversees Torch Lake and the entrance of Calm Lake. They offer a variety of food from seafood, Mexican, American, Deli favorites, etc.
2) LAKE CHARLEVOIX
Including Lake Charlevoix on this list was a no-brainer. According to USA Today, Lake Charlevoix is America’s second-best lake. It boasts some of the world’s finest sunsets, beaches, boating, and gastronomy! There is a shallow ledge that outlines the entire lake making it perfect for anchoring and relaxing. Similar to Torch Lake, it has crystal clear blue water and surrounded by gorgeous tree lines helping keep the lake protected and tucked away from the wind. The lake hosts a variety of boat races including Boyne Thunder. This event showcases high-performance boats, slicing through the waters of Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. Lastly, Lake Charlevoix has direct access out to Lake Michigan. You can enjoy the amenities an inland lake has to offer while still having access to the big water.
SIZE: 17,260 Acres
AVERAGE DEPTH: 55 FT
ABOUT THE CITY
Charlevoix borders Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan giving the location best of both worlds. It’s loaded with beaches and parks perfect for family outings. They also have a downtown area full of shops, wineries, and craft beer. Regardless of age, Charlevoix has something for everyone!
WHERE TO EAT
The Landing is located right on Lake Charlevoix. They have dock space where you can tie your boat and a spacious new mezzanine area with beautiful views. The food is fantastic with prices that won’t break the bank! You can get a decent meal for under $15.
3) LAKE ST. CLAIR
Lake St. Clair is a freshwater lake that lies between the province of Ontario and Michigan on the east side of the state. It’s big in size (some places you can’t see the shore) yet also small meaning everything is accessible in a relatively short time. This lake is perhaps the most diverse lake in Michigan. You have direct access to two of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. You get a great view of Detroit and Canada while cruising the Detroit and St Clair rivers. You can even boat to a Detroit Tigers game! There are many islands and bays to drop anchor where you can swim and enjoy the natural beauty of Lake St Clair (here are a few spots to consider). Most of the small islands on the lake have a sandy beach or a sandbar to enjoy. Some aren’t as family friendly, though (Gull Island is one example during Jobbie Nooner Weekend). Lake St. Clair truly has everything to offer being located in the heart of the great lakes. This place is a boaters dream!
SIZE: 275,200 Acres
AVERAGE DEPTH: 10 FT
WHAT TO CHECK OUT
Detroit is right on Lake St Clair, but it’s a large crowded city! If you are looking for somewhere smaller and more boater friendly, look no further than Harsens Island! It’s located at the mouth of the St. Clair River. It’s beautiful to putt around with fun restaurants and shops along the way. Although there isn’t a great downtown area or place to park the boat to walk, it’s a great place to cruise around.
WHERE TO EAT
Bobby Macs Bayside Tavern & Grill
Bobby Macs is a comfy and homey spot located in Fair Haven. They have dock space out front to park your boat at with daily specials, live music, and a dockside patio. They feature a full menu and a wide variety of choices. The patio is a crowd favorite due to its large stone fireplace.
4) SAUGATUCK (KALAMAZOO LAKE/RIVER)
One of our favorite places to drop the boat into and head to Lake Michigan is Saugatuck. Our recommendation is using the Schultz Park public boat launch and head west. The launch will take you to Kalamazoo Lake which is full of sights to see! Everyone congregates there before going to the big lake because of the vast array of restaurants, shops, and beautiful houses to see. Once out on Lake Michigan, head north to see the nearby Saugatuck sand dunes. These dunes are popular among boaters to anchor at where you can explore and play in the dunes.
TRAVEL TIME TO LAKE MICHIGAN: 45-minute boat ride from Kalamazoo Lake to Lake Michigan
AVERAGE DEPTH: 8 – 12 FT
ABOUT THE TOWN:
The Kalamazoo Lake/River run right through Saugatuck. Saugatuck was voted the “best coastal small town” by USA Today, so you can imagine it’s a fun place to be! It has a variety of public beaches to relax and tan on. Saugatuck has a beautiful, cozy downtown area, but one unique attribute about the city is its love for art. There are ten art galleries within the city limits with each offering something different.
WHERE TO EAT
The Butler is casual waterfront dining with spectacular views of the Lake Kalamazoo Harbor, boardwalk, and passing boats. They have outdoor dining and live entertainment on their deck from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They have docks to tie up to, and it’s within walking distance to shopping, art galleries, and many of Saugatuck’s bed & breakfasts.
5) GULL LAKE
Kalamazoo County, MI
Gull Lake is a treasure for southwest Michigan. Surrounded by trees and gorgeous water (some of the cleanest water in Michigan), Gull Lakes beauty is breathtaking. The lake is deep with numerous holes in excess of 100ft which makes water sports enjoyable knowing you don’t have to worry about water depth. There are three islands with one large island in the south end. It’s clear waters and islands made Gull Lake a local scuba diving hot spot. Many artifacts have been placed in the lake for divers to swim through and look at. The lake only has one public access, however. During peak season, they only allow a certain amount of boats on the lake to limit congestion so get there early!
SIZE: 2,030 Acres
AVERAGE DEPTH: 30 FT
ABOUT THE TOWN:
Kalamazoo is a fun city! Companies like Stryker, Pfizer, and State Farm Insurance call Kalamazoo home, but the city has much more to offer. It features a vibrant and progressive downtown that sets the stage for quality dining, shops, galleries, and live entertainment. It has a big city mindset and a small town heart. It is the perfect city to relax in after a day on the lake!
WHERE TO EAT
This place could be one of the coolest bar and grills you’ll ever visit. It is populated with 28 draft beers and has a great variety of food choices. What makes this place so cool? It’s beer prices resembles the stock market. The up-to-the-minute popularity of particular beers determines pricing for each brew, and in the most exciting moments, a market crash occurs which plunges prices lower than you ever thought was possible. If you happen to join them on Friday night at midnight, rumor has it they’ll give you a free cookie.