15 Best Lakes in Michigan

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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At the top of our list are the four Great Lakes the create a majority of Michigan’s border. These massive lakes are have hundreds of great beach towns lining their shores. Also making the list are a variety of inland lakes that might be smaller in size, but pack a mighty punch. With something for everyone on this list, be sure to visit any of Michigan’s wonderful lakes this summer!

Lets have a look at the best lakes in Michigan:

1. Lake Michigan

Lake MichiganSource: Krista Gazzola / Shutterstock
Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan on the Michigan side is known for its splendid beaches and family fun activities. The West Michigan Pike connects all of these wonderful towns on one string of road. Be sure to stop at all of the craft beer breweries or wineries along the way!

Lake Michigan is the second largest great lake and offers fishing, boating, sailing, and a whole host of other activities. One might even think that you are on an ocean rather than a lake.

Lake Michigan also has a rich history that played a key role in the development of the area, be sure to read up on it before you visit!

2. Lake Huron

Lake HuronSource: Craig Sterken / Shutterstock
Lake Huron

Lake Huron, the one that looks like a beaver, is the third largest great lake and offers a variety of activities on the Michigan side.

With shipwrecks in the hundreds, Lake Huron is great for divers looking to explore what lies below the surface.

The Sunrise Coast is the northern part of Michigan that is great for tourists looking to get out on the lake. The magnificent sunrises that can be seen from this part of the lake provide the name for this beautiful area.

3. Lake Superior

Lake SuperiorSource: Doug Lemke / Shutterstock
Lake Superior

Lake Superior creates the border between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Canada and is the largest of the Great Lakes.

This is also the only lake on our list that is entirely on the Upper Peninsula, so it’ll take a bit of effort to get there. However, once you are there it can be totally worth it.

Sailing, fishing, kayaking, diving, and a variety of other activities can be found all over the lake.

4. Lake Erie

Lake ErieSource: Avik / Shutterstock
Lake Erie

Located to the south of Detroit, the smallest of the Great Lakes to border Michigan offers easy access to some great outdoor activities.

Fishing and boating are both popular on the lake, and easy access points can be found every few miles. There are also a ton of tiny islands scattered across the lake that beg to be explored and discovered.

The Lake Erie Metropark provides a 1,607 acre park for golfers, trails, and swimming pools, all along the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. If you are looking for something a bit more “all-inclusive” this is the spot for you along Lake Erie.

5. Torch Lake

Torch LakeSource: KLiK Photography / Shutterstock
Torch Lake

At 19 miles long, this is Michigan’s longest lake and with a depth of 111 feet it is also Michigan’s deepest lake.

National Geographic has named Torch Lake the third most beautiful lake in the world due to it’s near perfect turquoise water.

Torch Lake also has a reputation for it’s wild 4th of July weekend. With multiple sandbars on the lake where party goers can hop out of their boats and wade through the beautiful water while chugging beer and enjoying the weekend. Not for everyone, but enjoyed by many.

6. Elk Lake

Elk LakeSource: Doug Lemke / Shutterstock
Elk Lake

Elk Lake is Michigan’s second deepest lake, after Torch Lake which is closeby. This quieter version of torch is a great option for folks trying to get away from the energy of Torch Lake but still interested in the pristine waters associated with the area. It’s Caribbean blue water makes it a popular spot for fishing and watersports.

7. Lake Leelanau

Lake LeelanauSource: Northern Way of Life / Shutterstock
Lake Leelanau

Nestled between Traverse City to the south and leland to the north, this 23 mile long lake boats excellent swimming, boating and water skiing. The fishing isn’t too shabby either, walleye and bass can be found up and down the shores of this family-friendly lake.

With plenty of waterfront properties to rent, this lake is great for a few days or a few weeks in the summer. Fountain Point, a historic inn at the southern tip of the lake dates back to the 1889 and is a beautiful option for those searching for a lake resort in Michigan!

8. Lake Charlevoix

Lake CharlevoixSource: Walter Perkins / Shutterstock
Lake Charlevoix

Lake Charlevoix is true Northern Michigan. The northern most tip of the lake nearly spills over into Lake Michigan. This dynamic location is known for its Apple Festival which takes place each October offering all types of apple products for you the enjoy along the lakefront.

With five different beaches in the area, from kid-friendly to quiet and pristine. The area is known for the white sand beaches that we think of when imagining Michigan lakes.

9. Mullett Lake

rainbow troutSource: FedBul / Shutterstock
rainbow trout

The lake’s name is odd enough, but in fact it is named after the gentleman who surveyed the area between 1840 and 1843, John A. Mullett.

The lake holds the record for the largest inland sturgeon caught in the state of Michigan. Perhaps you could try your hand at catching the next record holder! The lake is also known for brown, brook, rainbow, and lake trouts.

This lake is on the smaller side, but holds just as many treasures for you to discover as some of our more popular lakes.

10. Lake St. Clair

Lake St. ClairSource: Jdkfoto / shutterstock
Lake St. Clair

This lake creates the boundary between Michigan and Canada just northeast of Detroit. In addition, this is the closest lake to the city of Detroit, Michigan’s largest and the closest lake to a large airport on the list.

This lake has it all, fishing, watersports, beaches, and tons of activities for everyone. Many boast that Lake St. Clair is one of the best boating lakes in the world. With lots of estuaries and lagoons to explore, there is always something new to see when taking your boat out on this lake.

The lake also boasts a variety of ports to pull into while exploring, each offering a different type of feel. Some with partying, others with beaches and relaxing.

11. Burt Lake

Burt LakeSource: Ross Ellet / Shutterstock
Burt Lake

Burt Lake is known for Burt Lake State Park located on the southern edge of the lake. It boasts 2,000 feet of sandy shoreline and miles of hiking trails. It is also connected to the surrounding lakes by the 38-mile Burt Lake-Inland Waterway. This waterway could take days to truly explore and experience, and great for someone looking to get off the beaten path.

If you are looking to spend a few nights on dry land, the state park also offers a campground with a variety of amenities. The state park was created in 1920 and is a total of 406 acres.

12. Crooked Lake

Crooked LakeSource: Wildnerdpix / Shutterstock
Crooked Lake

Basically two lakes for the price of you, Crooked Lake is connected to Pickerel Lake by a channel. Fishing, tubing, water-skiing and parasailing are all popular activities.

The Crooked Lake Resort offers cabins year round for those looking for some cozy accommodation during their lake adventure.

The lake itself is quite shallow, only reaching 20 feet at its deepest point. Fishing is allowed from dawn to dusk, making this one of the quieter lakes on our list.

13. Lake Gogebic

Lake GogebicSource: Craig Sterken / Shutterstock
Lake Gogebic

Lake Gogebic is the largest lake located on the Upper Peninsula and boasts excellent fishing grounds. Interestingly, this lake also straddles two time zones, Eastern and Central.

This lake is known for its many waterfalls, many are close to the lake and a few are tucked away in side inlets and down trails and paths, making this an excellent place to do some exploring!

In the wintertime, the skies are often crowded by the stunning Northern Lights, which makes this a great lake to visit year round. Winter sports like skating and ice fishing are also popular.

14. Black Lake

Black LakeSource: Rostislav Stefanek / Shutterstock
Black Lake

Black Lake is a classic stop for those visiting the Detroit area and surrounding towns. Onaway State Park is located at the southern end of the lake and provides opportunities for camping hiking, and beaches for relaxing.

Black Lake is also notable for its interesting fishing season. Each year, the only fish allowed to be removed from the lake are five lake sturgeon. The fish must be larger than 36 inches and can only be caught using a fishing spear during the winter ice fishing season. 25 fishing licenses are given out using a lottery system, each angler is then given a flag to raise once they have caught a fish. Once five flags have been raised, the season is then over and no more fish can be removed from the lake.

15. Portage Lake

Portage LakeSource: Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock
Portage Lake

Connected to Lake Michigan my a channel, some might consider Portage Lake a natural bay or harbor from the larger lake, though history tells us otherwise. The channel that connects Lake Michigan and Portage Lake was man-made my homesteaders in the area to control the level of the lake.

The lake provides excellent fishing for anglers of all ages and is also surrounding my trails for a variety of skill levels. Pack up your picnic basket or your overnight gear and check out this excellent lake in northern Michigan!

15 Best Lakes in Michigan:

  • Lake Michigan
  • Lake Huron
  • Lake Superior
  • Lake Erie
  • Torch Lake
  • Elk Lake
  • Lake Leelanau
  • Lake Charlevoix
  • Mullett Lake
  • Lake St. Clair
  • Burt Lake
  • Crooked Lake
  • Lake Gogebic
  • Black Lake
  • Portage Lake