Our Great Lakes are reaching that perfect summertime temperature (research your local beach conditions here). With Michiganders flocking back to the water for the season, boats and sails are springing up everywhere along our great shores.

When does boating season actually start? The biggest enthusiasts hit the lakes as early as the end of March, though most begin boating regularly once it’s summer. That said, there are some incredible spots all over the state to discover. Some are lesser known than others, and some may be right in your backyard. Sail your way over to some of the top boating areas in Michigan, including:

  1. Higgins Lake, Roscommon County: Higgins was just named the most underrated attraction in Michigan. The lake is spacious, keeping traffic at a minimum. With the waters as clear as they are, Higgins Lake is known for its swimming, and there is an island on the northwest side that has a sand bar and excellent clearings for a shoreline picnic. The health of the water also means it’s an ideal fishing spot.
  2. Torch Lake, Antrim County: A half-dozen quaint towns surround Torch Lake, a short drive away from Traverse City. Their summer festivals are a big draw for Michiganders looking to get the real “Up North” experience, both on and off the water. If you do not have your own watercraft, local bed & breakfasts offer daylong ventures and sunset dinner cruises so you don’t have to miss out on all the sailing action!
  3. Manistique Lakes, Curtis: This Upper Peninsula system actually has six breathtaking lakes, with “Big Manistique” the most popular, especially for fishermen eager to snag musky, perch and whitefish. 20,000 acres connect to hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, providing endless options for week-long boating trips. Because of the remote location, cabin rentals are fairly easy to come by outside of major summer holidays. And make sure to pack some bug spray for woodland walks!
  4. Grand River, Mid-Michigan: If boating on the river is more your speed, the ever-popular Inland Waterway connecting Petoskey to Cheboygan is a swell option. But the Grand River Parks is just as exciting for a family getaway! Power and sail boats are only allowed at parks in Fergus, Dunnville, Drayton, Guelph and Waterloo, so visitors tend to opt for canoes, kayaks and paddleboats. To discover exact routes and access points near you, head over to the Grand River Conservation Authority site.

For many travelers in the Great Lakes State, boating and camping go hand-in-hand. Refresh yourself on safe camping tips so you can vacation without a hitch →