13 Fantastic Lake Destinations In Michigan To Visit With Kids This Summer

Three kids sit together looking out onto a sunset over Lake Huron, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

There are few things more magical than a family lake vacation in Michigan! From the glistening waters to the lush forests, there’s so much natural beauty throughout this Midwestern state – especially in the summertime! Between activities such as swimming and kayaking to hiking and camping, your kids will love exploring all that Michigan has to offer. When choosing a lake for your family vacation, you can’t go wrong with any of Michigan’s options. However, some lakes do stand out as being particularly well-suited for families. In this article, we’ve compiled the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation, alongside some ideas on where to stay, things to do with kids, and more ideas for your Michigan family vacation. Keep reading to find out the best Michigan summer vacation spots! 

Best Great Lakes Destinations in Michigan for a Family Getaway

What could be more perfect than a family vacation spent swimming, fishing, and boating in one of Michigan’s Great Lakes? From Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, there are plenty of places that function as whole destinations within themselves, with plenty of charming towns dotting the shoreline and lots of things to do with kids. Here are some Michigan family vacation destinations! 

Lake Michigan 

The nose of a red kayak maneuvers across Lake Michigan, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

Lake Michigan has earned its spot as one of the best lake destinations in Michigan to visit with kids this summer! One of five Great Lakes, it’s the one located entirely within the United States. Plus, spanning Michigan’s West Coast for nearly 23,000 square miles, you’ll find tons of space to have fun with your kids!

There are many cozy places along Lake Michigan’s shores where families settle, including Traverse City. Known for its natural beauty and recreational activities, it’s a popular place to go hiking, biking, or for a stay at the Bay Watch Resort. It’s also nearby Sleeping Bear Point Beach, which is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Glen Arbor is also an excellent option for families who want to experience Sleeping Bear Dunes. Plus, there’s the Glen Arbor Arts Center, which provides art classes for kids and adults. Then, the Leelanau Peninsula, which is on the western side of Lake Michigan, is also a good place to hike or explore by kayak or canoe. Families can also soak up the sun and try water sports at Grand Haven State Park, spot one of Lake Michigan’s many lighthouses, or visit the Michigan Maritime Museum.

Where to Stay Near Lake Michigan with Kids

Wondering where to stay near Lake Michigan with your kids? We suggest the Baywatch Resort or Pinestead Reef Resort, both of which are in Traverse City. Families who want to camp can also check out the campgrounds at Ludington State Park Beach. Or, rent a lake house or cabin on Airbnb or Vrbo.

Reserve this highly rated 4BR Home on Lake Michigan near Manistee MI through Vrbo!

Lake Huron

Two kids walk down a sandy path toward Lake Huron.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

Lake Huron is undoubtedly one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation! As the second largest of the Great Lakes, it offers miles of beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and an abundance of activities for kids of all ages. 

Mackinac Island is a must-visit for anyone spending time at Lake Huron. Accessible by ferry from St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula, this picturesque island is home to lots of family-friendly attractions. This includes Fort Mackinac, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, and the enchanting Mackinac Island Butterfly House. And don’t forget to sample some of the delicious fudge while you’re there!

Cheboygan is another excellent option on Lake Huron for those wanting to explore Michigan’s great outdoors. It showcases various hiking trails, waterfalls, and fishing spots. It also offers plenty of kid-friendly activities, including a visit to Cheboygan State Park. Or, why not head to Drummond Island for a spot of camping or kayaking? Families will find cute cabins at Lake View Resort Drummond Island!

Where to Stay near Lake Huron with Kids

If you need somewhere to stay near Lake Huron with kids and want to rent a cozy cabin, we suggest Lake View Resort Drummond Island. Families can also check out home rentals on Airbnb or Vrbo. 

Consider this highly rated Luxury Lakefront Lodge on Lake Huron through Vrbo!

Lake Superior

An aerial view of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

This summer, take your family on a refreshing vacation to one of Michigan’s best lake destinations – Lake Superior! Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it’s a great place for children and families to explore. Plus, there are plenty of kid-friendly attractions nearby, like the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Soo Locks.

Families should definitely stop in Munising, a low-key town nestled along Lake Superior that offers outdoor adventures for all ages, from hiking to biking, swimming, and kayaking. When staying here, you’ll also be within a short distance of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, featuring one of the UP’s iconic landmarks. To beat the heat, you can visit one of the many watering holes in town, like Memorial Falls, or head to Sand Point Beach. Kids will also love taking a Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour to see several shipwrecks up close! 

Then, located at the very tip of the UP, Copper Harbor is another popular destination on Lake Superior. This picturesque town has stunning natural scenery, including rugged cliffs, forests, and waterfalls. There’s also plenty of opportunity for adventure, with hiking, biking, and kayaking all available nearby. For an easy trail for kids, check out the Estivant Pines Loop, located within Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. This trail consists of 2 loops (the Memorial and the Cathedral). Not to mention, some of the largest trees in the UP!

Discover The Best Upper Peninsula Michigan Hikes For Families!

Lake Erie 

A picnic area at Sterling State Park along Lake Erie.
Photo Courtesy: Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia

Michigan is home to many beautiful lakes, but if you’re looking for the best destination to take your kids this summer, look no further than Lake Erie! Though smaller than other Great Lakes, it’s one of the most accessible from Detroit, located around 3 hours outside of the city. Plus, it offers a perfect mix of activities for both kids and adults, from swimming and sunbathing to fishing and boating. 

One of the best Michigan summer vacation spots along Lake Erie is Sterling State Park, where families will find one mile of beachfront for swimming and boating, as well as opportunities to fish, hike, camp, and more. Just a few miles away, families can also visit Luna Pier, which features a boardwalk lined with restaurants, a lighthouse, and a sandy beach.

A little north of Luna Pier on Lake Erie’s western shore is the port city of Monroe, which offers historical attractions and affordable vacation rentals. Nearby, families can visit River Raisin National Battlefield Park, commemorating the War of 1812. Or, head to Lake Erie Metropark for three miles of shoreline, a children’s play area, a nature center, a museum, and more attractions. 

Best Lakes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a Family Getaway

One of the best things about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is that there is a lake for everyone. From secluded lakeside retreats to action-packed getaways, these Michigan vacations for families offer swimming, relaxing, hiking, and everything in between. Grab your swimsuit and head to one of these lakes in Micigan’s Upper Peninsula for a family vacation that everyone will love! 

Looking for more adventure? Find out 16 Fantastic Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids!

Lake Gogebic 

A beautiful view of the waves along Lake Gogebic.
Photo Courtesy: Skye Marthaler via Wikimedia

Take a Michigan family vacation to one of the largest inland lakes in the state, Lake Gogebic! Located in the western end of the Upper Peninsula, this area features activities such as fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, and more. Plus, its location within pristine wilderness makes it a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts!

At Lake Gogebic State Park, families can enjoy multiple miles of lakefront, plus a sandy beach, though keep in mind there are no lifeguards. The state park also has a playground, grills, and campsites, so you could easily spend the day or overnight. For families who want to go hiking, the area is also home to countless beautiful waterfalls. Though there are at least 12, one of the prettiest is Bond Falls, which splits into two. Just half a mile from the falls, you’ll find a day-use area with a swimming beach, grills, and picnic tables. Don’t forget to check out the observation deck at Copper Peak near Ironwood. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the UP! 

Other things to do on Lake Gogebic during the summer include fishing, ATVing, biking, and boat rentals. 

Where to Stay near Lake Gogebic with Kids

Need somewhere to stay near Lake Gogebic with kids? Many families consider cottages or lake rentals via Vrbo or a similar service. One popular option is Sunrise Cove, a 4-bedroom house right on the lake! 

Reserve this highly rated 4 BR home on Lake Gogebic through Vrbo!

Best Lakes in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula for a Family Getaway

There’s no doubt that Michigan is home to some of the best lakes in the country, including the best beaches in Michigan for families. And when it comes to finding the perfect lake for a family getaway, Michigan’s lower peninsula has plenty to offer as well. Here are the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation! 

Plan your next vacation after reading about these 45 Fun Places To Visit In Michigan’s Lower Peninsula With Kids

Walloon Lake

A dock holding several boats on Walloon Lake in Michigan.
Photo Courtesy: Scottb211

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of all that the state has to offer and explore some of the best Michigan vacations for families! Walloon Lake, around 10 miles south of Petoskey, is a great option for families looking for various activities to keep everyone entertained. 

For starters, the lake itself is perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. Pontoon boats are particularly popular here and a great way to get around and have a ton of fun. Families can also relax on Walloon Lake Beach, which features public access and calm waters for swimming. There’s also sand volleyball, a basketball court, and much more. And if you want to explore beyond the water, there are plenty of hiking trails and parks in the area. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and Ice cream shops to enjoy when you need a break from the sun. 

Where to Stay near Walloon Lake with Kids

One of the most popular hotels in the area is Hotel Walloon. It features spacious rooms with kitchenettes and even multi-bedroom options. It’s also located right on the shores of Walloon Lake, so families have an adventure waiting right at their doorstep! Families can also look for rentals on Vrbo

Silver Lake

An aerial view of the long stretch of sandy beach along Silver Lake, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

When it comes to finding the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation, Silver Lake is definitely at the top of the list! Home to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, a 2,000-acre sand mountain that separates Silver Lake from Lake Michigan, it’s surely one of the most unique Michigan summer vacation spots. 

Silver Lake State Park includes both Silver Lake, with a campground directly on the water, and Lake Michigan. Not only is the sand piled high for hiking and buggy rides, but the area also boasts a variety of beaches to explore. Since there are so many adorable lakeside towns on Lake Michigan’s western shoreline, your family is guaranteed to find the perfect charming town to return to year after year. Plus, kids can’t miss a chance to explore. Whether you bring your own ATV or rent one, they’ll love riding over the sand dunes!

Torch Lake

The crystal blue waters of Torch Lake.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

Families looking for kid-friendly weekend getaways in Michigan will love Torch Lake. With water so clear it almost looks like the Caribbean, this gorgeous lake near Traverse City is one of the largest inland lakes in the state and offers plenty of room for family adventures. 

If your family enjoys water sports, like water skiing, jet skiing, and tubing, you’ll love being able to cruise for miles – the lake is 19 miles long! Visitors also love hanging out at the sandbar, offering a party vibe at the southern end. For something different, get out on the lake for some fishing – there is plenty of fish to catch, including bass, walleye, and perch. Families can also visit one of the many charming small towns in the area, like Elk Rapids or Traverse City, for some fun shopping and dining options.

Where to Stay near Torch Lake with Kids

Need somewhere to stay near Torch Lake with kids? Because the lake is such a popular destination, families staying overnight should consider booking lodging months in advance. Traditional lodging options can be found at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire. Then, Airbnb or Vrbo both offer lovely options for families wanting to stay nearby. Or, check out options in quaint nearby towns like Elk Rapids, Alden, and Kewadin.

Lake Charlevoix

Two people stand silhouetted against a vibrant sunset over Lake Charlevoix.
Photo Courtesy: Deb Nystrom

Lake Charlevoix is one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation during the summer! Known for its natural beauty, this inland lake has a reputation for family fun, offering anything from boating to jet-skiing.

One of the best family-friendly beaches along Lake Charlevoix is Ferry Beach, which features a playground, picnic area, concessions, and even stand-up paddleboard rentals. This makes it perfect for a day of family fun! Some other beaches include Depot Beach, named for its location adjacent to the historic train depot. There are also stand-up paddleboard rentals here and a garden near the depot that families can explore. Or, check out Young State Park, located on the northern end of the lake. Charlevoix is also home to several boutiques and restaurants. Or, head just south of the city to Fisherman’s Island State Park for more outdoor fun. 

Lake Leelanau 

A man fishes from a dock on Lake Leelanau, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation, as a boat speeds by.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

There are so many wonderful things to do with kids during the summertime, and one of the best places to enjoy all that Michigan has to offer is Lake Leelanau. Located near Traverse City, just 15 miles east of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this family-friendly lake is a popular destination for swimming, boating, and other fun adventures during the warmer months. 

Lake Leelanau boasts two north and south sections separated by the narrows. Alongside swimming and boating, families can also enjoy wakeboarding, fishing, tubing, and more. Parents who want to enjoy some quality time together will also appreciate the area’s many wineries, some of which are kid-friendly and feature space for little ones to relax while adults enjoy a glass or two (we suggest Forty Five North Vineyard and Winery!). Families can also visit some of the small, coastal towns along the shore, like Leland, also known as “Fishtown.” From fishing in the harbor to grabbing some homemade ice cream, it’s the perfect place to spend the day as a family! 

Where to Stay near Lake Leelanau with Kids

Families looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Leelanau with kids can check out the Lake Leelanau Narrows Resort, which offers cabins right on the lake. Or, check out Vrbo for home rentals. 

Big Glen Lake 

Through the trees, Big Glen Lake shimmers on a sunny day at one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

Michigan is home to some of the best lakes in the country, and Big Glen Lake is one of them! Along with its counterpart, Little Glen Lake, this beautiful lake is located in the heart of northern Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. It is a great destination for families looking to enjoy a summer vacation. There are many things to do with kids at Big Glen Lake, including swimming, fishing, canoeing, and hiking. 

Big Glen Lake is just east of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, making it easy to add to a Michigan family itinerary. On the lake itself, boating, swimming, and water skiing are especially popular and sure to impress your little ones. Known as one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in Michigan, it’s also home to a variety of wildlife, so be sure to keep an eye out for birds and other animals while you’re exploring! For incredible views over the entire area, you can take a drive up to Inspiration Point in nearby Arcadia. This scenic viewpoint provides 360-degree panoramas of the Glen Lakes, as well as Lake Michigan. Big Glen Lake is also near the town of Glen Arbor, which features restaurants, shops, and other attractions for families to see.

Higgins Lake 

Aerial view of Higgins Lake, with clear blue waters.
Photo Courtesy: Pure Michigan

One of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation is, without a doubt, Higgins Lake! With 22 miles of shoreline in central Michigan, it’s considered one of the state’s largest inland lakes. Not to mention, it’s one of the best family weekend trips in Michigan! 

Higgins Lake is a paradise for swimmers and boaters who want to get out on the water. In fact, the waters are so clear here, it’s not uncommon to see people snorkeling! At South Higgins Lake State Park, families can take advantage of one of the largest state park campgrounds, a day-use area, and a boat launch. Here, you’ll also find a fantastic, family-friendly beachfront. But keep in mind that spots fill up fast; this is an especially popular camping spot in the summer. 

For something less developed, the park is home to the smaller Marl Lake. It’s shallower and surrounded by miles of wooded hiking trails you can explore. Keep an eye out for bald eagles here during the summer! 

Planning a Midwest road trip? Here are 17 Unique Towns to Visit on a Midwest Road Trip with Kids

Lake Muskegon

South-west view from the shoreline of Muskegon State Park. The Muskegon Channel leading into Muskegon Lake is visible in the distance.
Photo Courtesy: Darwin Smith Jr. via Wikimedia Commons

Families looking for a summer getaway or a Michigan family vacation will find plenty to love at Lake Muskegon! Located in the lower peninsula at the mouth of the Muskegon River, this Michigan lake is a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and more. From beautiful sandy beaches to scenic hiking trails and affordable lodging options, it’s no wonder this is one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation! 

At Muskegon State Park, families can enjoy three miles of picturesque shorelines (two miles are along Lake Michigan, and another mile is on Muskegon Lake). Alongside water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding, the park is also popular for its lookout tower. Kids will love climbing up it for views of the lake and the surrounding sand dunes! There are also multiple campgrounds, picnic areas, and trails in the area. Nearby, families can also visit the year-round Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park. Ideal for a day of family fun, it features zip lining, an archery range, a summer luge track, and more. Be sure to book your tickets in advance! 

Click here to discover the Best Lakes in the Midwest for Families

Happy Travels!

Two kayakers enjoy a nice day at Silver Lake, one of the best lakes in Michigan for a family vacation, with the iconic sand dunes in the background.
Photo Courtesy: Joe Ross

We hope you liked this list of the 13 Best Lake Destinations in Michigan to Visit with Kids this Summer for your next family vacation! Whether you want to relax on the beach or go boating, Michigan’s lakes are varied and offer a ton of family fun, especially in the summer. Enjoy your Michigan family vacation! 

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.