Kayak at sunset on Lake Michigan.

Water Recreation

Aquatic Adventure Amidst Natural Beauty

Accurately referred to as the Great Lakes State, Michigan is often identified by the four expansive Great Lakes that border the state. This creates more than 3,200 miles of freshwater shoreline, resulting in plenty of coastal living opportunities that come at a fraction of the cost compared to other coastal areas in California, Florida or Boston. In fact, no matter where you are in Michigan, you’re never further than six miles from a lake, river or stream. This also means that even after a busy workday, you can still have countless opportunities to enjoy all aspects of water recreation.

All that water also amounts to Michigan being a world-class fishing destination and also home to some of the nation’s most beautiful beaches, from boating and kayaking to swimming or snorkeling in the summer months to ice climbing and ice fishing in the winter months, Michigan offers year-round fun on or around the water. So, whether you’re paddling the straights of McCarty’s Cove in the Upper Peninsula or swimming at family-friendly beaches like Grand Haven State Park, rest assured that options for water-based activities and coastal living will never run dry in the Great Lakes State.

Water Recreation by the Numbers

Dive Deeper

Learn More About Water Recreation in Michigan

  • Water Activities
  • Beaches
  • Waterways
Water Activities

Dive Into the Action

Pack your swimsuit, because Michigan offers an array of thrilling water-based activities suitable for all experience levels. Want a relaxing and inspirational excursion? In Munising, embark on a guided kayaking trip and explore the breathtaking view of Pictured Rocks National Lake shore that adorn the region’s shoreline. Looking for adventure? Scuba diving at Sleeping Bear Dunes presents an opportunity to discover the underwater wonders of the Great Lakes. If you want an adrenaline rush, Michigan’s inland lakes like Houghton Lake and Holland’s Lake Macatawa offer popular and exhilarating jet skiing experiences. And if you’re an angler looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to check out Escanaba’s Big Bays de Noc in the Upper Peninsula.

Women smiling and kayaking on rapids.

More Wow and Less Money

The soothing sounds of crashing waves and picturesque coastal landscape make Michigan a haven for beach and water lovers. Framed by four Great Lakes and boasting 3,200 miles of shoreline with more than 11,000 inland lakes, the state offers a diverse range of beach experiences. Wilderness State Park, near Mackinaw City, stands out for its 26 miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline, providing ample opportunity for sunbathing and swimming. Head to Magnus City Park Beach near Petoskey to uncover the mysteries of the past by unearthing fossilized, ancient coral embedded in the sands. And for even more history, the Great Lakes State boasts over 100 lighthouses, including the oldest surviving beacon in Port Huron’s Lighthouse Park.

Four people watch the sunset at sleeping bear dunes overlook.

Shoring Up Amusement

Michigan is known not only for its vast Great Lakes, but also for its smaller bodies of water and rivers that invite unique recreational opportunities. The Detroit River, flowing through the heart of the city, provides a picturesque setting with Belle Isle — featuring a family-friendly beach and a riverwalk, which named the best riverwalk in America three years in a row, offers stunning views of the city’s skyline. In Roscommon, Higgins Lake is sure to entice you with its deep, clear waters, inviting activities like boating, fishing and swimming. And if you’re ready for a relaxing, scenic day on the lake, Silver Lake in Northwest Michigan offers pontoon and powerboat rentals.

People look at Tahquamenon Falls, a waterfall in the Upper Peninsula, on a sunny day.

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