Lake Michigan cruises take voyagers on a journey through some of the greatest American cities, nature, and beaches. It's the only Great Lake not split between the US and Canada. Located entirely in the US, Lake Michigan is entirely surrounded by the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
It provides a very unique sailing opportunity for those that wish to cruise the Great Lakes by offering the most immersive experience of the area. With a Lake Michigan cruise, you'll experience tours, perspectives, entertainment, and educational opportunities that you wouldn't get if traveling any other way. Here, you'll learn more about Lake Michigan cruises, along with a little bit about each major port of call located along the lake.
More about Lake Michigan
This body of water is a part of the world’s largest freshwater group of lakes, holding up to 1,180 cubic miles of water. Its surface area is 22,404 square miles (with an average depth of 279 ft), including the area of the small bay attached to the lake across the Strait of Mackinac.
Its primary inflows include the Grand River, Fox River, and Menominee River. Water residence of Lake Michigan goes up to 99 years, then water travels through Chicago River and Calumet River to continue its journey. The water trajectory flow goes as follows: from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan, to Lake Huron, all the way to Lake Erie, then Lake Ontario, and finally ends up in the Atlantic Ocean
Lake Michigan is home to many iconic ports of call for Great Lakes Cruises and famous islands.
Find history with a Lake Michigan cruise
Lake Michigan was formed about 1.2 billion years ago as a result of the separation of two tectonic plates that caused the Mid-Continental Rift. It was home to the Hopewell Indians, then the Late Woodland Indians. The word “Michigan” means “michi-gami” in the Objiwe language, which means “great water.” The lake was then discovered around 1634 by the European explorer Jean Nicolet. Lake Michigan and the Strait of Mackinac was an important fur trade route. Multiple forts were also reconstructed around the area, as well as an important military base (Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island). The lake has played a major role in the development of the cities around it, such as Chicago.
Experience life on Lake Michigan
Commercial and sports fishing are two of the strongest economic activities from the area. The prime commercial fish of Lake Michigan is lake whitefish. Lake Michigan is also a primary hub for shipping bulk goods. Tourism has detonated over the past years, with a big boost from Great Lakes cruising and small ship excursions. The lake is home to some of the most popular ports of call, with all kinds of scenery and options for a various number of activities. Each port offers rich culture and history, breathtaking nature, must-see landmarks, unique beaches, and beautiful sunsets.
Get up close with wildlife on Lake Michigan cruises
Lake Michigan’s fauna has gone through several changes throughout the years. It was originally home to lake whitefish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and lake trout. Multiple invasive species were introduced into the lake during the Welland Canal alterations. These species were reproducing at a faster rate than the original species. As a result, several predator species of fish were introduced to solve this issue and it turned out really well. Lake Michigan is also home to lots of migratory birds.
Lake Michigan’s flora is made up of coastal fens and harbors, sand prairies, boreal forests, and oak savannas. Lake Michigan’s large surface area and perimeter allows all these different ecosystems to grow due to location and climate conditions. The biodiversity around this lake is rich and unique, and authorities are trying to preserve it by regulating the industrial activity of the region to avoid over polluting this magnificent body of water.
Ports of call on Lake Michigan
Green Bay, WI
Green Bay has plenty of rick history and culture to offer. Visit the National Railroad Museum, and the Heritage Hill State Historical Park. Stop by the Green Bay Botanical Gardens, and the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary to immerse yourself into nature.
Visit the Great Lakes Distillery, one of the top attractions in the area. While in Milwaukee, make sure you stop at some of the most iconic museums in America: The Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Public Museum. The North Point Lighthouse is also a landmark you can’t miss while in town!
With a mix of urbanity, nature, and adventure, Chicago offers some of the most spectacular experiences around the Great Lakes. This port of call is home to the world-known Chicago Bean, the Navy Pier, and the Millenium Park. Other attractions include the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. It is such a wholesome port of call to experience.
Experience this lovely port of call with its picturesque beaches, and calm atmosphere. You won’t want to miss the Lakeshore Museum Center while you’re in town. Muskegon is home to the Pere Marquette Beach, which is popular among surfers, cyclists, and runners (Lakeshore Trail).
Grand Haven/Holland, MI
Get to know the historic Downtown of Holland, and if you’re lucky enough to be around during the Tulip Time Festival (May), this is a must! Visit the Windmill Island Gardens, which are also iconic from the area, or visit the State Park Beach. Holland’s Dutch cultural identity will amaze you.
Mackinac Island, MI
Mackinac Island, located right between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, is a tourist favorite. Over 80% of this charming island is a State Park, filled with nature and trails to discover. A fun fact about this port of call is that automotive transportation is banned. Also, some buildings have been restored to their original 1800s appearance. This gives Mackinac Island a unique, old school feel. Take a Carriage Tour and explore all the many historic sites and museums in the area.
Traverse City, MI
Discover the “Cherry Capital of the World,” and taste some award winning wines. Discover the sand dunes, beaches, and clear waters of this magical city. Hike the Sleeping Bear Dunes or the Pyramid Point. Don’t forget to stop by the restaurants in town, Traverse City is well-known for its emerging culinary scene.
Our Lake Michigan cruise lines
- Victory Cruise Lines
- Viking Expedition Cruises
- Pearl Seas Cruises