Lakes in Michigan We Love 

Michigan is known as the Great Lake State and earns this bragging right by the fact that it’s surrounded on three sides by these giant freshwater seas. Yet it is really Michigan’s inland lakes that provide more access to water for swimming, fishing and recreation when you look at the sheer number of them. There are more than 11,000 lakes in Michigan that top 5 acres in size. Of those, nearly 3,000 have maps with the lake’s features available online via the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 

Whether you’re looking for a new spot to cast your fishing line or a cool place for a waterfront picnic, you have lots of lakes to choose from. Here are some of our favorites in each region of the state.  

Let’s start at the top: 

Upper Peninsula 

Lac La Belle. This lake is located just under the curve of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the Upper Peninsula’s northernmost reach of land into Lake Superior. Just as its French name implies, Lac La Belle is a beautiful spot. It sits just south of Copper Harbor and the Mount Bohemia ski area. Its waters run through the connected Mendota Canal before meeting up with Lake Superior in Bete Grise Bay. This location gives lake lovers an added bonus. Before you head home, explore the adjoining Bete Grise nature preserve and beach, where the “singing sands” are part of the local legend. Run your hands through the sand there and see if you hear singing – or more of a squeak. 

Lake of the Clouds. This picturesque lake is thought to be the most photographed body of water in the Upper Peninsula. Lake of the Clouds is surrounded by ancient, tree-covered mountains and sits inside the boundaries of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. You can explore it with a long hike on one of the park’s trails, or with a quick stop at the lake’s accessible overlook area.  

Northern Lower Peninsula 

Burt Lake. As people drive north on I-75 on their way to Mackinaw City or the U.P., most likely cruise past Burt Lake not even realizing it’s there. But this 17,000-acre lake is not only home to a popular state park of the same name, it’s one of seven pieces of Northern Michigan’s Inland Waterway. This 40-mile connected corridor of inland lakes and rivers takes boaters and paddlers from the Petoskey area all the way to Lake Huron. Burt Lake is one of the largest sections. So, whether you make Burt Lake your vacation basecamp or just pass through it on your waterway trip, it’s sure to be an adventure.  

Lake Charlevoix. This big body of water connected to Lake Michigan is beloved by summer tourists and boaters, but its length means it reaches deep to inland areas that many people might not associate with beach town vibes. At the southeast ends of its arms, Lake Charlevoix touches Boyne City one one side and East Jordan on the other. The entire area has lots of resorts, hotels and vacation rentals to fit all budgets. Young State Park is also located on its shore and has sought-after campsites.  

West Michigan 

Wabasis Lake. This all-sports lake in northeastern Kent County is an all-sports lake also known for its good fishing and recreational opportunities. A county park along the shore of Wabasis Lake has lots of options for daytrippers or overnight guests: A large and recently-upgraded boat launch area, many picnic spots, a big swimming beach with kayak rentals and multiple playgrounds. The park’s connected campground can accommodate RV or tent camping and also has cabins for rent near a little cove where anglers can tie up their boats. Walk-in camping cabins are also being added.  

Southwest Michigan 

Gull Lake. This waterfront fan-favorite lake stretches from northern Kalamazoo County into southern Barry County. Gull Lake is more than 2,000 acres in size and boasts more than 18 miles of shoreline ringed with homes and cottages. On hot summer days, its waters typically feature a mix of power boats, sail boats, fishing boats and paddle sports like kayaks and SUPs. It has a pretty diverse fish population, too, including a couple kinds of trout, bass and perch. It has a public access site for boaters.  

Southeast Michigan 

Clark Lake. Located about 10 miles south of Jackson, Clark Lake is home to a couple boating clubs and a couple parks with public access. One of these is Clark Lake County Park, a 7-acre recreation space that is one of the oldest in the area. It features a connection to the 7-mile Clark Lake Spirit Trail multi-use corridor for bikers, walkers and runners, as well as a boat launch, picnic area and places for fishing and swimming.  

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 Photo credit: Getty Images

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