The Midwest may not be able to boast an ocean view like America’s coasts, but when it comes to an awesome waterside vacation, don’t count the region out just yet. The center of the country has a surplus of lakes ready to satisfy all of your water sport and beach desires. Whether you want to rent a cabin or historic Victorian home, here is a list of the absolute best lakeside vacations.


The Best Lake Destinations in the Midwest

1. Saugatuck, Michigan

Known as “The Art Coast of Michigan,” Saugatuck is definitely the Midwestern retreat for inspiration and getting in touch with your own inner artist. The city has an array of quirky stores and numerous art galleries for your perusal. If you just can’t get enough culture you can schedule your vacation for one of the annual festivals such as the Gallery Stroll, Jazz Festival, or Sidewalk Sale. If you are looking for an excursion off the beaten path, then book an exhilarating Dune Ride, which is like an off-road roller coaster. Your dune driver will take you on a thrilling tour of the dunes in an over-sized dune buggy for an experience you won’t soon forget.

Stay in Saugatuck!


2. Duluth, Minnesota

As well as being the birthplace of famous American folk artist Bob Dylan, Duluth, Minnesota will impress you with its more than seven miles of boardwalk and paths along Lake Superior’s coast. This city is the perfect place to blend lakeside fun with a little history and culture. When you finish taking in the gorgeous lake views, either from the shore or a sailboat, you may want to tour one of the city’s historical Victorian mansions. Another popular attraction is a visit to the vast gardens at Enger Hill, including an updated Japanese Garden in honor of Duluth’s Sister City, Isumi-O’Hara, Japan.

Stay in Duluth!


3. Door County, Wisconsin

Along the Door Peninsula’s nearly 300 miles of shoreline are the adorable towns that make up Door County, Wisconsin. One of the best ways to experience the area is from a scenic cruise, which you can board from multiple locations along the peninsula. Nature lovers will not want to miss the biking trails, kayaking, and 18-hole golf course at Peninsula State Park. Door County is also a shopping haven with an endless array of charming boutiques, specialty stores and art galleries.

Stay in Door County!


4. Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri may be a lake destination, but there is plenty to do there even during the infamous Midwest winter. If it’s too cold to golf or hike through Table Rock State Park, the city does not shut down for visitors. If you are there in the cold season, you can check out a tasting at one of the numerous wineries and distilleries, spend a luxurious day at a local spa, or take in a live concert or comedy show.

Stay in Branson!


5. Lake Erie Shores, Ohio

Lake Erie Shores & Islands is the best tourist destination in Ohio. One of the main attractions is Cedar Point, an amusement park known for its plethora of roller coasters, but the area also has a lot of scenic lures. Visitors can take a ferry to Kelleys Island, and go snorkeling, or even scuba diving on one of the 50 shipwrecks in the surrounding waters. Avian aficionados will be in heaven after a visit to Oak Harbor’s Magee Marsh Wildlife Area where you have the chance to spot more than 300 bird species.

Stay in Erie Lake Shores!


6. Traverse City, Michigan

There are more than enough activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained when you visit Traverse City, located on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay. For family fun, the 35-mile stretch of coastline at Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park is a popular attraction. You can climb to the top of the dunes, or if you are really adventurous, take a four-hour hike through the dunes to Lake Michigan. When the weather is right, you can catch an evening movie at the historic Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre in nearby Honor, Michigan. And if your vacations are not complete without a sample of the local beverages, then take a tour of Right Brain Brewery or Grand Traverse Distillery.

Stay in Traverse City!


7. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

You will not be lacking in adventurous things to do when you visit tourist town, Lake of the Ozarks. There are summertime lake activities such as parasailing and paddle boarding, or you can even explore an underground lake by taking a tour of Fantasy World Caverns, which has been used by humans for thousands of years. If you are interested in having some fun away from the natural world for a little bit, you can also visit one of the two local water parks. Big Surf Waterpark is home to Zambezi Falls, the area’s largest half pipe water ride, and Timber Falls is an indoor water park with a three story tree house playground.

Stay in Lake of the Ozarks!


This article was written by Paula Ashlee Berg.