All of the Great Lakes are wonderful destinations for families, so finding a Lake Michigan vacation rental is the perfect choice for your next getaway. The part of the lake near Chicago has many activities for the entire family, making it an especially attractive option to bring the kids along to your vacation home. However, you can find a more peaceful getaway setting near the Indiana Dunes or near the small towns on the Michigan and Wisconsin shorelines. You can also explore the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Whether you plan to go swimming at the beaches, tour the shore by boat, or explore a city, you are sure to find something suitable for everyone on your trip. Take a look at these top ten Lake Michigan family activities.
1. See the Beach House at North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach, near Chicago’s Lincoln Park, is an excellent place to start your Lake Michigan vacation. The beach has plenty of activities for all ages, including kayaking, swimming, and biking. Be sure to take a photo at the beach house, which was built to look like a docked ocean liner. You’ll love the beautiful views of the lake through its portholes.
2. Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Challenge the entire family to see who can last the longest on a stand up paddle board, while touring some of Lake Michigan’s most beautiful beaches. There are many different places to rent paddle boards, no matter which part of the lake you decide to stay at. Popular beaches for stand up paddle boarding among locals include Montrose Beach and 63rd Street Beach in Chicago, and Pictured Rocks Lakeshore near Grand Haven, Michigan, for some spectacular cliff views.
3. See Fireworks on the Water
Kids and adults alike will love watching fireworks over Lake Michigan. The Fourth of July is, of course, the best time to see this happen, and you’ll have a chance to see fireworks no matter where you are on the lake. If you happen to be in Chicago, though, try heading over to Navy Pier. This Chicago landmark is home to the Children’s Museum, Centennial Ferris Wheel, and several waterfront parks. Be sure to stop by on a Wednesday or Saturday evening to enjoy spectacular fireworks over the lake, as you stroll along the pier.
4. Take a Lakeshore Boat Tour
There are opportunities to go on a boat tour all around the lake. You’ll enjoy a trip on the Wind Dancer, a beautiful 63-foot schooner which gives tours from Grand Haven, Michigan. Milwaukee’s Edelweiss Boat Tours offers many different themed trips out on the water. And if you’re in Chicago, history buffs won’t want to miss a boat tour along Lake Michigan and the Chicago River by Wendella Boats, where you can learn about some of the city’s most famous architectural landmarks before journeying into the lake for a view of the skyline. These narrated tours also include highlights from Chicago’s history, such as how the entire shoreline used to be a landfill.
5. Go Birdwatching
North of downtown Chicago lies, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary a small area known as “the Magic Hedge” due to the number of birds species you can find here. Take the kids on a leisurely stroll and see hoe many or the more than 300 species you can spot. Some favorites include Le Contes Sparrow, American Golden Plover, and the Semi-Palmated Sandpiper. The Hammond Bird Sanctuary in Hammond, Indiana, is another very special place to see wildlife. If you go into the more rural, forested areas of Wisconsin and Michigan, you’ll be sure to see many different kinds of beautiful birds.
6. Fly a Trapeze
If you have ever wanted to fly a trapeze, what better way than right along Lake Michigan at Belmont Harbor? The Trapeze School in Chicago offers a range of trapeze and other circus activities for all activity levels. Kids can tumble, juggle, or perform acrobatics right on the beach. Or sit back with a snack and watch as others fly through the air.
7. Visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offers a quieter Lake Michigan experience away from the city. This park features 50 miles of trails through a diverse landscape, with wetlands, prairies, dunes, and forests. Hike the sandy dunes near the beach or visit the birds nesting in the wetlands. Visitors can also explore the Bailly Homestead, a fur-trading post from the 1820s, or the restored Chellberg Farm.
8. Go Horseback Riding
Lake Michigan offers several opportunities to go horseback riding near the lake. There are several beautiful trails in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore suitable for traveling with a horse, so you can saddle up and ride among the trees. Another option is Rainbow Ranch in New Era, Michigan, which provides guests with hour-long trail rides and teaches kids how to care for the horses.
9. Go Fishing
Burnham Harbor is the largest harbor in the Chicago harbor system, and is ht perfect place to try some lake fishing. The harbor is known for providing fishers with good catches, and many stop by to snag some trout, salmon, or bass. You don’t even need to go on a boat to have success in the harbor, just set up a line and fish from the shore. Grand Haven is also known for its fishing, and you can go on a chartered boat for a fishing trip to remember.
10. Go Swimming
Lake Michigan has plenty of beaches for some excellent quality swimming. Get in an early morning swim and watch the sunrise, before heading back to your vacation rental to make breakfast. If you pack up the family and head to Chicago’s Rogers Park, you can order some fried chicken from Evanston Chicken Shack delivered right to the beach. At Foster Beach, kids can swim while watching dogs enjoy their very own beach right next door. You’ll fall in love with the beaches all around the shoreline.