Pack your swimming and hiking gear when you head to Silver Lake in the beautiful state of Michigan. This state park and the surrounding communities are hot spots for outdoor adventure, including kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. Stay in a secluded waterfront home to take advantage of the wilderness and peace and quiet, or book a vacation rental in Silver Lake to experience authentic Michigan shopping and dining.

1. Silver Lake

mac woods dune
Source: Flickr/Joe Ross

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Silver Lake State Park is a lush expanse of land known for its sand dunes. Spend an afternoon hiking along these sandy, grassy hills, that offer great shelter from the winds. Be sure to bring your swimsuit as well, since Silver Lake itself is known as a great place for all manner of water activities including swimming and sailing. The community of Silver Lake, located mainly on the eastern border of the State Park, is also home to a variety of shopping and dining opportunities.

2. Pentwater

pentwater channel
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pentwater_channel.jpg

Drive just a few miles north of Silver Lake State Park to reach Pentwater, a quaint lakeside village located within easy distance of Mears State Park and Pentwater River State Game Area. Vacation rentals in the village of Pentwater offer a quiet cottage feel with access to luxurious spas and salons, boutique shopping, and a range of family-owned and upscale dining. Spend a day perusing the local art galleries and farmer’s markets, or head to the public beach on Lake Michigan to spend some time soaking up the sun.

3. Ludington

lighthouse

Just north of Pentwater, Ludington is built around a historic lighthouse and offers beach-side access to the Lake. Take your boat or RV with you to enjoy the calm waters and camping-ready wilderness that surrounds the town of Ludington – or book a local vacation rental for an authentic taste of Michigan state. Take advantage of a charter boat service and take a guided tour of the site surrounding Lake Michigan, including the two local lighthouses: North Breakwater Light and Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

4. Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail Park

bicycle trail
Source: Flickr/Tony Faiola

Head east from Silver Lake to enjoy the inland trails of Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail Park. Located between the towns of Hart and Shelby, this collection of wilderness paths and mountain biking trails is perfect for those who want to escape into the outdoors. Vacation rentals here are off the beaten path, and offer plenty of peace and quiet for couples and families alike. Bring your bicycle to experience the Michigan landscape at your own pace – or simply enjoy the local wildlife on foot.

5. New Era

autumn leaves

New Era is a small village that offers a surprisingly wide selection of activities and events. Catch a concert at the annual Electric Forest camp-out and music festival, or enjoy a guided beach-side yoga class in one of the nearby state park areas. Spend a day within the town of New Era and enjoy the local art galleries, family-run cafes, and even a tasting at the Oceana Winery and Vineyard.

6. Wabaningo

white lake
Source: Flickr/ckay

Head south of Silver Lake, along with the Lake Michigan coast, to arrive at Wabaningo. This town is located on the westernmost shore of White Lake, and the eastern end of Lake Michigan. Bordered by calm waters on both sides, Wabaningo is great for nature lovers. Bring your hiking gear and traverse one of the local wilderness trails, or spend a day splashing in either lake. Vacation rentals here offer amazing waterfront views and a rustic, down-home feeling with modern amenities.

7. Whitehall

whitehall
Source: Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

At the north-eastern tip of White Lake, Whitehall is a fun destination for the whole family. Bring a boat or rent one to enjoy the local marina facilities and the clear waters of this small lake. Explore the town’s history by visiting the White River Light Station Museum, which includes the local lighthouse that dates back to 1871. Kayak or canoe in White Lake, or stay on dry land and try your hand at horseback riding along the local trails.

8. Stony Lake

stony lake

Take a trip down South Scenic Drive along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and make a stop at Stony Lake. Book a vacation rental anywhere along this stretch of coastal land for access to peaceful Stony Lake, known as a great spot for swimming, nature walks, and general relaxation. Stony Lake Channel, which connects the lake to Lake Michigan, is ideal for swimming and rafting. Restaurants and shops are available in nearby Shelby, just a few miles away and easily accessible by car.

9. Twin Lake

twin lake
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gfp-michigan-twin-lakes-state-park-michigan.jpg

The community of Twin Lake is located adjacent to Twin Lake Park, a 15-acre stretch of land that sits a short distance east of Lake Michigan. Bring your whole family for a picnic at one of the many shaded gathering areas in this park, or grab a snack at the concession stand in the summer and spend your day using the local sports facilities. With 800 feet of swimming-safe shoreline, this park is a wonderful gathering place for those looking to cool off in the hotter months.

10. Muskegon

muskegon
Source: Flickr/Matt Taylor

Less than an hour’s drive south of Silver Lake, Muskegon is a larger metropolitan area in the center of the Muskegon County. Enjoy year-round festivals and events here, including the Muskegon Heights Festival in the Park and Taste of Muskegon, an annual food festival. Visit the Muskegon Museum of Art for a day exploring the history and culture of the area, and pick up a souvenir in one of the many unique local shops.