Lake Michigan, with shorelines in four states, is one of the top destinations for a vacation at any time of year. This spectacular freshwater Riviera features wide sandy beaches, warm shallow water suitable for family swimming, pleasant summer temperatures, and an abundance of exciting outdoor activities. There are also many vacation rentals in Lake Michigan to stay in, where you can explore the towns and cities with their many parks, museums, festivals, restaurants, and places to shop. Here are some of the best places to stay around the shores of Lake Michigan.

1. Traverse City, Michigan

boardman river
Source:Flickr/gabe popa

Known as the cherry capital of northern Michigan, Traverse City lies at the base of a bay surrounded by gorgeous sandy beaches. On the east side of Grand Traverse Bay is the beach at Traverse City State Park. On the west side are Clinch Park Beach and West End Beach. Of special interest is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with its majestic sand dunes and 35 miles of lakefront. The area around your vacation rental in Traverse City is also known for its many renowned wineries and its championship golf courses. During the winter, the area offers downhill skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

2. Holland, Michigan

tulip festival

Founded by Dutch Americans, Holland is a lovely small city that hosts an annual tulip festival. Its numerous beaches include the isolated Laketown Beach, the popular beach at Holland State Park, and the beach next to the hardwood forest at Olive Groves County Park. After a fun day of swimming and boating, relax at your comfortable vacation rental before venturing out to explore the town, with its Dutch-inspired museums and art exhibits, quaint shops in the downtown area, and waterfront restaurants.

3. Saugatuck and Douglas, Michigan

saugatuck michigan
Source:Flickr/Paul Wilkinson

The resort towns of Saugatuck and Douglas lying on opposite shores of the Kalamazoo River close to its mouth at Lake Michigan provide ideal vacation rental sites for fun and relaxation. Nearby Oval Beach is renowned as one of the top places for swimming and sunbathing on the lake. Other pleasant beaches include Douglas Beach and Pier Cove Beach. Head for the marina to charter a boat, and enjoy a wonderful lake tour.

4. South Haven, Michigan

south haven michigan
Source:Flickr/bitsorf

A port city on the shore of Lake Michigan near the Black River, South Haven features the Michigan Maritime Museum, a unique attraction that features excursions on historic sailing ships and river boats. Go hiking and view the wildlife at Casco Township Nature Preserve. Stop in at one of the nearby surrounding farms, and pick your own fruit. After a refreshing rest at your vacation rental, have a swim and a picnic at one of the numerous beaches.

5. St. Joseph, Michigan

st. joseph michigan
Source:Flickr/Kevin Dooley

St. Joseph is a beautiful resort town on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan. Among the many attractions, you can easily access from your vacation rental is Silver Beach, a wide, clean beach with numerous adjacent activities. Various lovely nature parks are nearby, such as Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, where you can stroll the trails and observe plants and wildlife, Grand Mere State Park with its sand dunes and beach-side woods, and Love Creek County Park and Nature Center, which has miles of trails through forests, meadows, and marshes.

6. Michigan City, Indiana

michigan city

Vacation rental sites in Michigan City have easy access to the famous Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This amazing area has almost 25 miles of dunes and sandy beaches. Stroll through this lovely park, and observe the indigenous wildlife, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, red foxes, rabbits, and opossums. Bring your binoculars, and watch for great blue herons, Canadian geese, hawks, and songbirds. When you need a break, head back to the city for some fine dining and shopping.

7. Chicago, Illinois

chicago illinois

With a vacation rental in Chicago, you have access to 15 miles of beaches that line the city waterfront and a wealth of sightseeing and cultural activities. Its world-class museums and art exhibits include the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Field Museum. Take the kids to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Chose from among thousands of restaurants and hundreds of shops and boutiques.

8. Kenosha, Wisconsin

kenosha wisconsin
Source:Flickr/William Garrett

Located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan, Kenosha features a beautiful beach and a number of historic attractions. From your vacation rental, stroll to the marina, and charter a boat to explore the lake. Just north of the marina is Simmons Island Park and its pleasant sandy beach, where you can picnic, swim, and sunbathe. To discover the historic ambiance, check out the Southport Lighthouse, the Kenosha Public Museum, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, and the Kenosha Civil War Museum.

9. Racine, Wisconsin

racine wisconsin
Source:Flickr/Daniel Orth

Within walking distance of your vacation rental in Racine is North Beach, with its clean sand and clear blue waters. Relax on the beach and swim in the cool water. During the summer, enjoy outdoor music beneath palm trees near the beach. If you appreciate fine architecture, Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright built many of his most famous buildings in the city of Racine. The Racine Zoo features exhibits of wildlife from around the world. Downtown Racine also offers many opportunities for shopping and dining.

10. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

milwaukee wisconsin

Situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. Besides its fascinating lakeshore, Milwaukee offers a 3-mile walking path along the Milwaukee River and over 130 miles of cycling trails. From your vacation rental site, visit the Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, and over a dozen other cultural attractions. Milwaukee is also resplendent with greenery, with over 150 county and state parks in and around it. There are also countless dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities.