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5 of the Best Destinations for Kayaking in the Midwest

Kayaking can be a quiet, relaxing activity or a thrilling adventurous sport. It’s the perfect way to get out on the water, explore the surroundings, and take in the beauty of nature. Home to the Great Lakes, mountain towns, unspoiled nature, the Midwest is a trending destination for outdoor adventures. Read on to learn more about the top places for kayaking in the Midwest.

The Top 5 Destinations for Kayaking in the Midwest

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

1. Galena, Illinois 

Galena, IL, is a trending Midwest destination for outdoor adventures and quiet relaxation. Paddle your way down the Galena River! The entire river stretches for ten miles, so you can choose to kayak the whole thing or opt for a shorter stretch. You will encounter wildlife such as Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, and songbirds along the way. Other features you might run into include romantic footbridges, remnants of the Galena Lock and Dam, and an old railroad bridge.  

Stay Select in Galena, IL

Jail Hill Inn

Galena, IL

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Goldmoor Inn and Resort

Galena, IL

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2. Spirit Lake, Iowa

West Okoboji Lake in Dickinson County is the second deepest lake in Iowa and part of a chain of lakes known as the Iowa Great Lakes. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing day out on the water! This popular destination draws fishers, swimmers, and boaters. You might even see the old Arnolds Park Amusement Park during your excursion.  

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The Oakwood Inn Okoboji

Spirit Lake, IA

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3. Lake Michigan, Northern Michigan 

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Given that it is the second largest of the five, it is no surprise that it is home to countless kayaking opportunities. These suggestions target travelers visiting the Northern Michigan side of the Lake.  

More adventurous kayakers might enjoy the Beaver Island Kayak Trail! It is a 42-mile paddling trail that circles the entirety of Beaver Island. Some parts of the Island are more family-friendly areas to paddle. The Water Trail is geared toward experienced kayakers who are comfortable paddling in Lake Michigan's unpredictable conditions.  

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is another excellent area to embark on an exciting kayaking excursion! From here, you can explore the lower Platte River that ends at Lake Michigan.  

Stay Select on Lake Michigan

Castle in the Country Bed & Breakfast Inn

Allegan, MI

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Stafford’s Bay View Inn

Petoskey, MI

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Inn at Black Star Farms

Suttons Bay, MI

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4. Hocking Hills, Ohio

Hocking Hills, OH, is the ultimate destination to reset in nature. Kayaking in the Hocking Hills allows you to take in the breathtaking natural surroundings while also appealing to your sense of adventure. The slow current of Hocking River makes it a smooth ride for those who like a little extra push. If you'd prefer to be out on a lake, consider checking out Lake Hope or Lake Logan. Lake Logan State Park is just 15 minutes away from the Inn at Cedar Falls and has easy-access boat ramps, which make entering the water a breeze!  

Door County, Wisconsin 

Discover Door County, WI, on the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of kayaking opportunities. Visit the incredible sea caves at Cave Point County Park. Bring a packed lunch for a relaxing picnic and take in the views. 

Another popular option would be the famous North Bay Shipwrecks in Bailey’s Harbour. Venture off toward Cana Island and look for the Cherubusco, G.J. Tracy and the A. Bronson down below. Consider renting a clear-bottom kayak for this excursion!

Other kayaking recommendations in Door County include Mink River Estuary, Clark Lake, Garrett Bay, Nicolet Beach, and Rock Island. 

Stay Select in Door County, WI

Blacksmith Inn on the Shore

Baileys Harbor, WI

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White Gull Inn

Fish Creek, WI

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Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Ephraim, WI

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Additional Midwestern United States Travel Tips

If you’re planning to visit the Midwest, you’re in for quite the treat. This gorgeous region draws travelers with features such as the Great Lakes, extensive farmland, rugged backcountry, and wide-open prairies. Stop in some charming small towns and major cities and stay for the best museums, fairs, festivals, and food. 

Stay Select

Now that you have an idea of where to go kayaking in the Midwest, it’s time to decide where to stay. Across the United States, Select Registry properties set the standard for a high-quality experience. Each one of our quality-assured B&BS, inns, boutique hotels, lodges, and luxury cabins is as unique as the destination in which they reside. Maybe you’re hoping to stay somewhere remote near exciting outdoor adventures.Perhaps you’re planning to visit a larger city for shopping and dining experiences. Either way, you can count on our properties to offer a comfortable and reliable stay. 

Property Map.

Best Places to Stay in Allegan

Castle in the Country exterior
Castle in the Country food
Guestroom - Sir Lancelot Suite - Castle in the Country - March 2016 (1)-X3.jpg
Castle In the Country nature
breakfast
deck
spa at castle in the country
fire pit

Castle in the Country Bed & Breakfast Inn

Allegan, MI

Best Places to Stay in Baileys Harbor

blacksmith-Inn water view
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Breakfast at Blacksmith Inn on the Shore
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Blacksmith Inn On the Shore

Baileys Harbor, WI

Best Places to Stay in Ephraim

hillside night
front of hillside
two chairs
porch with charis
room with wine
guest room
front entrance
lobby of hotel
sitting room by fireplace
evening view hotel
guest room with a view
guest room
hillside dining
hillside kitchen
hillside side

Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Ephraim, WI

Best Places to Stay in Fish Creek

White Gull Inn Exterior SPring
White Gull Inn Suite
White Gull Inn Patio SFT
White Gull Inn Snow
Spring Into Summer
White Gull Inn Room with Fireplace
white gull sign
french toast
summer flowers
corn bread
White Gull Inn Fall
White Gull Inn Christmas Corner Round Prog Dinner
White Gull Inn Sunset Park

White Gull Inn

Fish Creek, WI

Best Places to Stay in Galena

aerial fall
tree changing color
guest room with fireplace
grand hall
Goldmoor Exterior at Dusk
banquet
winter Goldmoor
log cabin
guest room with fireplace
gazebo
side door

Goldmoor Inn and Resort

Galena, IL

Jail Hill Inn- interior shot
Jail Hill Exterior 29
Jail Hill Inn- interior shot
Jail Hill Inn- cheese and wine
Jail Hill Room 6
Jail Hill Inn Exterior
delicious jaill hill in yogurt cup and french press coffee and tasty pastries
shower
Jail Hill Inn- guestroom

Jail Hill Inn

Galena, IL

Best Places to Stay in Petoskey

Exterior view with lawn
chairs at lake
Front Exterior of Hotel
Guestroom
sitting room with fireplace
Exterior
Interior Room Image
Interior sitting area
Breakfast being served

Stafford's Bay View Inn

Petoskey, MI

Best Places to Stay in Spirit Lake

The Oakwood Inn exterior
The Oakwood Inn - Front of House
The Oakwood Inn breakfast
baked goods
dining room
The Oakwood Inn exterior
The Oakwood Inn guest room
The Oakwood Inn guest room door
The Oakwood Inn - white cottage
rock garden
The Oakwood guest room
The Oakwood Inn romantic garden
oakwood front
oakwood dining
oakwood bed
The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast on the veranda
The Oakwood Inn Common Grounds
The Oakwood Inn dessert
The Oakwood Inn exterior
The Oakwood Inn guestroom
The Oakwood Inn dining guest room
The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast exterior
The Oakwood Inn Iowa Bed and Breakfast

The Oakwood Inn Okoboji

Spirit Lake, IA

Best Places to Stay in Suttons Bay

The Inn at Black Star Farms Exterior Autumn
woman with horse
four bikes
house white wine
Rainbow over The Inn at Black Star Farms
The Inn at Black Star Farms Dining Room
The Inn at Black Star Farms Guest Room
wedding couple
snowy day
patio party
stable and horse
horse and farm
sauna room
guest room

Inn at Black Star Farms

Suttons Bay, MI

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