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Which Great Lake is the Best to Visit?

A Guide to Visiting North America’s Great Lakes

North America’s Great Lakes are one of nature’s most majestic wonders and a worthy addition to any travel bucket list. Encompassing more than a fifth of the world’s freshwater supply combined, these five lakes offer impressive landscapes to admire along with countless recreational activities to discover. And with a total of 9,402 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of Great Lakes vacation spots to choose from. 

For the discerning traveler seeking some of the most unique places to stay paired with exceptional experiences, Select Registry has your guide on how to best visit these spectacular nature-filled destinations.   

Experience Lake Michigan

From the urban delights of the Windy City to the tranquil shores of Door County, Wisconsin, an escape to Lake Michigan offers travelers a little bit of everything. For the urban adventurers, Chicago’s gorgeous skyline and bustling lakefront parks and beaches beckon. However, that’s just a fraction of the experiences you’ll find dotted along Lake Michigan’s shores.  

Vacation in Door County, Wisconsin

For a storybook Midwest getaway, vacation in Door County, Wisconsin. Located on a peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, this Great Lakes vacation spot is known for its delicious fish boils, picturesque lighthouses, and scenic outdoor recreation—including more than 50 public beaches where you can swim, kayak, or even dive to nearby shipwreck sites. 

Travel Tip: Visit during the summertime for peak cherry picking season mid July through mid August at local orchards such as Door County Wildwood Market or Lautenbach's Orchard Country

Where to Stay on Lake Michigan

The White Gull Inn offers an authentic Lake Michigan getaway.

White Gull Inn

For over a century, White Gull Inn has been welcoming guests in the bayside village of Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Featuring 17 elegantly appointed and beautifully renovated rooms and cottages, guests become immersed in the inn’s historic past. A can’t-miss activity, for guests, residents, and visitors alike is White Gull Inn’s traditional outdoor fish boil, serving fresh Lake Michigan whitefish. Started in 1959, this is one of Door County’s oldest fish boils and a beloved community staple. 

White Gull Inn

The historic Hillside Waterfront Hotel is the perfect vacation spot on Lake Michigan.

Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Escape to lakefront luxury at the historic Hillside Waterfront Hotel in Ephraim, Wisconsin. With waterfront views and private balconies from every room and cottage, relaxation is guaranteed. Guests can easily enjoy all Door County has to offer, including lake access from nearby Peninsula State Park.  

Hillside Waterfront Hotel

Two chairs sit on the dock at Blacksmith Inn on the Shore, which overlooks Lake Michigan.

Blacksmith Inn on the Shore

Serenely located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Blacksmith Inn on the Shore in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin invites guests to relax and unwind in its waterfront accommodations, featuring thoughtful amenities including fireplaces, whirlpools, and private balconies. As a member of the Door County Land Trust, guests can expect personalized recommendations on where to hike and enjoy the natural landscapes.

Blacksmith Inn

Experience Lake Huron

With the longest shoreline out of all the Great Lakes, Lake Huron and the 30,000 islands throughout offer travelers a chance to immerse themselves in natural beauty ranging from forests and wetlands to sand dunes and rocky coasts. Bordered by Michigan and Ontario, Lake Huron is the ideal choice for serene retreats surrounded by nature. 

Vacation in Oscoda, Michigan

Located in northern Michigan on the state’s “Sunrise Side,” Oscoda is one of the best places to vacation by Lake Huron. Enjoy a plethora of water activities from the beaches of Lake Huron to the 23-mile AuSable National Scenic River that flows nearby. The accessible pier at Oscoda Beach Park is the perfect spot to bask in scenic views, sunrise strolls, and lake fishing. 

Travel Tip: Don’t skip out on the area’s equally exciting land-based activities. Oscoda offers access to more than 35,000 acres of national forest! Begin your adventure at the Lumberman’s Monument to learn about the state’s logging past. 

Where to Stay on Lake Huron

The beachside igloos on Lake Huron are a unique experience while stay at the Huron House Luxury Bed & Breakfast

Huron House Luxury Bed & Breakfast

Nestled on the shores of Lake Huron, Huron House Luxury Bed & Breakfast provides guests with an unforgettable, adults-only getaway. Here, there is no shortage of stunning waterfront views from the cozy fire pits to private hot tubs. For a one-of-a-kind craft lodging experience, make sure to reserve a seasonal beachside igloo where you and your loved one can enjoy a romantic evening under the stars. 

Huron House

Experience Lake Erie

Lake Erie is rich in biodiversity and also the shallowest of the Great Lakes, which makes it a top choice for fishing, boating, and countless other water sports amongst warm waters. When considering places to vacation near Lake Erie, one stands out among the rest for its exciting metropolitan scene. 

Vacation in Cleveland, Ohio

Blend city adventure with relaxing lake days by choosing Cleveland, Ohio as your Lake Erie destination. With lakefront parks and beautiful beaches, relaxation comes easy. Spend a day or two at Euclid Beach Park, which offers nature trails, fishing charters, picnic areas, water sports, and much more across more than 650 feet of sandy shores. When it’s time to explore the city, cultural attractions abound, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland Museum of Art.

Travel Tip: Fuel up for adventure at the historic West Side Market, where you can sample the best of Cleveland’s culinary scene at more than 100 vendors. 

Where to Stay on Lake Erie

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the J Palen House is a hidden retreat with easy access to Lake Erie and the city's urban delights.

J Palen House

A hidden retreat found in Cleveland’s food and arts district, J Palen House features charming rooms with modern amenities such as spa baths, fireplaces, and private patios. Easily explore nearby attractions including the West Side Market, along with countless options for shopping, dining, and nightlife just minutes away.  

J Palen House

Experience Lake Ontario

Despite being the smallest of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario offers travelers some of the grandest natural attractions to explore—whether you want to stay in Toronto’s rich cultural scene or in one of the quaint lakeside communities. Attracting more than the outdoor enthusiast, travelers will discover lush vineyards, eclectic downtowns, and of course, the magnificent Niagara Falls. 

Vacation in St. Catharines, Ontario

Cross the border into Canada and discover one of the best cities to experience the splendor of Lake Ontario. Neighboring Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines flourishes with a historic downtown and convenient ways to enjoy its picturesque location, including local hiking trails and parks. Running through the region’s most populous city is the towering and breathtaking Niagara Escarpment that will set the scene for a truly memorable Great Lakes vacation. 

Travel Tip: Ontario is home to an award-winning wine scene, making it a must-visit for travelers seeking a food and wine vacation! Schedule tastings and tours, or plan your visit during the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival in September.

Where to Stay on Lake Ontario

Springbank House in St. Catharines is beautiful Great Lakes vacation spot for visiting Lake Ontario

Springbank House

Immerse yourself in the heart of Ontario’s historic district at the Springbank House in St. Catharines. This boutique bed and breakfast is ideally located within walking distance to the vibrant St. Paul Street and only a 20-minute drive to Niagara Falls. Explore the diverse beauty of the area, with personalized recommendations, and find comfort in one of Springbank House’s three modern suites.

Springbank House

Experience Lake Superior

As its name suggests, Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes and is teeming with hidden gems and unique places to experience nature’s finest. Its numerous islands attract the adventurous willing to navigate across blue waters. Explore the Apostle Islands’ sea caves and rock formations or get off the grid at Isle Royale National Park, where you can backpack through wilderness, scuba dive near shipwrecks, or enjoy guided tours on the water. Surrounded by charming cities and lakefront towns, Lake Superior offers a respite to slow down and embrace the beautiful landscapes. 

Where to Stay on Lake Superior

Craft Lodging Properties

While there are no Select Registry members located around Lake Superior, discover authentic experiences and local perspectives by searching for craft lodging accommodations. Head to Grand Portage, Minnesota or Copper Harbor, Michigan for the most convenient access to Isle Royale. And if you’re looking for more variety in your Great Lakes vacation, larger cities like Duluth, Minnesota offer an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

So, which of the Great Lakes is the best to visit? With each lake offering its own unique blend of experiences, from outdoor adventures to cultural escapades, only you can decide. Start planning your Great Lakes vacation to find out. 

Best Places to Stay in Baileys Harbor

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

Blacksmith Inn On the Shore

Baileys Harbor, WI

Best Places to Stay in Cleveland

j palen house Retreat
j palen house
j palen house
jpalen house Roost Private Courtyard
J Palen House Retreat Spa Bath
j palen bath
j palen house
j palen house
j palen house
j palen house
j palen house
j palen house Roost Loft
j palen house
j palen
Sleep Inn...Dine Out

J Palen House

Cleveland, OH

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 Oscoda

Gas fire pits and beach views
Lake views
Garden views
Relax and enjoy Lake Huron views from your very own hot tub.

Huron House Luxury Bed & Breakfast

Oscoda, MI

Best Places to Stay in St. Catharines

Yates St. Exterior
Breakfast Table Setting
Taylor Suite sitting room
Sun Suite bedroom
Inglenook with fireplace
Front Door
Magnolia Suite bathroom
Billiard Room
Living Room with Fireplace
Dining Room

Springbank House

St. Catharines, ON

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