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Olivia Hudak

By: Olivia Hudak on July 22nd, 2022

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Top 5 Lakes in Michigan for Recreational Boating

Michigan has over 62,000 lakes throughout the entire state. Most of these lakes allow boats on them which means there's plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the water. If you’re looking to do some recreational boating, Michigan might be the right place for you. 


Whether it is a popular and busy lake with tons of people enjoying its social atmosphere or a hidden lake that only a few locals know about, each is loved in its own way. There is a lake for everyone to enjoy in Michigan.


If you want to fish, surf, wakeboard, ski, or just cruise, you’ll be sure to find the right lake for you somewhere within the state. However, there are a few “must-see” bodies of water that you won’t want to miss. 


In this article, I will go over the top 5 “must-see” lakes in the state of Michigan. As a native of the area, these are my picks if you want to hit the water and you’ve not ventured to the Midwest before.  


#1 Torch Lake

The lake that made #1 on this list is Torch Lake. This large inland lake has several different features that pushed it to the top of the list. The reason Torch Lake is such a huge attraction in the state of Michigan is because of its aqua blue color. It almost looks like you’re boating in the Bahamas. 


Torch Lake is the second largest lake in the state of Michigan. Adding to that, it is the deepest lake in the entire state coming in deeper than even Lake Erie.


Those statistics aren’t what makes this lake the top-rated lake in the state. The accessibility of boats and the communities surrounding the lake are what make it #1 on the list. 


The beautiful sea-blue color of the lake along with the 2-mile sandbar draw people to this area. Whether you’d rather cruise around the lake or socialize at the sandbar, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 


Torch lake is also a fishing haven. Fishermen love the area because of the plentiful amount of fish living in the lake. It doesn’t hurt to fish with a beautiful view of a gorgeous lake either. 


Torch lake is a “must-see” if you’re looking for the ultimate view and a great day on the boat. If you want to experience the real beauty of Michigan, be sure to visit Torch lake. 

torch lake blog


#2 Lake St. Clair

Another wonderful place for boating in the state of Michigan is Lake St. Clair. This lake connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie. It is a huge body of water that acts as a channel between the two Great Lakes. 


Some people believe this is the lake that caused recreational boating to become so popular. Once boating became popular on Lake St. Clair, it spread to the rest of the state and then to the rest of the country. 


This lake also has a large number of restaurants and public spaces right on the water. You can enjoy your meal while also enjoying the view of the beauty that surrounds you. There is a lot to do on this lake that will make your trip a blast. 


Another interesting point that is unusual in most lakes is that since it connects to both Lake Erie and Lake Huron, it serves as a channel for cargo ships. You can see massive cargo ships traveling through the channel as much smaller recreational boats enjoy the waters nearby. 


Be sure to check out this beautiful lake on the east side of the state. It sits halfway between the United States and Canada so don’t forget to take your passport if you plan on traveling to the other side of the lake. 

Lake st clair


#3 Spring Lake

Spring Lake is located on the western side of the state of Michigan. This lake is near Grand Rapids and draws a lot of attention to the west side of the state. You can also access Lake Michigan from Spring Lake as well making it perfect for any kind of boater. 


The village of Spring Lake is a small, inviting community with many restaurants and entertainment. Often during the summer, events such as lakeside concerts and shows attract many people. You can enjoy the shows from the comfort of your boat, what could be better than that?


The lake also offers a lot of beautiful scenery for those visiting. If you’re looking for a beautiful place to kayak, paddleboard, or just float, Spring Lake is the perfect place for you. It’s also quite deep which is perfect for some of the more extreme watersport enthusiasts.


For those looking for a great place to fish, Spring Lake is known for its abundance of large pike making it a fishing hotspot. Along with pike, there are many other species of fish that inhabit the area as well.


This is a great location to visit if you don’t want to travel to Northern Michigan but still want to capture the beauty of the state. Don't miss out on this lake as it is any boater’s paradise.

spring lake


#4 Big Manistique Lake

For this lake, we’re headed to the Upper Peninsula also known as the U.P. About 2 hours northwest of the Mackinac bridge lives the gorgeous Big Manistique Lake. It is in Luce County, Michigan away from all and any buzz of a big city. 


If you’re a big fishing enthusiast, this is the lake for you. It is known for all the rich fishing spots as well as an abundance of different large fish species. 


Known for its peaceful surroundings, this is a great spot to cruise and float. This also makes for a great spot to launch the kayaks for an afternoon of paddling. Big Manistique Lake is ideal for those looking for a peaceful vacation away from the busy lakes in the lower half of the state. 


Big Manistique Lake is somewhat of a hidden gem because of the location. The U.P. is not always an easy place to travel for people but it is worth it if you’re looking to get away from it all. The lake is surrounded by beautiful woods and untouched land far from the chaos of the city. 



#5 Lake Charlevoix

Lake Charlevoix is another wonderful lake to visit if you’re traveling around the state of Michigan with a boat. It is one of the largest lakes in the state and has the longest shoreline of any inland Michigan lake. 


Since it has such a long shoreline, it is known for its beaches. There are many features on this lake that attract people from all over the world. One of the big attractions is the events that are hosted lakeside making them accessible by boat. 


Events include concerts, boat parades, and shows that are hosted on the water or the water's edge. This draws attention from all over the country. People come in flocks when big events are going on. 


Another neat attraction at Lake Charlevoix is the mushroom houses. These are known around the country because of their unique build and look. Tours are offered to the public to see these unique houses so plan ahead if this is something you’re interested in. 


Lake Charlevoix may be #5 on the list but that doesn’t mean it’s not as amazing as the other lakes. Enjoy the beauty of Michigan on Lake Charlevoix by cruising around and checking out the community and events. I don’t doubt that you’ll fall in love with this lake. 



Visit Michigan

Michigan has lakes like no other state in the country. They are perfect for whatever kind of boating you choose. Whether you are there to fish, tube, or relax, Michigan will have a lake that suits your needs. 


The lakes in Michigan have unmatched beauty that cannot be found in any other part of the country. If you plan on traveling to the state, be sure to jump on a boat and head out on the water. You won’t be disappointed. 

If you’re an avid boater who likes to travel, take some time out of your summer to enjoy the lakes of Michigan. Only 5 are listed but every lake in the state has something special to offer. Check out the community and the attractions of different locations to enjoy boating in Michigan to the fullest.

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About Olivia Hudak

Avid boater and Barletta Boats team member, Olivia is no stranger to the water. She was on the MSU wake team through college and continues to to ride the wake in her spare time.