Get Ready to Set Sail!

Michigan is known worldwide for its beautiful Great Lakes, and now it’s your turn to explore beyond the shores! Rock the boat with these West Michigan ship adventures, perfect for any skill level. Water you waiting for?

Make Waves in Southern West Michigan

With over 100 freshwater lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country in south central Michigan is the place to get out on the water! Bring your boat, rent a pontoon or kayak, and get out on the water to enjoy the area that is a haven for relaxation on the water.

Photo: Michigan Maritime Museum

You’ll find Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven: it’s home to an abundance of historical ships, World War II boats, and special cruises to enjoy the open waters of Lake Michigan. 

Friends Good Will is a replica 1810 topsail sloop that speaks to the history of commerce in the early 1800s, as well as her pivotal role in the War of 1812. Stand at her bow, feel the wind on your face, and hear the crack of her billowing sails and her 6-pound pivot gun. Do more than imagine how sailors felt as they set sail for uncharted courses–experience it for yourself. 

Check out the adventure aboard USCG Motor Lifeboat 36460. This boat, built in 1941, starred in the Disney film The Finest Hours. This extraordinary vessel represents one of the most widely used and relied upon rescue boats in Coast Guard history. Step aboard and ride the waves as you salute the United States Coast Guard.

South Haven also has many charter boat options for those who would like to go on an exciting fishing excursion or spend a day on the water. Sunsetter is an ex-United States Navy Utility Launch Boat welcoming you to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing, scenic tour, or watch the sun set into the water and reflect colors off the sky with a magnificent Lake Michigan sunset. Click here for the full list of opportunities.

Take the afternoon off on Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises. Listen to the water running off the paddle-wheels of this authentic sternwheel paddle boat as you gently glide down the Kalamazoo River and enter majestic Lake Michigan near Saugatuck.

Step back in time to the early days of river cruising on The Michigan Princess, a classic replica of a 19th century steam boat. Passengers love escaping to a simpler way of life for a few hours while they take in breathtaking views of the Grand River in Lansing.


All Aboard in Central West Michigan

Visit a ship with rich history in Muskegon aboard Aquastar Cruises, touring both Muskegon Lake and the Gold Coast of Lake Michigan. Whether it’s a day out with the family, or admiring the sunset with that special someone, enjoyment on the water is certain!

Make plans to sail away on an adventure this summer in Pure Ludington. Reserve your spot on the SS Badger for a Lake Michigan crossing to Manitowoc, WI. The Badger is the largest car ferry to ever sail Lake Michigan, carting anything from everyday passengers to commercial trucks. With daily trips during the summer season, this historic ship offers a variety of amenities, including an open-air deck, full bar, two kitchens, movie theater, gift shop, and more.

Enjoy a harbor tour and get a look at some of Ludington’s most famous landmarks, like the Big Sable Lighthouse or Consumers hydroelectric plant, or take a leisurely sunset cruise for a true Up North evening. While visiting the Ludington area, stop by the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, which brings history to life with digital storytelling, authentic images and artifacts, and engaging interactive exhibits.

More From Central West Michigan:

All Hands on Deck in Northern West Michigan & the Upper Peninsula

Photo: Traverse City Tourism

Traverse City is a water-lover’s paradise. Fishing charters abound across the region, as do daily rentals for power boats and pontoons perfect for a day in the sun. But the true adventure lies with the thrilling tall ships that sail Grand Traverse Bay. Enjoy a sunset and a glass of wine on a Nauticat cruise or step back in time aboard a replica 1800s schooner. Kiddos will love being on the “high seas” with Inland Seas Education Association, where they’ll learn all about the waters of Lake Michigan.

Individuals and families can experience and learn about the Great Lakes on the Inland Seas Education Association’s 77′ tall ship, the schooner Inland Seas. Enjoy a science sail while you collect and analyze lake samples, raise the sails, and steer the ship. Great Lakes topics include the food web, water quality, fish, microplastics, and more. Participate in one of ISEA’s specialty sails to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of northern Michigan. These experiences will bring you closer to understanding the importance of protecting and preserving our freshwater resources. Book early as space is limited.

Water, water, everywhere! Shanty Creek Resort is just minutes from Torch Lake, one of the remarkable 75-mile string of lakes and connecting rivers called the Chain of Lakes. Stretching 19 miles and covering nearly 30 miles, Torch Lake is where Shanty families head for days of sunshine and water. From water skiing to tubing, fishing or just floating around, Torch Lake is a must.

Photo: Beaver Island Boat Co

Save your seat with the Beaver Island Boat Company this spring. Experience a relaxing two-hour cruise from spectacular forests, magnificent dunes, and pristine water to Beaver Island, also known as America’s Emerald Isle, located 32 miles into Lake Michigan. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can book a tour of the island as well. Let the Beaver Island Boat Company be the start to your island getaway!

On a clear day, Keweenaw Adventure Company’s Agate Harbor Sea Kayaking Day Trip will expose paddlers to the remnants of the City of St. Joseph, which lays undisturbed in just 20′-30’ of water. The 254′ barge was lost on the shallow reef during a northwest gale in September of 1942. Established in 1994, the Keweenaw Adventure Company are experts in offering a variety of guided day trips and state-of-the art sea kayak rentals.

More From Northern West Michigan & the Upper Peninsula:

Statewide Resources: