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?

For more aquatic fun in West Michigan, view our map of boating destinations here.

Make Waves in Southern West Michigan

Home to 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. Looking for more ways to enjoy the water in Coldwater? Head to The Aqua Pit Water Park for kayaking, paddle boarding, flyboarding, and more!

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. She 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, 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!

Lindy Lou is an electric-powered replica river launch. This cruise provides passengers with a chance to recapture those days from the late 1890s through the 1930s when launches plied the Black River, delivering guests to resorts, taking picnickers to up-river parks and pavilions, and generally helping to fill the lazy hours of summer with relaxing diversions.

Experience 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 replied 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.

From the vast freshwater expanse of the Big Lake to the scenic Kalamazoo River, there’s nothing like experiencing the unsalted waves of Saugatuck/Douglas by boat. Take the afternoon off on Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises and enjoy a leisurely view of the town, harbor, and scenic natural areas.. 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. If you’re angling for the thrill of sportfishing, looking for a family-friendly excursion, or just interested in sharing the sunset on deck with your significant other, a private charter is a perfect way to enjoy time on the water. The area offers a wide variety of sailing, boating, and charter fishing opportunities, all of which can be found here.

Southwest Michigan’s Harbor Country offers lots of great activities on the water, including kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, watersports, fishing, and boating. It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.

All Aboard in Central West Michigan

Visit a ship with a 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!

Why put up with the uncertainties of traffic and highway congestion when you can take the time-saving Lake Michigan ferry shortcut instead? The Lake Express Ferry made history as the first high speed auto passenger ferry in the United States, re-establishing the historic Lake Michigan ferry route between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan. Crossing Lake Michigan in just 2-1/2 hours, the Lake Express cuts hours from the typical trip around Lake Michigan through Chicago’s congested tollway system. Since that first crossing, Lake Express continues to offer more daily sailings and the longest operating season on Lake Michigan. Discover the freedom, relaxation, and convenience that comes when you leave driving behind.

The USS LST 393 Veterans Museum allows you to walk where heroes have walked, right in downtown Muskegon! Discover LST 393’s outstanding wartime record as you tour a nationally renowned veterans museum with artifacts and displays honoring those who served America and fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. Tour one of America’s last two LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) of the 1,051 built during World War II. The museum re-opens for tours in late April 2022.

Climb aboard and dive into science at the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, where you can visit a carefully preserved Gato-Class World War II submarine. Learn all about the USS Silversides exhibits, programs, and special events on their website.

While in Muskegon, be sure to visit the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper, a national historic landmark and the oldest remaining passenger ship on the Great Lakes. They will re-open for the 2022 season on Memorial Day, inviting the public back to tour the restored former passenger ferry.

Newaygo County’s annual Dam 2 Dam Ice Fishing Tournament is back on February 19th! This annual event is equal parts fishing contest and social event. It is held during the DNR free-fishing weekend; meaning you won’t need a fishing license to participate. Best of all, 100% of proceeds from the event go to benefit a local nonprofit, TrueMentors, which pairs kids in Newaygo county in need of extra support with an adult mentor.

Have you ever spent the night on the SS Badger Lake Michigan Carferry? Overnight stays return for 2022, so 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. With daily trips (and sometimes twice daily) 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. The sailing season begins May 12.

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.

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

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.

Science sails for people of all ages! Join the Inland Seas Education Association for one of their amazing adventures on their 77′ tall ship, the schooner Inland Seas. Their educational programs cover topics like the food web, water quality, fish, microplastics, and more, allowing you to learn about the Great Lakes while you collect and analyze lake samples, raise the sails, and steer the ship. Looking for more of a relaxing ride at sea? Climb aboard for one of the specialty sails, like the Night Sail or the Fall Color Sail to take in the beauty of northern Michigan. These experiences will help visitors understand the importance of protecting and preserving our freshwater resources. Book early as space is limited.

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!

Located in Manistee, the SS City of Milwaukee is the last of six sister ships designed in the 1920s and built by the Manitowac Shipbuilding company out of Wisconsin. The ship is available for tours, facility rental, and even contains a bed and breakfast (available May through early September).

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum north of Sault Ste. Marie in Paradise has become one of Michigan’s most popular destinations in the cultural tourism industry, attracting over 75,000 visitors each season. The museum is open every day, from May 1 to October 31. Museum patrons learn about the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes at the Whitefish Point Light Station, an Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places. You won’t want to miss seeing the Whitefish Point Light Tower, the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior, in continuous operation for 155 years.

For over 50 years, the summer cruises from Pictured Rocks Cruises in Munising have been guiding visitors to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a top Michigan vacation spot. The cruises are 2 1/2 – 3 hours long and will travel into and alongside the most visually stunning 40 miles of shoreline on the Great Lakes! Learn about their Classic Cruise, Spray Falls Cruise, and Sunset Cruise on their website.

Make your visit to the UP memorable with a trip through the Soo Locks. Located 50 miles north of the Mackinac Bridge, the Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours allow you to come aboard an educational & fun-filled adventure in historic Sault Ste. Marie. Proudly operating since 1959, these tours continue the tradition of highlighting history and attractions for a relaxing and memorable experience for locals and visitors. Their yellow and blue boats, the Nokomis and LeVoyager, accommodate 150 passengers and feature a full snack bar with beer, wine and hard seltzers.

More From Northern West Michigan & the Upper Peninsula:

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