Travel and Holiday Information for the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes is one of the most crucial waterways in the entire United States as it serves as an access point for both commercial transportation and recreational travel. Additionally, the Lakes are a valuable resource and the largest body of freshwater on the planet. If you have never seen the Lakes in person it may be difficult to fully appreciate the size and magnificence as they cover over 94,000 square miles. That makes the total area almost as big as all of the UK.

The five Great Lakes:

  • Lake Ontario

  • Lake Erie

  • Lake Huron

  • Lake Michigan

  • Lake Superior

Regions and Cities of Interest in the Great Lakes Area

The regions surrounding the Great Lakes cover a vast area and offer an almost endless list of choices to travelers looking for excitement and fun. Most of the Midwest US and parts of Canada are part of the Great Lakes area including Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Ontario, and Pennsylvania.

Obviously, with so many regions a part of the Great Lakes area there is no shortage of cities and places of interest for travelers of all types. Depending on what you are looking for there are literally thousands of destinations that all offer something different and will provide an excellent location for an exciting holiday.

Popular Destinations around the Great Lakes:

  • Niagara Falls

  • Toronto

  • Thunder Bay, Ontario

  • Detroit

  • Cleveland

  • New York State

  • Grand Rapids, MI

  • Erie, Pennsylvania

  • Duluth, Minnesota

  • Windsor, Ontario

  • Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  • Milwaukee

  • Traverse City, MI

Great Lakes Attractions:

The Great Lakes offers a wide variety of attractions and points of interest, truly something for every preference or desire. From communities full of vibrant artists to fine dining to all outdoor adventure you can handle, the Great Lakes will deliver all you desire and much more! Below is a small sample list of just some of the most popular activities that the Great Lakes and its many destinations have to offer.

  • Cedar Point

  • Five-Star Hotels

  • Budget Accommodations

  • The Island of Lake Erie

  • Mackinac Island

  • Beaches

  • Museums and History

  • Historical Sites and Homes

  • Water Skiing

  • Kayaking

  • Camping and Hiking

  • Biking

  • State Parks

  • Photography Opportunities

  • Boating

  • Festivals and Concerts

  • National Lakeshore Indiana Dunes

  • Traverse City-Sleeping Bear Dunes

  • Thousand Islands

  • Art Communities

  • Shopping

Traveling To and Around the Great Lakes

The area is very large and offers many different modes of transportation and ways of getting around. In Chicago, O'Hare Airport is one of the world's busiest and offers easy access to the entire Great Lakes area. However, that is certainly not the only option for air travel.

Detroit Metro Airport, Toronto International, Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Minneapolis St. Paul all offer convenient arrival and departure points for entering the Great Lakes region. Relative to other destinations air ticket prices tend to be a little less expensive and there are a number of options for transportation once arriving at the airport.

Rental car services, public transportation and hired car services are available depending on your needs and final destination. However, rental car services are much preferred and probably the best option for most people visiting the area.

If you plan on driving to your final destination from your airport of entry, then you will want to find highways I-94, I-90 and Highway 401 on a map. These are the major highways on the US side and Canadian side of the border that offer most of the initial transportation options.

Airports in the Great Lakes Area:

  • Detroit Metro Airport

  • Chicago Midway

  • Chicago O'Hare

  • Minneapolis St. Paul

  • Cleveland Hopkins

  • Toronto

Things To Do

The beach areas of the Great Lakes are something that many have never had a chance to enjoy, particularly in the southern region of the Lakes as it offers a climate where the water tends to be warmer than in the northern regions of the Great Lakes. During the summer time the southern areas have some of the best beaches you can find and the water area is large enough it can be easy to think you are at the ocean instead of a lake. No worrying about getting stung by jellyfish or having your eyes irritated by saltwater, as the Great Lakes are full of clean, clear and fresh water.

Some of the best beaches the Great Lakes have to offer include Lincoln Park Beach, Chicago and Wasaga Beach, Ontario. Of course, there are also amazing beaches near the Indiana Dunes and secluded beaches in Harbor County, MI which is an upscale destination for the affluent. In fact, I will bet most are not aware that even during the winter months when it is much too cold for swimming activities surfing is a very popular sport in many areas of the Great Lakes.

The Lakes offer some of the best scenery and blue water in the entire world. Part of the attraction to the area is the wide array of different landscapes, activities and environments that are available all in a relatively small area. Chicago offers towering skyscrapers, as does Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland and many other cities around the Lakes. However, you also have Traverse City, Marquette, Mackinac Island and other cities that offer a small, quiet, and home type feeling with quaint shops and local restaurants.

The number of natural and nature centered destinations around the Lakes are almost endless and include names such as Isle Royal National Park, Manitoulin Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Thousand Islands and many more. The entire area surrounding the Lakes is full of thousands, even tens of thousands of miles of biking and hiking trails where you will find amazing wildlife scenery. If you are an amateur or professional photographer you could spend months around the Lakes and only capture a very small percentage of all it has to offer.

Boating and Swimming

Boating and swimming are very popular activities around the Lakes as it allows people to enjoy the outdoors while being active but also the slow pace of beach life as well. Boating enthusiasts often use the St. Lawrence Seaway and the available connections as their guide for traveling around the Great Lakes as it offers many great destinations and easy travel navigation.

The route offers many boat ramps, marinas and public areas for docking so you can enjoy the activities on shore along your travel route. If you are not a boater then you can take advantage of one of the Great Lakes cruises offered by the American Canadian Caribbean Cruise Lines which offer packages for travelers interested in a cruise style vacation.

For swimmers, the entire Great Lakes area is amazingly clean and clear, offering a great environment for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. You won't have any problems catching a glimpse of the amazing wildlife under the water as well as above. In fact, if you enjoy underwater photography, the Lakes can be one of the areas in the world to capture amazing photos of vibrant creatures beneath the surface of the water.


If you enjoy shopping, then the Great Lakes is a perfect destination for you. The area offers world class shopping destinations such as Chicago and Toronto as well as much smaller venues that offer items you can't find at your local mall. If you are looking for artistic designs that are completely unique or world renowned designs by well-known designers, the Great Lakes has it all.