Five Of The Best Boating Lakes In Michigan
There are many types of boaters out there. Many boaters dock at their lake home all summer. Others like to tow their boat to a new lake every weekend. Here at Premier, we say yes to whatever gets you out on the water. But even if you’re normally the dock-and-leave at the cottage type, who doesn’t love experiencing someplace new with their boat?
Michigan has a whopping amount of inland lakes - over 11,000 - not to mention access to some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world: The Great Lakes. We’ve put together our own list of “favorite” lakes and boating areas that you have to check out in Michigan - in no particular order.
1. Mullett Lake - Topinabee, MI
Named after an early surveyor (sorry, not the haircut), Mullett Lake is situated on the Inland Waterway; a series of navigable lakes and rivers stretching across the state of MI. Mullet Lake has something for everyone as watersports lovers can zoom easily around its 26 miles of surface area, while slower boat cruisers and paddlers love the many less disturbed inlets. There is a variety of marinas, restaurants, and lodging along Mullett’s shores, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry or staying a while!
Mullett is also known for its fishing, boasting a full-featured list of Michigan’s favorite sport fish. And since Mullett Lake is connected via rivers as a part of the Inland Waterway, it’s full of many species of trout - an experience many anglers can’t get at other inland lakes. Even if you’re not a master angler, the fish are sure to be biting at Mullett Lake
Michigan’s Inland Waterway
For a longer trip, consider boating through the Inland Waterway. In addition to Mullett; Pickerel Lake, Crooked Lake, & Burt Lake are all connected via this water trail. You can literally boat from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. The trip is 38 miles long and features two locks. There are plenty of marinas and restaurants along the way, and lodging should be relatively easy to plan ahead.
While you could do this trip in one day, the rivers and channels can get congested, so we recommend planning on at least two. Plus, taking more time for this trip will give you the opportunity to soak in a truly unique boating experience!
2. Lake Charlevoix - Charlevoix, MI
Pronounced SHAR-LEH-VOY, Lake Charlevoix is one of our favorite lakes in Michigan and is regularly ranked as one of the Top Lakes in the US. Crystal clear waters are contrasted by the green of the trees that line its unusually natural feeling shores. Surrounding most of the lake is a shallow ledge making it ideal for mooring and taking a swim break or soaking in the sunset. Lake Charlevoix also has channel access to Lake Michigan making the boating community here second to none.
Don’t forget to make time for a stop at The Landing! Tie up right at their dock and enjoy a meal and refreshments before heading back out on the water!
3. Spring Lake to Lake Michigan - Grand Haven, MI
If you’re from West Michigan, you are probably familiar with Grand Haven’s Annual Coast Guard Festival - a week-long fest celebrating yes, the Coast Guard, but also Michigan boating. If you haven’t boated Spring Lake just north of Grand Haven down to Lake Michigan, you should. Enjoy watersports on Spring Lake before heading out on a cruise through the Grand Haven Channel. You’ll pass through the bustling beach town of Grand Haven (with some amazing restaurants and bars), pass right by the State Park that hosts huge beaches and a campground, and finally cruise past the Grand Haven Lighthouse and pier - one of the most iconic lighthouses in Michigan.
Dock your boat along the Grand Haven pier, or rent a slip in the marina, and walk up the hill to Snug Harbor, a restaurant overlooking the channel.
Though it might be busier during Coast Guard Fest, it’s well worth the visit during this week. Tons of Michigan boaters and tourists flock to the area to enjoy craft shows, a carnival complete with rides, and fireworks you can watch from your boat in the channel. There are also parades, ship tours, live music, and food trucks seemingly everywhere. The environment in Grand Haven especially during Coast Guard Fest is a must for any social boater!
4. Torch Lake - Bellaire, MI
Regularly rated one of the top inland lakes in the US (and often in the world) due to its Caribbean-colored waters and summer vibes, Torch Lake has an amazing reputation for good reason. A long, deep lake, Torch has very few beaches but is well known for its various sand bars where boaters anchor and congregate, turn up the jams, and party in the shallow water. If you’re not into crowds, no worries. Torch Lake is Michigan’s second-biggest inland lake and there are plenty of places to find solitude.
Torch Lake is also connected via rivers to the Chain of Lakes - 75 miles of shoreline connecting over a dozen lakes to one another before ending up in Grand Traverse Bay.
When boating on Torch, head into the charming town of Bellaire for its shops, restaurants, and regular festivities. Bellaire is home to Short’s Brewing Company as well, one of Michigan’s highly awarded microbreweries.
Dock at The Dockside restaurant for views of Torch Lake and great food!
5. Gull Lake - Battle Creek
A southwest Michigan Gem, Gull Lake is deep, clear, and ridiculously clean - with some great shallow spots to anchor and chill. The fishing is great here as well. Drop a line in at Gull Lake during the early mornings and evenings for the best chance to catch more than a dozen popular sport fish.
There are a lot of watersports going on here, but there’s still plenty of room for everyone. They do limit the number of boats allowed at a certain time to promote safety and reduce congestion on the lake. So get to the launch early.
Keep a keen eye on the scuba diving operations going on at Gull Lake too. There’s a variety of artifacts purposely placed at the bottom of Gull to promote diving in the area. There are also sailing races here on the weekends which are really cool to watch. Needless to say, the boating vibe at Gull Lake is always vibrant.
6. Bonus - Gun Lake - Wayland, MI
Okay, we know we said FIVE lakes, but we couldn’t make a list of the coolest boating lakes in Michigan and NOT include our home lake, Gun Lake! An all-sports lake with a maximum depth of less than 60 ft and a mean depth of less than 10 ft, Gun Lake is partly known for its shallow, seemingly season-long warm waters.
A community of homeowners, as well as regularly returning tourists, makes for a fun boating culture and family-friendly atmosphere. Multiple parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas line the shores of Gun Lake; perfect spots to get off the water for a bit and take a hike or have a picnic. Cruise the shore to easily find a shallow spot to anchor and relax.
Dock at the Bay Pointe Inn and treat yourself to an amazing meal. Or join us for Gun Lake Live - a summer concert series at Bay Point on Wednesday nights through September 1st.
For you anglers, don’t let the shallow waters scare you off, Gun Lake has plenty of deeper holes that will not disappoint. On top of it’s healthy walleye (and really every other species) population, Gun Lake hosts the opportunity to hook onto some pretty rare catches, such as huge muskie and longnose gar.
Plus, We’re On Gun Lake
Did we mention we’re located on Gun Lake? So you should definitely come see us this Summer. Stock up on gear in our proshop before heading out or just come in and say hi. Either way, be sure to wave to us when you’re out on the water!
Like we mentioned, there are over 46,000 lakes in Michigan. If you're a boater in Michigan, you'll never be in need of boating options. What are your favorite lakes to take your boat?