How to Visit the Great Lakes in 24 Hours

While a week-long trip to your favorite destination is ideal, sometimes we just don’t have enough time. That’s why we’ve drafted up a 24-hour itinerary to help you hit all of the Great Lakes within a day. Pack your towel, swimsuit and passport and get ready to hit the road!

Water on sandy shore of Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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1. Lake MichiganCharlevoix

Hit the beach bright and early at 6:15 a.m. The best way to wake up? Take a quick dip in the lake. After, be sure to dry off and rest in the sand, enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the sandy beach. Just don’t stay too long because next stop, Lake Superior! Pack up the car and head out by 6:45 a.m. Along the way, take in the sights of the lake front, then ready your camera for the wondrous Mackinac Bridge that will take you into the Upper Peninsula.


2. Lake Superior – Sault Ste. Marie

Arrive in the historic town of Sault Ste. Marie at 8:45 a.m. When you get ready to jump into the lake, remember that it’s cold all year round due to its depth. Swim for ten (or 2) minutes then hop out, layer back up and stop for breakfast and coffee at the Superior Coffee Co. enjoy your meal there or on the road, just be sure to leave by 9:30 a.m.


3. Lake HuronPort Austin

Arrive at 2 p.m. in the “Sunrise Coast” town of Port Austin. The area is known for the famed Turnip Rock, which looks exactly like the vegetable, jutting out of the shallow shoreline waters of the lake and is only accessible via paddling. Swing by the lake for a quick dip then head out for our next stop and ready your passports!


4. Lake Ontario

Head to the Canadian town of Hamilton, for a quick dip in Lake Ontario. By now, you’re at the second to last lake on the list! Wade into the cool waters and snap a few photos before packing up for the final stop of the trip.


5.  Lake Erie

Finish the day by heading to the town of Port Stanley, Ontario. By now, the sun will be setting and you will be excited to jump into the final lake of the day. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the lakes, with an average depth of 62 feet which means if you go in the middle of a hot summer, this may be the warmest lake you touch all day.


There you have it – how to hit all five of the Great Lakes in 24 hours. As you plan a trip of your own, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your adventures:


  • Bring a waterproof camera.
  • Remember cell service is different in Canada and phone usage may incur fees.
  • Don’t be shy, just jump in the water!
  • Remember your passport.
  • Enjoy every minute of the trip!