Located in the Midwest of the United States, just a small distance from hotspot Chicago lies the shimmering crystal clear waters of Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan offers a little slice of paradise for everyone, whether you are interested in exploring the Midwest’s great music scene, looking to absorb the small-town culture, or want to venture the great natural beauty the area has to offer.
The most popular time to visit is during the summer, when visitors get long days in gorgeous sunlight. However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, catching the autumnal colors in fall is a great alternative.
Lake Michigan stretches over a long distance with it dipping into the four states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. There are endless towns and accommodation options that can make it overwhelming when deciding where to stay near Lake Michigan. That’s why we have created this ultimate Lake Michigan guide! You can find the best places to stay in Lake Michigan no matter your budget or needs!
Where to Stay near Lake Michigan
Looking for a specific place to stay? We’ve narrowed down our list. Here are our highest recommendations for the best places to stay in Lake Michigan that will suit most budgets.
Best Hotel near Lake Michigan – Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
In the sought-after city of Traverse Bay, the well-known chain of Raddison opened the beautiful Country Inn & Suites. Boasting a traditional interior with a unique charm, the hotel is equipped with lovely amenities including an indoor pool and relaxing hot tub. Its prime location means guests have good access to nearby restaurants and shops along with direct access to beaches, lakes, and hiking trails.
Best Bed & Breakfast on Lake Michigan – Calming Restful Cottage
This beautiful sunlit cottage is located on the outskirts of the unique town of Holland, in the heart of the beech-sugar maple forests of Michigan. The home has a sleek interior, with a calming and restful atmosphere making it the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring. This cottage is ideal for adventure lovers as you won’t be short of things to do with plenty of sandy beaches, hiking trails, and picturesque lakes to explore.
Best Budget Accommodation near Lake Michigan – Cozy Urban Hideaway
Located in the heart of the downtown region, among the friendly town of Ludington lies this budget-friendly lodge. It provides a charming atmosphere with modern facilities, at a steal of a price. Guests looking to explore the best sites in town are in luck due to the area’s best restaurants and shops, along with key landmarks being just a short distance away.
Lake Michigan Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Lake Michigan
Located on the northwest tip of Lake Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is the charming Traverse City. A perfect mixture of culture, incredible cuisine, and stunning natural beauty, Traverse City offers a little something for everyone.
The lakeside town of Ludington has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere along with plenty of activities to explore making it the ultimate place to stay in Lake Michigan for families. Home to stunning sandy beaches, interesting sculpture trails, and epic boat trips, you won’t be short of things to do in Ludington.
Located on the northern lower peninsula of Lake Michigan lies the picturesque village of Empire. Best known for being the gateway to the incredible Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire is the perfect place to stay near Lake Michigan for adventure lovers.
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay near Michigan, then staying in the authentic town of Holland is a must. Nicknamed a ‘Little Dutch Wonderland,’ the town resembles a typical dutch town with a traditional Michigan twist.
If you’re looking for a laid-back stay in Lake Michigan and to be amongst nature then be sure to head to the beautiful city of South Haven. Home to incredible white sandy beaches, spectacular state parks, and many other natural beauty spots, this city is the perfect summer getaway.
Lake Michigan is one of the ultimate getaways for those who love the great outdoors. This vast area of natural beauty has stunning scenery around every corner, as well as top-of-the-range restaurants in its nearby towns. You won’t be short of things to do here with plenty of towns offering incredible activities along with a great selection of places to stay.
Traverse City is a great starting point, and the ideal place to stay near Lake Michigan for first-time visitors. Centrally located, you’ll be able to explore plenty of what the area has to offer including key landmarks and beauty spots.
Head a couple of hours south, and you will find the friendly town of Ludington. It’s also a good spot to stay for families with lots of things to entertain the kids, along with being one of the safest areas in the state.
Heading to Lake Michigan on a budget? Look no further than the picturesque village of Empire. Its relatively unknown charm has kept its prices lower than some of its neighbors. Along with this, you’ll gain a more laid-back experience with the same stunning scenery as everywhere else along the lake.
Next up you’ll find the ‘Little Dutch Wonderland’ of Holland. This destination is extremely unique with the town resembling a typical dutch town with a traditional Michigan twist. If you decide to stay here, be sure to ask about the history surrounding the town! It has a rich cultural heritage which is extremely fascinating.
Finally, we have the small city of South Haven! It is home to an array of outdoor hotspots including beaches, lakes, and hiking trails. Travelers here will find plenty of slices of natural paradise.
Still undecided? No worries, we’ve got even more information about each area below. We’ve also included our favorite accommodation and activities in each!
The Top 5 Best Areas to Stay near Lake Michigan
Let’s take a closer look at the top five best areas to stay in Lake Michigan.
Each one is a little different from the last. You’ll be sure to find one that’s the right fit for you. Here are our favorites!
1. Traverse City – Where to Stay on Lake Michigan For First Time Visitors
On the northwest tip of Lake Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is the charming Traverse City. A perfect mixture of culture, incredible cuisine, and stunning natural beauty, Traverse City offers a little something for everyone.
The town is home to some of the most incredible outdoor areas from towering green forests, white sandy beaches, and luscious fields including the popular Clinch Park.
Of course, you can’t talk about Traverse City without mentioning cherries! Nicknamed the cherry capital of the US, the city hosts a huge annual cherry festival that attracts thousands of visitors every summer. If you’re heading to Traverse City, it’s almost obligatory to try some of its famous fruit.
Best Hotel in Traverse City – Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Nestled between the east and west branches of Grand Traverse Bay, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson provides guests with direct access to beaches, lakes, ski slopes, and hiking trails. Bursting with “up north” charm, the hotel offers a warming atmosphere along with cool amenities including an indoor pool and a relaxing hot tub.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Traverse City – Bayshore Boathouse-Waterfront Home on West Bay
This waterfront home was uniquely designed by a renowned local architect to look like the inside of a ship. With over 170 ft of direct water frontage, you will feel like you are floating over the water while relaxing on the large back deck. The lodge has two bedrooms to relax in, and is located just a 15-minute drive from the city center.
Best Budget Accommodation in Traverse City – Country Living Close to Downtown
This beautiful room in a warming home epitomizes the traditional country living that Traverse City is known for. A quiet and relaxing place to stay near Lake Michigan, guests have the opportunity to feed the on-site goats, have a romantic dinner in the 125-year-old barn, or walk through the surrounding fields.
Things to See and Do in Traverse City
- Wander along Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and try some local produce
- Take a dip at Clinch Park Beach
- Whizz down the slopes at Hickory Hills Ski Area
- Visit the art exhibits at Dennos Museum Center
- Watch a performance at City Opera House
- Explore Clinch Park
- Take a weekend glamping trip.
2. Ludington – Best Neighborhood on Lake Michigan for Families
The lakeside town of Ludington has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere along with plenty of activities making it a perfect spot to stay in Lake Michigan for families.
Home to stunning sandy beaches, interesting sculpture trails, and epic boat trips, you won’t be short of things to do.
If you’re heading to Ludington, you can’t miss the epic Ludington State Park. Here, adventure lovers have the chance to enjoy the water, just paddling, floating in an inner tube or whizzing through wooded forests on a mountain biking trip.
Best Hotel in Ludington – Best Western Lakewinds
The well-known chain of Best Western has provided a beautiful and centrally located hotel in the heart of Ludington. Home to a variety of different rooms from family suites to singles, the hotel caters to a variety of guests. There is an indoor pool and hot tub, along with a free deluxe continental breakfast.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Ludington – Luxury Log Cabin w/ access to Ford Lake
This is the best place to stay near Lake Michigan if you’re traveling as a big group. A luxurious log cabin in Michigan that sleeps up to 14 guests, the home perfectly combines modern amenities with a rustic charm. Nicknamed a private oasis with beautiful views overlooking Ford Lake, staying at this cabin is an outdoor lover’s paradise with direct access to some of the best kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, and hiking in the area.
Best Budget Accommodation in Ludington – Cozy Urban Hideaway
This two-bedroom lodge provides a charming atmosphere with all the modern essentials for relaxing after long days on the water. Its downtown location makes it a great spot to be able explore the town’s best restaurants, shops, and cafes, as well as being close enough to explore the beautiful outdoors.
Things to See and Do in Ludington
- Float down the waters of Pere Marquette River
- Have a picnic in Stearns Park
- Visit Sandcastles Children’s Museum
- Explore the incredible selection of outdoor activities at Ludington State Park Beach
- Learn some history at Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
- Visit Historic White Pine Village
3. Empire – Where to Stay on Lake Michigan on a Budget
Located on the northern lower peninsula of Lake Michigan lies the picturesque village of Empire. Best known for being the gateway to the incredible Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire is the perfect place to stay near Lake Michigan for those adventure lovers on a budget.
There are an array of outdoor activities to explore including scenic hiking trails, lakeside beaches, and picturesque drives. If you’re heading to Empire you can’t miss the Sleeping Bear Heritage trails it is widely renowned for being one of the best walks in the state!
Best Hotel in Empire – Empire Lakeshore Inn
This deluxe hotel provides visitors with comforting and modern rooms perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring The Sleeping Bear Dunes, and nearby area. Guests have the option to stay in two of the hotel’s inns, the original Annex Lakeshore Inn which boasts a quaint and traditional atmosphere, or the newly renovated New Lakeshore Inn.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Empire – Little Glen Cottage Near Sleeping Bear Dunes
This charming cottage fits up to 10 guests, and is less than a 10-minute drive to the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The brightly decorated home is equipped with beautiful facilities including a large hot tub and warming fire pit.
Best Budget Accommodation in Empire – Little Slice of UpNorth
This budget-friendly lodge is excellently located in Empire within walking distance of both Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Bike Trail. The home has a spacious and traditional interior that can comfortably fit up to six guests, making it ideal for families in Lake Michigan.
Things to See and Do in Empire
- Take a dip in the water at Empire Beach
- Wander along the Empire Bluff Trail
- Visit the Empire Area Museum
- Trek through the woodlands at Chippewa Run Natural Area
- Hike the famous Sleeping Bear Heritage Trailhead
- Visit the Robert H. Manning Memorial Lighthouse
4. Holland – The Coolest Area to Stay on Lake Michigan
For a unique place to stay near Lake Michigan, consider staying in the authentic town of Holland! Nicknamed a ‘Little Dutch Wonderland,’ the town resembles a typical dutch town with a Michigan twist.
When you’re in Holland, you can find out from the locals about the rich history of the town, and its interesting background story of how a native tribe of indigenous people founded the area.
Holland is well equipped for tourists with lots of cafes, restaurants, and bars, along with adventure activities.
Best Hotel in Holland – Hampton Inn Holland
The Hampton Inn Holland provides guests with deluxe and modern rooms, and lots of spacious common areas to relax. The accommodation is only 15 minutes away from the stunning Holland State Park, and is only five minutes away from Holland’s main shopping and restaurant area. If you don’t fancy making the trek from the hotel in the evening, you’re in luck, the Hampton Inn has an on-site restaurant with some of the best reviews in town.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Holland – Calming Restful Cottage
This relaxing and comfortable cottage is located in the heart of the beautiful Michigan Woods, an ideal place to stay near Lake Michigan for nature lovers. Guests will have direct access to a plethora of things to do, as the cottage is just a mile away from the stunning Tunnel and Riley Beaches as well as picturesque biking and walking paths to downtown Holland.
Best Budget Accommodation in Holland – Charming Getaway, Quiet Neighborhood
This cozy and traditional home has modern facilities, and is conveniently situated just a few minutes’ walk from downtown Holland. The apartment is an ideal getaway for two guests, but can comfortably fit up to four guests. It is the perfect place to stay near Lake Michigan for couples and small families.
Things to See and Do in Holland
- Make a trip to Windmill Island
- Find out about Holland’s history at Holland Museum
- Visit Nelis’ Dutch Village
- Wander around Holland State Park
- Enjoy watersports at Lake Macatawa
- Head to the Tulip Festival
5. South Haven – Where to Stay on Lake Michigan for Nature Lovers
If you’re looking for a laid-back stay in Lake Michigan, and to be amongst nature, be sure to head to the beautiful city of South Haven. Home to incredible white sandy beaches, spectacular state parks, and many other natural beauty spots, this city is the perfect summer getaway.
It is easily accessible, and has great links to lots of other towns and key landmarks across Lake Michigan. South Haven is also full of incredible activities including a trip to Van Buren State Park where you can explore the area’s amazing hiking trails and its unique high dunes.
South Haven’s increasing popularity with its unique charm has meant that there are plenty of incredible accommodation options in the city from quaint B&Bs to traditional hotels and cushy cottages. Below we have listed some of our favorites!
Best Hotel in South Haven – Monroe Manor Inn
Best described as a comfortable luxury frozen in time, Monroe Manor Inn provides guests a traditional atmosphere with a luxurious twist. Only a small hotel with five rooms available, all of which offer a unique design, the Monroe Manor Inn is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a laid-back experience.
Best Bed & Breakfast in South Haven – Driftwood Shores-A Winter Getaway
This large guest house is immaculately decorated with a light and airy interior making it a perfect cozy winter retreat. Located within walking distance of Lake Michigan and the Black River, guests are provided with four kayaks to use for free, saving you money on rental costs.
Best Budget Accommodation in South Haven – Adorable 1 Bedroom Bungalow
This warm and cozy bungalow is the perfect place to stay in South Haven for both solo travelers and couples. The accommodation is only a short distance away from the coast, with one of South Haven’s best beaches just minutes away. It is home to a lovely outdoor space including a deck and greenery, a modern interior and a small kitchen.
Adorable 1 Bedroom Bungalow is one of our favourites near Lake Michigan but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Things to See and Do in South Haven
- Visit the South Haven Center for the Arts
- Explore the Michigan Maritime Museum
- Wander along the pier at North Beach
- Take a dip in the water at South Beach
- Explore the high dunes of Van Buren State Park
- Watch the sun go down at South Haven Lighthouse
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for near Lake Michigan
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay near Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan really is the ultimate destination for nature lovers. Thanks to its incredible selection of lakeside towns, all of which offer unique experiences like picturesque hikes and adventure activities, and some of the most spectacular beaches, you are promised a good time.
We hope this guide has helped you narrow down where to stay in Lake Michigan. Where will you be heading? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!