The Best Boat Tours in Michigan

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A boat passing rock lake shore, Lake Superior, Michigan.
BetMGM Mar 22, 2023, 6:05 AM

Boasting the longest freshwater coastline in the US and surrounded by four of the five great lakes, Michigan is a haven for aquatic fun seekers who like relaxing cruises and boat tours. 

So, if you need to take a break from the relentless thrill of online slots, why not consider a trip to the lake state where you will find boat tours on lake Michigan, day cruises in the Mackinac Straits and Michigan river cruises uncovering hidden Michigan gems. Hop on a river boat to take in the spectacular scenery or gently sail past historical wrecks in Lake Superior. You might even consider turning your kids into marine scientists and sailors for a day! Whatever your fancy, here are some of the best boat tours in Michigan. 

Shipwreck tours, Munising

Glass bottom boats are fun at the best of times, but when they float over historical shipwrecks, the experience is positively gripping. Usually around two hours, shipwreck tours meander across Lake Superior stopping at numerous wrecks – including one from the pre-civil war era –past spectacular cliffs and caves, as well as an old lighthouse. 

Soo Locks Boat Tours, Sault Ste. Marie

The Soo Locks connect Lake Huron to Lake Superior and were catalytic in fostering economic growth in the whole U.S. Since the 1930s, passengers passing through the locks, called “locking through,” will witness hydroelectric plants, the St. Mary’s rapids as well as the famous Canadian lock. 

Star of Saugatuck, Saugatuck

The Star of Saugatuck is a Michigan staple. As you travel back in time on this 90ft paddlewheel boat, you will be treated to fauna and flora along the Kalamazoo river and shores of Lake Michigan while savoring the history of the region. 

Shepler’s Lighthouse Tours, Mackinaw City

Leaving from Mackinaw City, the boat heads out either eastbound into Lake Huron or westbound into Lake Michigan. Regardless of which lake you’re exploring, the boat treats you to sights of some of the most beautiful lighthouses on Bois Blanc and Round Island, among many others. Take in views of the Mackinac Bridge and the straits of Mackinac as you go along.  

Diamond Jack’s River Tours, Lincoln Park

Another Michigan favorite is the Diamond Jack’s River Tours which depart from Lincoln Park, Detroit. This one is a departure from the picturesque tours of cliffs and lakeshores. Instead, you’ll take a trip down the Detroit River and be amazed by the stories of Motor City along with the GM Renaissance Centre. You’ll pass Bob-Lo Island and even go as far as Windsor, Ontario (no passport required.) 

Huron Lady Cruises, Port Huron

The name might be misleading but these tours are not just for ladies. Huron Lady is a beautiful boat and you can choose from a host of different sightseeing options, including fireworks displays and even music concerts. As you pass over the St. Clair River and enter lower Lake Huron you will sail under the Bluewater Bridge that links Michigan to Ontario in Canada. Don’t be alarmed by the huge freight ships that sail close by!

Pictured Rock Cruises, Munising

Sailing the upper peninsula of Michigan opens up vast vistas with jaw-dropping scenery along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. As you cruise along Lake Superior, expect to see unbelievable waterfalls, clear blue waters and spectacular cliffs. 

The Detroit Princess, Detroit

The Detroit Princess is one of a few culinary boats that treats passengers to fantastic cuisine and great music as it cruises along the Detroit River. The air-conditioned boat sports large dining halls with laden buffets fed by the eight convection ovens that deliver such treats as prime rib and crab stuffed salmon. Be prepared to dress up for evening forays. 

S.S. Badger, Ludington

The S.S. Badger is the last coal-powered passenger steamship still in operation in the U.S. It is also the largest car ferry that sails across Lake Michigan, leaving from Ludington and traveling to Manitowoc in Wisconsin. This is a great way to cross the lake in a looping road trip that takes you right through Chicago. 

The Tall Ship Manitou, Traverse City

A complete departure from the industrial icon that is the S.S Badger, is the Tall Ship Manitou. This is a replica of the old 19th-century cargo schooners with an array of magnificent sails to transport you back in time as it sails out of the bay from Traverse City into the open water of Lake Michigan. For a full-day experience, you can go out on the smaller more classic sailing yacht called Scout.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat, Frankenmuth

The Bavarian Belle, a genuine stern-driven paddlewheel riverboat, provides the most authentic setting for a historic tour of the Bavarian styled Frankenmuth town along the Cass River. Take in the Bavarian architecture and the reason this peculiar town exists in the middle of the U.S. 

Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) Great Lakes Discovery Sail, Suttons Bay, Hessel and Traverse City

Last but not least is the wonderful ISEA Great Lakes Discovery Sail that turns a sailboat into a scientific expedition for young explorers. As the kids board the vessel, they’re immediately allocated various tasks on the boat, from manning the sails and trawling for fish to taking samples of the lake floor and even collecting plankton. This is a floating marine laboratory that children will never forget. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.