Spring is officially here, which means it's time to get serious about planning a summer vacation. If the idea of an idyllic summer break drums up visions of walking on the beach, taking a canoe for a spin, or letting the kids run wild in a water park, then we suggest visiting a hotel on the shores of one of the five Great Lakes. Whether you want to escape to an island or stay closer to restaurants and shops inland, we've got you covered with hotels that boast beautiful lake views and amenities for couples and kids. Check out our list of eight (mostly) affordable Great Lakes hotels that you're going to want to visit this summer and beyond.
Hotel Iroquois isn’t the only option on Mackinack Island near Lake Michigan, but it’s our favorite pick for historical charm and a private beach. The Victorian building (built in 1904) sits right off of Main Street, next to the ferry docks. Each of the 46 cheerful rooms and suites are individually decorated; some have lake views or kitchenettes. Rates include a continental breakfast served in a glass-enclosed porch. Staff can arrange tee times, carriage rides, and room service. This hotel books up fast with repeat guests, so hurry if you want to score a room.
With an indoor water park, direct access to a Lake Michigan beach, mini-golf course, and an outdoor pool, Blue Harbor Resort is a standout option for families looking for lots of activities. Free kayaks are available to borrow and guests can rent boats, fishing gear, and paddleboards for use on the lake or nearby river. This resort offers a wide range of suites and villas, including Family Suites with fireplaces and sofa beds in the living rooms. Shopping and restaurants can be found in Milwaukee and Green Bay, both about an hour drive away.
If you want to start your day with a free breakfast buffet and end it with free s’mores by Lake Superior, The Inn on Lake Superior is your spot. The hotel is located in the vibrant Canal Park Warehouse District and offers spectacular lake views and hot tubs in some of the rooms. There’s a rooftop pool and hot tub and guests are free to borrow bikes and explore the nearby Aerial Lift Bridge and William A. Irvin Ore Boat Museum.
It’s hard to beat the Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior for serenity. North Shore cottages and guest rooms are nestled into 40 acres of private woods and the hotel offers access to 1,300 square feet of Lake Superior beachfront shoreline. Some of the cottages offer full kitchens, stone fireplaces, and decks that overlook the water. A full calendar of events like stargazing and guided kayak tours is also available. Features include an indoor pool, outdoor whirlpool, and a Finnish sauna. The on-site Ledge Rock Grille serves local favorites such as walleye and cheese tastings.
The Lake Bluff Inn and Suites offers a retro Lake Michigan vibe that’s heavy on nostalgia and beautiful views of Lake Michigan from the huge lawns with picnic tables, fire pits, and outdoor pool. Cabin-style rooms are dated, but that’s part of the appeal for the many large groups and family reunion guests that fill this hotel every summer. Other perks include a breakfast buffet, arcade with vintage games, and barbecue grills. It’s about a five-minute drive to the shores of Lake Michigan.
The W Chicago – Lakeshore is the priciest option on our list and it’s a top pick for travelers who want to combine the natural beauty of Lake Michigan with the conveniences of big city Chicago. Impressive features like Bliss Spa, a spacious gym, and indoor pool make this a solid option for couples and weekend getaways. The rooftop terrace provides Lake Michigan and Navy Pier views. To top it off, chic guest rooms are decorated with pop art.
Pointes North Beachfront Resort Hotel is a condominium hotel in the Traverse City area, directly on East Grand Traverse Bay. The hotel provides a private stretch of a golden-sand beach and a heated pool. Rooms include a refrigerator, sink, microwave, coffeemaker, and private balcony or patio. Some rooms also have whirlpool tubs by the bed. Guests can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and boats. Continental breakfast and Wi-Fi are free.
The cheerful Cherry Tree Inn & Suites is a beachfront hotel with a cozy and welcoming vibe, thanks in part to a fireplace and games in the lobby. Outside, the stretch of beach is set with rows of sun loungers. The area also includes fire pits and water sports activities. Spacious rooms have kitchenettes, and some include fireplaces, hot tubs, and lake views. Hot breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi are all free, while indoor and outdoor pools, a putting green, and video games are fun for families. Traverse City State Park is one mile from the hotel and it’s about a 10-minute drive to the brewpubs and restaurants in Traverse City.
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