Amazing Hotels at Scenic Lake Michigan

Jennifer Keller Avatar
A striped tent at the beach near Inn at Bay Harbor

What’s the antidote to brutal Midwest winters? A summer excursion to the shores of Lake Michigan! Lake views, sandy beaches, balmy temps and sunlight all through the evening make Lake Michigan a great vacation destination.

Whether you’re keen to play water sports all day, or simply want to relax in a lawn chair on a beach, there’s a Lake Michigan resort for you. Families, couples and girlfriends on getaways can all find the ideal lodging for both active and restful trips.

Read on for our comprehensive guide to the best Lake Michigan resort for a stellar Lake Michigan vacation. Beginning in the south and heading north up the Michigan shore to Mackinac Island and Northern Michigan, our hotel round-up just made your trip planning easier.

Southern Lake Michigan Resorts

Just over the Indiana/Michigan border you’ll find great resort options near New Buffalo, about 1-1.5 hours from Chicago (depending on your starting point).

Exterior of the Marina Grand Resort, a fab Lake Michigan resort
Hop on the water or hop into town from Marina Grand’s prime location. Photo credit: Marina Grand Resort

Marina Grand Resort New Buffalo

Located on the Oselka Marina, boutique Marina Grand offers the convenience of easy access to Lake Michigan while also offering a range of amenities to let you cozy up in comfort. Indoor and outdoor pools, newly renovated onsite dining, rooftop deck, game room, and Ben & Jerry’s room service hotline let you stay in year-round. Easy lake access, complimentary bicycle use and beach towel & chair service let you get out and about for some New Buffalo township or Lake Michigan fun.

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View of the marina at the Harbor Grand Hotel, one of the best lake Michigan resorts
Lawn views of the marina and chic-urban style = Harbor Grandness. Photo credit: Harbor Grand Hotel

The Harbor Grand Hotel, New Buffalo

Sister property—and neighbor—to the Marina Grand Resort, the Harbor Grand Hotel offers an upscale feel with a relaxed vibe for a more adult aesthetic. (Though family-friendly suites are available too.) With onsite dining and spa, indoor pool and sun deck, the Harbor Grand can be your Lake Michigan oasis, in walking distance from the beach.

On-site restaurant The Terrace Room—a waterfront foodie gem right on the New Buffalo Harbor—offers handmade pasta and locally-sourced cuisine in a luxe-leisure setting that oozes ambiance. Traveling with a group of friends? Be sure to ask about the hotel’s options for parties and celebratory group meals.

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Traverse City/Traverse Bay

Four hours north of the New Buffalo area you’ll find Traverse City, another great home base for exploring Lake Michigan and nearby must-do attraction, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sugar-sand beaches and sparkling water make the West and East Arms of Traverse Bay top destination choices.

Tamarack Lodge of Traverse City

Prefer high quality, condo-style, waterfront accommodations? Tamarack Lodge is the place for you. With multiple sizes of units, both couples and families can find a great match. Want a luxury bath tub that looks out to the water? Many units have waterfront views! Fire pits on the beach, excellent concierge services and multiple mooring points for boats, Tamarack Lodge is ready to make your Lake Michigan trip a dreamy Midwest getaway.

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Indoor pool at the Bayshore Resort, a wonderful Lake Michigan resort
The indoor pool at Bayshore Resort rounds out your watersport experience. Photo credit: Bayshore Resort

Bayshore Resort

Need a good value, family-friendly home base for your Lake Michigan explorations? Bayshore Resort offers all the basic necessities (free continental breakfast, free wifi, indoor pool, etc.) in a great location. On-site waterski and jet ski rentals makes it easy to make the most of your time on the water.

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Interior of a double suite at Sugar Beach Resort, a great Lake Michigan resort
Lake views and fantastic beaches are hard to beat at Sugar & Grand Beach Resorts. Photo credit: Sugar Beach Resort

Sugar Beach and Grand Beach Resort

Two sister properties along 300 feet of pristine sugar-sand beach make this a great option if you’re craving beach perfection at reasonable prices. Private balconies, indoor pool and hot tub, in-room fridge/microwave/coffee maker and breakfast delivery service let you start and end your days with convenience. The rest of the time, you’ll be ogling the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan from the beach as you pinch yourself for being so lucky to be there.

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Exterior of the White Birch Lodge, just steps from the beach
The quintessential family-style summer camp! Photo credit: White Birch Lodge

White Birch Lodge

Thirty minutes from Traverse City is a standout all-inclusive summer option for families—regional favorite White Birch Lodge located on Elk Lake, minutes from Lake Michigan. For over 60 years this family-run resort has offered high quality, personable, activity-rich vacations for families. Wish you could go to camp too? White Birch Lodge lets you live out your summer camp dreams. S’mores definitely included!

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Glen Arbor/Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Glen Arbor is the stepping off point for exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and its Manitou Islands. Want some stargazing that you’ll never forget? Camp on one of Sleeping Bear’s islands and enjoy unparalleled night skies. Not the camping type? Enjoy the park by day and then savor your digs at nearby The Homestead after your excursion.

Beach at Homestead Resort
Beautiful vistas abound at Homestead Resort. Photo credit: Homestead resort

The Homestead

This large resort complex is, well, a bit of paradise, in terms of location, natural beauty, developed services and topnotch accommodation options. The photo gallery is worth perusing, to see just why you might fall in love with this patch of the planet when you visit.

Woods, ponds, beach, lake—The Homestead’s 500-acre property has a lot to explore. Every type of activity is at your fingertips as well, whether you’re keen to hike, kayak, swim, boat, fish or enjoy some laidback beach time. You’ll even find tennis courts and a golf course here.

Tons of accommodations options can suit your group size and style. From a historic waterfront inn, to Homestead’s classic lodge, to an extensive hotel set in wooded ponds, or a couple’s retreat in the Homestead village, you’re going to have a the time of your life here.

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Boyne/Petoskey Area

About 1.5 hours north of Traverse City you’ll find great accommodation and vacation options in the Boyne and Petoskey areas. With plenty of lakeside properties, and access to nearby Beaver Island, this region is another good home base for your Lake Michigan vacation.

Bird's-eye view of the Inn at Bay Harbor
Wrap-around hotel means majestic, wrap-around views! Photo credit: Inn at Bay Harbor

Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection

The Inn at Bay Harbor is a grand, classic hotel in Marriott’s Autograph Collection. With every color choice and decor detail, the rooms ooze serenity. On-site chophouse and wine bar, a spa recently named “the most beautiful” in Michigan, picture-perfect pools, and nearby world-class golf make this hotel a top-flight choice.

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Boyne Mountain Resort (short drive from Boyne inland)

Looking for Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark? World’s “Longest Timber-Towered Suspension Bridge”? You’ll find that and much more at Boyne Mountain Resort, a great lake-alternative lodging choice, whether you’re traveling in winter or summer. With half a dozen types of accommodations to choose from, a ton of winter sports and summer activities, and loads of dining options, everyone in your family will find something to love at Boyne Mountain.

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Beaver Island

Really want to get away from it all? Then take the ferry to Beaver Island and prepare to be transported to a landscape of stunning natural beauty with perfect stargazing conditions. About 13 miles long and 6 miles wide, Beaver Island is large enough to not get crowded, and intimate enough to feel like you’re right at home on Michigan’s “Emerald Isle.”

Chairs on the beach at Beaver Island
Enjoy a more intimate and serene experience at Beaver Island’s beaches. Photo credit: Beaver Island Lodge

Beaver Island Lodge

Originally opened in 1950 as a hunting and fishing lodge, Beaver Island Lodge is owned and operated by a local couple who oversaw extensive renovations and upgrades to make it a premier—yet still intimate—hotel and venue destination on the island. Self-described foodies, they aim to impart their culinary passion in the fantastic on-site Sunset Restaurant. This summer-only lodge will deliver an unforgettable Lake Michigan resort experience.

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Beaver Island Retreat

Looking for glamping in one of the most remote—and beloved—island communities in the United States? Then Beaver Island Retreat should be on your bucket list. A wholly unique and authentic way to experience the magic of Beaver Island, Beaver Island Retreat pairs rustic touches with safari tent flair and great communal features.

New to camp cooking? Beaver Island Retreat makes it easy to explore camp cuisine with grills, single propane burners and needed pots/utensils at each tent (along with marshmallow skewers!), in addition to providing a fully-loaded communal kitchen for 24/7 usage by all guests. You’ve got to love this unique amenity: “Unlimited Ice, Unlimited Lump Charcoal, Unlimited Firewood”!

Look no further than Beaver Island Retreat if you’re looking for some serious solitude by yourself, or with a loved one. They’re at the new frontier of travel.

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Lake Michigan Resorts on Mackinac Island

About as far north as you can get in Lake Michigan territory before entering Canada, Mackinac Island is an awarded travel destination due to its attractive combo of scenery, attractions, lodging options, and overall vibe. Dubbed 2022’s “Best Island in the Continental U.S.” by Travel & Leisure Magazine, you’ll want to consider Mackinac Island as a place to vacation on the Lake Michigan/Lake Huron confluence.

The Grand Hotel

With eye-popping color in its rooms and personality for miles, The Grand Hotel lives up to the reputation its garnered for decades as a classic hotel in a luxe, good-retro style that’s hard to find these days. From the movie-worthy pool complex, to its 100+ year tradition of afternoon high tea, The Grand Hotel is worth building a trip around.

Want a peek of The Grand Hotel in Hollywood history? Watch the 1947 film This Time For Keeps starring Esther Williams, filmed at The Grand!

Named one of the top 50 family-friendly resorts in North America by Travel & Leisure Magazine, The Grand Hotel will let you create a fun-filled vacation for each member of your family.

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Mission Point Resort

With two lodges, 18 acres of lakefront property, and lots of pet-friendly and family-friendly support, Mission Point is the perfect place to watch the sun rise over the water. With a suite of new on-site restaurants opening in spring 2023, Mission Point is getting ready to make your summer trip a memorable one.

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A writer, educator and mama living in Walla Walla, Washington, Jennifer has spent the past decade living in the shrub-steppe deserts of California, Colorado and Washington. But she’s really most at home in the tropical forests of Indonesia and coastal Washington. Check out recent nonfiction at The Threepenny Review and www.jenniferruthkeller.com.
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