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2023 Lake Huron: Ultimate Michigan Travel Guide

Lake Huron coastline
Lake Huron coastline off Mackinac Island

Discover Lake Huron

Wildly wonderful stretches of pristine coast looking out into the endless blue horizon…welcome to Lake Huron.

As the third-largest inland lake in the world, Lake Huron’s Michigan is shore line is diverse, featuring everything from wide sand beaches with crystal clear water to fierce, wild waves crashing on a rocky coast.

From Port Huron to Port Austin on Michigan’s Thumb coast up to Tawas and Oscoda all the way to the Straits of Mackinac and the Les Cheneaux Islands, this is a lake of delightful surprises on every wave.

lake huron

Lake Huron: the Sweetwater Sea

Also known as the Sweetwater Sea or “La Mer Douce,” Michigan shares the border of this more-than 9,000 square mile lake with Ontario, Canada. Places like the Georgian Bay, Manitoulin Island and the eastern shore of Lake Huron are equally divers and beautiful.

Lake Huron is a vacation-land paradise for visitors who flick to the shoreline year-round for boating, fishing, playing on the beaches, hiking and exploring the picturesque lighthouses.

I grew up playing on the shores of Lake Huron and know all of the secrets of this magical Michigan shoreline. Let me share some of my favorite spots to help you make your visit to this special place one of the best trips ever.

Read on to discover everything you need to make your Lake Huron travel plans and start exploring this amazing Michigan Great Lake!

Explore the Lake Huron Coast in Michigan

If you’ve decided to explore the coastline of Lake Huron, you’ve come to the right place. Lined with beautiful beaches and harbors, fun beach towns and lighthouses, you’re in for some pleasant travel along this unique shoreline.

Lake Huron is synonymous with wide, sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. It’s a perfect spot for swimming, splashing and playing in the freshwater surf. At the same time, it’s also known for as the Shipwreck Sanctuary of the Great Lakes near Alpena’s Thunder Bay, and for the remote bays and tiny islands along the north shore.

The Lake Shoreline is simply stunning, and is a true natural Michigan treasure. We think you’ll agree once you’ve visited. Discover the beauty that thousands of generations of visitors have found along the shores of Lake Huron.

PRO-TIP: If you visit, be sure and rise early to catch a sunrise. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as watching the gleaming ball of fire rise up over the lake. Watch spellbound as it casts thousands of sun sparkles across the water as the day begins.

Michigan’s Sunrise Side
Located on the east side of Michigan’s lower peninsula, Lake Huron is known as the “Sunrise Side,” for its dramatically beautiful sunrises.

kayaks on lake huron

About Lake Huron

Lake Huron is one the five Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Superior are the others.

The largest freshwater system in the world, these interconnected lakes connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River and provide more than one-fifth of the world’s freshwater.

Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes with a surface area of more than 23,000 square miles, and the third largest freshwater lake on earth.

Lake huron travel map

Where to Start Your Lake Huron Travel Adventure

Michigan’s Lake Huron coastline starts in Port Huron and travels north along Lexington, Port Sanilac and Harbor Beach; all cute and friendly little towns featuring harbors and beaches.

The Lake Huron coast travels along the tip of Michigan’s mitten (also know as the “Thumb” region) and into Saginaw Bay, where you’ll find the bustling resort towns of Caseville and Port Austin.

Both are popular destinations for visitors who flock to the area’s wide, beautiful sand beaches; perfect for swimming, boating and just relaxing in the sun. You’ll find some of Michigan’s TOP beaches here, including the sandy dunes of Port Crescent State Park.

Lake Huron Travel Map

You’ll find Michigan Beaches great for exploring all along the Lake Huron.

Explore the beaches in these Michigan Beach towns.

lake huron sunrise side

Lake Huron’s Northern Michigan Coast

North of “The Thumb,” you’ll find more popular vacation spots and a shoreline lined with cottages and beaches, with plenty of fun beach towns to explore.

Tawas City and East Tawas are generally lumped in together as “Tawas,” and both of these towns have some spectacular public beach frontage. These spots feature comfortable settings including clean, well-groomed parks with ample beachfront for travelers to enjoy.

Oscoda is one of the largest cities along this part of the coast, and they offer a sprawl beachfront park with just about everything you need for a perfect day at the beach (you can read more about that here).

You’ll pass Greenbush and Harrisville, arguably some of the best swimming beaches in Michigan. You’ll find lots of mom-and-pop rentals here offering a great beach getaway.

PRO-TIP: Harrisville is home to the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, too. You won’t want to miss this charming spot.

Lake huron shoreline for lake huron travel guide

Lake Huron Coast: Thunder Bay and Beyond

As you continue north along Michigan’s Lake Huron coastline, you’ll come to Alpena.

This historic city – set on the 45th parallel – is home to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, along with some amazing beaches. This is an interesting part of the coast: you’ll find remote beaches both sandy and rocky as well as busy family beaches.

There’s a lot to do here, with many opportunities for outdoor activities and to explore nature. You can read more about this here.

Farther north of Alpena is Presque Isle, home to two iconic lighthouses. It’s an area that’s popular with boaters and the coastline here is quite stunning with the water taking on aqua hues.

Nor far from here is Rogers City. Also known as the Nautical City, Rogers City is a fun town with a large downtown harbor and cute downtown area.

Heading north, the town of Cheboygan is next. You’ll find the stunning Lake Huron views, sandy beaches and gorgeous state parks here.

lake huron's presque isle lighthouse

Plan a Lake Huron Vacation

There are so many things to do on Lake Huron and its lengthy shoreline that Lake Huron tourism is growing.

From visiting the many historic and still-operating lighthouses to exploring the beaches and state parks; there are many options for a visitors to the area.

Best Lake Huron Beaches

Lake Huron is a beach-lovers dream.

Natural, beautiful and unpretentious, Lake Huron offers a delightfully laid-back experience for beach goers of all ages and interests.

The Lake Huron shoreline varies widely and it’s important to know the type of beach you want as you plan your Michigan beach getaway.

Looking for an active beach with with activities like beach volleyball or a skateboard park?

With more than 4,000 miles of coastline, Lake Huron’s beaches and beach towns offer something for everyone.

blue lake huron

Lake Huron’s Friendly Beaches

Explore the coast of Lake Huron and discover the the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, standing tall at the base of Lake Huron near Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge.

You’ll find quaint and charming Lexington, with its cute downtown and family-friendly beach; Port Sanilac, a delightful sleepy little town with a beautiful beach and the popular resort towns of Port Austin and Caseville.

Farther north along the Lake Huron coast, you’ll discover the Tawas area, home to warm, clear bay waters and a fun old-fashioned downtown. Oscoda, Greenbush and Harrisville boast some of the cleanest sandy beaches in Michigan, perfect for swimming and splashing at the shoreline.

Set on historic Thunder Bay, Alpena is a completely underrated area with top-notch nature museums and beautiful natural areas and beaches: a very family-friendly spot. Discover Rogers City and Cheboygan, port cities big on natural beauty; and Mackinac Island, the gem of Michigan.

ADA accessible beaches in traverse city

ADA and Wheelchair Access to Lake Huron Beaches

Many Lake Huron beaches offer accessibility to the shoreline and surrounding areas to users of wheelchairs and other devices.

East Tawas City Park offers accessibility INTO the water through a MOBI-Chair. The chair is located at the park office and is available to users free of charge.

Oscoda Beach Park offers excellent access to the Lake Huron shoreline as well as access to a paved pier.

The My Michigan Beach website is committed to helping improve accessibility to Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches and sharing information to increase access. Find MORE ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Beaches HERE

lake huron beaches

The Top Family-friendly Beaches on Lake Huron

Be sure to try these favorite family-friendly beaches:

  • Albert E. Sleeper State Park
  • Alpena’s Mich-E-Ke-Wis Park
  • Caseville County Park
  • Harrisville State Park
  • Lakeport State Park
  • Lexington State Harbor Beach

Dog-Friendly Beaches on Lake Huron
Michigan is a dog-loving state, and many beaches along the Lake Huron shoreline welcome furry companions. Be sure to observe leash regulations for the safety of your pup and others.

Check the Michigan Beach Map for more specific locations for dog-friendly beaches.

Best Lake Huron Beachtowns

Beach towns along the Lake Huron vary widely: you’ll find quiet small, town charm in places like Lexington, Harrisville, Rogers City and Port Austin.

Look for a busier resort-town vibe in areas like Caseville, Tawas and Mackinaw City. In bigger areas such as Alpena, Oscoda and Cheboygan, you’ll find a mix of both small and larger-scale retailers, but they still manage to retain a friendly feel.

The unique little towns on the Lake Huron coastline bring the best of both worlds: old-fashioned in appearance but surprisingly up-to-date in their offerings.

You will find craft breweries; wineries and cafes with the latest in food and drink. Gift shops, boutiques, museums and small art galleries dot the streets in many of these towns, too.

Charming Lake Huron Beachtowns

Summer and fall highlights in these towns are festivals and craft fairs on the beach – fun for everyone is guaranteed.

Whether you’re shopping for beach supplies like simple T-shirts and sun block or the latest in swimwear, You;re sure to find it in one of the unique shops in Michigan’s beach towns.

Explore all of the beach towns along Lake Michigan to find the perfect spot for your beach vacation.

Best Places to Stay on Lake Huron

One of the best features of Lake Huron is number of comfortable, unpretentious lodging options along the coast. Travel along the Lake Huron shoreline and find row after row of beachfront cabins and family-owned resorts offering accommodations.

Many of these resorts have become destinations for generations of family who return to the same beach cabins year after year. There are larger beachfront vacation rentals as well as hotels and motels along the coast.

Lake Huron Beach Cabin Rentals

Start anywhere north of Port Huron along the Lake Huron shoreline and you are bound to find a wide variety of options when it comes to beach cabin rentals.

For those seeking more rustic or practical lodging options, there are a variety of State Parks and campgrounds offering lodging.

If you are looking for private vacation rentals, you can try these Six Great Places to find Lake Huron Beach Vacation Rentals:

  • Airbnb
  • Holidu
  • HomeAway
  • Hometogo
  • Rent Michigan Cabins
  • VRBO

Lake Huron is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.

It isn’t just about the beautiful beaches – wide sandy beaches overlooking azure waters and an endless horizon of crystal-clear water: It’s about the gorgeously blue lake, perfect for swimming and splashing.

The shallow water along the shoreline also means the water warms up in July and August to comfortable swimming temperature.

Lake Huron is Water Sports Paradise

Lake Huron offers unparalleled opportunities for fun in the water such as kayaking and paddle boarding, kite surfing, sailing and more.

Lake Huron Festivals and Fairs

Lake Huron’s beach towns come alive with festivals and fairs all year long celebrating all of the wonderful things Michigan has to offer. Do miss these fabulous Michigan summer festivals:

  • Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival
  • Michigan Brown Trout Festival in Alpena
  • Rogers City Nautical Festival
  • Tawas Blues by the Bay

Lake Huron Art Fairs

Art lovers are not overlooked by most Lake Huron beach town locations; in addition to fairs and festival’s featuring local artisans, many Lake Huron beach towns have small art galleries to both browse and shop.

Check out these awesome Lake Huron art fairs:

  • Alpena Art on the Bay
  • Cheboygan Arts Festival
  • Lexington Fine Art Street Fair
  • Tawas Bay Waterfront Fine Arts Festival

AuSable River Canoe Marathon in Oscoda

It’s truly one of the greatest canoe races on earth: 120 miles of paddle and portage over rivers and dams, both uphill and down.

The AuSable River Canoe Marathon, a July highlight for visitors along the shores of Lake Huron, starts inland in Grayling, MI and ends up more than 14 hours later along the shores of Lake Huron.

Billed as the “world’s toughest spectator sport,” more than 50,000 fans line the shore of the AuSable river banks to cheer these paddling teams on.

Lake Huron Frequently Asked Questions

How Deep is Lake Huron?

Lake Michigan has a depth of 751 feet at its deepest point.

Are there Sharks in Lake Huron?

No, there are no sharks in Lake Huron. There is also no salt in Lake Huron: it is a freshwater lake.

What is Lake Huron Water Temperature/

Lake Hurons’s water temp varies throughout the year. In 2020, July water temperatures were roughly averaging 74 degrees, although they are much colder in the winter months.

What is Lake Michigan Huron?

Lakes Michigan and Huron meet in northern Michigan under the Mackinac Bridge. These bodies of water are actually the same body of water because they are connected in this way, although they are commonly referred to as separate entities.

Are water levels up on Lake Huron?

Water levels on Great Lakes fluctuate from year to year. After two summers at or near record-high water levels, according to the latest six-month forecast by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the upper Great Lakes are likely to recede in 2021.


Saturday 10th of September 2022

how long does it take to travel the huron coast for port huron to mackinaw city

My Michigan Beach Team

Sunday 11th of September 2022

The drive along the coast of Lake Huron from Port Huron to Mackinaw City without any stops is around 9.5 hours. There are many fun places to stop along the way, though! Have a great trip!