The Best Things to Do and See at Each of the Five Great Lakes

by Staff


The five Great Lakes of North America are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Most of the lakes border both the United States and Canada, with the exception of Lake Michigan, which is entirely in the U.S. The freshwater lakes offer some of the most fun water and outdoor activities, such as camping, climbing, cycling, hiking, and swimming, but there are also some impressive landmarks and natural monuments worth seeing.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is known for Toronto’s 15 islands. The Toronto Islands are remnants formed by coastal erosion, and both tourists and locals alike love visiting the islands. Unfortunately, the water levels are rising so the islands appear to be shrinking. Luckily, there are attempts going on to try and save the islands, so they’ll be around for more tourists who may want to visit. 

Niagara Falls is hands-down one of the best attractions in both the United States and Canada. The water that falls down at 32 feet per second flows down into Lake Ontario. In addition to experiencing the breathtaking view of the falls, you can also enjoy a boat tour, hiking trails, and dining.

Lake Erie

Point Pelee at Lake Erie is one of the best places to go if you love birdwatching. Point Pelee National Park of Canada is known for having more than 300 species of birds. If birdwatching isn’t your thing, the park also has reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and several other insects. There are also fun activities such as canoeing, hiking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, and stargazing at night. This is one of the most diverse (both activity-wise and ecologically) parks in Canada.

Peche Island is another island that is situated within a Great Lake. Though it is uninhabited, it is home to some of the rarest animals and plants. This island is also shrinking, unfortunately, but there are restoration projects underway.

Lake Huron

The Grotto at Lake Huron (bordering both the U.S. and Canada) has some of the most beautiful turquoise waters you’ll ever see. It’s a natural cave that’s a part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Made up of rocky outcrops and huge cliffs, you’ll be taken to a tropical oasis as you explore the intricate caves.

Flowerpot Island at the Georgian Bay (northwest of Lake Huron) features beautiful flowerpot-shaped monoliths. Like the Grotto, Flowerpot Island has caves and trails for the adventurers visiting the lake. Speaking of flowers, you’ll also be able to see some of the rarest plants in the country.

Lake Michigan

If you want to enjoy some wholesome family fun, make sure to check out the Navy Pier. It has an amusement park, restaurants, shopping centers, recreational parks, and even boat tours. The city of Chicago is also nearby, so you’ll be able to visit plenty of art galleries, museums, and theatre venues. Consider renting a charter bus for you and your family/friends to have the most luxurious experience traveling through the windy city.

Lake Superior

This is the largest of the Great Lakes, shared by both the United States and Canada. Lake Superior is also one of the coldest lakes, so not many people go swimming in this lake. Instead, one of the main attractions here is the ice caves. The best time to go is definitely during the fall and winter months where it’s cold enough for the ice to form. Unfortunately, Lake Superior is getting warmer and warmer each year, so by 2050, there’s not likely to be any ice left.

Fortunately, there are more attractions at Lake Superior, such as Lake Superior Provincial Park. Here you’ll be able to see stunning rock formations with even more stunning pictographs painted on them.

The Great Lakes are a huge cultural and physical part of the U.S. and Canada, and they attract visitors year-round. Each offers something unique to see and experience.

Main Photo by Ninette.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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