7 Great Lakes Must Visit Destinations Roadside Attractions

7 Great Lakes Must Visit Destinations Roadside Attractions


The Great Lakes region is a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and quirky roadside attractions that make for an unforgettable road trip. Spanning across eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario, the Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes by total area, containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or just in search of unique experiences, these seven must-visit roadside attractions offer something for everyone.

1. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Perched on the edge of Lake Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a stunning natural wonder that attracts millions of visitors each year. The towering sand dunes, some rising over 450 feet above the lake, offer breathtaking views and numerous outdoor activities. Hike the Dune Climb for a challenging yet rewarding experience, or explore the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive for panoramic vistas. The nearby Glen Haven Historic Village provides a glimpse into the area’s maritime history, making it a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.


2. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island is a charming, car-free destination located in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Accessible only by ferry, the island offers a step back in time with its Victorian architecture, horse-drawn carriages, and historic forts. Visit Fort Mackinac to learn about the island’s role in American history or explore the Grand Hotel, renowned for its sprawling porch and opulent interiors. The island’s natural beauty is equally captivating, with miles of scenic trails perfect for biking or hiking. Don’t miss sampling the famous Mackinac Island fudge, a sweet treat that has been a tradition for over a century.

3. Niagara Falls, Ontario/New York

One of the most famous natural attractions in the world, Niagara Falls straddles the border between Ontario, Canada, and New York, USA. The falls are a breathtaking sight, with millions of gallons of water cascading over the cliffs every minute. The surrounding area offers a variety of attractions, including boat tours that take you right to the base of the falls, observation decks with stunning views, and the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. For a unique experience, visit the Butterfly Conservatory or take a ride on the Niagara SkyWheel for a panoramic view of the falls and the surrounding landscape.

4. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Located in Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The archipelago consists of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland, featuring stunning sea caves, pristine beaches, and old-growth forests. Kayaking through the sea caves is a popular activity, offering an up-close view of the intricate rock formations. The islands are also rich in history, with several lighthouses that have been guiding ships for over a century. Camping, hiking, and sailing are other popular activities, making the Apostle Islands a perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.


5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio

Located on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must-visit for music lovers. This iconic museum celebrates the history and impact of rock and roll music through an extensive collection of memorabilia, interactive exhibits, and special events. Visitors can explore artifacts from legendary artists, watch films that document the evolution of rock music, and even attend live performances. The museum’s striking architecture, designed by I.M. Pei, is an attraction in itself, offering stunning views of Lake Erie and the Cleveland skyline.

6. The Henry Ford Museum, Michigan

Situated in Dearborn, Michigan, near the shores of Lake Erie, The Henry Ford Museum is a vast complex dedicated to American innovation and history. The museum features an extensive collection of artifacts, including the presidential limousine of John F. Kennedy, the bus on which Rosa Parks made her stand, and the original Model T Ford. Greenfield Village, part of the museum complex, offers a unique experience with over 80 historic buildings, such as Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory and the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop. This attraction provides a deep dive into the technological advancements and cultural milestones that have shaped modern America.

7. Thousand Islands, Ontario/New York

The Thousand Islands region, located where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, is a picturesque archipelago that spans the border between Canada and the United States. Comprising over 1,800 islands, the area offers stunning scenery, rich history, and plenty of recreational activities. Take a boat tour to explore the islands and their magnificent castles, such as Boldt Castle and Singer Castle. The region is also renowned for its excellent fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities. The Thousand Islands is a perfect destination for those looking to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of the Great Lakes.


The Great Lakes region is more than just a collection of freshwater lakes; it’s a diverse and vibrant area filled with unique roadside attractions and destinations. From the towering dunes of Sleeping Bear to the historic charm of Mackinac Island, and the awe-inspiring power of Niagara Falls, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re embarking on a family road trip or seeking a solo adventure, these seven must-visit destinations offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the wonders of the Great Lakes!

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