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On the Water in Michigan

Michigan is known as the birthplace of modern industry and home to the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturers, but the state’s fame reaches back even further to its roots as a natural beauty with plentiful shorelines, waterfalls and landscape.

No matter where your group goes in Michigan, you will never be more than six miles from a body of water. With two peninsulas that have more freshwater coastline than any other state in the country and borders touching four of the five Great Lakes, it’s no wonder Michigan is known as the Great Lakes State. The state also features more lighthouses than any other in the United States.

We’ve selected five waterfront cities to help your group take advantage of the abundance of lakeshores, lighthouses and riverside beauty that can only be found in Michigan.



With the growing popularity of Great Lakes cruising, Detroit is becoming a waterfront hub, ideally situated on the St. Clair River passage between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. The city is also undergoing a riverfront revitalization project.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservatory has been working to rejuvenate the green space, parks and pavilions along the city’s shoreline. The Detroit International RiverWalk will span the five and a half miles of riverfront between Ambassadors Bridge and Gabriel Richard Park near the Belle Island Bridge, three and a half miles of which is open, with the final phase now under construction.

The GM Renaissance Center and the surrounding GM Plaza are a great stop for travelers. Groups will enjoy taking some time to relax by the fountains, and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants or exploring the shops. Guided tours of the Renaissance Center are offered twice daily. Highlights include the winter gardens, the GM Showroom and the history of the automobile industry in Detroit.



Holland, located on the western shores of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, combines Dutch heritage with waterfront appeal.

The Windmill Island Gardens is a popular lakefront attraction in Holland, where over 100,000 tulips bloom in springtime. Groups won’t want to miss the tour of the DeZwaan Windmill, the only authentic, operational Dutch windmill in the United States. On the tour, groups are able to see milling up close before stepping out onto the fourth-floor deck and experiencing the expansive views of the tulip gardens, dikes and canals that make up the 36 acres of the gardens.

Holland State Park is a good spot to enjoy views of Lake Michigan and Macatawa Bay. The park’s white beaches are popular with locals and great spots to watch the sailboats and long Northern sunsets. The park also offers the best views of the Big Red Lighthouse located on the southern side of the Holland channel. The original lighthouse lens is on display at the Holland Museum, where groups can also learn the history of the Dutch settlers who came to live here.