Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling along Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior where mom and pop motels, hotels and resorts offer lake views along gorgeous shorelines. Often it seemed as if I was looking across the ocean. In college, I lived in Oswego, New York along Lake Ontario where the sunsets were a major attraction every evening. People would gather along the shore during warm weather and applaud the sky’s fiery hues and the sun’s performance when it dipped out of view.
Even without the sunset, the lakes are impressive. They make up 21% of the world’s freshwater surface and offer 10,500 miles or so of shoreline. Happily, each of them has sections set aside for vacationers.
Here are five hotels, one for each Great Lake: Ontario, Erie, Michigan, Huron and Superior. Each offer magnificent views of water and horizon and a slice of shoreline for outdoor fun. The options range from luxury to family-friendly.
Lake Ontario– Best Western Plus Oswego Hotel – Oswego, New York (26 E 1st Street, Oswego, NY 13126-1113)
Newly renovated, this 93-room hotel formerly known as Captain’s Quarter is on the banks of the Oswego River with views of Lake Ontario. Most rooms have a balcony that overlooks the river and the docks.
This Best Western Plus’ downtown location places it within walking distance of several of Oswego’s attractions that include: shopping, fishing, a farmer’s market, the 1880s Richardson- Bates House–a house museum of one of Oswego’s early prominent businessmen, and Fort Ontario that was built during the French and Indian Wars but also served as a fort during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. During World War II, the fort was used as a Safe Haven for Jews escaping the Nazi Holocaust–the only place in the U.S. that had this purpose.
The Best Western Plus Oswego Hotel has many options for relaxation as well. There is an indoor pool, spa, exercise room and steam room and sauna. Breakfast is complimentary and the spread includes hot items. Wireless is free in public areas.
The closest beach for swimming is a short drive away. Try Fair Haven Beach State Park.
AAA rates are $141.30 to $154.80. Check online prices here.
Lake Erie–South Beach Resort, Marblehead, Ohio (8620 East Bayshore Road. Marblehead, OH 43440) For hotel reservations call: 419-798-4900. For cottage reservations call: 419-798-5503.
Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway or a family looking to keep every one happy, the South Beach Resort with views of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay aims to please. In addition to guest rooms in the hotel, there are individual cottages, villas or Cape Cod style houses. Hotel rooms range from deluxe queens to suites. Between the all these options you can sleep 1 to 12 people.
South Beach resort is geared for outdoor fun. There are three swimming pools, a sand volleyball court, a shuffleboard court, a marina and a fishing pier. For kids, there’s a playground, a wooden pirate ship and a playhouse.
If deep relaxation is of interest, South Beach Resort does have a spa with massage and facial options.
The resort’s Marblehead location puts it close to the amusement park Cedar Point, the historic Marblehead Lighthouse, area wineries and several other Lake Erie attractions. There is a water taxi that will take you across the Sandusky Bay to Cedar Point.
The daily summer special rate for the hotel ranges from $169 to $248. Book online here.
Lake Huron- Woodland Pines Resort, Oscoda, Michigan (3111 North Huron Ave (US-23) Oscoda, MI 48750); phone: 989/ 739-2021
This family-friendly establishment with a private beach has a range of overnight options. Stay in one of the 39 guest rooms from a double queen to a family suite or a beach cottage that includes a private deck, kitchen, a jacuzzi tub and a private Lake Huron view. The Woodland Pines Resort also has a full service restaurant and lounge, indoor heated pool with water slides, playground, bonfire pit, horseshoe, volleyball, and 10 acres of hiking trails.
Complimentary breakfast is included Monday-Friday. On Friday-Sunday nights, the lounge has a DJ with karaoke. Room rates: $89 to $189 (for the beach house for one night.) Beach house rates also include multiple night stays from $530 for 3 nights to $1175 for 7 nights.
Lake Michigan- Cherry Tree Inn and Suites, Traverse City, Michigan (2345 Munson Ave., Traverse City, MI 49686); phone: 231/938-8888 or 800/439-3093
Although one night stays are available at this prime beach front property in Traverse City, there’s plenty to keep one busy for much longer than that. Cherry Tree Inn and Suites takes care of both indoor and outdoor entertainment. Outdoor fun includes: a beach fire pit, putting green, watercraft rentals, a playground and an outdoor pool and hot tub.
There is also an indoor pool and a hot tub. Other indoor entertainment includes a fitness center, and a video and game library.
At the Cherry Tree Inn and Suites, the hot breakfast is complimentary. At other times during the day, visit the Sweet Shoppe for some of Michigan’s Moomer’s ice-cream.
Guest rooms include free WiFi and a Sony Playstation 2 and kitchenettes. Accomodations range from king bed to two queen bed studios to suites for couples or families. Some rooms and suites have a fireplace, private balcony or Jacuzzi.
Rates range from $241.3o to $388.55
Lake Superior – Best Western The Hotel Chequamegon, Ashland, Wisconsin (101 Lake Shore Drive W, Ashland, WI 54806-1646); phone: 715/682-9095
As we traveled by Lake Superior, The Hotel Chequamegon was one that caught my eye. Located right on the shore of Lake Superior, in downtown Ashland, this 65 room hotel excudes a level of elegance. Its white exterior gleams off the blue of the lake. At the back of the hotel, an expansive deck is a perfect place for enjoying the view and a drink. The hotel’s Beach Fire Grill & Bar also serves food that can be eaten outside.
Ashland’s Lake Walk Trail that follows along Lake Superior’s shore is accessible from the Hotel Chequamegon’s property. Bring your swimsuit. You can either swim in the lake at the public swimming area nearby, or enjoy the hotel’s indoor pool.
The Hotel Chequamegon also has a hot tub, fitness center, business center, free WiFi, and serves a deluxe complimentary continental style breakfast.
Each room comes equipped with a microwave and refrigerator. Room options range from single queen to king suites. Rates are usually $129.99-$189.99 – check here.
Post by of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writer’s Association. Photos courtesy of each hotel.