Audley Travel

Stretching across eight US states and the Canadian province of Ontario, the Great Lakes are huge inland seas containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water.

The five lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – were carved out by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago and are connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. They have long been a major transportation route for industrial materials such as iron ore, coal and limestone.

More details about this trip here.

However, in stark contrast, the lakes also provide crucial wildlife habitats and are a scenic backdrop for a wide range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, diving, boating and fishing.

Visitors are struck by the clarity of these pristine waters, the silence of the forested wilderness and the variety of wildlife to be seen, from moose, deer and migratory birds to bears and eagles.

It’s easy to explore some of the thousands of tranquil lighthouse-peppered islands while the quaint towns and resurgent cities provide vibrant nightlife and dynamic museums, and are greatly influenced by the lakes themselves.

Stages of the trip

  1. Day 1 Detroit

    Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Detroit. Arrive in Detroit and make your own way to your downtown hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax after your journey.

  2. Day 2 Detroit

    Spend a day exploring the car-manufacturing city of Detroit which is enjoying rapid rejuvenation. Don’t miss a visit to the fascinating nearby Henry Ford Museum.

  3. Day 3 Whitehall

    Collect your hire car and drive through the heart of Michigan to the little town of Whitehall on Lake Michigan’s east coast.

  4. Day 4 Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

    Drive along the coast of Lake Michigan to Traverse City. There are some delightful state parks to visit on the way, many of which offer glorious coastal views.

  5. Day 5 Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

    Spend a full day exploring the amazing, and huge, sand dunes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You may wish to take the ferry to the little islands of North and South Manitou or take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Other options include a visit to Grand Traverse Lighthouse or go wine tasting at some of the nearby wineries.

  6. Day 6 Mackinac Island

    Enjoy another scenic lake-edge drive today as you make your way to Mackinac Island. This coastline is dotted with small villages and pretty state parks. Park your car at Mackinaw City and then take the foot passenger ferry over to Mackinac Island. The afternoon is free to explore this car-free island.

  7. Day 7 Mackinac Island

    Mackinac Island is a delightful natural retreat, with plenty of lovely walking and cycling paths affording magical sea views. Most of the island is a state park and transportation is confined to horse and carriage. Visit historic Fort Mackinac and the island’s lovely limestone bluffs and emerald green forests.

  8. Day 8 Marquette

    Return to your car and drive across the Straits of Mackinac to Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This is a delightfully scenic drive through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and past Munising Falls and Rock River Falls Canyon.

  9. Day 9 Marquette

    Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is lightly populated and full of picturesque forests, lakes and mountains. Its many state parks are a haven for wildlife including black bears, wolves, and birdlife. Moose in particular thrive in large numbers here. There is also a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy including wonderful walking trails, fishing, kayaking and mountain biking. Marquette itself offers two lake-side beaches and is a diving hotspot.

  10. Day 10 Isle Royale National Park

    Your drive takes you inland today, past the Huron Mountains, Baraga State Park and along the shore of Keweenaw Bay. Park your car and then take a thrilling seaplane flight from Houghton to Isle Royale National Park.

  11. Day 11 Isle Royale National Park

    Isle Royale National Park is the largest island in Lake Superior. Largely forested, this beautiful and isolated place is known for significant populations of wolves and moose, and is a haven for walkers, kayakers and wildlife enthusiasts. Enjoy a day breathing in the pure air and discovering this natural island gem.

  12. Day 12 Bayfield, WI

    Return by seaplane to Houghton and then take the scenic drive past the Porcupine Mountains into Wisconsin. Your base for the next two nights is the village of Bayfield, ideally located for exploring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

  13. Day 13 Bayfield, WI

    Take a scenic cruise to the Apostle Islands that consist of 21 islands at the northern tip of Wisconsin. See extraordinary standing rocks, sea caves and lighthouses whilst also keeping a look out for deer, eagles and bears.

  14. Day 14 Minneapolis and St Paul

    Leaving behind the shores of Lake Superior, head inland to the twin cities of Minneapolis – St. Paul.

  15. Day 15 Minneapolis and St Paul

    Spend a full day in Minneapolis – St. Paul. The cities are known for excellent shopping, restaurants and nightlife, but there are also great museums and sports venues to visit.

  16. Day 16 International return flight

    Drop off your hire car prior to boarding your onward flight.

  17. Day 17 International return flight

    Arrive home today to complete your journey.