Skip to Content

Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: 5 Lakes, 8 States, and 4,000 miles!

| Updated Jun 16, 2023

Looking for a truly epic road trip? Then consider a Great Lakes Shoreline Tour, an adventure and challenge that is made for the RVer!

We're talking a distance that is greater than most of the better-known cross-country routes.

We love themed travel adventures.

We’ve done Route 66 from Chicago to California. We’ve followed the Lewis and Clark Trail west from St. Louis to Oregon. We’ve explored the history and culture of the Natchez Trace across the South.

But one of our favorite RV trips has been driving the United States side of the five Great Lakes.

Consider Just One Leg of the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: Lake Huron

The Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan is known as “The Sunrise Side.” It offers quaint, charming little lakeside towns and villages, and gorgeous views of the diverse and ever-changing moods of the lake. Plus, so many camping and RV spots that you could spend months and still not see it all.

For Jen and me, Lake Huron has always had a special pull. We grew up just a few miles from one of its biggest bays. Growing up, as young marrieds with kids, and as empty nesters and now 3/4 time RVers, we still return to its shore every chance we can.

Here's a video of a recent tour of Lake Huron.

Lake Huron is Just One of Five Great Lakes

photo of a Lake Huron Sunrise up along US-23 near East Tawas, MI on the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour
A Lake Huron Sunrise up along US-23 near East Tawas, MI on the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour

The above video announced our RV travel guide ebook – The Great Lakes RV Shoreline Tour. It's an epic road trip that follows the U.S. shoreline of all five Great Lakes.

Unlike our other RV Travel Guides, this one takes some serious time to complete.

Although we have done this tour several times, the one year we decided to do it all in one fell swoop, it took us all summer!

In all, we covered just over 4,000 miles and visited eight states.

If we had also included the Canadian side – hard to do because in many spots in Canada along, there are no real roads – it would have totaled around 10,000 miles. Besides, as we write this post and release the book, the Canadian border remains closed to U.S. tourists.

The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour Travels the U.S. side

the road is very close to the lake on the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour
Many roads on our Great Lakes Shoreline Tour are literally feet from the water. This is Lake Michigan, along US2 in the Upper Peninsula

We concentrated on the U.S. side, starting in New York on Lake Ontario. We made our way east to Lake Erie, and then north to Lake Huron, across the Mackinac Bridge, and around the eastern edge of the Upper Peninsula to where we picked up Lake Superior. From there, it was west across the big lake to the Wisconsin border, then along Minnesota's fabled north shore.

Coming back down we picked up Lake Michigan and followed it south to Illinois, Indiana, and then Michigan again.

We visited islands, took a ferry boat with our RV across the Lake, and found so many things to see and do we just knew we had to write it all down.

Our Great Lakes Shoreline Tour ebook is meant for you to travel at your own pace. You can follow our route or pick a lake and do it over the course of a couple of weeks, or summer, or in bits and chunks as you can.

We have links and resources on the various points of interest, the towns and villages you'll pass through, and even our suggested campgrounds.

You can't go wrong no matter where you decide to start. Like this recent trip we took to Lake Huron.

Traveling Lake Huron on a Great Lakes Shoreline Tour

Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: 5 Lakes, 8 States, and 4,000 miles! 1
The Lake Huron shoreline along M-25

For our recent Great Lakes Shoreline Tour adventure on Lake Huron, we started on US-23, part of the Sunrise Side Lake Huron Circle Tour.

From Harrisville State Park south of Alpena, we made our way south along the shoreline to Saginaw Bay at Bay City (that's our hometown). We connected with M 25 around the Michigan Mitten's “Thumb,” eventually making our way down to Port Huron the southernmost part of Lake Huron.

Along the way we spent a lot of time hiking, hanging out on the shoreline, doing a wildflower nature hike, checking out historic lighthouses, and shopping and eating in the shoreline towns and harbor communities we passed through.

In Port Sanilac, we even attended a Sixties Musical salute.

Along the way, we ate walleye that was caught just hours before from the lake, picked fresh strawberries, and learned about the lumbering history of the area.

The trip took five days. We covered just 130 miles.

It was relaxing and refreshing and each night, we found campsites where we fell asleep to the gentle sound of waves lapping the shore or wind whispering in the pines.

At night along the Lake Huron shoreline, we were blessed with clear skies and fabulous views of the stars.

Lake Huron's Significance

Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: 5 Lakes, 8 States, and 4,000 miles! 2
Lake Huron

Michigan’s Sunrise Side is one of the best-kept secrets in the Great Lakes.

The state’s west coast Lake Michigan PR machine has done a better job of promoting the beaches and trendy little communities there while the Lake Huron coast along the state’s east coast has stayed purposefully low-keyed.

And that has been just fine with the locals and the sharp-eyed tourists who love the area. That means there are no traffic jams. Prices for food, lodging, and the like are usually more affordable than the tourist-dense Michigan west coast.

For RVers, that means more places to camp with more space, better views, and less competition for the best spots.

But the reason we like the Sunrise Side so much is because of the sunrises. Here, look:

a lake huron sunrise
Sunsets like this one along Lake Huron at the tip of the Michigan mitt are the reason Lake Huron is called The Sunrise Side. They await you, too, on the Great Lakes Shoreline Tour.

Some sunrises are an explosion of pastels. Others bright gold and yellow.

Every one is worth getting up for.

In doing this Lake Huron stretch of our Great Lakes Shoreline Tour, we found what just may be the prettiest two coastal roads in the region.

map of roads from Port Huron to Bay city
Take US-25

Granted, there may be shorter roads elsewhere that are more spectacular. But mile for mile, you just can’t beat US-25 from Port Huron to Bay City, and US-23, from Bay City to Mackinaw City. Most people take the I-75 interstate up the middle of the state. But the shoreline roads are much more fun and relaxing.

Both routes hug the Huron shoreline and offer numerous pull-outs, roadside, county and state parks with lake views, stairs down to the wild shoreline, and, often, camping.

Here's the Details on the Great Lakes Shoreline Book

the great lakes shoreline tour chapter cover images
86 pages in The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour ebook

The Great Lakes region is filled with beautiful vistas, welcoming towns and villages, and fabulous places to camp, hike, and explore.

We were so taken with the adventure of this trip that we just knew we had to write one of our Adventure Guides about it!

But instead of the usual 7 Days that some of our other guides can be done in, with this one, we’re suggesting that you budget more time. This is why we are calling it a “Tour” instead of a 7-Day Guide! There are 86 pages in this new ebook.

In this new Great Lakes Shoreline Tour we cover in detail:

  • Notable U.S. Cities/Towns along each Great Lake (US side) like; Watertown, Grand Island, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Vermillion, Mackinaw City and so many more!
  • What to See/Do Around EACH Lake like; Ocqueoc Falls Scenic Site, Les Cheneaux Islands, Antique Boat Museum, and many, many more places including BONUS side trips!
  • And good Campgrounds for each Lake (US side) – at least 4 or 5 for EACH Lake! With all the info you need to set up reservations.


Happy Trails!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-09-20

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

3 Responses to “Great Lakes Shoreline Tour: 5 Lakes, 8 States, and 4,000 miles!”

August 31, 2021at11:09 pm, Mark B said:

Great article. We live in Hampton Twp., east of Bay City. We camp a lot in Northern Michigan in the summer. In September we take a long trip out west (Mt Ut. Wy etc.) This article gave me an idea to maybe plan a Great Lakes trip. Minor note that US25 is actually M25.


July 16, 2021at10:53 am, Deborah Kerr said:

Sounds wonderful! I would stay up late nights researching our 5 summer & fall RV trips ALOT about where to go, what is good, not knowing the area, so is it safe?? and where to eat and sleep. You have just saved me countless hours. Thank you!???


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top