Marine News from the Great Lakes

Donít Want to Drive to that Next Adventure? Take a Ferry!

Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 6:00 am

Island hopping on the Great Lakes sure is fun in the warmer months of the year. You can hit the beach, go hiking in the forest, discover new wines, or just lose track of time and explore. But how do you get to where all the fun is happening? If you don’t have your own boat, taking a ferry is the way to go.

Lake Michigan

If you want to drive from Ludington, Michigan, to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, it’s going to take around seven hours, not counting stops, tolls, and bathroom breaks. But if you took the Lake Express ferry, it’s a mere two and a half hours from coast to coast. And don’t forget, Chicago is just an hour or so south of Milwaukee. If you’re trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Beaver Island may be more your speed. After all, being on an island in the middle of Lake Michigan makes from some great stargazing.

  • Beaver Island Boat Co., Charlevoix, Mich.; April 10-Dec. 22; cars, starting at $105; adults, $32.50 (peak);
  • Lake Express, Milwaukee; April 28-Oct. 23; cars, $190; adults, $153;
  • Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc., Ludington, Mich.; May 19-Oct. 15; cars, $118; adults, $111;
  • Manitou Island Transit, Leland, Mich.; mid-May-Nov. 4; adults, $40;

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. The lake is so large that it seems like you’re a world away when you visit Madeline Island off the northwest coast of Wisconsin. The island is home to the city of La Pointe, which has one of the best Fourth of July celebrations in the country. The all-day event begins at 10:30 a.m. every year and ends in a spectacular fireworks display in the harbor.

Lake Erie and Lake Ontario

The next time you have a few drinks with your friends at Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie’s fun-in-the-sun island, you might want to toast Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. He led the American fleet to victory in an important naval battle on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. A 352-foot-tall monument, the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, commemorates his victory. It’s one of the many things to see while visiting South Bass Island. Lake Ontario’s Wolfe Island, near Kingston, Ont., Canada, is home to the picturesque Sandy Beach Bay Conservation Area, where outdoor enthusiasts can kayak, hike, and swim.

  • Jet Express, Port Clinton and Sandusky, Ohio; May 5-Oct. 29; adults, starting at $33;
  • Miller Ferry, Catawba, Ohio; March 23-Oct. 1; cars, starting at $16 (one-way); adults, starting at $7 (one-way);
  • Kelleys Island Ferry, Marblehead, Ohio; March 31-November; cars, $16 (one-way); adults, $10;
  • Pelee Island Ferry Service, Kingsville and Leamington, Ont., Canada; March 1-Dec. 13; cars, starting at $36.95 (one-way); adults, $28;
  • Amherstburg Ferry Co., Amherstburg, Ont., Canada; year-round; $10 per car;
  • Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Toronto; April–Oct. 22; cars, starting at $150; adults, $7.71;
  • Wolfe Island, Point Alexandria, Ont., Canada; ice out-ice in; cars and adults, free;

Lake Huron

Vacationing on Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time. There are 500 horses transported to the island every year and nearly 1,500 bicycles for rent, but not a single car. The one state highway on the island, M-185, is for bicyclists. The island is home to Fort Mackinac, a former British and American outpost, was founded in the late 18th century, as well as the stately Grand Hotel.

  • Plaunt Transportation Co. Cheboygan, Mich.; May-November; cars, $62; adult, $17.50,
  • Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry, Mackinaw City, Mich.; May-October; adult, $26;
  • Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, St. Ignace, Mich.; April 21-Oct. 31; adult, $24;
  • MS Chi-Cheemaun, South Baymouth, Ont., Canada; March 1-Dec. 13; cars, starting at $36.95 (one-way); adults, $28;

*Cost is round trip unless otherwise noted.

tags: Destination, Great Lakes


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