The Great Lakes State has beautiful beaches and charming cities to match. As the summer season begins, here is a look at some of those great destinations.

In the western part of the state, about 40 miles from the Indiana state line is the Port city South Haven. At the mouth of the Black River, on Lake Michigan, this is a perfect place for boaters and beachgoers.

With numerous choices of Bed & Breakfast places or hotels, lodging is a breeze. Besides Black River Cruises there are award-winning golf courses and other options, such as hiking the multiple nature trails.

Don’t forget the Michigan Maritime Museum, along with local dining, shops and wineries.

lake michigan 113681 1280Twenty miles north up the Lake Michigan coast is Saugatuck, a sweet little summer destination spot. It has several historical sites that are worth seeing, and there’s always the specialty shopping. Dune rides are one of the city’s biggest attractions. In addition, there are top tier dining options.

National Geographic Traveler rates Oval Beach among the best freshwater beaches in the country, with soft tumbling dunes and high grasses. Conde Nast Traveler calls it a top 25 beach in the world.

About 45 mins north on the lakeshore lies Grand Haven. Sandy beaches and boutique shops dot the landscape. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is a big attraction. It’s a spectacular show of water, music and lights. Or take a stroll and see all the sights on the Grand Haven Boardwalk.

Ask people from Michigan the best summer spots, and you are likely to hear Ludington. If you are in the area, Ludington State Park is a must.

Check out the Waterfront Park Sculpture Garden. That is right by the marina, with a growing collection of bronze works done in tribute to the city.

Beyond that, canoe and kayak rentals are popular to explore Hamlin Lake. Fishing boat charters are also available to anglers, be sure to hit one of the local breweries after.

A bit further north, Manistee is a town rich with history. There’s much to discover and explore here. It has quite a few entries on the National Register of Historic Places.

They include: the Manistee Central Business District, Ramsdell Theater and S.S. City of Milwaukee, a retired seagoing vessel.

Next up is Traverse City. The Cherry Capital has long been a gem of our state. Visitors have to see the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a gorgeous 64-mile stretch of coves and beaches shadowed by soaring dunes. They rise up to 400 feet up above.

The Cherry Royale Parade is a highlight of summer, from the opening air show to its fantastic floats.

An hour north is the charming city of Charlevoix, and approximately 20 minutes east of there is the picturesque Petoskey.beach 5264739 1280

Charlevoix has countless cute mom and pop restaurants, fresh seafood markets, and microbreweries. And, a delightful drawbridge as well as odd architecture.

Architect Earl Young designed the famous Mushroom Houses and Hotel Earl of Charlevoix.

Ferry Beach is ideal for families, and Lake Michigan Beach for the adults. For the more adventurous ones, there is skydiving or paddle boarding.

And there’s a lot to see in Petoskey. The Bear River Valley Recreation Area is a winding 1.5-mile promenade by the river. If you’re into biking or walking, that is the spot.

Search for the famed Petoskey stone, a fossilized coral. Take a ride on the Petoskey Downtown Trolley, and visit the Gaslight District.

The Au Sable River flows by Oscoda to Lake Huron. Michigan’s Northeast coast, or Sunrise Coast ranges from Rogers City south to Au Gres, hugging the shores of Lake Huron.

Oscoda has prime fishing spots. And a variety of freshwater fish. With 35,000 acres of hiking trails, there is something for everyone.

Down the coast is Tawas City in Mid-Michigan, and the adjacent town of East Tawas. It has beautiful beaches, first class fishing with a host of other activities on the water. Some other ideas are kite boarding or swimming in Tawas Bay.

Built in 1876, off Tawas Bay is the Tawas Point Lighthouse. This Victorian-era structure is the last functioning one of its kind on the Great Lakes. Tawas has been titled the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”

Our state has countless inland lakes. Maybe the best-known is Houghton Lake in central Michigan, the largest inland lake in Michigan at 22,000 acres.

Another beloved body of water is Torch Lake. At 19 miles in length, it is the state’s longest, with a depth of 300 feet. That is just a start. Support your home state and reap its rewards.