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Great Lakes

Visit the Great Lakes

Introduction

The Great Lakes are home to more than one in five Americans – and a fifth of the entire world's freshwater. Truly part of the American heartland, and straddling the border between the US and Canada, these vast lakes are framed by iconic cities like Toronto, Chicago and Detroit. Of course, this vast region also offers excellent surf beaches, windswept lighthouses and characterful islands – making it the perfect place for a unique getaway.

Five Great Lakes

Remnants of the Ice Age, the Great Lakes are a true geographic wonder. Comprising Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, they cover an area that spans eight states; Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Carved by ancient glaciers, they offer spectacularly diverse topography and beautiful scenery across all five lakes.

A cove in Lake Superior, Minnesota
Lake Superior, Minnesota

Spectacular Scenery

This region is ideal for boat trips – particularly scenic are Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, all rugged sandy shores and jutting rocks, while big-name Lake Ontario is, of course, home to the famous Niagara Falls – a must in any Great Lake itinerary. Lesser known are the charming islands of Manitoulin, home to the largest population of First Nations people in continental North America and perfect for a little lakeside R&R. Among the many unspoilt national parks, a visit to the 50ft Tahquamenon Falls is a highlight, as well as Palms Book, where you can travel across mirrored waters on a glass-bottomed cable raft.

Niagara Falls in New York State
Niagara Falls, New York State

Cities on the Lakes

Lakeside cities here offer everything from centuries-old canals, historic city landmarks and charming 19th-century architecture. Chicago makes the perfect starting point for a self-drive around three of the five lakes – Michigan, Superior and Huron. Detroit is another bustling big city, with plenty to entertain the cosmopolitan crowd, from its excellent cuisine to lively music and theatre scene. And, the smaller towns are just as attractive – like Mackinac, all weatherboard houses and quaint churches. 

Chicago, Illinois on the lake
Chicago, Illinois

 

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Top itineraries in Great Lakes

M/V Victory I in Georgian Bay

Splendour of the Great Lakes - Chicago to Toronto

12-day tailor-made cruise from £5,495 pp incl. flights

The awe-inspiring Great Lakes make up one fifth of the world's fresh surface water. Discover this spectacular region in elegant style with fine dining and enrichment activities onboard the Victory I or Victory II.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Great Lakes Discovery with Victory - Toronto to Chicago

12-day river cruise

Sailing between Toronto and Chicago, this is your chance to showcase the best of the Great Lakes, enjoying afternoon teas and complimentary cocktails as you explore tribal islands, historic towns and city greats.

Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66 – Great American Road Trip

18-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,145 pp incl. flights

Take a trip along Route 66, America’s most celebrated highway. inspired countless films, books and songs, from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Woody Guthrie’s 'The Ballad of Tom Joad' and Bobby Troup’s classic '(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66'.

Lake Michigan, USA

Highlights of the Great Lakes

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,265 pp incl. flights

Watch as sweeping shorelines, architectural icons and powerhouse cities combine.

Top places to stay in Great Lakes

Landmark Inn

Landmark Inn, Marquette, Michigan

Traditional hotel

Overlooking the rocky shores of Lake Superior in downtown Marquette, there are 62 rooms and suites offering a comfortable place to stay, and many rooms have lake views. With an English-style pub, art deco Lounge bar and an Italian restaurant, the Landmark has been the social hub of Marquette.

Covington Inn B&B

Covington Inn B&B, St Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

Small & intimate hotel

This quirky, floating bed and breakfast is housed in a restored 1946 3-story tug boat containing four cosy suites, a salon, and a panoramic rooftop deck. Buoyed and buffered by the Mississippi, the riverside setting is peaceful yet central within easy reach of all that St Paul has to offer.

Alexander Mansion B&B

Alexander Mansion B&B, Winona, Minnesota

Small & intimate hotel

This charming, turn of the century Victorian mansion in Winona has been restored to its former glory and offers a comfortable and atmospheric place to stay. With just five guest rooms and a 4 course gourmet breakfast served each morning, guests are made to feel very welcome here.

The Knickerbocker

Chicago Millennium - The Knickerbocker, Illinois

Contemporary hotel

The Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel offers sleek and stylish accommodation in a great location, at the start of the Magnificent Mile with its endless shopping, dining and entertainment. Attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago and 360 Chicago (formerly the John Han

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Where to go in Great Lakes

Michigan

More than 100 lighthouses and many historic military fortifications from the American Revolution and Civil War line Michigan's shoreline, while offshore numerous maritime museums ...

Chicago

The 'windy city' of Chicago got its nickname from its unique politics, not the weather, so you can expect a laid back city built for all seasons, with world-class museums, miles of lakefront vistas, award-winning restaurants and luxury hotels.

When to go to Great Lakes

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With the Great Lakes region sharing its northern borders with Canada, winters are unsurprisingly cold affairs. Temperatures plummet and there are plenty of opportunities to try winter sports. In contrast, summer can reach highs of 30° meaning beer gardens open up and city folk head to the beaches to cool off. For quieter crowds, along with a temperate climate, autumn and spring are both worthy of consideration.

See regional weather

Great Lakes articles

Chicago Skyline

Illinois: The ultimate introduction to Route 66

Home to the most Route 66 national historic sites of any other state, learn why Illinois is the perfect introduction to the Mother Road.

Pontiac Route 66 Mural, Illinois

A holiday on Route 66

With nearly 2,500 miles to choose from, we’ve put together the must-see stops along Route 66 – America’s original road trip. Along with the big-city highlights, there’s plenty of off-the-beaten-track intrigue, including national parks and forgotten railroad towns.

Meet our Great Lakes experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0636

Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0636 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

Expert advice & support

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Every step of the way

Every step of the way

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