Six must-visit vacation destinations at Lake Michigan

With a shoreline that stretches for hundreds of miles and touches four states, Lake Michigan has long since been a favorite vacation destination in the American Midwest. You'll find the lake's pretty shores peppered with everything from bustling beach towns to vibrant cities – not to mention a medley of fabulous vacation rentals to call home – so you might say that everyone can find their perfect place to stay at Lake Michigan. Why not check out the destination ideas coming up? Whether you're planning a romantic break with the other half, a fun weekend with the kids, or a bit of downtime with friends, there's sure to be a Lake Michigan vacation rental destination to suit.

Year-round fun in Grand Haven

A town that truly lives up to its name, Grand Haven counts one of Michigan's best state parks among its highlights. Then comes its restaurant and shop-lined boardwalk, its pair of brightly painted lighthouses and, of course, its big, beautiful beach. It's a town that comes alive in summer, though there are plenty of reasons to consider a stay in Grand Haven vacation rentals whatever the calendar might say. It's an ideal spot to catch the beauty of fall in Michigan, while the vacation home rentals here put you just minutes from Mulligan's Hollow for downhill skiing in the winter.

Vintage delights in St. Joseph

One of the state's seven so-called "Beachtowns," St. Joseph is a postcard-perfect vacation home destination on the south-eastern shores of Lake Michigan. It's known for its early 1900s lighthouses and the sandy Silver Beach, the latter home to a much-loved pavilion and an elegantly restored vintage carousel. Choose one of the vacation home rentals in St. Joseph and you could also find yourself enjoying the change of scenery served up by Warren Dunes State Park – a rugged, almost 2,000-acre park with towering dunes, three miles of shoreline, and spectacular views.

Adventure and amusement in Muskegon

A four-season playground packed with entertainment; there's little wonder why Muskegon is home to some of the most popular Lake Michigan beachfront rentals. Beachfront cottage rentals in Muskegon top the wish list for many visitors, though there are also some lovely Muskegon rentals with pools for those with a spot of private pool-side sun-worshipping in their plans. When you're all settled in, you'll find Michigan's Adventure Amusement & Water Park and the huge Winter Sports Complex among the many entertainment options nearby.

Small-town appeal in Saugatuck

Twinned with Douglas at the other side of Kalamazoo Lake, Saugatuck is no stranger to a list of America's best small coastal towns. Perhaps it's the fabulous beach that draws a crowd, though its charming downtown and medley of scenic spots to fish, kayak, and golf must also play a part. This is a great spot to find pet-friendly rentals on Lake Michigan, too – the gorgeous Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the Tails 'N' Trails Dog Park just two of the dog-friendly spaces where pooch can join in the fun.

Laid-back vacations in Harbor Springs

A century-old waterfront community perched along the Great Lakes' deepest harbor, Lake Michigan's Harbor Springs offers a laid-back pace for vacations at Lake Michigan. Rentals in the summers are among the most sought-after, though the "Tunnel of Trees" that winds its way between Harbor Springs and Cross Village offers ample reason to book Harbor Springs vacation rentals in the fall. The spring sees thousands of people bike between Boyne Highlands and Mackinac Island, while winter brings with it the usual skiing and snowmobiling.

Wine and wetlands in Union Pier

One of eight quaint communities in Harbor Country, Union Pier impresses visitors with its relaxed pace and friendly vibe. It sits between the shores of Lake Michigan and the Galien River, counting the Galien River County Park as one of its highlights. There you'll find both upland and wetland habitats, an overlook tower, and a canopy boardwalk. And should you work up a thirst, nearby wineries and tasting rooms make for ideal pit stops before heading back to your Union Pier vacation rental.