Great Lakes Overview
The Great Lakes is the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. Comprised of Lake Superior, Huron, Ontario, Erie and Michigan, the five Great Lakes are surrounded by a total of 10,000 miles of shoreline and contain more than a fifth of the world’s fresh water surface. They span eight US states, as well as Ontario in Canada, and boast a fascinating maritime history that is best explored by ship. The Great Lakes region is home to big cosmopolitan cities, sweeping landscapes, diverse culture and small lakeside communities.
Lakeside you’ll find stretches of sandy beach, lighthouses perched on craggy coves, rolling dunes and a swathe of offshore islands. Away from the water, the landscape is just as full of surprises away, with cow-speckled farmland in Wisconsin; Amish communities dotting the horizon in Ohio; and moose wandering the dense forest of Minnesota’s Upper Peninsula.
If the city is more your scene, then don’t forget to explore the region’s big entertaining cities. Chicago has a standout skyline of modern skyscrapers, and is the place to head for amazing architecture, superb art, first-class shopping and a buzzing night scene. Milwaukee has a long brewing tradition, and is perfect for beer fans but also comes complete with interesting museums and sandy beaches. And Detroit’s famous love affair with the motorcar and Motown music speak for themselves.
From Motown to Harley town; Route 66 to Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the Mall of America to Amish country; this heartland of America has a wealth of natural beauty and an intriguing history all of its own for you to discover on your holiday to the Great Lakes of North America.
Great Lakes Highlights
Niagara Falls is comprised of three waterfalls; Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil Falls. Together, they span the US and Canadian border and contribute 6 million cubic feet of falling water every minute.
The Porcupine Mountains – or the ‘Porkies’, as they are often known – are a group of mountains situated close to the shore of Lake Superior. Once an important copper mining site in the 19th century, The Porcupine Mountains provide the perfect setting for a spot of hiking, especially should venture to the Lake of Clouds, which is home to a large population of black bears.
Situated in on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, Georgian Bay is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sixth Great Lake’. One of the most beautiful rural locations in the world, the Georgian Bay is noted for it’s rich maritime history as well as being a great place for water-sports such as kayaking and canoeing.
Unique, and with a remarkable Victorian ambience, a trip to Mackinac Island is highly recommended should you be visiting the Great Lakes. Situated on the narrow passageway that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan, Mackinac has a strict ‘no cars’ policy which means the main methods of transport are either a horse-drawn cart or bicycle. Mackinac Island was of extreme strategic importance during the War of 1812, which you can learn more about by visiting the island’s fort.
The Great Lakes Wildlife
Visiting The Great Lakes gives you the opportunity to spot several endangered species up close and in their natural habitat, including the Canadian Lynx, Grey Wolf, Moose and North American River Otter. The area is also an important stop for migrating birds providing resting, breeding and feeding grounds for the Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier and the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler.
Best Time to Visit The Great Lakes
The climate of the Great Lakes region ranges from extremely cold winter temperatures, regularly as low as minus 30°C (minus 20°F), to pleasantly hot, humid and sunny summers.
The best time to travel is during the spring and autumn (May, June, September, October).