Today, we cast off from the shore and embark on a journey to explore the maritime wonders of Michigan, affectionately known as the Great Lake State. With a plethora of boat tour options, from the shimmering cliffs of Pictured Rocks to the lively Frankenmuth Funships, there’s a nautical adventure for everyone.
Map of Major Michigan Tour Boat Operators
Southeastern Michigan (Lake Huron, Detroit River, Cass River, Saginaw Bay)
Detroit Sails offers private sailing tours in the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. This is a one-of-a-kind Detroit sailing experience. They provide private two and four-hour sailing and power boat tours, engagement photo sessions, and other customized tours on the water. It’s an excellent way for friends, family, and co-workers to unwind and make memories together.
Location: Grayhaven, State Harbor, Detroit, MI 48215
Diamond Jack’s River Tours
Discover the beauty and history of Detroit like never before with Diamond Jack’s River Tours. Enjoy a one-hour cruise along the Detroit River as their knowledgeable guides highlight popular attractions and fascinating history. Public tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays in May at 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:00 pm, and 5:30 pm. In June, they have an expanded schedule for public tours. Take advantage of this affordable and unforgettable way to explore Detroit. Book your tour today.
Location: 1340 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207
Huron Lady II Cruises
The Huron Lady II Cruises offer daily narrated sightseeing cruises and private cruises on the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. See the international Blue Water Bridges, Great Lakes freighters, Fort Gratiot lighthouse, and more!
Location: 102 Huron Ave, Port Huron, MI 48060
Harbor Beach Lighthouse
The Harbor Beach Lighthouse is one of a kind. Visit Michigan’s thumb and discover a historic landmark on Lake Huron’s shores. Take a guided tour on Saturdays during the summer to experience a boat ride with information about the harbor and breakwall. Learn about the fascinating history of this community’s most recognizable and award-winning landmark, including the life of a lightkeeper.
The Preservation Society tour guides are available to answer questions and provide photo opportunities at the “portlight” on the gallery level. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture this unique experience and create a wonderful souvenir memory that will last a lifetime.
Location: 1 Ritchie Dr, Harbor Beach, MI 48441
Turnip Rock Tours LLC
Join Turnip Rock Tours LLC for a cruise around the iconic Turnip Rock from May to August. A licensed Coast Guard Master Great Lakes Captain conducts their private boat tours. To ensure availability, kindly make reservations in advance. A maximum of six people are allowed per boat, but they have three boats available if your group needs more space. Please note that all tours are subject to weather and lake conditions. Enjoy an informative and entertaining ride to Turnip Rock without paddling.
Location: Port Austin, MI 989-550-9445
Explorer Charter Cruise Lines
Join Captain Tom of the Explorer Charter Cruise Lines for a delightful tour around Saginaw Bay, Sand Point, Oak Point, and Charity Island aboard the Lady of the Lake. This boat ride is a treat for anyone who loves the water, with beautiful sights to see along the shore. You are welcome to bring your coolers and snacks as you take in the scenery from the upper and lower deck. Don’t miss the chance to experience a breathtaking sunset on the water. The Lady of the Lake departs from the Caseville Municipal Harbor 1 1/2 hours before sunset and returns 1/2 hour after sunset. Departure times vary depending on the sunset time.
From time to time, the Lady of the Lake embarks on tours to Charity Island in the middle of Saginaw Bay. It’s a rare chance to see the famous Charity Island Lighthouse and restored lightkeepers home.
Location: Caseville Municipal Harbor 6546 Main Street, Caseville, MI 48725. Captain Tom 989-550-1234
Bay City Boat Lines
Bay City Boat Lines has been providing public tours and private charter services on the Saginaw River in Bay City, Michigan, since 1998. They have two classic boats, Princess Wenonah and Islander, which are excellent. You can enjoy high-energy bands and dance on the Rock the Boat Concert Cruises or have a casual evening with friends on Carefree Cruisin’ Dinner Cruises. Bay City Boat Lines also offers Special Events, including VIP Fireworks Experiences, during Bay City’s stunning Fireworks Festival. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, you can take Saginaw River Guided Tours to learn more about the community’s history and observe local wildlife.
Location: Wenonah Park 801 N Water St, Bay City, MI 48708
Frankenmuth FunShips Tasting
Frankenmuth FunShips is a business that was established in 2009 with a passion for wine, chocolate, and enjoying the water. They offer a wide range of options to ensure an unforgettable time in Frankenmuth. Their electric boats provide a unique personalized experience free from the noise, smell, and pollution of diesel or gas engines. Sit back and relax as a knowledgeable captain guides you along the Cass River. You can enjoy a wine and chocolate tasting or select from a variety of refreshing beers and soft drinks during your river tour. The river tour season runs from May to October, weather permitting, and tours are available seven days a week.
Location: 445 S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Take a relaxing voyage along the Cass River with the Bavarian Belle Riverboat for a unique experience, as it is a historical 150-passenger paddlewheel riverboat. Their family-owned authentic paddlewheel riverboat, the “Bavarian Belle,” provides a fantastic guided tour of Frankenmuth on the Cass River, complete with narration. Their dock, which is accessible for individuals with disabilities, is located at the River Place Shops and is situated near a waterfall.
Location: 925 S Main St D3, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Northeastern Michigan (Lake Huron, AuSable River, and the Straits of Mackinac)
AuSable River Queen
On the AuSable River Queen, you can experience a relaxing excursion on the picturesque AuSable River with the AuSable River Queen, the only paddlewheel riverboat. Enjoy a range of tours and take in the stunning autumn foliage through the fall season. Live music is available on weekends, and a snack bar is conveniently on board. The two-hour round trip on the AuSable River is a must-try activity. The tour is open from Memorial Day until mid-October.
Location: 1775 E River Rd, Oscoda, MI 48750
Alpena Shipwreck Tours
Delve into the depths of history with the Alpena Shipwreck Tours. Thunder Bay is home to an estimated 200 shipwrecks spread across thousands of miles of deep blue water. Nearly 100 of these shipwrecks have been identified to date. The area is steeped in maritime history, with majestic lighthouses, life-saving stations, and harbors serving as witnesses.
To enhance your tour of Shipwreck Alley, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary provides trained Sanctuary Interpreters who deliver informative and interesting narration. While on board the boat, you can purchase sodas, bottled water, and assorted snacks. You are also welcome to bring your own snacks and beverages, but large coolers and alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
Location: 500 W Fletcher St, Alpena, MI 49707
Nautical North Family Adventures
Join the fun with Nautical North Family Adventures‘ snorkeling shipwreck tours! Discover history up close and personal by exploring shallow water shipwrecks in the Straits of Mackinac. These shipwrecks were previously only accessible by certified divers, but now you can explore them by taking a glass-bottom boat tour from the comfort of a dry boat. For those who want to take their adventure to the next level, the snorkeling tours offer the opportunity for the whole family to swim with a professional guide and see the wrecks firsthand. Don’t miss out on this chance to uncover the history of the Great Lakes in Cheboygan with Nautical North Family Adventures.
Location: 123 S Main St, Cheboygan, MI 49721
Ugly Anne Boat Tours / Straits Area Tour Company
Join Straits Area Tour Company for an unforgettable experience aboard the Ugly Anne on their Mackinaw cruises under the iconic Mackinac Bridge. They offer three public cruises, each lasting about an hour, all taking you under the Mackinac Bridge. The history cruise and Mackinac Bridge Cruise give you a unique insight into the area’s past events, providing interesting facts, stories, and first-hand accounts rather than the typical factual information found in books. The sunset cruise follows the same route as the 5 pm and 6:30 pm cruises, with the crew sharing information and history, playing music, and answering guests’ questions while enjoying a breathtaking sunset. Customers are advised to arrive at least 20 minutes before departure for both cruises.
Location: Behind The Hook Restaurant, 201 S Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
Sip n’ Sail Cruises
Experience the beauty of Lake Michigan with a sunset cruise, a tour of the Mackinac Bridge, or a night of live entertainment and drinks! Their vessels, the Robin E and Isle Royale Queen III, offer a full-service interior bar, comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas, and modern sound and communication systems. The charming Isle Royale Queen III also features heated interior cabins, onboard restrooms, and multiple outdoor viewing areas.
Location: 7325 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Michigan’s Upper Penninsula (Lakes Huron-Michigan, Portage Lake, Lake Superior, St. Marys River, Tahquamenon Falls)
Drummond Island Ferry
Travel between Drummond Island and De Tour Village by taking the Drummond Island Ferry. The only way to access Drummond Island has always been by boat, whether it’s an ancient canoe or a modern ferry. The ferry schedule and flow of vehicles to and from the ferry boat docks dictate the pulse of the island. The ferry and its crew have provided countless safe passages for residents and visitors across the DeTour Passage of the St. Mary’s River.
Your adventure begins with a one-mile ferry ride across the river, and the ferry can hold up to 36 cars, including trucks and semi-trucks, and crosses the river hourly. There are no advance ticket sales, and vehicles line up in DeTour to board the ferry. Once safely on board, the deckhand will collect the round-trip ferry fare.
Each year, more than 100,000 round-trip vehicle tickets and almost 200,000 round-trip passenger tickets are sold. The boats and crews have excellent safety records and provide top-notch service, which is a testament to their efforts.
Location: 113 Huron St, De Tour Village, MI 49725
Soo Lock Boat Tours & Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours
The Soo Lock Boat Tours embark on a 90-minute cruise through the Soo Locks and witness firsthand the locking process and the newly constructed “super lock.” As you cruise alongside lake freighters, you’ll also learn about the locks’ history and operation and enjoy scenic views along the waterway.
For a more immersive maritime experience, they recommend a 4.5-hour Lighthouse Cruise, which takes you through the Soo Locks and offers a sailor’s perspective of historic lighthouses and navigational aids along the American and Canadian shoreline. Please note that the Lighthouse Cruise has limited availability, so be sure to book in advance. Their boats feature a fully enclosed lower deck that is wheelchair accessible, and all cruises include live narration and a snack bar serving adult beverages.
Location: 515 E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours
Come aboard a family-owned and operated train and riverboat for an unforgettable journey to the upper Tahquamenon Falls. Their private access is only a nature hike away! They are open from mid-June to the first Saturday in October. You’ll have the opportunity to ride the longest 24-inch gauge train in the USA and relax on the Riverboat Hiawatha’s two decks. The riverboat has enclosed and open-air seating, restrooms, and a bar and grill.
During the cruise, the captain will provide narration on the surrounding points of interest, including logging and Native American history, as well as the Tahquamenon River’s plant and animal life. The grill serves a variety of delicious food, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, ham & cheese, chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, nachos, vegetarian burgers, and grilled cheese. Don’t miss out on the homemade chili offered after Labor Day!
Location: 7195 Co Rd 381, Newberry, MI 49868
Pictured Rocks Cruises
The Pictured Rocks Cruises provide a fantastic view of the multicolored sandstone cliffs along Lake Superior. This is the only boat cruise touring the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Get your camera ready; as the waves lap against the boat, you’ll feel the beauty of nature encapsulating you.
Location: 100 City Park Dr, Munising, MI 49862
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours, Munising
Venture into the past with the Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours. Experience the mesmerizing sight of shipwrecks preserved in time, visible through the crystal-clear waters. Join the Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours for an exploration of the Alger Underwater Preserve’s top two shipwrecks in Lake Superior. Along the way, you’ll catch a glimpse of Grand Island’s East Channel Lighthouse, the island’s original settlements, and its stunning rock formations and caves.
Location: 1204 Commercial St #1354, Munising, MI 49862
Copper Country Boat Tours
Come aboard the SS Dragonfly for a Portage Canal tour with Copper Country Boat Tours! Their electric Duffy boat is both emission-free and quiet, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula without any fumes or loud engine noises. Additionally, their experienced Captain/Tour Guide will take you on a journey through history, sharing the significant historical importance of the Copper Country and Portage Canal. Their tour options include a twilight tour, a fall tour, and the option to rent the boat for a private tour. While pop and water are available for purchase, you are welcome to bring your own beer or wine (please avoid glass bottles). So, relax, breathe in the fresh air, and come sail with us!
Location: Navy St, Hancock, MI 49930
Northwestern Lower Michigan (Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake, Pentwater Lake, Grand Traverse Bay)
Nauti Cat Cruises
The Nauti Cat Cruises in Traverse City offers fun-filled cruises with live music and tropical drinks. Established in 1998, the Nauti-Cat has brought enjoyment to many worldwide. Taking “old salts” to “first-timers,” you find yourself relaxed and realizing why you’re on vacation. To be here on the water, West Grand Traverse Bay. Cruises are 2 hours long, depending on the time of day.
Location: 615 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686
Discovery Traverse City Tour
Experience Traverse City from the water with Discovery Cruises! Take in the stunning views of Grand Traverse Bay during their daily scenic tours, suitable for all ages. Enjoy live music and cocktails on the Happy Hour Tour, or unwind with a glass of wine while watching the sunset on the Sunset Tour. The Discovery also offers private charters for special events like weddings, family reunions, and business functions on their newly renovated 65′ vessel with ample sightseeing space on all decks. While on board, satisfy your cravings with snacks and drinks from their two bars on the main deck. Additionally, for your convenience, full-size restrooms are available on the main deck.
Location: 13170 South West Bayshore Dr. #104, Traverse City, MI 49684
Pentwater Water Taxi
The Water Taxi in Pentwater, Michigan, provides a free service to people who live on the south and west sides of Pentwater Lake and the South and Oceana Beaches. The taxi helps to alleviate parking congestion downtown.
To book a ride, contact the operator Pentwater Water Taxi on Facebook and provide your name, phone number, desired date of service, and number of passengers. You can pay online in advance to confirm your seats or pay at the dock if seats are available. Special event cruises and private parties are also available for a fee of $10 per person. Bring your infant PFDs if possible. All cruises depart from the 4th St dock, one block west of Hancock Street.
Location: 3rd St, Pentwater, MI 49449
Come experience the serene beauty of Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan with AquaStar Cruises! The Aquastar is steeped in Muskegon history, having been known as The Port City Princess while cruising both Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. Whether you choose a sunset cruise or a daytime excursion, you’re sure to have a delightful time on the water.
Conveniently situated at the Mart Dock in downtown Muskegon, with ample parking, the Aquastar boasts a fresh interior design and exterior color scheme that’s inspired by the sleek style of Muskegon’s historic vessels, such as the S.S Aquarama and the S.S Milwaukee Clipper. The design pays homage to Muskegon’s rich maritime heritage and is sure to evoke a sense of nostalgia and historical intrigue.
Location: 560 Mart St, Muskegon, MI 49440
Crystal Blue Cruises
Crystal Blue Cruises offers a variety of intimate boating experiences, from fireworks cruises to private charters. Sightseeing charters are available on Lake Michigan, the Grand River, and Spring Lake in Grand Haven, Michigan. Relax and experience the beauty of West Michigan’s favorite waterfront, enjoy a fantastic sunset, or ride up the Grand River to explore history and nature you can’t easily see from shore.
The “Parrot’s Bay” was built by Carver Yachts in Pulaski, Wisconsin, near the shores of Green Bay. She is the third vessel of her type, constructed in 1991. Measuring 36′ in length, 13′ 10″ abeam, her interior features two staterooms, 2 heads (aka restrooms), a galley, a dining area, and a salon. The upper deck provides seating for the captain & passengers. “Parrot’s Bay” is named in honor of the parrots that ride along when weather permits
Location: Grand Haven
Southwestern Lower Michigan (Lake Michigan, Grand River, Kalamazoo River)
Grand Lady Riverboat
Big thanks to the The Grand Lady Riverboat and Captain Bill for a wonderful night cruising on the Grand River! pic.twitter.com/p56Xbh2P5j— Fleis & VandenBrink (@FleisVB) May 30, 2019
Experience a traditional riverboat ride along the Grand River aboard the Grand Lady Riverboat. This reproduction sternwheel riverboat, built in 1994, offers public sightseeing tours, live music cruises, and private charters. The boat features two decks and is weather protected, making it suitable for any weather condition. Onboard, you can purchase drinks and snacks to enjoy during your trip.
Location: 825 Taylor St, Georgetown Twp, MI 49428
Discover the Holland Princess, a 65-foot Victorian-style paddle-wheel river boat situated in West Michigan. This new vacation attraction in Holland, MI, offers both public and private cruises, including a vintage-style paddlewheel dinner cruise aboard the Holland Princess.
Location: 290 Howard Ave, Holland, MI 49424
First Class Excursions
Experience a luxurious cruise with First Class Excursions. Customize your excursion on a stunning 33′ SeaRay Express Cruiser with a provided captain and crew. All charters are private and tailored to your preferences. Choose from various excursion ideas such as sunset cruises, client entertainment, swimming and dunes, engagements, weddings, and even checking out potential homes from the water. Additionally, they offer piloting lessons and vessel delivery services.
Location: 1866 Ottawa Beach Rd., Slip C-47 Yacht Basin Marina, Holland, MI 49424 Phone: 616-886-9143
Looking for an unforgettable sailing instruction? Look no further than Deeplake Ventures! They offer sailing instructions on their Catalina 28 MKII GIG ‘EM II as a charter or on your own sailing vessel with a quoted price. You can learn about sail principles, sail trim, short-handed and heavy weather techniques, and navigation principles. While formal certification is not available, this is a great way to improve your sailing knowledge, skills, and confidence.
Location: Eldean Shipyard 2223 South Shore Drive, Macatawa, MI 49434
Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises
Take a nostalgic trip on the Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises! Their boat is a genuine paddleboat that has a sternwheeler. Throughout the tour, we’ll provide commentary as they navigate the Kalamazoo River, sharing the region’s captivating history. They offer both daytime and evening options, so you can enjoy a fun family outing or a romantic sunset cruise with your partner. While relaxing on the water, treat yourself to an assortment of beverages, including fine wines, domestic beers, and signature cocktails.
Location: 716 Water St, Saugatuck, MI 49453
Join Sailing Saugatuck aboard the Schooner Serenity and set sail on an unforgettable adventure. Their two-hour daily cruises will take you through the picturesque scenery of the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan, offering a tranquil and calming experience. No matter if you’re an experienced sailor or a first-timer seeking a comfortable and enjoyable journey, their goal is to create a memorable sailing experience for all.
Location: 219 N Union St, Douglas, MI 49406
TFD Adventure Co.
Experience the serenity of the water with TFD Adventure Co. in Saugatuck, Michigan. Their sunset cruises are a great and affordable way to spend your date night bonding with friends or family, or even for a colleague event. You can book a seat for 1 to 24 passengers and bring your own food and drinks. Rest assured that all boat charters are led by a qualified U.S.C.G. Master Captain.
Location: 219 N Union St, Douglas, MI 49406
Sailing South Haven
Sailing South Haven on the Margaret Ann, a cozy and welcoming sailboat from the scenic lakeside city of South Haven, Michigan. Their two-hour sailing charters offer an unforgettable experience for groups of up to 6 people as they sail along the shore of Lake Michigan.
Location: 515 Williams St Dock on the river side of Old Harbor Inn, South Haven, MI 49090
Sunsetter Scenic and Sunset Tours
Discover the stunning coastline of South Haven with Sunsetter Scenic and Sunset Tours. Experience the beauty of South Haven from a water perspective and marvel at the breathtaking multi-million dollar lakefront homes, miles of sandy beaches, and unique clay formations. Enjoy a serene and scenic tour or witness the magnificent Lake Michigan sunset as the sun sets into the water, reflecting colors off the sky. Come and indulge in a peaceful and relaxing experience.
Rest assured that the “Sun Setter” is a former United States Navy Utility Launch Boat constructed entirely of fiberglass/composite materials and built to military standards, ensuring your safety.
Location: 345 Water St, South Haven, Mi 49090
Harbor Country Adventures
Harbor Country Adventures is a company that specializes in providing a wide range of exciting adventures and excursions in the stunning Harbor Country region of Michigan. From boat tours and sunset cruises to kayaking and wine tours, they offer a variety of tours to suit everyone’s idea of fun. You can also enjoy other events like beer and bus tours, whiskey tastings, and nature walks. Whether you prefer a gentle, scenic cruise on Lake Michigan aboard the Emita II or want to explore the area’s wineries on one of their luxury coaches, Harbor Country Adventures has something to offer you. So come and experience the beauty of Michigan with us!
Location: 35 S Whittaker St, New Buffalo, MI 49117
Final Thought on Michigan Boat Tours
With its extensive shorelines and glorious waters, Michigan is a haven for maritime adventures. Whether seeking serene views, historical insights, or pure fun, these boat tours have got you covered. So pick your vessel, bring your adventurous spirit, and sail away to explore the nautical wonders of the Great Lake State.