Iconic Outdoor Attraction: Lake Michigan

Residents of Manistee County have one of the world’s largest and most beautiful lakes as a regular part of their lives. The county serves up 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, including several public access points. The Manistee stretch of shore includes the highest point on the entire Lake Michigan shore, which rises more than 40 stories high just north of the tiny harbor town of Arcadia. Climb the steps to the very top of the bluff and you can’t help but be wowed by the grace and power of the fifth largest lake in the world. But even from high atop the Arcadia overlook, you still cannot see across the lake because it runs 60 miles to the western shore, in Wisconsin.

A life in Manistee County means you can make beach-walks a daily summer experience, a way to wind down after work, not a rare event relegated to one week a year. With the big water nearby, boating can become woven into your weekly experience. Sailors and powerboaters, with their craft parked minutes from home, can head out for weekend overnights whenever they please, or easily head to the docks after work on the long days of summer, when light lingers in the sky until after 10 at night.

For fishermen living in Manistee County, having one of the planet’s great fisheries right at hand is a constant source of enjoyment. Where the Manistee River flows into Lake Michigan, in downtown Manistee, fish find fertile food, and likewise, fishermen find fertile fishing grounds. Smaller boats don’t venture far into the big water, but can still be successful—a record brown trout was caught here not long ago. Larger craft head offshore, dropping bait down hundreds of feet and waiting for the downrigger to trigger, sending the message “fish on!”

For many families, the richest way to experience Lake Michigan is also the simplest: weekend days and evenings on the beach. With the sand and water so close at hand, Manistee County families can easily clear the busy schedule for a few hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoons all summer long and spread a blanket on the sand, cooler within reach, sand castle material all around, freshwater a few steps away.