Spend an afternoon learning about the Great Lakes, and the ships that sail them, at a Northern Michigan maritime museum. Filled with exhibits ranging from Native American traders to 21st century captains, these museums bring to life vivid memories of the Great Lakes. See the Edmund Fitzgerald’s 200-pound bronze bell at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum or take a tour of the United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw.

To get your trip started, here’s a guide to help you find a Northern Michigan maritime museum near you. Each one offers something different, so you’ll have to visit them all!

Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station Maritime Museum

Sleeping Bear Dunes Rd., Glen Haven

Exhibits cover the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Great Lakes shipping history. Check out the Steamer Wheelhouse room on the second floor with a panoramic view of the Manitou Passage shipping channel. Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Les Cheneaux Historical and Maritime Museums

Hwy. M-134 & Lake Street, Cedarville

The O.M. Reif Boathouse, built in the 1920s, houses vintage boats, marine artifacts, antique outboard motors, historic photos of area boating, and a boat building workshop. Open May through September. Find the open date on the website.

Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum

367 N. 3rd St., Rogers City

Exhibits explore four centuries of Great Lakes history and tradition, while the Great Lakes maritime hall of fame honors the people who served the shipping industry. Open year round. 

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena

The museum feature 9,000 square feet of immersive exhibits. The full-size replica of a Great Lakes schooner lets you feel a Great Lakes storm and walk the decks. Open year round.

Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum

131 S. Huron Ave., Mackinaw City

Tour the United States Coast Guard Cutter MACKINAW WAGB-83. The construction for the icebreaker was authorized on December 17, 1941, 10 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Open May through October. View the schedule.

Beaver Island Marine Museum

38105 Michigan Ave., Beaver Island

The museum tells the stories of St. James Harbor, which was once bustling with fishing fleets and commercial traffic. Open seasonally.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum & Whitefish Point Light Station

18335 N. Whitefish Point Rd., Paradise

Learn about the Edmund Fitzgerald, Steamer Vienna, the Comet, and other Great Lakes shipwrecks. Open May 1 to October 31.

Marquette Maritime Museum

300 Lake Shore Blvd., Marquette

The preeminent collection of lighthouse lenses in the Great Lakes includes 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order classical Fresnel lenses in the same exhibit hall. Open seasonally.

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