Everything you need to know about Kayaking in Michigan and where to stay close by

colored kayaks
picture via Paul Brennan



Kayaking Adventures in Pure Michigan

Eco-tourism is the new buzzword, but folks in Michigan have embraced this concept for years. There is no better way to experience Pure Michigan’s vast natural beauty than on a kayak or canoe and witnessing a Michigan sunrise or sunset while paddling. As many experienced kayakers will share, the repetitive natural rhythm of rowing lets one’s mind relax and convene with nature. We’ve gathered all the premiere locations for Kayaking in Michigan, and some quality assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts nearby. And because you want to have a pampering place to stay, your mind will be at ease because all of our Michigan Bed and Breakfast are quality assured and inspected.

Colored Kayaks on a Lake
Morning paddle

Tips for your Michigan Kayaking Adventure

We have focused this blog on kayaking tours that provide the equipment. Some are complete with guides that give you a tutorial initially, and others provide you with maps and transport and leave you to kayak on your own. Shown below are a few tips to remember:

  1. Leave your wallet and valuables behind or enclose them in a waterproof pouch attached to your body. We have heard many stories where the keys to getting home landed up at the bottom of the lake, never to be found.
  2. Wear appropriate water clothes and protection from the sun. Water shoes are a good choice.
  3. If offered, take a paddling class. You will learn all the paddling basics.
  4. Learn how to board and unboard your kayak safely. When getting into your kayak, remember to keep your weight centered and low. If you have the opportunity, it’s always helpful to get into your kayak in shallow waters.
  5. Exiting your kayak is probably the most challenging task you’ll need to learn. First, practice exiting in shallow waters without flooding your kayak or canoe. Later, practice in deeper waters. Each kayak behaves differently, so get to know your boar before venturing out on your tour.
  6. Learn and practice basic paddling skills. The newer kayaks provide perfect seating to support your body correctly to paddle. Learn to use your core muscles instead of your arm muscles which will tire quickly. Try paddling forward in a straight line using alternating sweeping strokes. Then master stops and goes backward.
  7. We love recommending experienced kayaking and canoeing outfitters as they will find the perfect equipment for you.

For more first-time kayaking tips, check out this blog with great information for beginners.

River Kayaking
Picture via Little Guide Detroit

12 of the Best Spots for Kayaking in Michigan

We’ve started our recommendations in Detroit and then moved over to Western Michigan, where the area includes coastal towns with calm waters and rivers that feed into Lake Michigan.  We then highlight a great spot on Mackinac Island and a meandering river near Oscoda in North East Michigan.  While there are many unique and exciting kayak opportunities in the Upper Peninsula and on Lake Huron, we have left those off this particular blog as we are concentrating on tours for first-time kayakers. Look for a future blog highlighting some popular kayaking spots in Michigan for experienced kayakers.


Are you looking for an urban experience combined with a kayaking adventure? Journey to downstate Detroit and paddle along Detroit’s eastside canals and explore Harbor Island, Klenk Island, Fox Creek, and the historic Fisher Mansion. For a romantic experience, explore the beautiful channels at sunset. Interesting to note- in French, Détroit means strait, as in a river- what a perfect way to explore the fascinating “Car City.”

Google map of Detroit
Google map highlighting Michigan kayaking in Detroit

Detroit River Sports has a 2 hour guided kayak tour that takes paddlers out to the Detroit River, around Grayhaven Island, past the Fisher Mansion, and by the waterfront residences of the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. Great for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, the Canal Tour route is very popular.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

234 Winder Street Inn-

Historic Brush Park Neighborhood, Detroit, Mi

Innkeeper- Mona Ross-Gardner   Phone- 313-831-4091

Aerial view of 234 Winder Inn
Photo via 234 Winder Street Inn- aerial view of the inn

Relax in luxury at the opulent 234 Winder Street Inn. This bed and breakfast is ideally situated in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood, overlooking Ford Field and Comerica Field. The inn includes four elegantly appointed suites, luxurious linens, and en suite baths.

Book your stay here- https://234winderstinn.com

Cochrane House Inn- 

Historic Brush Park Neighborhood, Detroit, Mi

Innkeeper-  Francina & Roderica James   Phone- 313-230-0398

Jazz Fusion Room Ensuite at Cochrane House
Photo via Cochrane House- Deluxe bath at Detroit’s premiere Cochrane House

Are you looking for an ultimate spa bath escape? The Cochrane house is a highly rated modern bed and breakfast filled with art and contemporary decor. They are known for their fabulous breakfasts and romantic and luxurious baths- complete with soaker tubs.

Book your stay here- https://www.thecochranehouse.com

Union Pier

This lovely small beach town is only 70 miles from Chicago,  located in the southwest corner of Michigan. Here you find Townline Beach and plenty of waterways to kayak.

Woman paddles kayak on the Galien River through the Goldberry Woods property
Photo via Goldberry Woods- From Goldberry Woods, you can paddle your kayak, or one of theirs, on the Galien River to Lake Michigan.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Goldberry Woods

Union Pier, Michigan

Innkeepers- Julie & Eric Haberichter     Phone- 269-469-9800

Are you looking for an authentic farm-to-table experience? Visit this unique micro-farm bed and breakfast located on the Galien River. The Goldberry Woods innkeepers bring the outside in eight light-filled rooms featuring artisan-built beds made from natural tree limbs and trunks.

And, since the bed and breakfast sits alongside the Galien River, a broad, 30-mile-long stream that winds its way to Lake Michigan. Guests are invited to use the inn’s complimentary kayaks.

Book your stay here-


Three Rivers

The Three Rivers community was named because of its location at the confluence of the St. Joseph River, the Rocky River, and the Portage River. One can only imagine the kayaking opportunities here.

If you have your canoe or kayak, there are many nearby public access options for putting in on the Portage, St. Joseph, or Rocky rivers. No boat? Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rental offer various trip options.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Exterior of Voyager's Inn B&B
Photo via Voyager Inn- Frint entrance

Voyagers Inn

Ludington, Michigan

Innkeeper- Caryn Wilson    Phone- 269-279-9260

Voyager’s Inn is a beautifully restored 1898 Queen Anne Victorian in historic downtown Three Rivers. The Inn includes three comfortable guest rooms and excellent hospitality. You’ll also enjoy a hearty farm-to-table breakfast and a caring innkeeper who can help with your kayaking plans or prepare a picnic to bring along on the water.

Book your stay here-




Saugatuck and the neighboring town of Douglas have long been recognized as a top Michigan beach destination in the Midwest. From the winding Kalamazoo River to the harbor and big lake, there are many opportunities to enjoy the water in the Saugatuck-Douglas area. Experience the beauty of these coastal towns under your power with a kayak or canoe.

Check out your rental options from –1 Adventure company/Saugatuck Boat Rental 

Big Lake Outfitters also- is a great place to rent a pontoon, kayak, or paddleboard.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Hotel Saugatuck

Owner- Al Heminger       Phone- 269-416-0731

King bed with porch
Photo via- Hotel Saugatuck – Beautiful views from the porch of Hotel Saugatuck

The Hotel Saugatuck has a perfect location in the famous Saugatuck Historic District with many of the rooms having beautiful views of Lake Kalamazoo. The inn caters to romance with plenty of pampering, including upscale amenities, delicious breakfasts, and tempting desserts delivered to your room.

Book your stay here: https://www.thehotelsaugatuck.com

Judson Heath Colonial Inn

Saugatuck, Michigan

Innkeepers- Jenn & Steve Davenport.    Phone- 269-416-0871

Flowers with a White House in the background
Photo via Judson Heath-  in the summertime

As the innkeepers at this lovely Saugatuck bed and breakfast describe their property- “Where Historic meets hip in eight deluxe, romantic rooms on a vibrant street.” The inn has been restored and includes a welcoming terrace, a Japanese garden, and old-world trees. You’ll be amazed at the farm-to-table breakfasts served daily at this welcoming Saugatuck Inn.

Book your stay here: https://judsonheath.com 

Sherwood Forest-

Douglas, Michigan

Innkeepers- David Lezondra, Jim Bailey & Noelene Wilson   Phone- 269-857-1246

After your day of Michigan kayaking, come back to Sherwood Forest Bed and Breakfast and relax by their pool. Sherwood is known for their upscale eclectic rooms- each with its fun themes. Innkeeper Noelene is formally trained in culinary arts and prepares delicious farm-to-table breakfasts each day.

Pool with lounge chairs
Photo via Sherwood Forest- Lounge by the inn’s pool after a day of kayaking

Book your stay here- https://sherwoodforestbandb.com


SS Badger in the port of Ludington
SS Badger in the port of Ludington

The Ludington area is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! Here you will find the acclaimed SS Badger and Ludington State Park, encompassing 5,300 acres of beautiful hiking trails and kayaking locations on Hamlin Lake.

Our friends at Baldwin Canoe Rental are Michigan’s largest & most complete provider of Canoeing, Kayaking, and Rafting, serving the Pere Marquette National Scenic River. The outfitter is located near Baldwin, Michigan, in the heart of the Huron Manistee National Forest. Their fleet includes 400 watercraft, including canoes, inflatable rafts, solo & tandem kayaks, and tubes.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Ludington House Bed and Breakfast

Ludington, Michigan

Innkeepers- Ellen & Bob Alderink    Phone- 231-845-7769

The beautiful Ludington House Bed and Breakfast is within walking distance to the quaint downtown area, North Breakwater Light in Pere Marquette Harbor, and close to Ludington State Park.

Exterior of Ludington House B&B
Photo via Ludington- Front entrance to the inn

Built by lumber baron Antoine Cartier to house his wife and nine children, this Queen Anne Victorian is an icon in Ludington.

Book your stay here-


Candlelite Bed and Breakfast

Ludington, Michigan

Innkeeper- Melanie Barnard.    Phone- 231-845-8074

Melanie is the ultimate host at the Candlelite Inn, and as you can imagine, breakfast is a very special time at the inn- with candles, of course.

Roses and Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Photo via Candlelite- Pampering amenities at the Candlelite Bed and Breakfast

This cozy and comfortable bed and breakfast offers seven uniquely themed romantic rooms and is renowned for afternoon goodies.

Book your stay here-



Ludington, Michigan

Innkeepers- Jen & Dan Hinderer   Phone- 231-843-9792

Breakfast table
Photo via Lamplighter- Beautiful breakfast table at the Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast

Quaint rooms, delicious breakfasts, and superb hospitality makes this a top-rated inn, and for a good reason! Talented and caring innkeepers have lovingly restored this 1894 Victorian to a truly special place to stay in Ludington.

Book your stay here- https://www.ludington-michigan.com


This Northwest coastal town has over 250 river miles to explore. Our friends at  Manistee Adventures are a full-service adventure company and offer Michigan kayaking rentals with plenty of guidance on which river you decide to explore. Visit this local chamber site for more information about this area.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Dempsey Manor-

Manistee Historic District, Michigan

Innkeepers- Jan Peterson & James Colburn     Phone- 616-802-4588

Exterior of Dempsey Manor B&B Inn
Photo via Dempsey Manor- Entrance to The Dempsey Manor

This beautifully restored 19th Century lumber baron mansion welcomes guests with the elegance and attention of a bygone era and is the perfect spot to call home after your kayaking adventure. You’ll enjoy beautiful gardens, comfortable rooms with exquisite period pieces and artwork, and a delicious gourmet breakfast in the morning to fuel your kayaking adventure.

Book your stay herehttps://www.dempseymanorbandb.com


Canfield House

Onekama, Michigan (about 14 miles away from Manistee)

Innkeeper- Kyle, Stefan & Nancy Miller    Phone- 231-970-0335

Often called “the inn on two lakes,” Canfield House Bed and Breakfast overlooks beautiful Portage Lake, which connects to Lake Michigan in Onekama. This beautiful lakefront property was built in 1900 as the summer home of lumber baron Charles Canfield. Enjoy a fresh farm-to-table breakfast each morning that is locally sourced when possible.

A view from the end of the dock back to the Canfield Home.
Photo via Canfield House- Private dock at Canfield for your Michigan kayaking experience

Enjoy free rental bikes and kayaks during your stay. The innkeepers will be happy to point you toward some of their favorite trails, shopping, and restaurants, all accessible on two wheels or by paddle.  Book your stay here-




The Huron-Manistee National Forests comprise a million acres extending through Michigan’s lower peninsula. Here you will find the relaxed slow-moving AuSable River. The river runs through many quaint towns, but Grayling is the best place to start. Many paddlers enjoy the wildlife that surrounds the river as much as paddling.

Check out Penrod’s Canoe & Kayak located on the world-famous Au Sable River Mainstream. The Headwaters of the Au Sable River (20 miles North of Grayling) is considered “holy water” to fishermen.  But when it comes to canoeing, the river begins at the dock of Penrod’s Au Sable Canoe & Kayak- your perfect headquarters for your Michigan kayaking adventure.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Hanson House

Grayling, Michigan

Innkeeper- Heather & Paul Crandall     Phone- 989-348-6630

Enjoy world-class service at the intimate and historic Hanson House. This beautifully architected Victorian bed and breakfast was built in 1890.

Hanson House exterior

Photo via Hanson House- front entrance

As is typical with many homes built by lumber-jack barons, you’ll appreciate all the natural woodwork throughout and the beautifully carved fireplaces. A wonderful breakfast is included with your stay.

Book your stay here– https://hansonhousebandb.com

Grey Hare Inn-

Traverse City, Michigan (1 hour away from Grayling)

Innkeeper- Sarah & Dereck Dykes    Phone- 231-947-2214

If you would like to be transported back to the south of France, consider a stay at the breathtaking Grey Hare Inn. This country vineyard estate is located on Old Mission Peninsula in the heart of scenic Northern Michigan wine country.

Backyard at Grey Hare Inn
Photo via Grey Hare Inn- Grey Hare Inn’s backyard is just the prelude to the 27 acres guests can explore here.

Here you will be surrounded by breathtaking views of Grey Hare’s vineyard and cherry orchards. Enjoy a fabulous and healthy breakfast each day and the serenity that will engulf you on this charming estate.

Book your stay here- https://www.greyhareinn.com


Glen Arbor

In Northern Michigan, Glen Arbor is nestled among the Crystal River, the Glen Lakes, and Lake Michigan. Due to its proximity to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Maple City, and Empire – Glen Arbor offers exceptional Michigan Kayaking Adventures. Want to see some dunes? Paddle Crystal River, flowing from Glen Lake through sections of the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Kayaking with Dunes in the background
This is the dune at Pierce Stocking Scenic Overlook. The viewing platform, just to the left of the trees at the top, is 450′ above the water’s surface.
Picture via All About Water

All About Water– Great outfitter that offers tours through Pierce Stocking Scenic Overlook dunes shown above or kayaking rental to independently explore the 2-mile stretch on the Crystal River, which is within the Sleeping  Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Glen Arbor Bed and Breakfast-

Glen Arbor, Michigan

Innkeeper- Laura Cavender     Phone- 231-334-6789

Located just steps away from the quaint downtown area of Glen Arbor, this charming and historic inn is a perfect home base for your Michigan kayaking adventure.

Exterior of Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast
Photo via Glen Arbor

Check out the two darling cottages for additional privacy. Breakfasts are a morning celebration and include such favorites as Lemon Poppyseed Flapjacks with Whipped Cream and Tender Asparagus Omelettes with Hollandaise, Sourdough Toast & Homemade Tomato Relish- YUM.

Book your stay here- 


The Cottonwood Inn Bed and Breakfast

Empire, Michigan

Innkeeper- Holly & Judy Decker     Phone- 231-326-5535

The lovely Cottonwood Bed and Breakfast is located in Empire, Michigan. The six-room inn is nestled on a quiet road in the heart of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

Morning sun shines on Cottonwood Inn
Photo via Cottonwood- Country porches are perfect for relaxing after your day of Michigan kayaking

In this historic farmhouse, guests enjoy three relaxing porches and just a short stroll to Lake Michigan.

Book your stay here-


Traverse City

The Traverse City area has an abundance of freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers- all perfect for kayaking.  Check out this link to see which is the best for you.

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Chateau Chantal

Traverse City, Michigan

Hospitality Director- Brian Lillie     Phone- 231-223-4110

Michigan vineyard
Photo via Chateau Chantal

Chateau Chantal is a breathtaking vineyard located on the Old Mission Peninsula, which defines the two arms of Grand Traverse Bay. Chateau Chantal includes 11 deluxe guest rooms featuring views of vineyards. Combining luxurious accommodations with a day of kayaking and coming back in the evening to enjoy a glass of wine makes for a perfect Michigan kayaking getaway.

Book your stay here- http://www.chateauchantal.com


Antiquities Wellington

Traverse City, Michigan

Innkeeper- Barb & Hank Rishel     Phone- 231-922-9900

This beautiful mansion comes with a unique Michigan story- “The 1905 Neoclassical mansion that is now Antiquities’ Wellington Inn isn’t the classic lumber baron home. The man for whom it was built didn’t harvest for lumber. Instead, the company established by William Cary Hull’s father was a significant consumer of lumber. At one time, the Oval Wood Dish Company in nearby Mancelona was Northern Lower Michigan’s largest employer. They made thin basket-type wooden containers used as disposable meat trays.

Wellington Inn Traverse City
Photo via Antiquities of Wellington -Front entrance to the Antiquities of Wellington

Current innkeepers have restored this grand property which reopened in 2003.

Guests may choose from 13 guest rooms and two two-bedroom carriage house apartments. You’ll find period furnishings and private baths and enjoy a full breakfast served daily in a turn-of-the-century dining room.

A remarkable stay in a grand mansion!

Book your stay here-


Elk Rapids

Want an unforgettable experience on the Elk River? You can choose to start your journey at any 6-mile location! For example, you can float the upper 6 miles (Kozy Kamp – Trestle Park) or the lower 6 miles (Trestle Park – Wayside Campground).

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Spring Lighthouse

Elk Rapids, Michigan

Innkeepers- Darci & Tom Bartlett.   Phone- 231-264-6282

Guests of Spring Lighthouse B&B view sunset over Mission Peninsula
Photo via Spring Lighthouse- magnificent views

Natural beauty abounds at the Spring Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast. You’ll be soothed with gentle waves right outside your window since the inn sits on a private Lake Michigan shoreline. Walk to town and enjoy the Elk Rapids shops and festivals. A remarkable location in Michigan!

Book your stay here-https://www.springlighthouse.com


Central Lake

Torch Lake Bed and Breakfast- 

Central Lake, Michigan

Innkeeper- Deb Cannon      Phone- 213-599-3400

Aerial view of Torch Lake B&B
Photo via Torch Lake Bed and Breakfast

The views from this pristine lake location say it all! Located high on a hill above Torch Lake, guests enjoy a 19-mile view of the lake. Enjoy your breakfasts on the deck with lake views too. The inn provides complimentary use of their kayaks and paddleboards.

Book your stay here- https://www.torchlakebb.com



House on the Hill-

Ellsworth, Michigan

Innkeeper- Marci & Philip Palajac     Phone- 231-588-6304

Beach at House on the Hill B&B
Photo via House on the Hill -Beach at House on the Hill

The House on the Hill is located in the quiet country village of Ellsworth in northwest Lower Michigan, only 15 minutes from picturesque Charlevoix and 45 minutes from Traverse City. The inn has a sought-after location as it sits beside Saint Clair Lake. Also, enjoy the 50 private acres on the property or relax on their porch. The inn offers free use of their standup paddleboards, kayaks or canoe, or paddleboats to explore the beautiful Chain of Lakes in Northern Michigan. Check out this recent blog from House on the Hill for more details.

Book your stay here- https://www.thehouseonthehill.com


Mackinac Island

Learn to paddle on the calm waters in the bay & marina, or explore natural rock formations, wildlife, & lighthouses of Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, Round Island, & Bois Blanc Island.

Great Turtle Kayak Tours

Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Horse drawn carriage
Photo via Bay View- horse-drawn carriage on the island

Bay View Bed and Breakfast

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Innkeeper- Lydia & Doug Yoder      Phone- 906-847-3295

Located on Northern Michigan’s Mackinac Island, the Bay View Bed and Breakfast is an icon in town. Enjoy the old-fashion charm, beautiful bay views, and horse-drawn carriages that make up the quaint town’s landscape. Built in 1891,  Bay View Bed and Breakfast is perfectly positioned with beautiful water views.  Enjoy breakfast on their gorgeous porch and later kayak around the island.

Book your stay here- https://www.mackinacbayview.com


Oscoda is a great destination for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts looking for a relaxing day kayaking or canoeing on the picturesque AuSable River. Nature abounds and this famous river is also known as “The Lazy River of the North”


Quality Assured Michigan Bed and Breakfasts Near-by:

Huron House Bed and Breakfast

Owners- Al & Karrie Heminger     Phone- 989-7399255


Guest room at Huron House
photo via Huron House

Romance is paramount at the adult-only Huron House. Here you will find upscale rooms with water views and remarkable breakfasts. Binoculars are standard fare in each room to watch the Great Lake freighters that move up and down the Huron Lake.


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