The Lake Michigan Motorcycle Loop

Relaxing motorcycle ride with a beautiful nature view

If you’re looking for the perfect scenic weekend trip to complete on your motorcycle, we highly recommend the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. This route loops around Lake Michigan, sticking close to the shore and taking you through four states. 

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour offers scenic views, fun attractions, and an all-around enjoyable motorcycle-riding experience. Read on to learn more about this Lake Michigan motorcycle loop. 

Lake Michigan Circle Tour

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is a scenic route that loops around almost the entirety of Lake Michigan. It traverses the state highways surrounding the lake and passes through four states: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

We recommend beginning the trip in Ludington, MI, or Manitowoc, WI. These cities are adjacent and connect with the S.S. Badger car ferry. 

If you begin in Ludington, you can travel north and pass through these Michigan cities:

  • Manistee
  • Frankfort
  • Traverse City
  • Charlevoix
  • Petoskey
  • Harbor Springs
  • Mackinaw City
  • Mackinac Island
  • St. Ignace
  • Manistique
  • Escanaba
  • Menominee

These cities each boast unique attractions. While you can take time to stop at each of them, we recommend dedicating extra time to Mackinac Island. 

This quaint tourist island is only reachable by ferry and has no cars or other transportation. Residents ride horse-drawn carriages to get from place to place throughout the city. It’s a unique experience to include in your motorcycle trip. 

The above Michigan cities cover the northern section of the loop. Next, you’ll cross the border into Wisconsin and pass through these cities:

  • Marinette
  • Green Bay
  • Manitowoc
  • Sheboygan
  • Milwaukee

Green Bay and Milwaukee are two of the largest cities in Wisconsin, including plenty of famous attractions for you to stop and visit. For instance, you can stop at the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame or the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay. Then, you can visit the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. 

Next, you’ll briefly cross into Illinois and pass through Chicago, another major city boasting numerous attractions to fill your time. You can walk the Navy Pier, visit the Art Institute, or check out the Field Museum. 

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour also dips briefly into northern Indiana. You’ll pass through Gary and travel along the Dunes Highway, which will take you near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. 

Finally, you’ll enter Michigan again and pass through these cities before landing in Ludington:

  • New Buffalo
  • St. Joseph
  • South Haven
  • Saugatuck
  • Holland
  • Grand Haven
  • Muskegon
  • Whitehall
  • Silver Lake
  • Pentwater

Breaking the Circle into Two Trips

The entire Lake Michigan Circle encompasses around 1,100 miles of roadway and takes approximately 14.5 hours to traverse with no stops. However, since the route takes you through so many unique cities, you’ll probably want to at least stretch your legs at several stops along the way. 

If you’re short on time or simply want to cut your route in half, you can take advantage of the S.S. Badger car ferry from Ludington, MI, to Manitowoc, WI. This ferry cuts directly through Lake Michigan’s center, providing an excellent opportunity to cut the route short and return to your starting point. 

Thus, you can divide the Lake Michigan Circle into a Northern Loop and a Southern Loop. The Northern Loop begins in Ludington, MI, and passes through northern Michigan and Northern Wisconsin, ending in Manitowoc. The Southern Loop begins in Manitowoc and passes through southern Wisconsin, Chicago, northern Indiana, and southern Michigan. 

Both of these shorter loops offer plenty of attractions to see from your motorcycle or experience in person. You simply can’t go wrong adding a Lake Michigan motorcycle loop to your road trip itinerary. 

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