Cool Ways to Cool Off

Michigan has many bodies of water, but some offer more fun than others. // Photography courtesy of David Ruck
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Nothing says summer like an image of an eager child (or grownup) running to the end of the dock and splashing in with a perfect cannonball. That’s because come the best of our hottest months, little feels better than a cool dip in one of Michigan’s crystal-clear waters. Sure, you can go to the nearest body of water — after all, we’re never further than six miles from a river or lake in this state. But you also could get creative with one of these ways to cool off the cool way.

Play Michigan Ninja in a lake, Coldwater

Who hasn’t caught an episode of “American Ninja” and wondered how they’d fare against those nimble experts climbing ropes and swinging Tarzan-style across bodies of water? Now you can practice up with other would-be contestants (well, families on vacation) at Coldwater Country’s new inflatable aquatic playground. Families can work their way across the combination obstacle course, jungle gym and playground and then hang at a beach area with yard games, rental boats and more. coldwatercountry.com.

Pedal, paddleboat-style, while you sip, St. Joseph

Picture a water version of the popular pedal pub and you have the Harbor Hopper. The moving pontoon-style party powered by pedal power (and a little help from a motor) launches from the Inn at Harbor Shores and makes stops including a tiki bar and waterside tavern. Or go all in with the “lake and land” tour that pairs two hours on the water with three hours on a brew bus. sjcycleboat.com.

Learn to waterski, Elk Rapids

The old-fashioned, all-inclusive vacation exists still at White Birch Lodge in Elk Rapids as it has for 60 years and counting. Here, water fun is always a focus, and trained staff will do both the teaching and pulling behind MasterCraft boats as interested members of the group ski, tube, wakeboard and sail, or join land-based fun like morning yoga and tennis. whitebirchlodge.org.

Snorkel through time, Alpena

Glimpsing whatever lies beneath is the fun of a snorkeling adventure, but multiply the incentive many-fold when your sighting target is a ship that sunk more than a century ago. Tour the shipwreck museum at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and once immersed in story, glide over some of the 116 wrecks that lie beneath. Some, like the Monohansett (sunk in a storm and fire in 1907) are easily visible in less than 20 feet. Thunder Bay Scuba offers snorkel charters or trips. tbscuba.com.

Tube down a pristine river, Hale

Tubing gets a bad reputation in spots where floating parties cause literal traffic jams mid-summer on some rivers. That’s not the case on the scenic AuSable River, fabled for its blue-ribbon fly fishing and spotting deer and fox on its banks and eagles in the trees. The clear waters flow at a consistent speed that’s great for floating, and outfitters like Rollway Resort offers easy trips of two hours or so. rollwayresort.com.


Kim Schneider is an award-winning travel writer who shares her travel-savvy in every issue of BLUE.

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