Maritime Gatherings

Fringed by thousands of freshwater miles, the Great Lakes State is renowned for shoreline celebrations.
Single Malt
Queen’s Cup. Photography courtesy Jennifer Richmond/JR Fotografy

The Queen’s Cup, June 29. The 74th sailing of one of yachting’s oldest cups begins at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee, Wis., and finishes 78 nautical miles later in the first-time host city of South Haven. (The 200-boat race has in past years rotated between Muskegon and Grand Haven; in 2013, Ludington is primed to host). Outside of sailing’s races to Mackinac, the Queen’s Cup is by far the most attended distance event. There’s also a feeder race — The Tripp Cup — taking place on June 27.

While sailors brace themselves for whatever challenges weather decides to cast on the water, those waiting to applaud the winner can enjoy family fun, food and festivities and take their pick of activities, from strolling shops and savoring local cuisine to exploring museums and then the shoreline with rented bikes or kayaks (

The Blue Water Fest (July 12-15) and Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race (July 14-16). Founded in 1915 and located on the Detroit River near Lake St. Clair, the Bayview Yacht Club is one of the Midwest’s premier sailing clubs. And since 1925, some of the world’s most accomplished sailors (and many who aspire to be) have come to Lake Huron for the annual Bayview to Mackinac Race — a classic clash of crew and ship versus weather and wind that takes place up the coast each year (

Bayview Yacht Club
Blue Water Fest. Photography by Martin Chumiecki/

This legacy tradition on the Sunrise Side summons waves of excitement in Port Huron, which preludes and celebrates it with the Blue Water Fest. Anticipating more than 50,000 visitors, the renowned maritime city offers plenty to enjoy from an expanded carnival, juried fine art fair and lighted boat parade to live music on three stages and grand fireworks display (

The Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival (July 27-Aug.5). Beginning unofficially in 1924 as a Coast Guard personnel-only picnic, today’s festival honoring men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard has become a premier event with more than 350,000 people attending, including the nation’s highest ranking Coast Guard dignitaries. Activities and attractions include carnival rides, ship tours, a Cruise-In Car Show, street dance, parades and fireworks extravaganza (

Find more maritime celebrations and coastal events in Excursions.

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