Hope you’ll be able to join the launch party for my book Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure on Wednesday, June 8th at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in the Detroit River (for more details, click here).

If you can’t make this particular upcoming island adventure, reasons abound for you to visit other Great Lakes Basin islands this year. (And you can find many more reasons in my book!)

Here are five—a handful of—reasons, each represented in a collage or sequence of photos below, which just may pique your interest in visiting a Great Lakes Basin island or two. (Note: These are examples only; there are far too many of these five popular island features to include every instance of every subject from every Great Lakes Basin island!)

What’s your pleasure?

1. Wineries

The temperate climate created by all of the water–slow to warm up, slow to cool down–creates the perfect climate for growing grapes. Cheers!

2. Cemeteries

If you’re feeling more sober–and especially if you’re interested in history–remember, the French, the British, and other Europeans who came to the Midwest settled on the Great Lakes Basin islands first. Given the dense forest and intermittent swamp, the mainland was impenetrable. Hence, the oldest cemeteries in the Midwest tend to be on these islands. Do you recognized any of these Great Lakes Basin island cemeteries?

3. Lighthouses

Found sometimes at the departure point on the mainland, sometimes on the island, and sometimes in between, look for these stalwart beacons, some which are still saving lives and some which have been decommissioned, their function now assigned to nearby automated steel tower structures.

4. Ferries

And, it is time to make those ferry reservations. Now. I’ve provided the links to the ferry services below, so have at it! Today. A lot of choices await you . . .

. . . from the grand enclosed Great Lakes ferries . . .


Owen Sound Transportation Company‘s M.S. Chi-Cheemaun loading to depart from Tobermory, Ontario to Manitoulin Island, ON (Lake Huron).

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Beaver Island Boat Company‘s Emerald Isle at dock in Charlevoix, MI, loading to depart for Beaver Island, MI in Lake Michigan.


Owen Sound Transportation Company’s M.S. Jiimaan departing Pelee Island, ON for Kingsville, Ontario in Lake Erie.

. . . to the open vehicle ferries for shorter trips to island closer to the mainland . . .

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Heading on a Miller Ferry to South Bass Island, OH (aka “Put-in-Bay”) from Catawba Island, OH.


Heading for Amherst Island, ON on the Amherst Island Ferry Service’s Quinte Loyalist from the village of Milhaven, Ontario.


Heading to Kellys Island, OH on Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line‘s the Carlee Emily, from Marblehead, OH.


Washington Island Ferry Line’s Arni J Richter departing from Northport, Wisconsin, at the tip of the Door County peninsula for Washington Island, WI.

. . . to the small but mighty passenger ferries that go to islands here no motor vehicles are allowed . . .


Manitou Island Transit‘s Mishe Mokwa, en route between North Manitou Island and South Manitou Island, both Michigan islands in Lake Michigan.


Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation Line‘s Voyageur II, which travels between Grand Portage, MN and Isle Royale, MI, in Lake Superior docked in Rock Harbor on Isle Royale.

. . . except, in this case, were golf carts are allowed.


Russell Island Ferry Service’s Islander at Russell Island, MI in the St. Clair River, having just unloaded passengers crossing from Algonac, MI for the annual picnic (the six hours a year during which this private island becomes public). Captain Bud Breitmeyer, whose ferry was built from a bus, is stepping out of the wheelhouse.

5. Bridges

No reservations needed for these. Just a bit of island time and to make a choice . . .

. . . from the grand . . .


The Thousand Islands International Bridge crossing in five segments from Leeds and the Thousands Islands, Ontario, across Georgina Island and Constance Island, to the Hill Island, ON and Wellesley Island, NY to Alexandria Bay, NY.


The Bernt Gilbertson St. Joseph Island Bridge crossing the St. Joseph Channel (Lake Huron) from Tarbutt and Tarbutt Additional, Ontario to St. Joseph Island, ON.

. . . to the tiny . . .


Single-lane bridge to Brown’s Island, Ontario, also in the St. Joseph Channel.

. . . to the picturesque . . .


Moon bridge in the Garden of the Phoenix on Wooded Island, IL in the Jackson Lagoon (Lake Michigan) in Chicago.


Historic stone footbridge linking Goat Island to the Three Sisters Islands in New York’s Niagara Falls State Park.

. . . to the, oh, so inviting (and sometimes verboten!) . . .


The causeway crossing the “Dark Hole” (aka “Black Hole”) between Neebish Island, MI and Little Neebish Island, MI (aka Rains Island) in the St. Marys River in Michigan.


Barb Lelli (with me wielding camera) about to cross the causeway between Wilson Hill Island, NY and Bradford Island, NY in the St. Lawrence River.


Oops! An unexpected meeting with game wardens. Apparently, Bradford Island, a part of the NY Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, is off limits (until hunting season). Who knew?



And particularly interesting . . .


This roadway bridge is on Ohio State Route 163 just before it splits off to E. Sand Road on Catawba Island, OH. The waterway running through this culvert may have at one time been responsible for the peninsula being a true island. For more of the island quest, undertaken by Susan Eggly and me, to find it click here.

So, what is your pleasure?

Wineries and cemeteries, lighthouses, ferries and bridges are all great reasons to visit Great Lakes Basin islands.

Other Reasons

Of course, we could add many more popular island attractions to the mix, such as migrating and resident birds,  fossils washed with each wave onto island beaches, plentiful historic churches, a craft beer brewery or two, exhibitions of the work of artists who frequent the islands, island food, the island community, and island traditions, all in addition to the historical museums we’ve recently considered here.

Special Islanders

Enjoy your island time! Just remember, June is the nesting time for all nine Michigan-native species of turtles. Turtles are digging nests and laying eggs on many Great Lakes Basin islands, often on the shoulders of the island roads as well as on beaches. You can learn more about this special time here. Please keep an eye out for these gals!

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