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Traveling to Wisconsin on the Lake Express

Lake Express on Lake Michigan
Lake Express on Lake Michigan

Who would have thought taking the Lake Express from one side of Lake Michigan to the other would be such a lovely experience?   I  recently made this trek so that I could visit my sister in Wisconsin. I’m so glad I did.

Lake Express
Taking the Lake Express across Lake Michigan

Leaving from Muskegon, it took two and a half hours and I was able to take my car, making it easy to head to my destination: Appleton, a couple of hours north of Milwaukee.  The whole experience reminded me a bit of taking a car ferry in Denmark, going from Jutland to Copenhagen, a couple of years ago.  That was a delightful way to travel. I’d do it again.

I had surprising Walk Down Memory Lane as the Lake Express headed out of the dock in Muskegon.  I noticed a rather large ship tied up on a nearby dock.  When we got closer I could see the name on the side–the Milwaukee Clipper.  Wow.  Very old memories flooded my brain.  When I was a little girl, my  Mother used to take us on that boat to cross the lake  when we traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin to visit my grand mother.

Dad would drive the family station wagon around Chicago (a 12 hour trip in those days) and meet us.  I used to think it was so we could have fun on the boat, but now I realized they didn’t want to spend those 12 hours plus the time it took to get across the state of Wisconsin with three rambunctious kids in the car.

And rambunctious we were.  My Mother didn’t handle being on water very well so she holed up in the cabin she booked while my siblings and I raced all around the ship.  It would be interesting to tour the boat now to see if I can remember any of the spaces.


Milwaukee Clipper
Milwaukee Clipper

I noted with interest my fellow passengers on the Lake Express on this beautiful day in May.  It was particularly fun to see a group of German motorcycling tourists, taking photos and marveling at our “big lake.”  I’m told there’s a big Motorcycle museum in Wisconsin.  Maybe they were headed there.  Or the many hundreds of miles of country roads in Wisconsin lined with red barns and beautiful scenery was the draw.

Lake Express
Heading out of Muskegon on the Lake Express
Lake Express on Lake Michigan
Tourist enjoy capturing the experience on the Lake Express

The Milwaukee skyline was fun to see on the other side of our Big Lake, as Michiganders tend to call Lake Michigan.  I noticed lots of construction.

view of Milwaukee from Lake Express

In Appleton, Wisconsin, I enjoyed seeing this little pocket park on the main street.  Colorful and inviting.

Appleton, Wisconsin
Pocket Park in Appleton, Wisconsin

After my family visit, I headed back to Milwaukee where I spent the night so I could catch the 6 am ride back to Michigan.

I enjoyed a good walk, seeing old homes and buildings, a newer hip area and the Lakeshore.  I think it would be an interesting city to explore more extensively.

Milwaukee, Wisconin
Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee
Beautiful Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee
On the waterfront in Milwaukee
On the waterfront in Milwaukee
Waterfront along Milwaukee
Great views of Milwaukee along the waterfront
Great places to ride bikes or walk in Milwaukee
Caught my eye in Milwaukee
Stately old homes in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sculpture to enjoy on a walk in Milwaukee


I got caught in an unexpected downpour…..soaked from head to toe……but thoroughly enjoyed the rainbow that appeared after the storm.

Rainbow over Lake Michigan
Glorious rainbow over Lake Michigan

Here’s an attempt to capture the rain bow over the wonderful Art Museum in Milwaukee.  Hah! Needed a different camera lens and a lot more skill for that one, but I enjoyed trying.  If the Art Museum isn’t familiar to you, check out this blog post about an earlier visit to this landmark addition to Milwaukee. You may want to add it to your destination list.    Going to Chicago to see the Calatrava. 

Milwaukee Art Museum/Over the Rainbow
Milwaukee Art Museum

And then to top off the experience, I captured a sunrise over Lake Michigan from the Lake Express as we headed home.

Lake Express morning in Wisconsin
Sunrise over Lake Michigan









Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Jun 7, 2016 Reply

    I like the way you find interesting buildings, people, and nature no matter where you go in the world. Your blog inspires me to travel with my eyes wide open!!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jun 7, 2016 Reply

      Thank you. I appreciate your positive comment.

  2. posted by
    Melanie Rogers
    Jun 7, 2016 Reply

    I wasn’t even familiar with this ship. Intriguing, and great photos as always!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jun 8, 2016 Reply

      I think it has been in operation for a couple of years. It’s a great way to cross the lake. I wish we had one to Chicago.

  3. posted by
    Jun 8, 2016 Reply

    This looks like a lovely way to travel. I think I’ll try it. Thanks for keeping us all in the know. Miss you pal!

  4. posted by
    Jeff Bangsberg
    Jun 8, 2016 Reply

    As you know, Anita and I (with Marti & Gene) took the Ludington ferry on our way back from lower Michigan to Minneapolis last August with our vehicle and saved ourselves from the heavy traffic via Chicago and the long way around via the UP. Although we very much enjoyed traveling east through Northern Michigan and across the bridge, taking the ferry back saved us a lot of time coming home. It’s nice to know there are additional ways to cross the lake. Nice post.

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