Even folks who aren’t driving vehicles are walking onboard the S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry just to enjoy the ride. Based in Ludington, Michigan, the Badger carries passengers from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and vice versa.

“Riding the Badger is much more than just getting you from point A to point B,” said Sara Spore, general manager for S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry. “You are traveling on a National Historic Landmark.”

The relaxing four-hour, 60-mile cruise takes passengers, autos, RVs, tour buses, motorcycles, bicycles and commercial trucks across Lake Michigan. The S.S. Badger offers group rates, special fees for group meals, itinerary assistance and host greeting.

“We have live entertainment, games, trivia and scavenger hunts as well as the gift shop, bars and food options,” Spore said. “We have had groups in the past that travel across where they meet a bus and continue their journey.”

The last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States, the S.S. Badger first entered service in 1953. The 410-foot vessel can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles.

Blending tradition and nostalgia with modern, state-of-the-art equipment, the ferry also offers staterooms and a movie lounge. Seating is available throughout both the interior and exterior.

S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry
Credit: S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry

“There is lots of open deck space with seating for those who just want to unwind,” Spore said. “Some passengers who travel without vehicles take a day trip and enjoy lunch in Manitowoc/Ludington or a trip to the candy store. Others book a rental or have a taxi pick them up and stay overnight.”

The Badger’s size allows passengers freedom of movement throughout public areas of the vessel. Passengers can enjoy two eateries, cocktail service, a museum with some maritime artifacts, a game room and kids’ playroom.

“Some passengers buy a one-way ticket seeing the ride as an experience that is much more relaxing than driving through Chicago traffic,” Spore said. “Others take the Badger as part of a lake ‘loop tour’ and drive home via Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

Main image and credit: S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry

Article by Jackie Sheckler Finch