Ludington’s 150th Anniversary Special

Big Ship, More Fun!

SS Badger in harbor

Ludington is home to The SS Badger, one of the last in a line of car ferries that originally carried train cars across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin loaded with lumber and other freight headed west. Built in 1952, this coal-fired, steam-powered ship now carries some freight but also up to 600 passengers and their vehicles. The SS Badger makes approximately 450 Lake Michigan crossings each year between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.


Bob and I have taken this trip. We found relaxing on the four-hour cruise much more enjoyable than fighting through the Chicago-area traffic jams and road construction. The cruise allowed time for reading, lounging on the deck, winning at Badger Bingo. We browsed the museum and store, took in a movie and just watched the waves go by. For our trip we booked a couple nights at a B&B in Manitowoc. We left our car in Ludington and just walked on the boat saving the cost of car transport.

Our adventure was just a quicky trip to see how light we could pack and what we could do traveling on foot around Manitowoc. We did okay on foot however the downtown of Manitowoc is a little more spread out compared to Ludington. The B&B we stayed at had bikes for rent which made it easier for us to get around. We explored the town, sampled a few restaurants and visited three museums, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum (a must for graphic designers) and the Rahr-West Art Museum. By looking at the Badger’s trip planning page and hearing the stories of our guests at the Ludington House, we know there is plenty to explore on both sides of Lake Michigan. The SS Badger is a great way to make that happen.