Come on in, the water’s – well, it’s freezing. (Seriously, the girl in this photo is nuts.) But that isn’t keeping me away from my first trip to the breathtaking shores of Lake Michigan, also known as the country’s Third Coast. Though I’ve lived in Indiana most of my life, I have always passed over Lake Michigan for the spun-sugar shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast and Mexico’s Caribbean for my beach fix. I’m just not a lake person; I’m a beach snob. But the first time I laid eyes on Lake Michigan’s stunning panorama this week, I changed my tune. The sand is fine and soft, the beaches long and unbroken, the water deep blue and stretched to the horizon. There’s even a crashing surf, like the ocean. Charming beach towns and state parks galore run up and down this unsung, uncommercialized coastline, and the sunsets are spectacular. Follow along on Gadling’s Instagram account, @GadlingTravel and #ontheroad, as I discover the best of Lake Michigan’s beach culture this week. By the time you can plan a trip for later this summer, the water will be warm. Well, warmer, at least.