Things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

(For people who like to play outside and drink craft beer!)

When Matt and I moved to Munising, Michigan one year ago, we hit the ground running to explore as much as we could of our new home.  We had heard all about the increase in tourism in the Upper Peninsula and have been witnessing it for ourselves. The U.P. is definitely becoming a very popular travel destination.  Chances are you or someone you know will be visiting this year.  If so, here are some of my favorite things to do in the U.P.

Lake Superior

When you cross the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula, in a little over an hour, you can reach Tahquamenon Falls State Park, a park that spans almost 50,000 acres with gorgeous waterfalls.  We also enjoyed checking out Whitefish Point (though we visited too late in the year to visit the shipwreck museum.), and we loved camping at the Mouth of the Two Hearted River campground.  You can find more pictures from the area here.

Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan
Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Crossing the Two Hearted River
A bridge across the Two Hearted River, also part of the North Country Trail
The Mouth of the Two Hearted River and Lake Superior, Michigan
The Mouth of the Two Hearted River and Lake Superior

Heading west, stretching from Grand Marais to Munising is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  I suggest exploring this area by boat and by foot because it’s gorgeous from all perspectives.  Take a cruise, rent a pontoon boat or kayak, and hike!

East Channel Lighthouse, Grand Island, Munising

For more in-depth information about hiking in the area, check out these posts about the beautiful Chapel Loop and exploring the Beaver Basin Wilderness.  Also, if you love to relax with a beer after a long day of hiking like we do, the Dunes Saloon at Lake Superior Brewing Company in Grand Marais is fun, and so is East Channel Brewing Company in Munising.  I should also give a shout out to the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising, a great place to stop for coffee, a bite to eat, live music, books, and local art (mine included!).

For seriously fine dining, check out Tracey’s at the Roam Inn, you will not be disappointed.  For breakfast, Bay Furnace Bagel is delicious!

Grand Portal Point, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Grand Portal Point, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Shipwreck! On the beach near the Au Sable Light Station
Shipwreck! On the beach near the Au Sable Light Station
Mosquito Beach, Pictured Rocks
Spray Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Spray Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

I should probably mention that there are waterfalls everywhere in the U.P.

Tannery Falls, Munising
Tannery Falls, Munising
Rock River Falls, Rock River Canyon Wilderness
Rock River Falls, Rock River Canyon Wilderness
Laughing Whitefish Falls
Laughing Whitefish Falls

If you’re driving on highway M-28 to Marquette, and you see Lakenenland, stop in and check it out.  It’s a sculpture park and you can walk or drive through to see all the quirky art.  It is so much fun!

Lady Slipper

Marquette is the U.P.’s largest city, and I think the town is the cutest.  Matt and I often visit Marquette to run errands, but there is so much fun stuff to do here.  There is a really good mountain biking trail system here, Matt loves the south trails of the Noquemanon Trail Network.  I will often hike while he bikes (I love the Carp River Loop!), or I will take my bike out on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail for a more mellow bike ride.

My favorite place to eat in town is Lagniappe, an excellent Cajun restaurant.  And for dessert, stop in to Donckers for some sea salt caramel, better yet, get the Chocolate Covered Oreos.  You’re going to love them!  (Donckers is also a great place for breakfast and lunch.)

Generally we only go to these places when we have visitors, when it’s just the two of us, Matt and I will often grab a sandwich at the Marquette Food Co-op and take it over to our favorite brewery in the U.P., Blackrocks Brewery.  We like Ore Dock Brewing Company too!

Marquette
Presque Isle Park, Marquette

(If you happen to be driving through the City of Ishpeming, check out Yooper Shirts, they sell fun screen printed clothing and more.  And our second favorite U.P. brewery, Cognition Brewing Company is here.)

Outside of L’Anse (about 7 miles south on US 41), there is a lovely trail along the Sturgeon River that leads to Canyon Falls.  Stop here!  It’s awesome!

Canyon Falls
Canyon Falls
Sturgeon River
Sturgeon River

There is something special about the Keweenaw Peninsula.  There are so many cool old buildings and abandoned mining sites scattered around.  But my favorite place is Copper Harbor, right at the tip of the peninsula.  A perfect day for me would be a combination of hiking (or mountain biking!), a quick beer at Brickside Brewery, driving over Brockway Mountain to take in the view, stopping for treats at the Jampot in Eagle Harbor, and then dinner at Fitzgeralds in Eagle River.

Hikes I’ve enjoyed in Copper Harbor: Hunter’s Point Park, Estivant Pines, and Horseshoe Harbor.  All are relatively flat and easy.  Oh, and if you’re in to history, check out Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.

Urban Exploration in the Keweenaw
The Quincy Dredge on Torch Lake
The Quincy Dredge on Torch Lake
Brockway Mountain
Copper Harbor
Lake Fanny Hooe

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is so cool.  We stayed at a sweet little place right on Lake Superior (and right down the street from the Lake of the Clouds Viewpoint!) called Mountain View Lodges in Silver City (but backpacking would be really fun too!).  I wrote more about our visit last fall here.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains
Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains
Presque Isle River, Porcupine Mountains
Cocktail time at Mountain View Lodges!

One Saturday afternoon over the summer, Matt and I drove down to Manistique to check out Kitch-iti-kipi, a large freshwater spring at Palms Book State Park.  We also went to Fayette Historic State Park, a preserved town that once thrived on iron smelting, on the Garden Peninsula.  Both were well worth a visit.

Kitch-iti-kipi
Kitch-iti-kipi
Fayette Historic State Park
Fayette Historic State Park

That’s all I’ve got right now.  This list is definitely not definitive, I haven’t visited Grand Island or Isle Royale (or Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba!?). I am also intrigued by the Seney Wildlife Refuge.

A couple of recommendations for additional resources: This hiking book has been super helpful while planning our outings.  Also, if you’re into waterfalls, you may want to check out this book.  (This is the first book in a series of four.)

What are your favorite places to visit in the U.P.?  Where do you like to eat?  Where do you stay or camp?  What are places you’ve heard about but have yet to try?  Let us know in the comments!

6 thoughts

  1. My favorite part of Donkers in Marquette is the discovery of a drink called “chocolate phosphate” ….. it took me back to the memory of Cunningham’s Drug Store in Ferndale, Michigan where I grew up. Cunningham’s had a cool soda fountain where they made chocolate phosphates among other lunch items. Katie’s mom

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