Taking a trip to Michigan? Good for you! Michigan is a lovely state. If you plan to visit Michigan’s upper peninsula, there are several places that you absolutely must visit. Our family are former homeschoolers. We visited quite extensively in Michigan’s upper peninsula as part of our curriculum. We’ve researched and studied the area’s history, native lore, wildlife and tourism. Skip the commercialized hype and let us guide you to the best of the UP.
In this article, we visit historic St. Ignace, Michigan. Named for the Jesuit Missionary, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Ignace is the third oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. St. Augustine, FL is the oldest, and second is Sault St. Marie, a near upper peninsula neighbor to St. Ignace. You don’t have much choice about a visit to St. Ignace because it’s the first city you come to directly after the bridge. You do have a choice of which direction to head. Left takes you out of town on US 2 toward the vast regions of the central and western points of the upper peninsula.
Let’s turn right and visit the town proper of St. Ignace. This charming village stretches out along the shoreline of Lake Huron. Your first visit should be to Father Marquette Mission Park, just past the Mackinac Bridge. If you’re in luck, there may be a French Voyageur encampment. You can view inside an authentic Ojibwa longhouse.
You’ll be hungry after your drive. As you enter the town proper, watch for a little restaurant called The Northern Lights. They serve a delicious meat and vegetable filled pastry called a pastie. The Upper Peninsula is famous for pasties. If you find yourself addicted as we do, many grocery stores carry a frozen version of the most famous brand of pasties: Albee’s. My father likes his pasty without gravy, but I prefer mine with; you choose.
Farther along US 2 east, and into town, check out the Museum of Ojibwa History. This museum has another birchbark tipi that children can enter and explore. The museum is housed in the first mission church built by St. Ignace. St. Ignace is home to the majestic native pow-wow known as Rendezvous at the Straits held the last full weekend in August. There is also a wonderful bookstore of Anishnabeg native history and lore at the museum
If you are visiting Mackinac Island, buy your tickets for the ferry in St.Ignace. In St. Ignace, pay a visit to the beautiful outcrop of limestone, known as Castle Rock. It costs you one quarter to climb this rock. There is also a wonderful gift shop that your children will love.
You can’t visit Michigan without a trip to a lighthouse. St. Ignace boasts the Wawatam light in its Lake Huron harbor. And while you’re outside enjoying the cool breezes off from the Straits of Mackinac, take in the Deer Ranch. Get up close and personal with Michigan’s favorite forest friend, the lovely white-tail deer.
Stay a night in one of the little motels that dot the coast of St. Ignace. There are lush resorts, but we prefer the smaller family motels, like the Birchwood Motel or The Cedars. You’ll wake to the smell of evergreen and fresh coffee on the lake. Oh and don’t forget to sample some famous St. Ignace famous smoked fish.
You can’t visit Michigan without a trip to a lighthouse. St. Ignace boasts the Wawatam light in its Lake Huron harbor. You can visit this lighthouse and see its beacon from your shoreline motel. Be sure to watch for the night lights on the Mighty Mac, the Mackinac Bridge.
If you weren’t planning to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I’ll bet you are now!