When you are planning your summer travel it always seems that there is never enough time to see and do everything that you want to see and do. If you are planning to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you’ll have a lot of choice of activities to see and do. How do you fit in everything? First, you ask a local what the must-see should be. We’ve traveled extensively in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As homeschoolers, this was part of our Michigan history research. This is our pared down, absolute top ten things to see and do in the Upper Peninsula.
Your tour begins as you drive over or sail under the majestic Mackinac Bridge and over into Lake Huron. Are you ready? Here we go!
St. Ignace is the first port of call over the bridge. You could spend many happy days in this historic city. If you have time for only one stop, then it must be to Castle Rock. Only a quarter to climb this limestone outcropping. And a nifty gift shop that kids will love.
Sault Ste. Marie: Almost due north of St. Ignace is the second oldest city in the United States, Sault Ste. Marie. Again there are dozens of wonderful venues, but the one must-see is of course the fascinating Soo Locks, which connect Lake Huron to Lake Superior by way of the St. Mary’s River. Stop in at the Visitor’s Center for a complete explanation of the maritime marvel.
Whitefish Point Light Station and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum; The ill-fated freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank along with a host of other ships near Whitefish Point and Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior in Paradise, MI. Tour the lighthouse and museum and visit the bird sanctuary. Take a glass bottom boat tour to view the wreckage of ships.
Tahquamenon Falls: Stop at the visitor’s center for a hiker’s guide to the upper and lower falls of the Tahquamenon River. Walk along cedar scented trails. Rent a rowboat. Wade out into the falls.
Newberry: On your way into the central region of the upper peninsula is a little city that time forgot. Visit Newberry has a historic lumbering camp museum. There is also a rather delightful self-guided nature hike in Newberry.
Fayette State Park: On the Garden Peninsula and Snail Shell Harbor, Fayette is an authentic ghost town in Michigan. Fayette was a small post civil war community that grew up around a pig iron smelting works and foundry. View twenty preserved buildings: homes, store, hotel, foundry and town hall. An interpretive center describes life in this late 19th century village.
Munising: Pictured Rocks boat tour. This is a rather pricey venue, but a view from Lake Superior is the only way to see the amazing limestone outcroppings known as Pictured Rocks.
Iron Mountain: Originally a mining area, Iron Mountain, in Iron County has a restored Iron Mine and mining exhibit.
Copper Harbor: On the Keewanau peninsula, Copper Harbor is the northernmost point in Michigan. Michigan is known for it copper, mined by natives and later by settlers.
Isle Royale: If you get to Copper Harbor, you must take a ferry out to Isle Royale. The entire island has no vehicles and no roads. Isle Royale is an entire state park and wildlife refuge.