OT: Upper Peninsula recommendations

Submitted by Laser Wolf on April 11th, 2018 at 7:13 PM

Wife and I are looking for a five- to seven-day vacation and are considering the UP. It's been on our list for a while and neither of us has ever been so we're looking for recommendations on where to stay, how long, what todo, etc. Major caveat: we will have an 11-month old with us so nighttime activities will unfortunately be restricted to drinking as much beer as possible by 6:30 PM and then calling it a night.

We know Pictured Rocks is the major attraction, but should we stay out that way for a couple nights? Should we stay on Mackinac Island for a night? Is there a preference between St. Ignace or Mackinaw City? How the hell do I pronounce Ignace anyway?

Thanks in advance.



April 12th, 2018 at 8:44 AM ^

Ehh, in early June the temps around here will probably allow for long sleeves and jeans. Get a light pair of gloves and a bug net for your face if you're planning on hiking. The black flies can still bite through clothes, so a long sleeve t shirt under flannel is good. Or you can do as the locals do and just ignore the bites.

If you're going pictured rocks, are you camping? There are nice campsites all through the national lakeshore.

There are some cool waterfalls around the Munising area (eat at Johnny Dogs btw). Look on the maps, but there's a really cool hidden trail on the east side of Munising where h58 forks to go to the hospital or to Grand Marais. On the south side of the road there's trail markers. You can park on the road that goea to hospital and walk to the trialhead, it's a nice circle trail to a beautiful waterfall.

Marquette county has the most waterfalls and plenty to do. Ore Dock brewing is a nice place for an afternoon beer in Marquette. You can take 550 up to Big Bay and stop at echo lake preserve (another hidden gem - black flies warning). It's a dirt road to the west right before a 4 lane section on 550. Beautiful remote lake qith a giant rock cliff on one side.

County road 550 also offers wetmore landing beach, which is beautiful sand (also black fly warning...just assume this for all of my recommendations in June). And there's Sugar Loaf mountain for a relatively easy hike to a view over Marquette. Could take child up sugar loaf as there is stairs most of the way up the mountain (probably 20 minutes each way).
Big Bay has the Thunder Bay Inn, famous for Anatomy of a Murder, and good eats. There are some decent views all along the 550 drive.

If you plan on going further west than Marquette, you could drive up to Craig Lake State Park for a chance at bear or moose sitings. It's about a 25 minute drive on dirt road to get back to the campground, but it's beautiful remote hiking.

Watch for moose west of Ishpeming on 41,,especially early morning and at dusk. Going south on m95 towards Iron Mountain will provide best chances at moose, then turn west on a mixed use trail right before black river bridge (fish lake rd) and that two track will take you all the way through prime moose country and back to 41. I hope you have 4 wheel drive.

If you have time to go to the Keweenaw peninsula, keep heading west on 41. Just past the 41/28 split is Canyon Falls on the Sturgeon River state parking area. Take that hike, absolutely gorgeous canyon with waterfall.

Houghton has some good eats on the drag. Calumet has Schute's classic bar and Carmelitas mexican, where the yoopers serve burritos with cornbread and french fries. Copper Harbor is great, you can drive all the way to the top of Brockway Mountain.

I could write you a book on a lot if areas from Munising to Ironwood if you had the time. The Porcupine Mountains are amazing, Lake of the Clouds is easily accessible with a child.

Bird of War

April 12th, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

How am I the first one to upvote this? Thanks for the recommendations. Just starred a bunch of places on google maps to try and get to this summer. I am a born and raised yooper but grew up on the lake michigan side near wisconsin so I missed a lot of cool stuff up on the northern side.


April 12th, 2018 at 9:56 AM ^

Thanks, I'm at work otherwise I'd go into more detail. I'm a transplant from downstate that's been here for 8 years and absolutely in love with the area. Locals admit I know more places than they do (most of em have their family camps to go to so exploration is minimal).
I've been tryin to think of the easily accessed places, took my late grandmother to a lot of them. Laughing Whitefish falls is kind of in between Munising and Marquette. A little bit of a hike but mostly flat and improved trails. Could still be roaring in June, otherwise it turns into a trickle in summer like most waterfalls around here.


April 12th, 2018 at 10:10 AM ^

and love reading it. I am also heading to the UP this summer, early - mid July time frame. I will be staying in Munising  the majority of the time, but also going to Sualt Ste Marie for a couple of days and then Houghton for a day.

I assume black flys will be a problem this time of year so I will be sure to bring a bunch of bug spray also.  Thanks for the information.


April 11th, 2018 at 7:22 PM ^

Have you ever been to Mackinac Island? If not, that's an absolute must.


I would also go to Garlyn Zoo. Why? It's the tits. Can you feed bears? Yes. Is it located in an "unincorporated community"? Yes. Does it have animals that are severely out of their climatological element in the UP? Yes. Is the name of the zoo a portmanteau of the husband and wife who own it? Yes. 


April 11th, 2018 at 7:25 PM ^

Skip the soo locks.

Head to Copper Harbor after pictured rocks.

Every part of the Keeweenaw is gorgeous.

Stop at the Ambassador in Houghton. Get a Scorpion or Qualude with a side of garlic toast. Then get the tostada pizza.


yossarians tree

April 12th, 2018 at 1:07 PM ^

I heartily agree that the Soo Locks is an engineering marvel and not to be missed! A few other tips based on my own UP tour from a few years ago:

-Stay in the small mom and pop motor lodges. They are virtually all super cute, clean, and inexpensive. 

-There is a great country inn, Chamberlain's Old Forest, on Lake Manistique about 60 miles northwest of the bridge. Great place to stay or just for a nice dinner of Lake Superior whitefish.

-The main beach at Pictured Rocks is awesome. I climbed out on some rocks and took my first plunge into Lake Superior (it was August) and I'll never forget it.




April 11th, 2018 at 7:28 PM ^

Not many trek north into the Keweenaw peninsula but it’s worth it. A sunset on top of Brockway Mtn is a must. There are also many smaller towns along the Superior coast line up there which are enjoyable stops. Between Copper and Eagle river there is a roadside waterfall(Jacobs falls I believe) which is neat in that you can park and hike. It’s very beautiful up there so it’s worth the time to drive.


April 12th, 2018 at 8:38 AM ^

Another Tech grad here. If heading up to copper harbor, also be sure to check out the Fitz, a great restaurant on the coast of Superior with quite the bourbon/whiskey menu to go with tasty food. Also, there is the Jampot, a little bakery where you can find thimbleberry jam and other delicious goods. I'd also recommend heading to the Porky's I'd you have time and see lake in the clouds.

If you're looking for a day to please the Mrs., I really enjoy Marquette as it has a plethora of restaurants and a few breweries. Blackrocks being one of them. Speaking of which, KBC in Houghton has 2.75 pints and their beer is pretty good as well.

Wolverine 98284

April 11th, 2018 at 7:28 PM ^

IG nas

If you’ve kids Mac City. Quieter and far less expensive in St Ignace.

Stay a couple nights on Mackinaw Island. Completely different place after the day trippers depart. Tahquamenon Falls. Munising is lovely. If you’ve time, go look for agates on the Keweenaw beaches. Sue locks can be interesting. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

Bug spray. Definitely bug spray.


April 11th, 2018 at 7:41 PM ^

To all of this, especially Tahquamenon and the Shipwreck Museum.


Also give a shoutout to Cross Village and Leggs Inn. Tiny little up north town about 25 min from Mac City with a great Polish restaurant and amazing views.


IMO, there's no point in staying in Mac City or St. Ignace if you're planning on staying on the Island...


April 11th, 2018 at 9:01 PM ^

Rootbeer falls is very picturesque and super cool act of life/nature/beauty. Took our kids when they were young, probably 10 or so, had a blast. They waded through the shallows, a lot of nice photos, it was well worth the hike. Even had canoes or tubes I think...


April 11th, 2018 at 7:33 PM ^

I would say Mackinac Island is a must do. Even if it’s just for the day.

Mackinaw City is more touristy than St Ignace, although it’s starting to change a little more. But St Ignace has Castle Rock and the Mystery Spot, whose postcard was seen in the intro to National Lampoon’s Vacation.

I like the Soo Locks. The boat trip through there is pretty cool. Plus, the Soo actually has three breweries now, and the Antlers has good food. And in Sault Canada I had the best poutine I’ve ever had.

The pictured rocks tour is really cool also.


April 11th, 2018 at 7:33 PM ^

Is a toss up.  There are a few more touristy things to do in Mackinac city but after the first time going we always stayed in St. Ignace.  Just a bit less crammed.  Tahquamenon Falls is also a good spot to head to.  


April 11th, 2018 at 7:34 PM ^

Want to get away from humanization? Travel down the Stonington Peninsula to the point where a lighthouse use to operate. I may or may not have property there.

Rapid River Knife company.

Herford and Hops in Escanaba.


April 11th, 2018 at 10:22 PM ^

Small world, I may or may not also have property down near the lighthouse. Stay left at the Y (at least it used to be a Y. Recently repaved to make it a little more perpindicular) on the way down 513 and I'm down that road a bit.


April 12th, 2018 at 7:28 AM ^

Been a few of them around. The guy who cuts my lawn up there had a dead deer at the end of his (remote) driveway. Went to get his 4-wheeler to drag it away and it was gone, with a pretty clear drag trail through the woods. Took a few steps in and saw a cougar 30 yards away, standing over the deer, and staring at him. Needless to say, he did not pursue that trail any farther.

From everything I've heard, the .45 won't likely do you much good against the cougar, as you tend to not see them coming. Might help with the wolf or bear if you run into one in a bad spot though.


April 11th, 2018 at 7:37 PM ^

US-2 is one of the most beautiful stretches of road i've ever driven.  cross the bridge and bang a left to head west on US-2.  after that you're on your own but Escanaba is that direction.

panthera leo fututio

April 11th, 2018 at 7:54 PM ^

The Cut River Bridge is about an hour west of St Ignace on 2, and it's really nice. You can park and hike down a little trail to the mouth of the creek, which is a super nice spot to wade in a bit, weather permitting.

(All of this info is accurate as of about a decade ago, when I used to drive this stretch of 2 all the time)


April 11th, 2018 at 7:42 PM ^

I’m a native Yooper and have lived in Escanaba for the better part of 49 years (apart from the 9 years in Ann Arbor). I love the northern shore—from Grand Marais, to Munising/Pictured Rocks, then Marquette, and west to Ontonagon and Houghton. From there head up to Copper Harbor, then south to Iron Mountain/Kingsford, through Escanaba, short detour to Fayetteville and check out Kitchitikippi, then back to the Bridge.

We have a cottage just south of Munising that I would love to offer up for any M Go Blog user to use! Fishing, hiking, exploring, biking, eating, we have modest but friendly UPportunities here—(see what I did!).



April 23rd, 2018 at 7:34 PM ^

If your serious about the cabin, the wife and I might be interested. We've already paid for a kyaking trip at Pictured Rocks. The date has not be set yet. She and a friend are going to watch the weather and try to schedual based on that.

If you think it might work out, send me an email. paulkamprath at gmail dot com and we can talk about it.

Thanks, Paul


April 11th, 2018 at 7:45 PM ^

Oh boy where do I start?..

-Don’t stay on the Island with an 11 month old. I have 3 kids with the youngest at 9 months and I wouldn’t do it.

-Do visit the island though because it’s pretty cool. I enjoyed the fort about as much as anything. Remember Mackinac and Mackinaw are pronounced the same.

-Pictured Rocks is very popular but the Holiday Inn in town goes for about $200+ per night (I’m probably I underestimating that).

-Tahquamenon Falls in Newberry is a popular spot as well.

-Keweenaw peninsula is pretty popular area to bum around in. Never been on the Quincy Mine Tour but that may not be too bad. Keweenaw Brewing Company has good beer in Houghton. Ambassador has good pizza and fish bowls.

-Marquette has a little bit of everything.

I’m rambling on now so I’ll stop. I’ve lived here all my life so depending on what you want to do I’m sure I got an answer. I’m in Manistique so Big Springs (Kitch-iti-kipi)is a popular spot to visit. Fayette State Park as well.


April 11th, 2018 at 10:23 PM ^

Once the world's deepest mine, the Quincy Mine tour is super cool, from seeing the massive pulley system and man-car in the shaft house (along with a huge piece of native copper displayed there), to the underground mine, accessed by a ride via a cog railroad car ride down the hill to the mine's adit (horizontal tunnel); and then the tour accesses the mine adit via a mine rail car, which takes you to a stunningly cavernous excavated room. For about $25/person, this tour is a must-do in the Copper Country.    


April 11th, 2018 at 7:49 PM ^

St. Ignace is pronounced saint ig-niss. Mackinaw City is probably better for tourism, but I'd probably skip out on that whole place if I were you. The Island is okay for a day, but don't stay longer. People will recommend it, as I see someone did above, but it's overrated. After you bike around the perimeter and visit the fort, there isn't much left to do. Note, there is also a fort right under the bridge in Mackinaw City as well. 

Some good destinations in order east to west:

Drummond Island/Detour, Tahquamenon Falls, Grand Marais is a cute little town at the east end of Pictured Rocks, Pictured Rocks (12 mile beach and the coves are my favorite part, but you have to hike a couple miles to see them. Miners beach is also really cool), Houghton and Copper Harbor, Lake of the Clouds (highly recommend the lookout). 

Other ideas: 

I've stayed on numerous lakes up there with my boat. It's fun to rent a cabin that has a dock and go fishing. That might be better for a dudes trip sometime. 

There are some nice dunes and beaches along highway 2 maybe about 30 minutes west of St. Ignace. Good place to take a nice swim in Lake Michigan. It'd be a bit chilly in early to mid June though, but it'd be refreshing! I'd recommend driving along the north edge toward the west, and coming back along hwy 2 and hitting up these dunes. 

One thing: in early to mid june, you'll want to bring some bug spray and bug nets. I'd recommend later in the summer.