Last week, a couple of aHealthierMichigan.org team members traveled to the Upper Peninsula for six days. We decided that it was time to explore what the rest of our state has to offer. We discovered that Michigan has a unique variation of national treasures and hidden gems that are truly a sight to see.
Our first stop was in Mackinaw City. After five hours of driving from Detroit, we were pretty tired and hungry so we decided to make a pit stop and get some grub. After we ate, we took a walk down to the lakeshore to Gary R. Williams Memorial Park. The view of Lake Huron was remarkable and that was just the beginning of our trip.
We hopped back into the car, made our way across the bridge, and entered the Upper Peninsula.
Three words: white water rafting! Monday morning, after breakfast, we traveled from Marquette to Iron Mountain to white water raft on the Menominee River. The refreshing splash in the river was just the jolt we needed to kick off our trip.
We stayed in Marquette and got to know the largest city in the U.P. That morning we met with Carl Bammert, associate director of facilities for the Superior Dome. Bammert spoke with us about the importance of the dome for the community. Due to the many cold weather months that Marquette experiences, it is often hard for people to get outside and walk or run. The dome offers a walking program that allows people in the community to walk around and get their steps in for the day.
That afternoon, we met Jerri Mommaerts, director for the Marquette Marathon, who led us on a bike ride tour of the half marathon trail for the Marquette Marathon. We had the opportunity to stop in at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum before we headed out on our bikes. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the massive iron ore industry, a pillar in Michigan history.
The bike ride allowed us to see some stunning views of Marquette because most of the trails are only accessible through walking or biking. After the 13-mile bike ride, we reached the finish line right outside of Blackrocks Brewery.
We headed to Escanaba to attend the U.P. State Fair for Blue Cross’ “Corporate Day”. The state fair featured various livestock, entertainment, and contests and the Blue Cross tent had healthy activities for both adults and children. The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum provided interactive games that were fun and educational. We also celebrated Smokey the Bear’s 70th birthday.
This was supposed to be our relaxed day of the trip, but boy were we wrong. We made our way into Alger County to hike around the Chapel Basin area. Hiking was something that was a bit more difficult than we had anticipated, but we pushed through and made it to the Mosquito Falls. The hike, which ended up being five miles round-trip, left us tired and anticipating our sunset cruise later that evening.
Prior to the cruise, we met with Alger County director, Kathy Reynolds. She provided us with valuable information about Alger County including tips on where to sit during our Picture Rocks Cruise.
The cruise was set to start at 7:15 p.m. but Kathy warned us that people start lining up as early as 6 p.m. to get the good seats. The cruise was beautiful. If you’re ever in the area, check out the Sunset Cruise. The visions that nature has carved out are stunning. Be sure to wear a sweater though because Lake Superior is cold all year round. According to our captain, Lake Superior only changes a few degrees between January and July. That means that, during height of summer, the water is only a few degrees above freezing. That’s cold!
We spent our last day in the U.P. discovering Sault Ste Marie. Our lovely tour guide, Linda Hoath, director of the Sault Area Convention Center and Visitor Bureau, showed us the best of what Sault Ste Marie has to offer.
We started off at the visitor’s bureau right outside of the docking station for the Soo Locks and got a visual for what we were going to see on our boat tour of the locks. From there, we headed over to the Tower of History to take in Sault Ste Marie, in all of its glory, from the highest point in the Soo.
The River of History Museum was our next stop. This charming museum is an excellent visual representation that tells the story of the locks. The river guides you through the events that lead up to present history.
After our brief history lesson, we headed to the second docking station to board a boat that would take us down St. Mary’s River and to the locks. This was all of our first times experiencing the locks and it was incredible to see gallons of water gushing through a small crack in the locks, filling up to the same water level as Lake Superior.
Next stop was food and Linda made it a point to take us to The Antler’s. If you haven’t been, I hope you like taxidermy.
Our last stop in the Soo was to the SS Valley Camp Museum, the only museum of its kind, dedicated to the wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald. The freighter allows you to see what being on ship is really like. The museum even has replicas of what the living and dining corridors looked like.
Our six-day road trip was incredible and we still have so much more to see. We are excited to plan another U.P. trip soon so if you have any suggestions of what to do when we come back, comment below!
Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan