The Ultimate Michigan Road Trip: 6 Days in the U.P.

Pic RocksLast week, a couple of 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

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  1. Drummond Island is a great place to visit. Known as the “Gem of the Huron,” it offers a beautiful scenic route into the heart of the island, where the “four corners” take you to different parts of the island to explore and enjoy. You get to the island from Detour Village by way of a car ferry, appropriately named “The Islander.” About a 45 minute drive from the Soo, it’s definitely worth the trip!

  2. And if you head east toward Drummond, be sure to spend a day in the Les Cheneaux area. The EUP is a hidden gem.

  3. Check out the Porcupine Mountains and Lake of the Clouds and then explore the Keweenaw Peninsula…do the Quincy Mine Tour and head on up to Copper Harbor, taking in Brockway Mountain Drive. Houghton is a great college town. The Ambassador is a terrific restaurant.

  4. Next time in the U P, on your way to Drummond Island, stop & do some boating, fishing, kayaking & sight seeing in the beautiful Les Cheneaux Islands, Cedarville/Hessel area. There are 36 islands and beautiful water ways to explore. Hessel is the home of the Antique Wooden Boat Show, held every year on the 2nd wknd of Aug. Hessel has just opened the Les Cheneaux Culinary School this past year with graduated students running a summer restaurant, serving some of the most delicious top notch dishes! Check out the websites of the area & the culinary school. Love the U.P.!

  5. You must see Drummond Island for life in the island it’s beautiful. Then try white fish bay awesome stop (planning on taking my kids there next year) . Munising has a lot of history. My parents did a tour in the up took a week but go see all the light houses a lot of history in them. Then Finnish with a makinac island tour busy but very interesting, do the night hike on the island, bike the 8.5 miles around stop at the different hotels take in all year living talk to locals. We just came back from a 3day jammed packed from 7am till 10:30 pm ( we did taps) trip with 4th graders. I’ve been going to Drummond Island since I was 10yrs old, I’ve been to Mackinac Island every year(and still haven’t seen or learned everything ) I’ve been to white fish bay 3times and it still amazes me, I’ve been to the soo a lot of times and haven’t seen and did everything. The UP culture is a lot of history and amazes me can’t wait to take the kids.

  6. Copper Harbor is beautiful. Fayette is great, they have a Historical State Park that has a “ghost town” to show how things were when is was a “bustling town”. Kitch-iti-kipi (big spring) in Manistique is Michigan’s largest natural fresh water spring and is absolutely amazing. They have a glass bottom raft that you can go out and on and see the fish and it looks like the bottom is a few feet away but its like 40 ft deep. Its also something to see in the winter. Because of its temperature it doesnt freeze and its just beautiful. Also staying in the Hiawatha Forrest either camping or in a remote cabin is an experience if youve never been out where its literally pitch black at night. It can be a little intense outside, even with a campfire, but the amount of stars that you can see is amazing to a city kid. And not really the U.P. but if you’ve never been to Mackinac Island that is a must. And biking around the island is one of the best experiences on the island I personally have had. I could go on and on, the U.P. is my favorite place to go. 🙂 Oh one last thing, there is a nature preserve I believe in Marquette County is absolutely beautiful.

  7. Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior north of Seney on hwy 77. Visit on the 4th of July, great fireworks, beautiful harbor, lots of history there as well. Plenty of fishing there as well, in Superior, and all the rivers and lakes in the area.

  8. Paradise & Whitefish Point, take coastal drive from Brimley. Then west beyond Marquette to big snow country. Lake Gogebic is fantastic & north is Porcupine Mountains. Can’t say enough about Keewenaw Peninsula.

  9. You really missed the best part of the U.P.– if you want to experience all there is then you need to venture further north into the “Copper Country” and take in the sights and the history of that area. There is no better views than from the top of Brockway Mountain Drive at Copper Harbor or the breath-taking panoramic views from the Porcupine Mountains. You cannot say that you have been in the U.P. until you have traveled east to west and north to south! Better schedule another trip and check the map this time 🙂

  10. You have so much more to see, will probably take several week-ends!
    Here are a few more places you need to see:
    Taquemenon Falls
    White Fish Point – museum of the Edmund Fitzgerald
    Bay De Noc and Fayette village
    Kitchitikippie springs
    Ski Flying at Ironwood
    Lake of the clouds
    Keewaunaw peninsula
    Copper harbor and the boat trip to isle royals
    Drive over Brockway mountain
    Visit Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor
    Paradise Mi
    Sault Ste Marie & take the boat trip to Mackinac Island and tour on bikes or
    Horse & carriage. Tour the Grand Hotel!
    The UP has so much more to offer and is my favorite place to be!
    We now live in Florida and the UP has so much more natural beauty than we have in Florida!

  11. You didn’t really tour the UP when you missed at least a third of the Western UP. You missed out on a beautiful experience. Much to offer!

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