If you’re from Michigan, you know that our Upper Peninsula is like an entirely new state to explore. It’s got its own cuisine, its own gorgeous natural attractions, and plenty of cultural traits that differ from those of the Lower Peninsula. If you’re searching for a unique vacation destination, why not stay close to home? Here’s a perfect itinerary for one week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Of course, you should adjust the amount of time spent in each location as you see fit — and remember that it would take far more than seven days to experience everything that the U.P. has to offer.
Day 1: Mackinac Island
Start out your trip at the most classic of all the U.P.’s destinations. There’s no shortage of activities to explore on Mackinac Island, and you’ll want to arrive bright and early to appreciate them all. Begin with a bike ride or cross country skiing excursion, which will take you past gorgeous views of the Straits of Mackinac. In warmer months, hop on a boat tour or take a short hike to visit Arch Rock, a unique natural bridge that draws in hundred of Mackinac visitors each year.
For dinner, grab a bite to eat at Mary’s Bistro, a local favorite that’s known for a delicious variety of meats and a truly fantastic rotisserie chicken. If your budget allows, spend the night at Mackinac’s iconic Grand Hotel. This hotel is home to a gorgeous, sprawling front deck, sweeping views of the water, and an amazing historical atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else.
Day 2: Sault Ste. Marie
Make the hour-long drive northward to Sault Ste. Marie, which borders Canada and holds the title of Michigan’s oldest town. When you arrive in “The Soo,” get ready for a day full of history and exploration. For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, venture to the Soo Locks, where Lake Huron and Lake Superior meet — boats pass through the locks multiple times per day, and it’s a can’t-miss excursion in Sault Ste. Marie. History buffs will also enjoy the Point Iroquois Light Station and the famous Tower Of History.
After a day of education, unwind with a drink at Soo Brewing Company, which offers a variety of Michigan-made beers and favorites from across the world. Walk off dinner with a jaunt through Sault Ste. Marie’s quaint downtown area before settling in for the night at one of the town’s multiple hotels.
Day 3: Whitefish Point and Grand Marais
We hope you’re ready for some more history! The Upper Peninsula is overflowing with historical importance, so it’s difficult to visit one of the region’s highlights without a bit of reminiscing. After an hour and a half in the car, you’ll be pleased to visit Whitefish Point’s Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which offers an eerie but informative look into the history of ill-fated voyages on the Great Lakes. Grab some fresh seafood at Brown Fisheries Fish House and hop in the car for a 2-hour drive to Grand Marais.
Grand Marais is often known as the “eastern entrance” to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and it’s a great place to position yourself for two days of exploring the nearby natural wonders. On your first afternoon in town, take the short walk to Sable Falls and enjoy the lovely landscape that surrounds you. Grab dinner downtown, head back to your lodging and rest up: you’ve got a full day of outdoor excursions planned for tomorrow.
Day 4: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising)
Set out from your hotel in Grand Marais and dedicate the entire day to exploring Pictured Rocks. One particularly gorgeous site is the Log Slide Overlook, which combines history and nature in a truly stunning way. Many visitors also enjoy checking out the area’s multiple hiking trails, which give way to everything from waterfalls to sweeping views of Lake Superior.
Once you make your way to Munising, you simply can’t miss a boat tour of Pictured Rocks. There’s no better way to see these unique formations along the shoreline, which boast an otherworldly beauty that can’t be seen anywhere else in the state of Michigan. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a glass-bottomed boat and marvel at shipwrecks below you. Before returning to your hotel in Grand Marais for the night, grab a few pasties at nearby Muldoon’s — your stomach will thank you.
Day 5: Marquette
Wake up early for your two-hour jaunt to Marquette, which is one of Michigan’s most impressive college towns. But don't worry: visitors of all ages will be charmed by Marquette. After a quick walking tour of Northern Michigan University, venture out to Presque Isle Park, one of the Great Lakes State’s amazing natural wonders. Lake Superior has never looked more gorgeous, and you’ll want to stay forever.
After all that time in nature, perhaps you’re looking for a more laid-back evening. Do some shopping in downtown Marquette and pick up a few souvenirs for your loved ones. Beer enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that Marquette houses one of the state’s best breweries: Blackrocks. Visitors and locals alike rave about the brews and the service, and you’ll be just as delighted. When you’ve reached your beverage quota, settle in at your hotel and rest up for the last two days of your trip.
Day 6: Houghton
Houghton is another college town, but it’s home to an entirely new set of attractions. Located in the heart of the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula and Michigan’s Copper Country, Houghton is known for much more than the fantastic academics at Michigan Technological University. Check out the Carnegie Museum to learn more about the history of copper mining in the region, and follow this excursion with a tour of Houghton’s Quincy Mine.
Unfortunately, a seven-day trip doesn’t allot enough time to explore all the incredible attractions of the Keweenaw Peninsula — but, if you’re able, take a drive northward to see the sights at Copper Harbor. The views and historical importance will make the additional driving well worth it.
Day 7: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Finish up your trip with one last natural adventure. After all, the Upper Peninsula is known for being a gorgeous outdoor wonderland. It would take days to fully explore the beauty of “the Porkies,” but you can try out one of its shorter day trails and experience everything from the breathtaking Lake of the Clouds to a few stunning views of the waterfront. In warmer months, bring along your tent and settle in for some camping in the park as time allows.
After a few hours on the trail, load up the car and begin your journey home. Or, if you’re feeling especially unprepared to head back to “real life” (and can afford a few extra days off from work), grab your own map of the Upper Peninsula and start plotting for the next leg of your trip. There are thousands of joys to experience in this amazing section of our state, and your perfect adventure is just waiting to be discovered.
We’re well aware that this list barely scratches the surface of the Upper Peninsula’s best and most beautiful attractions. So, we’d like to hear from you: which towns, parks, activities, and excursions would you include during your ideal weeklong visit to the U.P.?