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Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an excellent travel destination for you and your family to enjoy together. Especially if you are seeking a destination where you can enjoy everything nature has to offer.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is uniquely positioned between Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron, giving you a place filled with pristine woods, panoramic views, miles of trails, great lakes, inland lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and more.
I highly recommend doing this as a road trip if you can because you will want to soak up all the incredible views and scenery that the drive between each destination has to offer.
Michigan.org is a great resource for planning your trip, as well.
Best Things to Do In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula For Families
How To Get There
If you plan to drive from where you live, you will want to map out the best route for your trip. We drove our RV there and it was a smooth drive.
If you live too far away to do the entire drive, I recommend flying to the Sawyer International Airport, which is located in Marquette Michigan. From there you can rent a car and start your road trip around the Upper Peninsula.
The Best Time Of Year To Go
Michigan’s U.P is truly picturesque all year. However, the best time of year to go is hands-down during the fall. The U.P. was voted as one of the top fall foliage destinations in the country. So if you can manage a trip during the fall, you will get to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire country.
You will also be able to enjoy various outdoor activities without having to battle the heat in the fall which can be an added bonus.
We traveled to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in September. The weather was perfect for outdoor activities, not too hot and not too cold. However we missed being able to see the foliage by a few weeks.
Where To Stay On Your Trip
When traveling as a family, it is always ideal to pick a base location where you can stay. We chose to stay in Munising as there is a lot to do in the area and provides easy access to each of the daily destinations that we wanted to visit.
We stayed at the Pictured Rocks RV Park and would highly recommend it to others traveling in their RV.
If you don’t want to stay in an RV park, you can go here for a list of other places you can stay in Munising.
Best Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Munising is known as the gateway to adventure as you get direct access to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Hiawatha National Forest directly. With over 100+ miles of scenic trails that you can hike or bike on, there is plenty to do and see, perfect for any adventure seeker.
Things To Do In Munising
1. Visit Miners Castle Overlook, one of the most iconic photo ops in the Upper Peninsula, located within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There is a visitor’s platform that is just a short walk from the parking area which gives you space to enjoy the views and snap some photos.
While you are in the area, you can also enjoy the nearby Miners Beach which has ample space to have a family picnic and enjoy some swimming.
2. Make a pit stop at Munising Falls and Chapel Falls. Both of these scenic waterfalls are located just a short distance from the road, and they won’t disappoint. Chapel Falls is one of the tallest in the area, and you will get to see beautiful rock formations all along both trails as well.
3. Book a Pictured Rocks Boat Tour, or a Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour, or rent kayaks to explore the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore on your own.
These tours give you the opportunity to see the shipwrecks from boats that used to travel the great lakes. The clear water within the lake helps you see these shipwrecks from the comfort of the tour boat. Your entire family will be sure to enjoy this.
4. Take a drive along H-58, the scenic highway meandering along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and enjoy all the scenic views that this area has to offer
For additional ideas of things you can do in the Munising area, check out their website which includes local attractions and information about the area.
Where To Eat In Munising
- Muldoons Pasties & Gifts restaurant is good for breakfast
- Eh! Burger is good for lunch
- Tracey’s at Roam Inn is good for dinner
- Mama Cow’s Ice Cream Shop is good for dessert
Marquette is just a short, 45-minute drive from Munising, and is an outdoor lovers’ paradise renowned for its natural beauty and panoramic views of Lake Superior. With activities including paddling, horseback riding, climbing, off-roading, and Northern Lights viewing, plus over 150 miles of scenic trails primed for hiking, running, and biking, this stunning destination truly has it all.
Things To Do In Marquette
1. Hike to the Blackrocks and Presque Isle State Park for up-close views of Lake Superior. One of our favorite things about Lake Superior was how crystal clear the water was. And it was the most beautiful teal color. It definitely will not disappoint.
2. Preview the early fall colors while exploring Sugarloaf Mountain and search for enchanting waterfalls. Sugarloaf mountain is considered a must-see destination while visiting Marquette thanks to its wonderful 360-degree views from the peak.
3. If you enjoy learning about the history of an area, then you should definitely check out the Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Marquette Regional History Center, or Devos Art Museum. All of these are located fairly close together so you can visit all of them in one day if you really want to.
4. Bike, walk, or go on a run throughout downtown Marquette and along Lake Superior with the Marquette Multi-Use Path. This is a nice way to spend a more laid-back afternoon after doing other activities.
Where To Eat In Marquette
- Donckers is good for breakfast
- Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery is good for lunch
- Portside Inn is good for dinner
- Babycakes is good for dessert
- If you would also like to visit a local Brewery, I would highly recommend both Blackrocks Brewery and Ore Dock Brewing Company.
This historic village is located on the south shore of Lake Superior at the eastern gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and is just a 60-minute drive from Munising. Grand Marais is a great year-round destination option, however, fall is one of our favored times of year to visit the area.
Things To Do In Grand Marais
1. If you are an avid rock hunter, Agate Beach is the ideal spot to find unique Agate stones. And thanks to the ample amount of space, you and your family will have plenty of room to yourselves to hunt for rocks.
2. Gear up for a hike to Log Slide Overlook, a must-see stop when you are in the area. Along the trail, you will get views of historic logging equipment and enjoy the lookout over Grand Sable Banks at the end of the trail.
3. Visit the acclaimed Pickle Barrel House Museum which has been restored to its original condition as it was in the 1920s. Your kids will especially love this destination.
4. Check another lighthouse off your list and visit the Au Sable Light Station. And as an added bonus, be sure to watch the shoreline below the trail as you can see exposed shipwreck remains dotted along the shore.
Enjoy a hike to Sable Falls and enjoy the scenery along the way. This particular trail also leads to Lake Superior beach where your family can enjoy a picnic and swimming.
Where To Eat In Grand Marais
- The Breakwall is good for breakfast
- West Bay Diner & Delicatessen is good for lunch
- The Tanglewood Inn is good for dinner
- The World’s Best Donuts is good for dessert
The harbor town of Manistique is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the beautiful Upper Peninsula. It is almost completely surrounded by state and national forest land making it the ideal place for recreational activities. The town itself also offers great shopping and eating.
Things To Do In Manistique
1. Spend some time exploring the Hiawatha National Forest. This national forest lies against three of the five great lakes and has amazing scenic views and lots of hiking trails. Check the trail map before you go as there are so many beautiful trails to choose from.
2. Pay a visit to Seul Choix Point Lighthouse turned community park. This place is filled with so much incredible history, and the views are great too.
3. The Historic Fayette town site is a completely restored village comprising 22 historic buildings and museums. If you and your family want a taste of history in the area, then this is a must-see stop on your trip.
4. Visit Palms Book State Park, “Big Springs.” This attraction is actually Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. You get to see this from a self-guided raft where you can get a better look at the Spring itself, as well as some really neat underwater features.
Where To Eat In Manistique
- Cedar Street Cafe & Espresso Bar is good for breakfast
- Clyde’s Drive-In is good for lunch
- Main Street Pizza is good for dinner
- Dairy Kream is good for dessert
Sault Ste Marie
Sault Ste Marie is a bit further away from Munising at a 2-hour drive. However, it is an excellent destination if you’re feeling a bit adventurous or need a plan-b if the weather does not cooperate. This destination is also best seen during the fall season.
Things To Do In Sault Ste. Marie
- Visit the Bird’s Eye Outfitters which offers food, beer, outdoor gear rentals, lessons on things like kayaking and paddling, and even guided paddle tours. It really is your one-stop destination.
- If you want a free activity to do with your family, spend your day hunting for freighters that are passing through the Soo Locks. You can use this map to plan out where you will see the freighters throughout the day.
- You can also take your own journey through the lock system with a Soo Locks Boat Tour. Experience the tour boat raising or lowering simply from gravity, something your kids will never forget.
- Take a paddle out to Voyager Island Park, also known as a water-trail paddling destination. There are numerous places to launch your kayak or canoe from so you can also spend a little bit of time adventuring the shores around the island.
- Tahquamenon Falls is another iconic Michigan destination known for its rusty waters which prompted the name, Root Beer falls. Plan your visit in autumn and get the added beauty from the landscape changing color all around the falls.
- The town itself also has wonderful little shops, bakeries with tasty treats to enjoy, and spots to purchase Michigan-centric gifts.
Where To Eat In Sault Ste. Marie
- Oh Crepe & Coffee is good for breakfast
- Frank’s Place is good for lunch
- Lockview Restaurant is good for dinner
- Elliott’s Ice Cream is good for dessert
Overall Thoughts On Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Our family thoroughly enjoyed our trip through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and I would highly recommend it to any family. Especially if you and your family enjoy doing nature-based activities and learning about the history of these areas.
And if you can manage to go in the fall, you will not be disappointed. The scenery is absolutely awe-inspiring, and it’s something your kids will remember forever.
Start planning your trip at Michigan.org !