Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of exceptional scenery and unique attractions that make it a worthwhile trip for any nature lover. We have outlined the attractions that stood out the most to us on our recent trip to the Upper Peninsula. When visiting this area, you will be greeted with unique geological formations that are unlike anything else in the United States. It is a worthwhile trip, and we’ve provided some helpful tips below to make your experience even better as you explore the attractions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Soo Locks – Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The Soo Locks are the gateway for ships to travel between the lower Great Lakes and Lake Superior. Located on St. Mary’s river, the locks provide a great area for visitors to watch large ships pass through at any time of the day. Stepping onto the observation deck, you can take as much time as you want to take in the massive operations occurring right in front of you. The area also offers boat tours if you want to get real up close and personal with this attraction in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Another neat aspect of the Soo Locks is that right across the river you will see Ontario, Canada. The Soo Locks are maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There is an awesome visitor’s center where you can learn all about the history of the Soo Locks along with a history of shipping in the area. The visitor’s center also provides a schedule of all the ships you can expect to see passing through the Locks.
We really enjoyed being able to visit and take our time viewing the ships. We went several times during our time in Sault Ste. Marie and it was never crowded. Don’t miss out on visiting the shipwreck museum on the grounds. Its small, but still chock full of neat artifacts. It also gives a sneak peak of what you can expect if you are heading on to visit the Shipwreck Museum of the Great Lakes.
Adventure Mining Company – Greenland, MI
This is an experience you won’t regret going on, especially if you have children with you. Adventure Mining company is a copper mine attraction that provides an authentic view of an old copper mine. There are several different tours to choose from depending on what type of experience you are looking for.
As you start the tour you are equipped with hard hats and a headlamp. Next, you get to hop onto an old mining truck that will take you up on a ride to the copper mine. The coolest thing about this experience is that you get to see a raw mine. This isn’t a man-made, nicely paved, tourist trap and that’s why we loved it.
The mine contains no built in lights. Throughout the mine the tour guides point out evidence of how the mine operated back in the day. The tour guides were super passionate and personal, and provided lots of interesting tidbits on mining and copper in general.
Adventure Mining Company Tips
- Wear solid shoes! This is a real mine left in its original state.
- The mine is 48 degrees. Wear a light jacket at the very least! Jeans or long pants are also recommended.
- Arrive when you want! Well, within operating hours that is. After arrival, you can expect to be on a tour with about 15 minutes. There is a cool gift shop to explore until your tour starts.
- Tour type. Some of the more hands-on tours where you are using more advanced miner equipment have some additional requirements. Be sure to check out http://www.adventureminetours.com/ to be fully prepared!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Munising, MI
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a true gem, and is that attraction that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is most known for. Picturesque landscapes, and beautiful scenery surround you no matter where you stop along the shore.A
There are so many ways to experience the Pictured Rocks. Whether you are planning to hike, kayak, boat, or simply just take in the views at the main stops along the shore these are all rewarding ways to view this attraction on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. You can find a ton of boat tours https://www.picturedrocks.com/ that are sure to make your experience even more unique.
As you drive along the Lakeshore you will come across many signs to pull off to view the astounding scenery. If you aren’t much of a hiker, don’t worry! You can view many of the major viewpoints easily We have compiled a list of highlights that we suggest you don’t pass up!
Top Stops on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Miners Castle – Sandstone walls filled with deep caverns, and beautiful blue water beneath. The aesthetic of Miner’s Castle will take your breath away
- Chapel Rock
- Spray Falls
- Painted Caves – Another unique geological formation of the sandstone walls that fill the area. Painted caves are a true work of art.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Tips
- Be mindful of your gas tank! Limited places to stop for gas along the lakeshore.
- Wear comfortable, covered shoes!
- Bring bug spray, and lots of it. This area is full of huge mosquitoes and you don’t want to fall prey!
- If you are looking for a place to camp in the area, we 1000% recommend TwelveMile Beach Campground. It is a self-registration campground on a first come first service basis. Once you get set up, make your way down to the huge stretch of beach. It is an absolutely beautiful spot and a great place to go rock hunting!
Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Paradise, MI
If great hiking is as must do for you while you visit the UP, Tahquamenon Falls State Park will fit the bill. I debated dedicated a whole blog post just to this area because you will not run out of things to do. There is plenty of camping available, but if you are looking for a day hike there is a small fee to enter and explore the area. They also had plenty of nice amenities including restrooms and picnic areas.
The main trails to see the falls are easily accessible, but be prepared to conquer a good amount of stairs. The falls are still viewable without trekking the stairs, but once you get to the observation deck it is well worth it.
There Upper AND Lower Falls are both beautiful, but if you have limited time I would suggest the Upper Falls. Give yourself at 1-2 hours to enjoy the area and make the journey full of beautiful foliage and stunning waterfalls.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse – Brimley, MI
Point Iroquois is an amazing lighthouse tucked away from the crowds. There are no fees, and during our visit we were the only visitors and able to climb the lighthouse by ourselves. It was amazing to take our time and really explore every inch of the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.
This attraction is so quaint, and after visiting the top there are some easy trails leading down to a beach area behind the lighthouse. Unique rocks are scattered everywhere along the sandy shore. It is a perfect place to have a lunch break or take a stroll down the beach while exploring the attractions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Drummond Island – Drummond, MI
This quaint island is a step back in time. A ferry that loads vehicles throughout the day will take you to Drummond. Small kids really get a kick out of this whole process as your vehicle makes its way to Drummond.
Drummond Island has multiple beaches, recreational trails, charming eateries, and wildlife viewing areas. It also offers overnight camping. If time allows, I would definitely recommend splitting the time on Drummond in at least two days and exploring the island in halves. It is a very large area including about 140 miles of AMAZING shoreline. Combine the shoreline with the amazing trails it leads to a lot of time spent on the road. A big highlight is the Fossil Ledges!
See our Drummond Island Overland article for more information on the ferry, things to do, and camping on Drummond Island.