There are so many choices of what to see and do in the U.P., planning a vacation can be daunting. To make it easier, we compiled this guide of the best things to do in the Upper Peninsula. But there are lots more ideas, so ask locals and other visitors for their recommendations while you are here! You will quickly learn why you can’t take just one vacation to the U.P.
First trip to the U.P.? This best things guide is especially for you.Back to Top of List
The key to having fun in the U.P. is not to rush doing one thing so you can move on to another. Here are four first-timer planning tips:
1. You cannot see the U.P. in a day. Or, for that matter, over a long weekend, in a week or a year. The Upper Peninsula is over 16,000 square miles, made up mostly of wilderness and the coastlines of three of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world. It can take hours to get from one place to the next. Plan on doing only two to three things each day.
Customize your vacation
2. When is the best time to visit? All four seasons. This guide includes ideas for summer, fall, winter and spring. If you are putting together a bucket list, don’t limit your trips to one or two seasons. Make a goal to vacation in all four and to return often!
Adventure this summer, be awed this fall, play this winter and unwind this spring.
3. U.P. weather — it can change by the hour!
We joke in Michigan — especially in the Upper Peninsula — that if you wait five minutes, the weather will change. The three peninsula-bordering Great Lakes affect our weather, so it’s rarely too hot or too cold to go outside and play for hours during all four seasons. No matter when you come, pack layers ranging from lightweight clothing to winter jackets, hats, gloves, waterproof boots and rain gear. In a few days, you may use them all! About U.P. weather
4. First-timer to hundredth-timer, read these two blogs before you visit.
Whether this is your first visit, or you’ve lost count on your return trips, these blogs give tips on what to do and what not to do to protect our beloved land, water, wildlife and people.
8 Things You Need to Know Before You Go
8 Easy-to-Do Tips for Sustainable Travel in the Upper Peninsula
35 best things to do in the Upper PeninsulaBack to Top of List
1. Experience the thrill of crossing the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace. See jaw-dropping views.
2. Sit on the world’s longest porch at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. Follow Day 2 in this itinerary.
3. Go ATV/ORVing on Drummond Island’s miles of mud-slinging, and bone jolting trails. Off-roading paradise + more
4. Watch Great Lakes and international freighters up close at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. Freighter watching at the Soo
5. Hear tragic tales at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. World-class shipwreck exhibits
6. Feel the mist from Michigan’s largest waterfall at Tahquamenon Falls State Park between Newberry and Paradise. Visit the magnificent Upper and Lower Falls.
7. Take a guided boat or paddle tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising. Pictured Rocks activities
8. Cruise M-28, the “Most Boring Highway in Michigan;” stopping to explore the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. More about the refuge
9. Hunt for paranormal activities at Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse and Museum in Gulliver. Learn the stories of five friendly spirits.
10. Gaze into the crystal-clear waters of Kitch-iti-Kipi, Michigan’s largest natural spring. See why the Ojibwe call this the "Mirror of Heaven."
11. Explore a boom town gone bust and do some of your favorite, outdoor adventures at Fayette Historic State Park & Townsite on the Garden Peninsula. Immerse in the past & nature all year.
12. Go ice fishing for the big ones on the Bays de Noc near Escanaba — it’s the “Walleye Capital of the U.P.” Where to wet your line
13. See the largest steam engine in North America, the Cornish Pumping Engine and much more at the three Menominee Range Museums in Iron Mountain. See hundreds of years of artifacts.
14. Do a self-guided sculpture tour and art gallery hop along Menominee’s historic downtown waterfront. Find shops, restaurants, beaches and historic architecture, too.
15. Hike to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset and finish the evening with a pint at Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette. Discover Marquette County
16. Traveling with a wheelchair or walker? Take an easy hike on the universally accessible trail to the top of Thomas Rock and be awestruck by the beauty of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness. Learn more about this scenic overlook.
17. Stand a towering 1,979 feet above sea level on Michigan’s’ highest point, Mount Arvon near L‘Anse. On your way up, visit the beaver pond and watch for moose. Experience the high point of your vacation.
18. See wildlife as you paddle the gentle Au Train River. Look for great blue herons, loons, eagles, kingfishers, muskrats, deer, turtles and more. This is one of many best places to paddle in the U.P. Peak paddling experiences
19. Eat a pasty (pass-tee). This iconic U.P. meal is a savory meat pie. Today, you can buy them steamy hot with a variety of fillings. Try the traditional recipe with beef, potato, onion and rutabaga. Or be adventurous and order a spicy jalapeno, bacon, gluten-free or veggie option from shops across the U.P. — all boast to be the best. Find your favorites.
20. Chalk up a one-of-a-kind National Park’s experience exploring the Keweenaw National Historic Park. This is park is a collaboration of the National Park Service and private and public entities throughout the peninsula. It tells the story of the men and women who mined copper starting 7,000 years ago until the 1900s. Tour mines, visit museums, climb mountains and more.
21. Tour the still-working Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and surrounding historic buildings. Then catch an incredible sunset while savoring some of the U.P.’s best smokehouse barbecue, best whisky and best craft brews at Fitzgerald’s in Eagle River. More about Eagle Harbor
22. Take photo after photo as you drive up Brockway Mountain near Copper Harbor. You will swear each time you stop that you can’t top this Lake Superior and wilderness vista — and then you make the next turn. Some of the U.P.’s most breathtaking views
23. Stargaze into the blackest skies at the Keweenaw International Dark Sky Park near Copper Harbor. When conditions are right, see more stars, planets, nebulae, shooting meteor showers and shimmering Northern Lights. It’s incredible! Best places to stargaze and see the Northern Lights
24. Add a National Park passport stamp from the least visited U.S. National Park — Isle Royale. Then, see why you will return. National Geographic added this remote, rugged archipelago wilderness in Lake Superior to its list of “Best of the World” in recent years! Things to do on Isle Royale
25. White-knuckle ride the Copper Harbor mountain bike trails. Not for the faint of heart, these killer trails are among the top-rated trail systems in the world, showcasing a variety of gateway, cross-country, flow and gravity trails. Find mountain biking thrills here and elsewhere in the U.P.
26. Enjoy pure Michigan fun at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba for a week in mid-August. Fair food, fair rides, game booths, blue-ribbon competitions and grandstand shows create lasting memories. Meet you at the fair!
27. Go waterfalling throughout the Western U.P. Definitely visit Canyon Falls, Bond Falls and the five gorgeous waterfalls on the Black River National Scenic Byway. Start with this Western U.P. itinerary.
28. Watch tens of thousands of brown bats come and go from the abandoned Millie Iron Mine just off U.S. 2 near Iron Mountain. This is one of the largest hibernating/breeding bat colonies in North America. The best viewing is at dusk in September/October and April/May. This is an experience worth sharing on social media.
29. See the best fall color in the U.S. from mid-September to mid-October. The U.P. repeatedly wins USA Today’s “Top 10 List.” You will see why as you choose from 10 routes covering nearly 1,500 leaf-peeping miles. Favorite fall color routes
30. Hike, bike, paddle, cross-country ski, snowshoe, downhill ski and snowmobile in Michigan’s largest state park — the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. There is so much to explore.
31. Snowmobile on some of the best, if not the best trails in the U.S. Choose your path from 3,000 miles of groomed, scenic trails across the U.P. Where to bring or rent sleds
32. Ring in the New Year twice in one day at Lake Gogebic, the U.P.’s largest inland lake. Party in the Eastern Time Zone in communities such as Bergland on the north shore of Lake Gogebic, and shout your first “Happy New Year!” Then cross the lake on your snowmobile to the south shore and toast the New Year a second time an hour later in the Central Time Zone. More fun ideas in Lake Gogebic
33. Go dog sledding in the best places to mush in Michigan. The exhilaration of gliding down a snowy trail pulled by a team of happy, born-to-run dogs is tough to beat on a wintry day. When and where to dog sled
34. Enter the magical world of Lake Superior’s Eben Ice Caves near Chatham. This is a photographer’s dream — a family memory-maker, too. How to reach the caves
35. In early February, watch international ski jumpers sail 400 feet through the air at a breath-stopping 55 miles per hour! Attend the annual Continental Cup Ski Jumping Tournament at the giant Pine Mountain Ski Jump, the largest facility of its kind in North America. Visit Pine Mountain Ski Jump all year.