Are you weighing whether you can afford to take a vacation this year? Don’t give up enjoying some time away. Come to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We specialize in relaxation that doesn’t empty your wallet. You can put together the most carefree vacation ever with these FREE THINGS TO DO IN THE U.P. 

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Over a thousand miles of free Great Lakes beaches

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The U.P. is the only place where the land touches three of the largest freshwater lakes in the world — Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. With 1,700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, most of it with free access, you will have no trouble finding a place to spread your blanket, toss a Frisbee, build a castle or splash in the water. Our beaches offer a variety of picturesque landscapes from towering dunes, soft, golden sand, black lava boulders and some of the most colorful stones you will ever see. Spectacular sunrises, sunsets and stargazing are additional freebies. Find a beach near where you are staying.

40+ historic lighthouses in the U.P.

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As you drive along the Great Lakes coasts, pull off the road to see these sentinels that have saved many sailors’ lives. Most of our lighthouses have weathered some of the most brutal storms since the mid-1800s. A few charge fees to tour the lighthouse keepers’ quarters or museums, but there is no cost to view or photograph them from the outside.

4,300 inland lakes to relax and play in

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You probably can’t visit all the Upper Peninsula’s refreshing inland lakes in your lifetime (although some of you may take this on as a challenge). However, if you like to swim, boat, fish, water ski, kayak or sit by the shore with a good book listening to the haunting call of the loons, you can find free public access, beaches and parks at many of them. The largest inland lake is Lake Gogebic. Other popular places to spend days at a time are the Manistique Lakes, Trout Lake and Portage Lake.

Free museums from Ironwood to Drummond Island

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There are several free museums across the Upper Peninsula that house the fascinating history and cultures of this region. As you piece together your travel itinerary, include the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St. Ignace to learn more about the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes. The Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee takes you on a journey from iron’s ancient geologic origins through the 20th century so you can discover how the U.P.’s iron ranges played a huge role in the industrialization of America. Another must-see is one of the region’s newest museums, the U.P. Military Museum in Escanaba. It shares the stories of the brave women, men and animals that helped preserve America’s freedom from the U.S. Civil War until now. It’s a rare opportunity to learn more about the U.P.’s Polar Bears of World War I and the Fly Girls of World War II. Explore all of our museums here (free and admission).

300+ waterfalls thunder and whisper

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Most of the Upper Peninsula’s waterfalls are accessible by foot and several can be reached by wheelchair. Park your vehicle and hike to see magnificent sites such as Black River Falls, Bond Falls, Eagle River Falls or the Great Conglomerate Falls. Choose your free waterfall destinations here.

12,000 miles of U.P. paddling streams and rivers

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Put in your kayak or raft and ride the whitewater rapids of the Menominee River. Ease your canoe down the Two-Hearted River, made famous by author Ernest Hemingway. Take a short-day or multi-day kayak trip down the magnificent, 71-mile Manistique River that flows through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. These are only a sampling of how to spend your free time! Ply our paddling waters.

Thousands of miles of free Upper Peninsula hiking trails

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Whether you are a casual walker in search of some of America’s most beautiful wilderness and Great Lakes scenery or want to test your grit on mountain climbs or over long distances, hike the U.P. The North Country Trail crosses the U.P. from Ironwood to St. Ignace; the Piers Gorge and Canyon Gorge Trails take you to breathtaking waterfalls and the Mt. Arvon trail brings you to the highest point in Michigan.

Mile after mile of road bike and mountain biking trails everywhere in the U.P.

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If you like biking, there is no place in Michigan more scenic, more varied in its terrain or more thrilling in its adventures than the Upper Peninsula. Besides 28 designated mountain biking trails, there are thousands of miles of logging roads, abandoned railroad grades, state and national forest trails, single tracks, off-season cross-country ski trails, low-traffic highways and paved road bike trails that welcome lone riders to tour groups. Pedal the U.P. for free.

Plan your FREE IN THE U.P. vacation now!

While we can’t promise free lodging, the U.P. offers a wide variety of hotels and resorts with amenities and rates to fit your traveling budget. Summer is our most popular season, so book your vacation stay now. If you need help to plan what to do and where to go in your free time, we are ready to offer our insiders’ advice. Contact us today.

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We would love to see your favorite spring scenes and adventures! Use our hashtag #uptravel for an opportunity to be featured on our social media, website or in our marketing materials. You can also upload your photos to our Spring Photo Crowdriff Collector below.