Summer unofficially starts Memorial Day Weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Warmer temperatures return, hundreds of waterfalls roar at once and favorite outdoor activities bring adventurers back but in fewer numbers than in July and August. This means you can easily create a U.P. vacation experience that is both relaxing and packed with recreational fun without vying for a hotel room, restaurant table or event reservation. Here are some ideas of what to do:
Where to go Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day Weekend is officially a time when we honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our nation. Throughout the Upper Peninsula, you will see families and friends decorating the graves of military service members who died in battle, as well as those of their non-military loved ones. Several communities pay tribute with parades, observances and military museum exhibits. Please join us at the:
U.P. Military Museum, Escanaba | Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Free, donations welcome
One of the newest history museums in the U.P. (circa July 2021), this is the only space dedicated to recounting the stories of veterans from across the peninsula. Explore artifact collections from all major wars, starting with the U.S. Civil War, heart-tugging letters written home and in diaries, the heroism of dogs that crawled through trenches to deliver communications, the grit of The Fly Girls and amazing rescues. Learn more about this open-year-round museum
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Copper Harbor | Daily, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. | State Parks Recreation Passport required
Built in 1844 on the rugged shore of Lake Superior, Fort Wilkins is a well-preserved example of mid-19th-century army life on the northern frontier. Among the 19 buildings that survive, 12 of the original structures date back to the 1840s. Explore a ¼ mile of Lake Superior shoreline, Lake Fanny Hooe, Lake Manganese’s 1/4-mile sand beach and two lighthouses built in the 1860s. Learn more about this open-year-round park
Upper Peninsula Veterans Memorial, Iron Mountain | FREE
This beautiful memorial is at the base of Pine Mountain Ski Jump. It honors the men and women
from all 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula who gave their lives or served in the armed services during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Lebanon-Granada War and the Gulf/Middle Eastern Wars. Parking and picnic areas are nearby. Learn more about this open-year-round memorial
May 29 | Fort Mackinac Memorial Day Observance, Mackinac Island | 8:30 to 9 a.m. | Admission
A brief and informal Memorial Day observance to pay tribute to the soldiers who served at Fort Mackinac. Soldiers will assemble at 8:30 a.m. at Fort Mackinac, march to the cemetery, perform a brief ceremony and salute, and return to the fort.
While on this storied island, tour Fort Mackinac, visit Fort Holmes and bring home slabs of creamy fudge — if you have the fortitude not to eat it all first.
May 30 | Memorial Day Parade, Sault Ste. Marie | 5 to 7 p.m.
The downtown parade features numerous marching bands, wonderful music and, of course, a big helping of American patriotic spirit. The parade begins behind Pingatore Cleaners near the downtown Burger King, and will continue to Maple St., turn right and end on Bingham Ave. in front of the Chippewa County Courthouse. While in town May 26-30, visit the Soo Locks Visitor Center and learn about this engineering marvel. It is amazing to watch giant freighters from around the world move within inches of you. Learn more
While we remember those who gave their lives in war, we also strive this weekend to create a more peaceful world. Festivals bring us together to laugh, dance and share cultures, food, music and outdoor adventures.
May 26 | Little River Band, St. Ignace | Kewadin Casino | Doors open, 7 p.m.; Show, 8 p.m. | $50
Little River Band is in town to celebrate the casino’s 35th Anniversary. It brings over 40 years of multi-platinum albums and chart-topping hits like “Reminiscing,” “Cool Change,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Take It Easy On Me,” “Happy Anniversary” and “It’s A Long Way There.” Learn more
May 26 | Norway Speedway Races, Norway | 7 to 10 p.m. | $10 to $14, cash or check only
Watch (or drive) in these thrilling amateur, spectator eliminator and professional races on a one-third-mile oval track. Get an adrenaline rush! Learn more
May 26 through 28 | Ride the Keweenaw & Enduro Races, Houghton | Michigan Tech Trails
Bring the family to kick off another summer of single-track mountain biking on one of the most beautiful peninsulas in America. Test your mettle on trails from Söké to Copper Harbor, seeing incredible scenery in between. Choose from guided rides and races for all biking levels. Learn more
May 26 through 29 | Go waterfalling, hiking, paddling, fishing & ORVing | Throughout the U.P.
Go outside & play! Spend day after day doing what you love best. Learn more
May 27 | Native American Festival, St. Ignace | Museum of Ojibwa Culture | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Free
Celebrate our earliest U.P. culture. Attend ceremonies, workshops and demonstrations on making ash baskets, traditional hide tanning and use of the sacred pipe, sacred medicines and Ojibwa regalia. Learn more
May 27 | From the Ground Festival, Houghton | Noon to 6 p.m. | Free
Celebrate the coming of spring on the Keweenaw Peninsula with food, drinks and live music. Part of the Ride the Keweenaw celebration. Learn more
May 27 | Two-Person Best Ball Golf Tournament, Houghton | Portage Lake Golf Course, Michigan Tech University | 8 a.m. | $190 per team
May 27-28 | Back 9 Endurance Run, Copper Harbor | Keweenaw Mountain Lodge | 12/24 hour enduro run
Unadulterated running craziness — as a team or solo runner complete the nearly 3.5-mile loop as many times as you can within 12 or 24 hours. The course includes the Lodge’s “Back 9 trails,” golf course, hills, mud, a forest with spectacular views of Brockway Mountain and one or two bugs. Learn more
May 27, 28 & 29 | Farmers Markets | U.P. towns | Times vary
Pick up farm-fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables and more to enjoy here or to bring home. Learn more
May 28 | 5K Color Run, Drummond Island | Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center | Noon | $35 per entry
What a blast! Colorful powder stations along the race route will transform you into a running work of art! Learn more
Book a lodging with the amenities and rate to make this Memorial Day Weekend one of the best ever. Find accommodations near the parade, event or outdoor adventure you want to experience. Can’t wait to kick off summer with you in the U.P.! Stay here