Ready to take the best road trip in Michigan? Drive through the Upper Peninsula! Getting here is easy via highways from major cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Minneapolis. But this is NOT a day-trip destination. Driving from Drummond Island to Ironwood can take several days, so we divided the Best Road Trip into three regions: Eastern, Central and Western. Pick your road trip region based on which of these must-sees you want to visit: Mackinac Island, Kitch-iti-kipi, Iron Mountain, Grand Marais, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Copper Harbor, Isle Royale National Park and Bond Falls. 

U.P. Map


Use our top-pick suggestions below to plan your best-ever road trip in the U.P. But before you load your vehicle, take a couple of minutes to read:



Eastern Upper Peninsula | Central Upper Peninsula | Western Upper Peninsula | Where to Stay

Eastern Upper Peninsula


Straits State Park 

It’s fun to drive over the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, but getting a photo with her is a must! Stop at the Straits State Park scenic outlook. Here, you’ll find a platform with some binoculars so you can see the bridge up close — as long as you have quarters! Take the stairs to the beach. It’s perfect for a family photo with Lake Huron and the bridge in the background. 

Clyde's Drive-In 

Swing by Clyde’s Drive-In in St. Ignace to eat a ¾-pound Big C burger, sip a malt and stretch your legs before continuing on your trip. Don’t worry, they also have several smaller sandwiches. To have your order ready when you arrive, call it in when you are about 20 minutes away. Check the Facebook page for hours and menu updates. Although there is limited seating inside, you can always picnic a few minutes away on the shores of Lake Huron. This business accepts cash only.

Mackinac Island and Drummond Island

Pick an island to spend a day on, or stay an extra day and do both! 

Mackinac Island is the crown jewel on Lake Huron — visit the Grand Hotel, Fort Mackinac, fudge shops and bike or ride a horse on M-185 — no cars are allowed on the Island. Take a ferry to and from the Island and look into their special tours! 

Drummond Island is an outdoor lovers’ paradise. Take a car, ferry or plane, and explore over 100 miles of ATV and ORV trails, kayak the Heritage Water Trail or scuba dive to shipwrecks

Soo Locks

A colorful history surrounds Sault Ste. Marie’s world-famous Soo Locks. These engineering marvels form a passage for the Great Lakes and international deep-draft ships around the rapids of the St. Marys River. The two longest locks in the world are part of this National Historic Site, which has been in operation since 1855. The Visitor Viewing Area includes observation decks so close to the big ships that you feel you can touch them. Take a Soo Locks Boat Tour to learn more.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point

This cape on the northeastern side of the Upper Peninsula is ominously known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast. It is the closest navigation mark to the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald site at 17 miles away. The ore freighter sank in 1975. Every vessel leaving or entering Lake Superior must pass Whitefish Point and at least 200 shipwrecks are off its coast. 

Learn about shipwreck history and preservation work through top-quality exhibits of shipwreck artifacts, artwork and shipwreck models at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. While here, view shipwreck footage, the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald, the 1861 lightkeeper’s quarters and much more.  

Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Tahquamenon Falls Brewery

Visit this iconic state park! The Upper Tahquamenon Falls is the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It has a drop of nearly 50 feet, is more than 200 feet across and has a maximum water flow of more than 50,000 gallons per second. There are several overlooks, including one that is wheelchair accessible. 

Be sure to hike or drive the four miles downstream to the Lower Falls, made up of five smaller waterfalls tumbling over a small island. Rent a rowboat or walk across the pedestrian bridge to take a closer look or to splash in the falls. 

Afterward, grab a bite to eat and a craft beer at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, Michigan’s only brewery within a state park. Take time to visit the gift shop before you return to the road.

Crisp Point Lighthouse

Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of the original five U.S. lifesaving stations on Lake Superior between Whitefish Point and Munising. When volunteers are available, you can explore the Visitors Center and climb to the top of the lighthouse tower for a panoramic view of Lake Superior. Wander the winding shore, keep an eye out for passing freighters and pause to consider all of the stories of ships and keepers this lighthouse holds. Rock hunters, Crisp Point is known for agates.

Eastern U.P. Itinerary

Central Upper Peninsula


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you love being outdoors, put the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at the top of your Central U.P. list. This ancient, sandstone masterpiece stretches 42 miles along the pristine, southern coast of Lake Superior between Munising and Grand Marais. There is so much to see and do, plan to spend a few hours, even days here. Visit the page linked above to decide what to include in your plans.

Afterward, continue on M-28 East to Christmas. You can’t pass up taking photos with the giant cutouts of famous North Pole characters. What a fun way to get your next Christmas card photo early!

Grand Marais

This was a major lumber town between 1885 and 1910. While here, take the Log Slide Overlook trail to the top of Grand Sable Dunes. From your 175-foot perch, you will be awestruck by the view of Lake Superior.

Other must-sees near Grand Marais are its beaches — most are within walking distance of town. They include Agate Beach — a first stop for rock hunters, Grand Marais Harbor, Donahey Woods, Woodland Park Beach and the mouth of the Grand Sable River. If you prefer secluded stretches of sand, Perry’s Landing is east of Grand Marais and Hurricane River and Twelvemile Beach are to the west. 

Drive out to a short peninsula to see the Grand Marais Range Lights. Bring your fishing pole and tackle to catch Coho, whitefish and steelhead off the lighthouses’ stone pier. Then visit Sable Falls a mile west of Grand Marais.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The 95,238-acre refuge encompasses the 25,150 acres of Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark. This is a bird watcher’s dream come true. There are so many species here including American bitterns, Northern Saw-whet owls, Blackburnian warblers and other migratory species.

You can stay in your vehicle and drive the self-guided tour or get out at the visitor center to walk the trails, fish, take photographs, canoe or kayak. 


This spring is one of Central U.P.’s most popular natural attractions. In Palms Book State Park near Manistique, Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. A self-guided raft lets you cross the water and photograph the fascinating world below. You will need a Michigan Recreation Pass or day pass to enter the park.

Fayette Historic State Park & Townsite

Easily fill your morning exploring the 19th-century iron-smelting site of Fayette Historic State Park near Garden. A ghost of its former self, you can learn the story of this boom town gone bust at the visitor center and while exploring its 20 buildings. Walk or bike 3.5 miles of trails with overlooks of Snail Shell Harbor. The white limestone bluffs topped with ancient cedars— some of which are 1,400 years old — rival the beauty of the Pictured Rocks near Munising. The Harbor is also a great place to paddle and scuba dive.

Swedish Pantry and Sayklly’s Confectionery

For lunch, try the Swedish Pantry in Escanaba. Their wall of musical clocks is almost as much fun as emptying your dessert bowl of cardamom bread pudding.

Looking for a mid-afternoon treat? Join travelers and locals alike at Escanaba’s Sayklly’s Confectionery & Gifts to pick your favorite chocolates, nuts and caramels.

Piers Gorge Trail 

Piers Gorge Trail is a must-hike. This moderately difficult trail is 2.6 miles in and back with overlooks of the Menominee River falls and its rushing Class III and IV rapids. This is one of the most beautiful river-gorge settings in the Midwest.

If you’re a skilled paddler seeking an adrenaline high, launch your kayak or canoe and ride that frothing whitewater or experience white water rafting with True North Outpost.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you love being outdoors, put the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore next on your list. This ancient, geological masterpiece stretches 42 miles along the pristine, southern coast of Lake Superior between Munising and Grand Marais. There is so much to see and do, plan to spend a few hours, even days here. Visit the page linked above to decide what all you want to conquer and see while there.

Afterward, continue on M-28 East to Christmas. You can’t pass up taking photos with the giant cutouts of famous North Pole characters. What a fun way to get your next Christmas card photo early!

Piers Gorge Trail 

Piers Gorge Trail is a must-hike. This moderately difficult trail is 2.6 miles in and back with overlooks of the Menominee River falls and its rushing Class III and IV rapids. This is one of the most beautiful river-gorge settings in the Midwest.

If you’re a skilled paddler seeking an adrenaline high, launch your kayak or canoe and ride that frothing whitewater or experience white water rafting with True North Outpost.

Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain is a hub for many nearby outdoor adventures, so plan to stay here and explore the area over the next day or two. This is a recreational playground for off-roading, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, paddling and boating. You can golf, play disc golf or pickleball. Climb the 500 steps on the largest staircase in the U.S. at the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. While you are at the ski jump, pay respects at the Upper Peninsula Veterans Memorial.

Plan into your day a tour of the Iron Mountain Iron Mine and Museum in Vulcan and a visit to the Menominee Range Historical Museums. There you can see the World War II Glider Museum and the Cornish Pump, the largest standing steam-driven pumping engine ever built in the United States, and one of the largest pumping engines in the world.

Iron Mountain offers good eats, craft beers, wines and spirits and shopping breaks from the road. Search events for concerts, festivals and the Dickinson County Fair. 

Presque Isle Park

Get on your hiking shoes and get ready for an impressive wilderness near Marquette. Presque Isle Park’s diversity of forest and bog habitats are home to over 100 native plant species which provide habitats to many resident and migratory bird species. See muskrats, beavers, turtles and waterfowl such as mergansers, mallards, Canada geese and loons along the Lake Superior shoreline. Take the Bog Walk Trail for an up-close look at a 10,000-year-old bog and the specially adapted plants that inhabit this unique type of wetland. There are 6-7 miles of hiking trails plus an outer perimeter drive around the isle.

Trenary Toast Cafe

Visit this downtown Marquette Scandinavian-inspired cafe for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It serves a U.P. favorite, Trenary Toast, a twice-baked coffee bread or Finnish rusk called Korppu. Dunk it in your coffee or hot chocolate. This toast is a tasty snack on the road, so buy a bag or two before you leave. 

Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery & Voodoo Bar

With over 45 years in food service, Chef Don Durley has been tantalizing Marquette area taste buds since 1983. Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery takes pride in its quality food and service. Stepping into Lagniappe is like stepping out of Marquette and into Louisiana. The restaurant makes every menu item in-house from scratch, except for ice cream, and it’s even working on that! 

Central U.P. Itinerary

Western Upper Peninsula


Quincy Mine

America’s first mining boom began as prospectors and speculators rushed to mine deposits of native copper along the Keweenaw Peninsula. For 99 years, the Quincy Mine had an impressive string of dividends that earned it the name of "Old Reliable." Today it is a major tourist attraction along the Keweenaw National Historical Park on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The mine features tours of the underground workings, the No. 2 shaft house, the world's largest steam-powered hoist which serviced the No. 2 shaft to a vertical depth of 6,200 feet and the Midwest's only cog-rail tram. 

Copper Harbor

Drive north to the end of U.S. 41 to reach Copper Harbor. This small town in the 1800s was a lively shipping town during the copper rush. Now it is a four-season destination for outdoor enthusiasts, stargazers and history lovers. 

Well worth the drive up the Keweenaw Peninsula, this area offers some of the world’s best mountain biking trails, incredible views of Lake Superior, an International Dark Sky Park (one of three in Michigan) and some of the best Northern Lights viewing in the U.S. 

All ages will enjoy visiting the exhibits and living history reenactments of military life at  Fort Wilkins Historic State Park (circa 1844). Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary protects one of the last old-growth white pine stands in Michigan. When you stand at the base of the giant white pines towering over 125 feet tall, you will be in the shadows of trees that are over 300 years old. 

Isle Royale National Park

This next gem on your Western U.P. Road Trips is not accessible by car. However, you can reach one of the least visited national parks in the country by ferry from Copper Harbor or by seaplane or ferry from Houghton. Go to Isle Royale National Park once, and you will understand why this park is also one of the most revisited national parks nationwide, booked for months in advance. National Geographic even added it to its list of “Best of the World” in recent years! 

This park is renowned for being a place to disconnect and bask in the sights and sounds of nature. It is 53 miles north of Copper Harbor and is made up of 450 islands, over 60 miles of scenic, wilderness hiking trails, four lighthouses, sunken shipwrecks and inland lakes and Lake Superior open waters for paddling, boating and fishing. 

This is your chance to hear howling gray wolves and see moose, beavers, ermines and more. The night skies are incredible for stargazing. Day trips are doable but plan to stay two to three days at either Rock Harbor Lodge and cottages, the two rustic cabins in Windigo or any of the 36 campgrounds. 

@michigansupperpeninsula Witnessing a moose at Isle Royale is an experience like none other! ✨ #pov #UPtravel #UP #upperpeninsula #puremichigan #vacation #wildlife ♬ original sound - The Upper Peninsula

Brockway Mountain Drive

Grab a camera and drive up Brockway Mountain to marvel at the view from 735 ft. above lake level. Watch as a freighter silently cruises along Lake Superior’s horizon. Overlook the quaint town of Copper Harbor to the north, or scan the roads leading south, to spot the inland lakes or landmarks you passed on your trip up. Look out over Lake Superior as the setting sun paints the wide expanse of Keweenaw sky.

These are some of the reasons Brockway Mountain Drive has consistently been selected as one of the most scenic drives in the Midwest. Just 9-1/2 miles long, it offers superb views from early spring until snow closes the road, typically in November. Summer offers opportunities to explore the Brockway Mountain Nature Association and Audubon Society Sanctuary. 

Bond Falls

Take M-45 N to Paulding to see one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Midwest, Bond Falls. Spread 100 feet across, Bond Falls drops nearly 50 feet, emptying back into the Ontonagon River.

Lake Gogebic

If you love water, head your vehicle to the Lake Gogebic Area. This is the largest inland lake in the U.P. and a top pick for fishing year-round. In the warmer seasons, kayak, swim, picnic, hike, mountain bike or get your ORV/ATV thrills. This area is a favorite winter road trip stop for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing — plus, some of the Midwest’s best downhill skiing and snowboarding are close by, too.

Firebrick Grill & Bar at Young’s

Catch lunch in Iron River at Firebrick Bar & Grill at Young’s. Choose your favorite drinks and pub-inspired food, then take in the gorgeous Chicaugon Lake views.

Iron County Historical Museum

Even if visiting a history museum is not normally on your road trip list, make an exception and add this top-ranked Michigan historic site to your stops. There are 25 buildings to explore, including the 1890 Stager railroad depot, the 1890 home of composer Carrie Jacobs-Bond ("I Love You Truly"), the muraled home of artist Brandon Giovanelli, circa 1890 log barns, pioneer log cabins and much more. Central to the main building is the old Engine House of the Caspian Mine and over 100 exhibits, including a miniature logging camp with over 2,000 hand-carved pieces.

National Black River Scenic Byway Waterfall Tour

North of Bessemer will highlight of your Western U.P. journey. Drive or hike the 14-mile Black River Road and see each of the five waterfalls. 

First, the large Great Conglomerate Falls is the undisputed champion of the five. Its two separate drops are tough to capture in one photo! Gorge Falls and the barrier-free Potawatomi Falls are ranked among the most beautiful waterfalls in the U.P.

Continue north on Black River Road to the Sandstone Falls parking lot and hike a quarter-mile trail to reach them. Then drive to Rainbow Falls. Take the steps down to the observation deck to see how the falls got its name. When you reach the end of the Byway, spend time at the park where the Black River empties into Lake Superior. You will be awed by the view from the park’s suspension footbridge.

Copper Peak Adventure Ride

This attraction takes you to the top of the world’s largest ski-flying structure. From its 26 stories above the hilltop, you have views unparalleled in the Midwest. You will overlook 2,500 square miles of the Lake Superior Basin with sightings on a clear day of the Apostle Islands, the Porcupine Mountains, Isle Royale and numerous historic sites. If you come in the fall, nothing compares to this colorful vista of amber and red leaves and the deep blues of Lake Superior.

North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest in the National Trails System, stretching 4,800 miles across eight states from North Dakota to Vermont. Michigan hosts the most trail miles of the eight states and it traverses nearly all of the Upper Peninsula from west to east. 

There are numerous points to pick up the trail in the northern Western U.P. The furthest west point is at the eastern end of Craig Lake State Park, near the Wisconsin border. While the western section of this trail is not in a designated wilderness area, it gives hikers rugged terrain, views of Lake Superior, several waterfalls, inland lakes, streams and rivers. When you reach Marquette, the trail continues through the Central and Eastern U.P. to the Mackinac Bridge.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park 

The Porcupine Mountains — or the “Porkies” — Is Michigan’s largest state park and the last great wilderness area in the Midwest. While you can fill multi-days with adventures here, two drivable must-see places are: 

The Lake of the Clouds Overlook offers an eagle-eye view of this picturesque lake. Once you park the car, you can reach the overlook by foot or wheelchair. This mountain vantage point is beautiful spring through fall, but it tops the national leaf-peeping charts each autumn. Hikers and anglers (catch-and-release only) can reach the Lake of the Clouds below on the Big Carp River and Escarpment Trails. 

Summit Peak Observation Tower is another sky-high-view destination. This one requires climbing 50 steps to look out from your 2,000-feet-above-sea-level perch. Just as at Copper Peak, you can see Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands, Isle Royale and miles of Lake Superior. This is also a fall color tour must-stop.

The Konteka

Stop at this restaurant in White Pine for “plentiful food and drink” after a day of adventuring in the Porkies! It has eight bowling alleys and outside its doors, there is access to a snowmobile and ATV trail. The Konteka is a great place to view wild bears in the summer and deer in the winter.

Lake Superior Coastal Tour

Take M-64 N from Silver City to a mile east of downtown Ontonagon. Stop at the Ontonagon Township Park to enjoy its mile-long stretch of Lake Superior beach perfect for walking, swimming, rock hunting and sunset watching. 

Adventure Mining Co. 

Discover just how much stamina it took to work in the copper mines more than a century ago. Adventure Mining Co. in Greenland takes underground mining experiences to a new level from easy walking tours to rappelling down a shaft or taking a drilling and blasting workshop.

Western U.P. Itinerary


The Upper Peninsula has lodgings with amenities and rates that make it fun to vacation here. But late spring to mid-fall are busier times, so plan to make your reservations early to get the dates and places you want to stay. And if you have questions or need more suggestions for your road trip, just ask. See you on our fun-filled roads soon! Happy memories await! 


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