There are times when you want to just get away — and have full control of how you spend that time — where you go, what you do, where you eat and when you sleep. You want to feel the rush of adrenaline, the serenity of solitude and the endorphin highs of unfettered happiness. It’s a priority to stay safe during the day and night. But so is being welcomed by friendly locals. All reasons solo travel is the best in the U.P.!
Top 10 things to do on your own
The Upper Peninsula is a travel destination with no shortage of things to do in the winter, spring, summer and fall. Below are 10 ideas that are great add-ins to your solo travel itinerary. But you can find even more in this list of 35 Best Things to Do in the U.P.
- Cross the Mackinac Bridge — it’s engineering genius
- Spend a day or two in St. Ignace and on Mackinac Island
- Paddle around the Les Cheneaux Islands
- Feel the spray of Michigan’s largest waterfall
- Hear haunting shipwreck stories and the playlists of thousands of birds
- Explore Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore — it will change you forever
- Relish all Marquette offers
- Go dog sledding
- Gaze into the “Mirror of Heaven”
- Choose your outdoor adventures in the Porcupine Mountains
Cross the Mackinac Bridge — it’s engineering geniusBack to Top of List
This five-mile suspension bridge, one of the largest in the world, straddles the shores of Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsula. Ask anyone, and they will tell you the views of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are extraordinarily stunning. But it’s the feelings of adventure, freedom and relaxation that well up inside when you arrive in the U.P. that are truly magical — the first time and every time thereafter.
Spend a day or two in St. Ignace and on Mackinac IslandBack to Top of List
St. Ignace is Michigan’s second oldest city with spectacular waterfront views, resort-town shopping, dining, lodging and recreation. Stop at the Marquette Mission Park & Museum of Ojibwa Culture to learn more about the U.P.’s treasured Native American Culture & History.
From St. Ignace, catch a ferry or airplane to Mackinac Island, an experience like no other in Michigan. Here you will travel back in time and spend hours outdoors taking in the historic sights, island sounds and fudge — oh, so much creamy fudge.
The island doesn’t permit cars, so you will get around by foot, bicycle or horse. If you need to narrow your list of what to do, rent a bike and pedal around the perimeter of the island, visit Fort Mackinac — and if you don’t stay over at the Grand Hotel, be sure to sit awhile on their picturesque porch (it’s worth the admission fee).
Paddle around the Les Cheneaux IslandsBack to Top of List
The Les Cheneaux Islands are an archipelago of 36 small islands in Lake Huron along the southeastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In late spring through mid-fall, it is a beautiful place to kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard. Both Hessel and Cedarville are replete with shops and galleries featuring a variety of locally made crafts and gifts! In the winter, these towns are good base camps for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing and sledding. The Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts are reasons to come on the second weekend of August.
Hear haunting shipwreck stories and the playlists of thousands of birdsBack to Top of List
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Bird Observatory are must stops when you are exploring the Eastern U.P. Nearly 200 shipwrecks are in the vicinity, including the SS Edmund Fitzgerald that sank in a 1975 storm. Whitefish Point is Michigan’s premier migration hot-spot where over 340 bird species have been documented on their flight paths in the spring and fall.
Explore Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore — it will change you foreverBack to Top of List
This is an absolute-must-see destination along Lake Superior between Munising and Grand Marais. Pictured Rock’s geologic masterpiece is the mineral-stained sandstone cliffs that give the park its name. They stretch for 15 miles along the Lake Superior shoreline. While there is a list of four-season things-to-do that’s 42-miles long, in good-weather months take one of the Pictured Rocks Cruises or Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours.
Relish all Marquette offersBack to Top of List
Marquette is the Upper Peninsula’s largest city. Yet for all of its urban amenities, this city and its surrounding area haven’t minimized their passion for outdoor adventure. Downtown shopping, delicious restaurants, rollicking festivals throughout the year, theater, arts, live music, museums and college sports give this city the familiarity of back home. But outdoors, it is miles of biking, hiking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing trails. There is swimming, sailing, kayaking, cliff jumping, scuba diving, fishing, downhill skiing and so much more.
Go dog sleddingBack to Top of List
There is no couch-sitting in the U.P. where there are lots of winter sports to bring you outdoors. But for the best time ever — fly across the snow behind a team of born-to-run dogs. There are multiple places in the U.P., including at some ski resorts, to go mushing or watch dog sled races.
Choose your outdoor adventures in the Porcupine MountainsBack to Top of List
Hike, mountain bike, paddle, cross-country ski, snowshoe, downhill ski and snowmobile in Michigan’s largest state park — the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Three must-dos while you are here are getting a mountain-high view of the Lake of the Clouds, seeing for miles from Copper Peak and going waterfalling.
Solo travel safety tips
Most of the U.P. is wilderness. There are long stretches of highways and secondary roads between communities, favorite attractions, fuel and recharging stations, and grocery and convenience stores. The best advice for solo traveling in the U.P. is to follow the Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”
Before you go, create an itinerary. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy spontaneity in your solo traveling, but before you come, research your destinations and create an itinerary for each day. Know where you plan to go, the routes you will take, what attractions you will see and where you will stay or camp. Share your itinerary with a family member or friend. Let them know when your plans change.
Stay connected. Always keep your cell phone with you and fully charged.. Share your location with a friend or family member. There are some places in the U.P. where cell phone and GPS service are spotty. Carry printed maps of where you plan to go and of the trails or waters you will hike, bike or paddle. Keep a first aid kit, blanket, flashlight and batteries, road flares, matches, drinking water and portable snacks in your vehicle. You may need them if you encounter unexpected weather or get off course.
Keep a constant eye on the weather. Locals joke that the weather in the U.P. changes every five minutes. That is an exaggeration, but the three Great Lakes create unexpected weather changes. The weather can be very different in one part of the U.P. than another, especially from late fall to late spring. Check the weather for where you plan to visit each day. Dress for the weather and bring outerwear for rain or cold.
U.P. communities and accommodations are safe. The Upper Peninsula has a very low crime rate. But when traveling solo, listen to your gut feelings. If ever you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave the situation. Most locals are friendly and happy to give directions and suggestions of what to do. For added security, get advice from store clerks, restaurant staff or guest services at local hotels.
Keep a list of emergency contacts on you and know where there are hospitals or emergency clinics along your route. When you are at crowded attractions, festivals and events, use a money belt or hidden pouch to carry your identification, insurance card, emergency contacts, cash or credit card.
Get more travel tips in 8 Things to Know Before You Go to the Upper Peninsula.
Share photos of your solo travels
Please send us your photos and videos taken during your solo adventures, private retreats and memory-making moments. Use our hashtag #uptravel or upload your photos or videos to our Crowdriff Collector below. We may feature them on our social media, website or in our marketing materials. Your experiences are the best way to entice others to discover the U.P. on their own, too.