When it comes to going on a summer vacation, some like places where it’s blazing hot outside. Others, not so much. If you prefer milder summer temperatures and exploring without sweating buckets, then make a cool getaway to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s the ultimate Cool-Cation destination.

For starters, June, July and August are pleasant swimming and outdoor fun months. Daytime temperatures seldom climb above 78.4°F (25.8°C) and rarely drop below 57°F(13.9°C) at night. Yet the U.P. offers an even bigger cool factor. Here, you will discover the coolest things to do and places to visit in the Midwest. Bar none! Here are 10 Cool-Cation must-dos for making the best summer vacation ever. 


Your Guide to the Coolest Fun

Beach Days

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At the top of most U.P. vacation bucket lists is spending a day at the beach. Anywhere you travel in the Upper Peninsula, you are near millions of gallons of fresh, unsalted water and stunningly beautiful beaches.

One of many U.P. bragging rights is that this is the only land mass touched by three of the greatest freshwater seas in the world: Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. There are 1,700 miles of pristine shoreline to spread a blanket over soft sand, build sandcastles, climb dunes, collect agates and stones from cobble beaches, swim or surf for hours and watch the sun rise and set in brilliant colors. 

Lake Michigan

Along the southern coast of the Upper Peninsula is our sandiest shoreline. The best swimming months are July and August when the water temperature reaches the upper 60s to lower 70s. Here are some top-pick beaches to stay cool. 

  • Lake Michigan Beach (Brevort)
  • Sand Dunes Beach (Moran)
  • Stonington Peninsula Monarch Butterfly & Fossil Beach
  • Gladstone Beach (Gladstone)
  • Ludington Park (Escanaba)
  • John Henes Park (Menominee)

Lake Michigan Beaches

Lake Huron

Lake Huron’s shoreline shapes the southern coast and around the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula. Find a place to relax or picnic on several serene beaches, Some are covered with gentle-on-your-feet sand and others with colorful pebbles and rocks, including prized puddingstones. The water temperatures range from the mid-60s to low-70s in July and August. Discover why the beaches below will lure you back

  • Huron Beach (St. Ignace)
  • Hessel Park Beach 
  • DeTour State Park (DeTour Village)
  • Big Shoal Bay Beach (Drummond Island)
  • Drummond Island Township Park 
  • Glen Cove Beach (Drummond Island)

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It holds 10% of the world's fresh surface water — enough to submerge all of North and South America under one foot of water! Its humongous size and northern location keep the water temperatures chillier, reaching the low to mid-60s in July and August. At the very least, put your toes in. 

Here are places to explore the dunes, soft sand and rock-strewn northern U.P. shoreline.

  • Hunter’s Point Park (Copper Harbor) — One of USA Today’s 10Best Beaches in Michigan
  • Brimley State Park Beach (Brimley)
  • Whitefish Point (Paradise)
  • Twelve Mile Beach (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
  • Black Rocks Beach, Presque Isle Park (Marquette)
  • South Beach (Marquette)
  • F.J. McLain State Park (Hancock)
  • Black River Harbor Recreation Area (Bessemer)

4,300 Inland Lakes

As you wander through the interior wilderness of the U.P., you can find thousands of inland lake beaches. These waters are warmer than the Great Lakes for swimming and water sports, reaching temperatures in the mid-70s in July and August. Here are a few favorites to jump in!

  • Lake Gogebic (Marenisco/Bergland)
  • Cisco Chain of Lakes (Watersmeet)
  • Lake Michigamme (Champion)
  • Manistique Lakes (Curtis)

Water and Island Adventures

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Keeping cool isn’t a problem in the U.P., even when you’re burning calories pursuing your outdoor passions. Name your water sport or recreation, it awaits. Kayak beneath the arches of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Scuba dive for sunken ships. Fish in trout-filled rivers. Boat full throttle across surging waves. Raft through churning Class IV rapids. With each adventure, every fiber in your body will beg you to do more. 

But one of the coolest ways to make memories is taking a U.P. island vacation. Chill doing island time at Mackinac Island, Grand Island, Les Cheneaux Islands, Drummond Island or the spirit-freeing Isle Royale National Park. Each island is a treasure trove of history, thrilling outdoor sports and tranquility. You will leave deeply longing to return. 

Hiking, Biking & ORV Trails

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With 8.8 million acres of lush hardwood and pine forests, you can easily escape the heat on thousands of miles of shaded trails. Seek over 300 waterfalls, lighthouses, scenic overlooks, gurgling streams and wildlife. Let the U.P.’s rejuvenating silence wash over you. Here are some suggestions.

  • Canyon Gorge Trail — easy (L’Anse)
  • Botanical Trail — easy (Mackinac Island)
  • North Country National Scenic Trail — moderate to hard (across the U.P.)
  • Estivant Pines Wilderness Nature Sanctuary — moderate (Copper Harbor)
  • Chapel Falls to Chapel Beach Trail — moderate (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
  • Piers Gorge Trail — moderate (Norway)
  • Days River Pathway Trail — moderate (Gladstone)
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park trail between Lower & Upper Falls — moderate (Paradise)
  • Rainbow Cross Country Trail — moderate (Drummond)
  • Noquemanon Trail — hard — IMBA Epic Trail (Marquette)
  • Copper Harbor Trails — moderate to hard — IMPA Silver Level Ride Center (Copper Harbor)
  • Escarpment Trail — hard (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park)
  • Iron Belle Trail — hard (Ironwood)

Scenic Drives

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Take a leisurely drive along one of the U.P.'s scenic byways, car windows down while listening to your cruising playlist. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Great Lakes, mountains and picturesque forests. It’s also precious time together to laugh and marvel at the U.P.’s unique roadside attractions.

Mine Tours

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Explore the region's mining heritage with guided tours of historic mines, giving you a refreshing escape from the summer heat. Descend into underground tunnels where temperatures remain a crisp 43°F (6.1°C), so bring a sweater or jacket and wear closed-covered shoes.

Museums & Historic Sites

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The Upper Peninsula is an open history book filled with ancient geological stories, the rich culture of our native families and the adventures of European explorers, mariners, miners, lumber barons, military members and entrepreneurs. Learn about them at dozens of museums, historic sites, lighthouses, ghost towns, and more. Most of our museums are air-conditioned so they are nice respites on warm or rainy summer days. 

Indulge in a sweet treat at one of the U.P.'s charming ice cream shops. Savor scoops of Michigan's favorite homemade flavors like Mackinac Island Fudge, Yooper Tracks, Blue Moon, and Michigan Pot Hole. Here are a few places to stop by.

  • Molly Moo’s (St. Ignace)
  • Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore (Munising)
  • Mama Cow’s (Chatham)
  • Daisy Jo’s Ice Cream Parlor (Gwinn)
  • Yoop-Phoria (Marquette)
  • Jilbert Dairy (Marquette)
  • Ice Cream Barn (Iron Mountain)
  • Jim’s Dari-Kreme (Escanaba)
  • Ben’s Place (Ironwood)
  • Northwood’s General Store & Coffeehouse (Wakefield)

Wineries & Breweries

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Explore the U.P.'s burgeoning craft beverage scene with tastings, live music and summer festivals at local wineries, micro-breweries, and distilleries. Our brewmasters, winemakers and distillers hone their craft in a land surrounded by fresh water. They create new flavors from locally grown fruits, honey, grains and hops; age their art to perfection; then fill your glass with beverages as light as a June breeze to as robust as a Lake Superior gale. Pull up a chair and chill in their inside tasting rooms or outside gardens. 

Shopping & Farmers’ Markets

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Stay cool indoors browsing through shops, boutiques, and art galleries in historic towns and villages. Look for unique U.P. gifts, souvenirs, summer fashions, beach toys and handmade crafts. Or visit our farmers’ markets for crisp and juicy fresh produce, locally raised meats, cheeses, jams and baked goods. These are the perfect places to load up on healthy foods for road trip snacks, picnics and campfire cookouts. 

Stargazing & Northern Lights

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On hot summer days, the night sky provides a perfect escape from the heat, offering stunning views of the Milky Way, shooting stars, and even the Northern Lights. Grab a camera, tripod and a blanket and head out to enjoy the cool night air while marveling at the universe’s wonders.

Book Your Stay

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Whether you're exploring scenic beaches, cooling off in lush forests or savoring delicious ice cream and cocktails, there's no shortage of ways to beat the heat. From daytime excursions to nighttime celestial displays, booking a hotel gives you more hours to immerse yourself in all the U.P. offers. However, summer is our busiest season, so please make your reservations early to get the dates, amenities and rates you want. Let’s chill together soon!


We would love to see photos from your Cool-Cation travels! 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 CrowdRiff Collector below.