The warm summer months are finally here, and if you’re like us, you’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. But it gets hard to prioritize that. You’re juggling work, summer classes, finding DIY activities and day camps for your kids and trying to remember the last time you even vacuumed among other things. When you do complete that long task list, you just want a break. And you deserve one! But a break doesn’t have to be spent inside, nor does a break need to be at home. It’s time you nurture your soul with a dose of fresh air. Awaken your creativity from a long slumber. Seek out actual peace and quiet that nourishes and re energizes your mind. Sound too good to be true? Think again! Plan a trip, avoid the crowds and try these wellness activities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Maybe you’ve been trying to get those creative juices flowing again, but just aren’t feeling inspired. Try immersing yourself into the works of others to kickstart your process. Our galleries are filled with local work created with a variety of techniques, mediums and cultural influences. Some are even outside! Pay them a visit and see where the inspiration from these works takes you. Here are some of our recommendations:
Lakenenland Sculpture Park (Marquette)
This outdoor art experience proves that one man's junk is another man’s treasure! Artist Tom Lakenen has spent the last 25 years sculpting over 100 creations using scrap iron, and they are all on display at Lakenenland Sculpture Park. The Detroit Free Press even called it the “coolest unofficial roadside rest stop in the state.” It’s guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing. Stop by this 37-acre park any day, any time, for free. Tom's whimsical, colorful and sometimes "tell it like it is" Metal Art sculptures showcase his tremendous talent for turning junk metal and scrap iron into awe inspiring, entertaining works of art.
Alberta House Arts Center (Sault Ste. Marie)
The Alberta House Arts Center is located in the heart of Sault Ste. Marie as a resource and hub that is part of the Sault Area Arts Council. Fully wheelchair accessible, anyone can explore the two gallery showrooms that make up the Olive M. Craig Gallery. There is also a gift shop to take home a piece from the artists that inspires you. The Art Center is constantly striving to create new in-roads with community artists, so odds are, you’ll see something new each time you visit!
Finlandia University Galleries (Hancock)
Nestled into Hancock is Finlandia University, which boasts two galleries — The Finlandia University Gallery and the Finlandia Reflection Gallery. These both play a major role in the surrounding artistic and cultural community.
The University Gallery is located in the campus’ Finnish American Heritage Center, and it hosts changing, year-round exhibits featuring Finnish, Finnish-American, and local and regional artists. Their goal is to organize exhibitions that will encourage your appreciation and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works of art and the artists who created them. In the coming years, the University wants this gallery to become a leading exhibitor of Finnish and Finnish-American art nationwide. Consider this a gathering place to discuss and reflect on what you see.
Each year, the gallery features nine exhibits, including their annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series. Rotating exhibits of both national and international artists are presented every six weeks. Other exhibitions include the Juried Student Art Exhibit, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Diploma Works exhibition and a Finlandia University Faculty exhibit held biannually. There will be no shortage of new work to explore!
Located on the second level of the Jutila Center Campus, the student-run art Finlandia Reflection Gallery features student work, local and regional artists.
William Bonifas Fine Arts Center (Escanaba)
Surrounded by the natural beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center plays a pivotal role in providing a wide variety of cultural opportunities for the area. Serving both as an attraction for visitors to Escanaba, as well as being a working arts center, the Bonifas is a comprehensive center for the arts, featuring classes and workshops, gallery exhibits, performing arts and theatrical productions.
The Studio Gallery displays artwork from artist groups and gallery show winners while the Powers Gallery hosts a wide variety of artwork by artists who applied or submitted to be part of an exhibit. Both are free to the public. Can’t make it but want to art bathe at home? You can also take a virtual gallery tour online!
This term comes from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries “shinrin-yoku” which means “forest bathing.” So how do you forest bathe? The good news is you have likely already done it! All you need to do is find yourself in the woods and absorb that atmosphere. Take in the earthy pine smells, and listen for the gentle whooshing of the wind among the leaves. Even if you spend 10 to 20 minutes in the forest, research proves that it can have a lasting effect to lower your blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones. You can’t go far in the U.P. without finding a wooded area, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon/Gogebic Counties)
On the shores of Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park contains the Midwest's largest remaining stand of old growth timber. Enjoy breathtaking wilderness panoramas from overlooks at Lake of the Clouds and Summit Peak scenic sites. A half-mile boardwalk on the Presque Isle River guides visitors to numerous waterfalls. Over 90 miles of hiking trails are available to the more adventuresome.
Isle Royale National Park (Keweenaw County)
Isle Royale (meaning “the good place” in Ojibwe) is one of the least-visited national parks in the country. Conversely, it is also one of the most revisited and has ranked among National Geographic’s “Best of the World” list.
Isle Royale and its rugged archipelago wilderness in Lake Superior has 450 islands, 160+ miles of wilderness trails, four lighthouses, sunken shipwrecks and no cars. The park is renowned for being a place to disconnect and bask in the sights and sounds of nature. Of its 133,782 acres, 132,018 are designated wilderness making this park an amazing hiking destination for forest bathing.
Sylvania Wilderness Area (Watersmeet)
Located in the center of the Ottawa National Forest and boasting over 19,000 acres of pristine wilderness, Sylvania beckons you to enjoy its solitude. Backpacking in the Sylvania Wilderness opens up about 27 miles of trails that wind through old growth forest and along lake shores. Many of the trails even connect with other trails outside of the wilderness!
Silence and mindfulness
Mindfulness seems to be elusive, especially in the midst of routine. But, you will find it in the U.P. We recommend finding a serene shoreline — you’ll have no trouble here — and take a walk or just sit and stay awhile. Focus on your feelings and any lingering emotions from a stressful week. Take the time to process them with the natural white noise of the waves gently crashing the shoreline. Allow yourself to embrace the present moment and meditate in peace. Here are a few spots suited for this:
Lake Gogebic is the Upper Peninsula’s largest inland lake with 13,000 acres of prime fishing, if that helps you to refocus on the present! You’ll come across walleye, smallmouth bass, jumbo perch and pike! The million-acre Ottawa National Forest as well as the 21,000 acre Sylvania Wilderness mentioned above surrounds the Lake Gogebic area. Throughout both you’ll discover spectacular waterfalls and panoramic vistas. Perfect for some deep breaths and really taking in the moment.
This area is perfect for silent sports like kayaking and canoeing if that’s more up your alley than hiking. Take your time plying through the water and listen to the calming, gentle splashes of your paddle as it contacts the surface. Lake Gogebic State Park covers 360 acres in total, and nearly a mile of it is lake frontage on the west shore of the water.
Bays de Noc (Delta County)
The Little and Big Bays de Noc boast over 100,000 acres of water total, so you’ll have no trouble finding a serene shoreline to relax by. You may even see a lighthouse or two, too! These bays sit at the Southern shores of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, feeding into Lake Michigan.
Crisp Point (Newberry)
Crisp Point Lighthouse was one of five U.S. Life-Saving Service Stations along the coast of Lake Superior between Munising and Whitefish Point. Its storied past includes pieces of it crumbling into the lake, being torn down and going out of operation. But thanks to a dedicated team, it has been restored and new updates are made to the area regularly. You can tour the lighthouse to learn more about its lifetime. Once you’re done there, spend some time on the shoreline of Crisp Point overlooking Lake Superior. If you really want to find some silence, volunteer to be a keeper for a week. All it takes is joining the Crisp Point Light Historical Society and applying on their website. One family or an individual can work the lighthouse at a time. With no electricity, internet or cell service, you’ll have every excuse to focus on the present, quiet moment when you aren’t working. Working just consists of opening the lighthouse for visitors and answering their questions from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m along with a few other small tasks. There can be slow days, and some days with busier time frames. That’s okay though, because interaction is healing for us, too! You can visit the grounds year round.
Dark Sky Viewing
There is something so reassuring about looking up at the night sky and gazing at thousands of stars. Ditch your worries at the Peninsula’s borders. Spend time searching for constellations, watching for meteors and even seeing the Northern Lights. The U.P. is home to a designated dark sky preserve and many other spots free of light pollution, making for the perfect conditions to spend time with the night sky in a way you can’t back home. Check out our stargazing blog below for some of the best places to view the dark sky in the Upper Peninsula.
Plan your wellness trip to the Upper Peninsula
It’s time to take a break, and make your wellness a priority. Map out your trip today, and book your wellness visit to the U.P. now! Choose from campgrounds to spend more time outdoors, or book a spa treatment while you’re here and enjoy a hotel room to yourself. We have something for everyone.