Summer in the Upper Peninsula: a sensational time to visit

Why summer is the most popular season in the U.P.

Summer in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is naturally sun warmed and lake breeze cooled. It entices you to walk barefoot through crystal clear, salt-free water. To hunt for puddingstones and semi-precious agates. Eat melt-in-your-mouth fudge. Grill just-caught whitefish or roast farm-fresh vegetables. Unite family or long-time friends around campfires singing songs, telling ghost stories and remembering when…

It’s an adventurous season when you hike mountains, bike along waterfronts, search for shipwrecks, and shop for Stormy Kromer hats, copper art, tangy thimbleberry jam, crisp Trenary toast and keepsakes to remind you of the U.P. after you go home. 

Below is a sampling of what brings people in the summer. What you will discover is they will keep you coming back, too. 

Summer weather | What to pack | Best things to doWhere to stay and eatTop places to visit

What our summer weather is like

Most daytime temperatures are warm enough to enjoy splashing in the abundant fresh water, but not so unbearably hot that you retreat to air-conditioned rooms. However, on any given day our weather varies across the Upper Peninsula. It can be sweatshirt temperatures and sunny in St. Ignace, foggy in Sault Ste Marie, raining hard and windy in Copper Harbor and sultry in Menominee, then in seemingly a blink of an eye, the weather can change where you are to a whole-new summery experience. Check weather forecasts and current weather conditions as you cross the peninsula.

The warmest months to visit the Upper Peninsula

If you want to wear a short-sleeve shirt during the day and a light jacket at night, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data says the best time to visit the U.P. is May 28 to September 9. The hottest months are July, August and then June. In mid-July, expect highs around 78.4°F (25.8°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 57°F at night.

More weather information


What to pack for your U.P. summer vacation

The Upper Peninsula is mostly wilderness and there can be many miles between fuel stations and convenience stores. Cell phone and GPS reception can be spotty in some areas. As you pack your vehicle, U.P. locals and AAA recommend carrying:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Waterproof jacket, sweatshirt and waterproof boots. There are rare times when summer temperatures can become very chilly so pack an extra-warm fleece or jacket, gloves or mittens and winter hat. 
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen lotion or spray
  • Blankets
  • First aid kit and matches
  • Reflective emergency triangles or flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight or portable lantern with extra batteries
  • Drinking water, refillable water bottle and non-perishable snacks
  • Tire gauge
  • Basic tool kit
  • Printed maps for your destinations
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Insect repellent for mosquitoes, ticks, stable flies and black flies. Find an insect repellent that is right for you and the U.P. environment

Be sure to read  Eight Things to Know Before You Go to the Upper Peninsula and 8 Easy-to-Do Tips for Sustainable Travel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Best things to do this summer in the U.P.

Spend time by the water.

The Upper Peninsula is the only land mass in the world with shores on three of the greatest freshwater lakes — Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Add to this, 4,300 inland lakes and 12,000 miles of rivers and streams. Embrace your outdoor water sports passions swimming, boating, sailing, paddling, parasailing, kite boarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, rafting, scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing. Go fishing, build sandcastles, collect beach glass, rocks and fossils, fly kites, walk for miles or sit and read a book. Simply add our water to all of your vacation days. Go to the beach

Encounter the true grit stories of miners, lumberjacks and barons.

While timber was an economic boon to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the iron ore and copper rushes put this region on the international map. Immerse in the stories and actually experience what being a miner or lumberjack was like. Tour tunnels, rappel down mining shafts, dig for rocks and minerals and cheer competing loggers. Unforgettable mining and timber experiences.

Go waterfalling. 

The U.P. is home to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls. From whispering waters that gently caress the rock surface and flow into small creeks to the thundering falls cascading towering cliffs, this is the place to come to see 300+ waterfalls in action. Create a waterfall tour

Visit over 40 historic lighthouses.

Shine a light on a fascinating part of Michigan’s maritime history. Although some of these sentinels of the Great Lakes are inactive, many continue to guide ships and boats safely into harbors and around dangerous shoals. Whether you hike or take a boat tour, you’re able to get up close and, sometimes, even go inside. Find lighthouses along your vacation route

Hit the trails — hiking, biking or off-roading.

Name your favorite outdoor passion and the U.P. has the trails to create hours (even weeks) of adventures. Hiking in the Upper Peninsula is as close to an untamed wilderness as you will find in the contiguous United States. The trail systems take you up mountains, along rugged and soft sandy shores, deep into the woods and hiker-welcoming historic towns.
Biking trails cater to families wanting to leisurely cruise along paved paths and roads in bicycle friendly communities or to the gutsiest bikers twisting, turning and going airborne on internationally acclaimed mountain bike trails.

The U.P. is also a premier destination for thrill seekers. Bring your baddest ATV/ORV/UTV for hours of adrenaline-surging, bone-jarring, mud-spattering, white-knuckle off-roading. Our wilderness screams to see how far it can push your fun.

Boost your endorphins at local festivals and fairs.

There isn’t a week in the summer that doesn’t showcase either music, art, bike, foot or watercraft races, fishing tournaments and best-of-show classic cars or boats, homegrown fruits and vegetables, farm animals and so much more. Add these summer events to your calendar

Don’t overlook these unique things to do.

There are dozens of experiences that are U.P-centric. Whether it’s crossing the mighty Mackinac Bridge, seeing shipwrecks from a glass-bottomed boat or deciding if the Paulding Mystery Light is a paranormal happening. Try these unique things to do

Watch the sunrise and sunset every day.

When you have 1,700 miles of Great Lakes coastline and thousands of inland lakes, dunes and mountaintops, you can find premier places to watch the sun come up on eastern horizons and then sink to the west. The splash of colors across the sky and water is a reason to put your life on hold for a few minutes each day. For a boast-about experience, take a sunset cruise by Pictured Rocks or under the Mackinac Bridge.

See more stars at some of the darkest places in the world.

Most of us never see how star filled the night sky is. City and neighborhood lights blot out the view. Not so in the Upper Peninsula There is very little light pollution and our proximity to the North Pole provides some of the best stargazing and Northern Lights viewing in the contiguous 48 states. It’s why the U.P. is home to one of Michigan’s three International Dark Sky Parks. But wherever you are in the U.P. on a cloudless night, look up. It will take your breath away. Your guide to stargazing in the U.P.

Where to stay and delicious places to eat

Although it is a wilderness area, the Upper Peninsula has many lodgings with the amenities and rates you want, near favorite places to visit and the things you want to do. Since summer is our busiest time of the year, reserve your hotel, resort, campground or other lodgings as early as you know your vacation dates. We highly recommend making summer reservations several months to a year in advance for bookings in July and August. Places to stay

The U.P. has attracted some wonderful chefs and also has long-time restaurants that serve delicious foods made from recipes going back to Old World roots. Many of your restaurant choices have views of the water, woods and wildlife. Make reservations ahead when you can during this busy time of year. Places to eat

Top places to visit this summer

Eastern Upper Peninsula

Mackinac Island | Victorian-era, carless adventure | Ferry and air service available | Learn more

Drummond Island | Outdoor recreation paradise | Ferry service, airport and marina available | Learn more

Soo Locks | Sault Ste. Marie | Ultimate freighter watching | Learn more

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum | Whitefish Point | Learn haunting tales of lost ships. It’s a great birdwatching area, too | Learn more

Tahquamenon Falls State Park | Between Newberry and Paradise | Visit both the Upper and Lower Falls; the Upper Falls is the largest waterfall in Michigan | Learn more

Central Upper Peninsula

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Munising | Some of the most spectacular scenery, pristine beaches and wilderness in America | Learn more

Seney National Wildlife Refuge | Germfask | Protected home and breeding ground for migratory birds and wildlife | Learn more

Marquette | U.P.’s largest city | Outdoor recreation playground and cultural center | Learn more

Fayette Historic State Park and Townsite | Garden Peninsula | Preserved site of a once-booming Iron-smelting town gone bust; gorgeous harbor and scenery | Learn more

Kitch-iti-kipi | Palms Book State Park, Manistique | The Ojibwe called Michigan’s largest, natural freshwater spring the “Mirror of Heaven.” Learn more

Western Upper Peninsula

Mount Arvon | L'Anse Township | Michigan’s highest peak | Learn more

Keweenaw National Historical Park | Keweenaw Peninsula | This unique national park takes you to 21 national heritage sites in Copper Country | Learn more

Brockway Mountain | Copper Harbor | Marvel at the stunning vistas of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness | Learn more

Isle Royale National Park | Lake Superior | Ferry and seaplane service from Houghton/ferry service from Copper Harbor | One of the least visited national parks, but also one of the most revisited; on National Geographic’s “Best in the World” list | Learn more

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park | Silver City | Michigan’s largest state park and the Midwest’s last great wilderness | Learn more

Bond Falls Scenic Site | Paulding | One of Michigan’s most-photographed falls; hiking trails, too | Learn more

Discover the U.P.