The Ultimate Guide To Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a fascinating landscape & a spectacular slice of nature!
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, surrounded by three great lakes, is a monumental tract of land featuring a world of beautiful nature and is the crown jewel of the state of Michigan!
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, also popularly known as Up North, Upper Michigan, and UP, is the uppermost peninsula of the two peninsulas of Michigan and is home to unfathomably beautiful and pristine nature! Michigan, surrounded by four great lakes, consists of two peninsulas – Lower Peninsula, also known as lower Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula, separated from lower Michigan by the Straits of Mackinac and connected via the Mackinac Bridge.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, initially inhabited by the Native Americans, was later occupied by the French and then by the British, who finally ceded the land to the US, and then eventually, the Upper Peninsula officially became a part of Michigan in 1836. The region’s dense forests and copper, iron, silver, and gold deposits brought in several settlers to the area. However, upon the exhaustion of the minerals, logging and tourism are now the major industries in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Pristine islands, gorgeous waterfalls, forested lands, historic towns, and abundant wildlife, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a true icon of must-see nature!
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, featuring spectacular lake and woodland vistas, is one of the most sought-after road trip destinations and one of the best places to see fall foliage in the US! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is surrounded by extraordinarily beautiful and charming landscapes – Mackinac Island on its southeast, Kitch-iti-kipi natural freshwater spring on its south, Copper Harbor and Pictured Rocks on its north, Tahquamenon Falls on the northeast, and Lake of the Clouds on its northwest!
Here is my ultimate guide to Upper Peninsula of Michigan, featuring essential trip-planning information, major attractions, Upper Peninsula attractions map, things to do, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!
Planning Your Trip To Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Visiting outside the winter & spring months, flying into the regional airports, and renting a car is the best way to explore the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!
Best Time To Visit Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Technically, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is open year-round, but due to the long and brutal winters in Michigan, particularly in the northern / upper section of the state, winter and spring are not the best time for sightseeing and outdoor activities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Summer with warm weather is the best time to explore the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and fall, especially mid-September through mid-October, is the best time to see spectacular fall colors in Upper Michigan.
Time Required In Upper Peninsula of Michigan: With several unparalleled experiences and attractions of Up North, and considering the long drives between these attractions, I recommend spending a minimum of 5 days to see the major highlights of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. However, if you’re pressed for time, you could make multiple trips and see a few places on every trip, but make sure you see them all, as every attraction in Upper Michigan has its own charm, and it’s quite challenging to pick one over the other!
Getting To Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is pretty far from all major international airports, making the regional and domestic airports the best choice to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Unfortunately, there are no direct train and bus services to Upper Michigan, and the closest train / bus stops are located pretty far south of Up North in southwest Michigan. Visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula does involve a good amount of driving, but it’s definitely worth it!
- Flight: You could select from different regional airports based on where you wish to begin your Upper Michigan road trip. If you’re starting at Mackinac Island – Pellston Regional Airport of Emmet County (PLN), Pellston, Michigan, or Chippewa County International Airport (CIU), Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. If starting at Pictured Rocks, you could fly into Sawyer International Airport (MQT), Marquette. Many people also fly into Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Detroit, Michigan, or Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB), Green Bay, Wisconsin, and then drive to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
- Train: There are no direct train services to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the closest major Amtrak station is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about 240 miles from Mackinac Island.
- Bus: Unfortunately, Greyhound doesn’t offer any direct bus service to Upper Michigan, and the closest major Greyhound bus stop is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, around 290 miles from Mackinaw City.
Parking & Transportation In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: There’s ample parking available at all attractions in Upper Michigan, the exception being Mackinac Island, where cars are not allowed, and you have to take a ferry to get to the island, and once on the island you need to use horse-drawn carriages or bikes. Though public transportation is available in certain counties in Upper Michigan, including Alger Transit Authority (ALTRAN) serving Alger County, and Delta Area Transit Authority (DATA) serving Delta County, I highly recommend renting a car when visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Lodging & Dining In Upper Peninsula of Michigan: While you may not find luxury resorts and boutique hotels near every attraction in Upper Michigan, there are quite a few great hotels and bread and breakfasts near all major attractions in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. However, being a popular tourist destination, advance lodging reservations are recommended, especially during the summer months. Though dining options may be limited in certain areas, especially inside a park or wilderness areas, you’re sure to find a decent amount of restaurants and eateries in the major cities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have reviewed the lodging and dining options in Upper Michigan in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Michigan's Upper Peninsula Attractions Map
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, measuring more than sixteen thousand square miles in area and with seventeen hundred miles of shoreline, is home to an impressive amount of natural wonders, islands, inland lakes, and several miles of stunning shoreline! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, one of the top road trip destinations of the Nation, is best explored by driving along the monumental tract of land and staying overnight in the major cities near the attractions. Many people fly into Detroit, Michigan, and then drive to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, making their first stop at Mackinac Island and then driving through the Mackinac Bridge to enter the spectacular land of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!
Here’re the must-see places in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, starting at Mackinac Island and then traversing the Upper Peninsula in an anti-clockwise direction!
Mackinac Island, located at the junction of Michigan’s Upper & Lower Peninsulas, is a small island featuring breathtaking lake vistas, natural wonders, and historical sites, and is also a designated National Historic Landmark with the majority of the island preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. Read More – The Ultimate Guide To Mackinac Island.
Mackinac Bridge, spanning the Straits of Mackinac connecting the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, is the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere! Besides driving through the bridge, you could enjoy views of Mackinac Bridge from Alexander Henry Park in Mackinaw City and climb atop the Castle Rock in St. Ignace.
Drummond Island, located on the east of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Lake Huron, is a wealth of pristine nature and wildlife! The Drummond Island, accessible via ferry services from DeTour Village, is popularly known for its several miles of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails, kayak trails, shipwrecks, scuba diving, and birdwatching.
Soo Locks, located in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula in Sault Ste. Marie, are the iconic locks built in the 1980s offering safe passage to the ships passing between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The Soo Locks can be explored from an observation deck overlooking the MacArthur Lock or on a boat tour offered by Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours.
Whitefish Point, located in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula in Paradise, is a cape extending out into Lake Superior & marking the starting point of Whitefish Bay and is popularly known for its Whitefish Point Light Station, a beloved lighthouse of the UP, and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum telling the tales of several shipwrecks in the area.
Tahquamenon Falls, located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, features two distinct waterfalls – Upper & Lower Falls. The Upper Falls, the largest of the two waterfalls, can be accessed via a short 0.4-mile nature trail from the parking lot. The Lower Falls, about 4 miles downstream, is best explored by renting a rowboat from the park concession.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a monumental tract of land stretching about 48 miles along the shores of Lake Superior from Munising to Grand Marais in the Upper Peninsula, offers vistas that are hard to match, including exceptional lake vistas, rock formations, sand dunes, waterfalls, beaches, several miles of hiking trails! Read More – The Ultimate Guide To Pictured Rocks.
Copper Harbor, located 210 miles north of Pictured Rocks in Keweenaw Peninsula, is the northernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which served as a shipping port for the copper excavated from the copper mines in the area. It’s now a popular tourist destination in the UP, known for its rugged shoreline featuring the best views of Lake Superior.
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park, remotely located close to the US & Canada border surrounded by Lake Superior, is one of the most remote National Parks of the Nation and the most isolated section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, featuring unmatched pristine nature, famous for kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, & backpacking, and is accessible by ferries, seaplanes, or private boats.
Lake of Clouds
Lake of Clouds
Lake of the Clouds, located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park near the northwest shores of Lake Superior, is one of the most picturesque lakes in Upper Michigan tucked between the valleys of the Porcupine Mountains, surrounded by old-growth forest, but it’s easily accessible via a short, fully accessible nature trail.
Kitch-iti-kipi, located in Palms Book State Park in the southern part of UP in Manistique, is a large natural freshwater spring with several gallons of freshwater gushing out from the underlying limestone fissures with a constant year-round temperature of 45 °F and is accessible via a short walk followed by a self-operated observation raft that takes you across the pool.
Lodging & Dining In Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Unquestionably, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a paradise for campers, but if you like the comfort of hotels, you will have to stay in one of the major cities in Upper Michigan!
While camping is very popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, if you prefer the comfort of a hotel room, you will have to stay in one of the major cities in Upper Michigan, and which might require some additional driving, but given the comfort and convenience, it’s definitely worth it! However, you will not find luxury and boutique hotels in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, except for Mackinac Island. That said, there are quite a few chain hotels and bread and breakfasts conveniently located near the major attractions in the cities of – Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, Munising, Grand Marais, Houghton, and Escanaba.
Hotels In Mackinac Island: There are quite a few resorts and bread and breakfasts on the island, but you could stay on the mainland in the towns of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, which are the ferry ports for Mackinac Island. Here’re my top picks for hotels near Mackinac Island, on the island as well on the mainland –
- Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
- Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island
- Island House Hotel, Mackinac Island
- Baymont by Wyndham, Mackinaw City
- Holiday Inn Express, St. Ignace
Restaurants In Mackinac Island: Here’re my top picks for restaurants in Mackinac Island – Grand Luncheon Experience at Grand Hotel, Pink Pony and The Chuckwagon for American fare, Island Slice Pizzeria for pasta, salads and pizzas, Mama Larosa’s pizza buffet and salad bar at Murray Hotel, and of course Mackinac Island fudge at one of the many fudge shops in downtown Mackinac Island!
Hotels Near Pictured Rocks: Lodging options within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are limited to its three seasonal campgrounds, but there are quite a few hotels and bread and breakfasts outside the Park in the neighboring cities of Munising and Grand Marais. Here’re my top picks for hotels near Pictured Rocks –
- Holiday Inn Express Munising Lakeview, Munising
- AmericInn by Wyndham Wetmore Munising
- Comfort Inn & Suites, Munising
- Hilltop Cabins, Grand Marais
Restaurants Near Pictured Rocks: There are absolutely no restaurants or park stores within Pictured Rocks, and you must carry your own food and water when visiting the Park. However, there’re a few restaurants outside the Park in Munising and Grand Marais that I recommend on a trip to Pictured Rocks – Pictured Rocks Pizza for great pizza & salads, comfort food at Eh! Burger, The Dogpatch Restaurant for seafood & breakfast in Munising, and Grand Marais Tavern serving American fare in Grand Marais.
Hotels In Escanaba: Escanaba servers as a great base when exploring the southern section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here’re my top picks for hotels in the southern part of Upper Michigan –
Restaurants In Escanaba: Stonehouse Restaurant & Lounge for great seafood, Rosy’s Diner, a traditional diner, Drifters Restaurant for great American fare, and La Cantina for authentic Mexican food.
Other Michigan Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to Upper Michigan. You can find other Michigan attractions in my Michigan Travel Guide.
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