Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

I spent two weeks in the upper peninsula. My first week I was in the Keweenaw Peninsula, the upper upper peninsula, on Lake Superior. I drove further east to Goetzville on Lake Huron for the second week.

I didn’t research either place much, just found some affordable, nice looking AirBNBs after leaving Door County. I was wasting a couple weeks before visiting my daughter on the lower peninsula of Michigan for Thanksgiving. Mid-November is definitely ‘off-season’ in the upper peninsula. So many things are ‘closed for the season’. There seems to be a lot of great activities, lighthouses, parks, hikes, museums to see IF they were open. Will definitely have to return in spring, summer or early fall. As it is, I have to strongly suggest NOT visiting the UP in November.

Keweenaw Peninsula

I found a brochure for the Quincy Mine at my house. Their website said no regular tours after November 1st but I used the contact form and had a text from them in a few hours telling me there was a tour the next morning @0900. I left Gay around 8 to get to Hancock in time, allowing some time for a walk with Boo. The tour lasted two hours, it was wonderful. We heard about the history of the mine, the building, equipment, the worlds largest hoist, the first use of poured concrete, and much more before taking a tram down to one of the entrances. We descended about 400 feet and walked into the tunnels learning more about the procedures. We also learned there was a 33% death rate in the mines. They spent 9 months union busting, too! #UNIONIZE!

Downtown Houghton is an interesting little town. I enjoyed the walk along the Portage River. We visited Bridgeview Park and did have great views of the bridge here. According to signs at the park, the Portage Bridge is the widest and heaviest double decked vertical lift bridge in the world. Later that afternoon I made a visit to the excellent A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Technical University. The entry ticket is good for two consecutive days, and there is a lot to see, so I spent about 90 minutes the first day and returned for an hour the second. It has the world’s best collection of Michigan and Great Lakes minerals and copper, including exhibits from the University of Michigan, with a great fluorescent mineral exhibit, too.

Tobacco Falls Park was just a half mile from my rental and Boo and I enjoyed a short visit there late one afternoon and saw a beautiful sunset, too.

Nara Nature Park is a lovely area, with two boardwalks (north and south) along the Pilgrim River out to Portage Bay. A great place for a walk. We went a couple times to walk the trails, too.

I drove up to Bete Grise Nature Preserve one day. I mostly walked along the beach, but did a little of the botany trail. I found the start about 200 yards up the beach from the parking area but it wasn’t well marked and hard to follow, so I just walked the beach for a couple miles. Lovely.

I drove up to the northern tip of the peninsula one day. On the way to Copper Harbor I made a quick stop at Eagle River Falls. What a beautiful area. I wanted to try the Jampot and see the Monastery in Eagle Harbor. But the Jampot was closed for the season. I did see the monastery, Holy Transfiguration Skete Society of St. John, a beautiful building, right on 26. There are trails to enjoy here.

I took the Brockway Mountain Drive from 26 up to the lookout. After arriving at Copper Harbor, I stopped at Hunters Point Park. The trails here are great, you can walk all the way out to the point to see Porter’s Island. You can park at the marina and walk around the bay (Michigan Park pass required) or park right at the start of the trails off Harbor Coast Lane. Absolutely beautiful, great hike.

All the buildings were closed at Fort Wilkins for the season but it still makes a great walk and I peeked in the windows at some of the buildings. A great location with some nice trails running along Lake Fanny Hooe.

I thought I’d like to try hiking Hungarian Falls, but despite some sites saying great even in the winter, I drove up the road and the trails looked bad. Trails are not marked, nor the parking areas.

Restaurants

Joey’s Seafood Grill  They have good reviews but my shrimp tacos only so-so.

Keweenaw Brewing Company offer a flight of 5 for $5. What a great deal! They have a nice location, no food but you can carry in take-out from local restaurants. No dogs, unfortunately. A nice selection of beer, I enjoyed all the styles.

Brickside Brewing in Copper Harbor. They only had two beers on tap, I had half pints but both very hoppy. I had a nice talk with their bartender, an EMT, about all the calls he has to make.

Eastern Peninsula

We were in an AirBNB in Goetzville, right on St. Mary’s River. It was a huge house and very comfortable. Not a lot to do close by and quite a drive to anything but we had a nice yard and enjoyed our time here.

It would be better for a family or large group of friends and much better in the summer. But there was a nice fireplace and a huge garage full of wood so I stayed in with a fire and my books most of the week.

I spent a day in Sault Saint Marie.  I visited the Soo Locks. I expected the visitor center to be closed but even the viewing platform was taped off. I would have liked a better view of the 5 locks. We walked through the lock park, after a security check at the gate (Homeland Security area). I had seen a couple boats going through the locks earlier but stopped and watched one heading south through the middle lock. Later we walked along Historic Water Street, reading all the markers, and then visited Rotary Island Park.

Another day I drove down to Saint Ignace. I visited the Bridge View Park for a great view of the Mackinac Bridge, then went downtown. Boo and I walked along the Huron Boardwalk listening to the Historic Walking Tour stops by phone. Along the walk we visited the Wawatam Park and Lighthouse. We saw the historic Mackinaw boat, Saint Anthony’s Rock, and had lunch at the Village Inn. We walked through the sculptures and the long house at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture. The museum was closed, however.

I drove over the bridge a few days later when heading to the lower peninsula in route to Kalamazoo. Five miles across the straits. Beautiful!

Restaurants

Karl’s Cuisine, in Sault Saint Marie, is also home to Superior Coast Winery and Brewery. I stopped in after visiting the locks; I had their lunch special, a very good southwest salad and a flight from Superior Coast Brewery.

Yooperman’s Bar and Grill I stopped here at the market for some groceries. I went next door for a beer before going back to my rental but ended up getting dinner. I had a very good burger, the Yooperman, with sautéed mushrooms and onions. They have a pretty large menu for a small town, small restaurant.

Village Inn in Saint Ignace has quite a diverse menu and a lot of items sounded good, but I had the fish and chips. Way too much food so left all the fries but had good white fish, hushpuppies and slaw.

** all photos property of Lisa, not to be copied or reproduced **

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