Eight Cool Things to Do in the Eastern U.P. During the Summer

With hidden lakes, coursing waterfalls, fresh local fare and more, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a traveler’s ultimate escape. Featured blogger Jesse Land from Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about eight cool things he has done in the Eastern U.P. to inspire your visit. 

Many people forget just how big the U.P. is. For example, even though I live in Iron Mountain (roughly in the middle of the Upper Peninsula), it still takes me over four hours to get to DeTour, in the far eastern U.P. If I lived in Ironwood, it’d be more like a six hour drive!

Iron Mountain_Joseph Parrott

Iron Mountain, Photo Courtesy of Joseph Parrott

And so it is that the far ends of the U.P. often don’t get as much attention as they should. Well, I decided to at least scratch the surface in the eastern U.P. last summer and am so glad I did. Let me just point out that this is not a “best of” list by any means. One could easily spend a few weeks over in the Eastern U.P. and not take it all in. These are just a few highlights from last summer and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this you’ll want to venture over there to check it out for yourself!

1. Kayak through the Les Cheneaux Islands

One of the highlights from last summer was definitely kayaking through a few of the Les Cheneaux Islands with Woods and Water Ecotours. Our guide Carla was a very experienced kayaker and had moved from out west to the Les Cheaneaux area to attend their famed wooden boat building school. Carla took my wife and I and two other travelers out around a few of the thirty six islands, over some really cool rock formations and even over a shallow water shipwreck.

The short paddle was just long enough for me to realize I need to plan a whole week or more in the Les Cheneaux area with my kayak. What an amazing place.

2. Have lunch at Brown’s Fish House in Paradise

Brown's Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Brown’s Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Ah, Brown’s. It almost seems to good to be true. For some reason I’m afraid that one of these times I’m going to go into Brown’s Fisheries Fish House for lunch and not have an amazing meal. Luckily, that’s never happened and I doubt it ever will. Last summer I had their lake trout basket for the first time and I think I might have found a new favorite. If you like fresh fish, put Brown’s at the top of your U.P. itinerary. (32638 West M28 Paradise, MI)

3. Visit Tahquamenon Falls (and have dinner at the brewery)

Photo Courtesy of Amy Brown

Photo Courtesy of Amy Brown

What’s a trip to to the eastern U.P. without a stop at Tahquamenon Falls? I had the chance to not only see the falls, but have a great chat with Lark Ludlow, the co-owner and brewer at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery.

Lark’s grandfather gifted much of the land that is now Tahquamenon Falls State Park to the state of Michigan so she told my friends and I about the history of the area, what used to be where the restaurant/brewery is now and how the brewery came to be. And we capped off the evening with an excellent dinner. Next time you visit Tahquamenon Falls, make sure to stop in the brewery! Even if you’re not a fan of craft beer, they’ve got great food.

4. Discover Malloney’s Irish Pub in Sault Sainte Marie

We’d planned to visit the locally famous Antlers for dinner in Sault Sainte Marie, but ended up walking into to Maloney’s Alley Irish Pub just to check it out and were very pleasantly surprised, so we stayed for dinner. Prior to that visit I hadn’t heard of Malloney’s, but they ended up having great food and a terrific Michigan craft beer selection! I’ll definitely be back. (227 W Portage Ave. Sault Sainte Marie, MI)

5. Have a picnic lunch at the Hessel marina

Hesel Marina - Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Hessel Marina – Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Sometimes it’s the simple things you remember the most. My wife and I packed a cooler for a picnic lunch on our first visit to the eastern U.P. last summer but didn’t have any specific location in mind. Well, we ended up finding the perfect spot as soon as we pulled into Hessel, in the form of the Hessel marina.

We had lunch on a picnic table while gazing at antique wooden boats, water, a beach and the many islands as a few “islanders” came and went in their boats. Whether you have lunch here or not, it’s a great spot for a photo op.

6. Tour Drummond Island on ATV

Another highlight was touring Drummond Island on ATV with Beaver’s ATV Rentals. We were told that Bill Beaver knows Drummond Island as good as anyone, and he sure seemed to. Bill led my wife and I on an excellent several hour tour of various Drummond Island highlights via the island’s designated ORV trails. And once again, it was enough to make us realize we need to block off at least a few days to explore Drummond Island further. We can’t wait to get back.

7. Visit Soo Brewing

While in the Soo we made it a point to stop into Soo Brewing and really enjoyed the place. It’s an open, unassuming space with plenty of board games on hand and lots of couch and table space where friends can relax for hours. And since it’s located right downtown, it’s easy to walk from the brewery to all the other bars, restaurants and things to do in the area.

8.  Visit the Crisp Point Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

The Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go but for one reason or another I just wasn’t able to make it work. Well, last summer I was determined to get out there and am definitely glad I did. It’s probably the U.P.’s most remote lighthouse (at least that I’ve been to) but wow, what a place. It has a wonderful history, is beautifully restored and the view from the top is amazing!

So, those are just eight of the cool things I did in the Eastern U.P. last summer. I can’t wait to get back there so I can add to this list for next year!

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Eastern U.P.?

JesseLand21111Jesse Land owns Land Family Media and publishes the Upper Peninsula Travel blog Things to do in the U.P.

23 Things to Do in West Michigan Before the Summer Ends

West Michigan is home to some of the best kept secrets and awe-inspiring attractions in America. No matter where you go, there’s something new to try right around the corner. To help you get the most out of this summer, we’ve compiled a list of things you’ll want to make sure you do in West Michigan before the summer ends!

1. Climb to the top of one of Lake Michigan’s many lighthouses, or volunteer for one of the keeper programs offered at a handful of the lighthouse museums in northwest Michigan.

mcgulpin-wave-crop

McGulpin Lighthouse, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

2. Complete the tree scavenger hunt on the Nature Trail at Stokes Homestead Farm Market in Grand Junction and get rewarded with a free ice cream cone!

3. Kiss a turkey at Cornwell’s Turkeyville in Marshall.

4. Drive the Tunnel of Trees to the end, where you can enjoy an authentic Polish pierogi overlooking Lake Michigan at Legs Inn in Cross Village.

5. Embrace your inner pirate when you sail on the tall ship “Friends Good Will” in South Haven, and visit the Michigan Maritime Museum when you’re back on land for a look into the past.

6. Hand feed a giraffe at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek or Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto.

7. Hike, swim, and explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with 64 miles of beaches, coves, islands, and hills on the west coast of the Leelanau Peninsula.

8. Hunt for the state stone, the Petoskey Stone, along the shores of Lake Michigan. No license required to pick up the fossilized coral, but what a cool feeling when you find one!

9. Cycle down the paved Leelanau Trail and enjoy a picnic lunch while you visit up to seven wineries just off the trail with Grand Traverse Bike Tours.

468853_375253335913527_505352067_o

Grand Traverse Bike Tours, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

10. Learn to Fly Fish at the Red Moose Lodge on the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin with their full day trips out on the river & cozy accommodations at night.

11. One of Michigan’s most visited shrines, the 55 foot tall Cross in the Woods in Indian River is a must-see.

12. Peddle your way around town on the self-propelled Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, the first and only “Green Pub” in Michigan, located in Grand Rapids.

13. Ride the Fins of a Windmill on Harry’s Windmill ride at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, which combines a restored 1940 Eli Bridge #5, 45ft high Ferris Wheel matched with a reproduction of a Netherlands windmill.

14. See the Big Yellow Dinosaur on US 31 at Kampvilla RV Park (her name is Sunny!).

15. Stay overnight aboard the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, which is officially credited with sinking 23 major Japanese ships and is considered the U.S. Navy’s most successful surviving World War II submarine.

16. Take a “Paddle n’ Pints” trip with Rockford Brewing Company, where you’ll fill up plastic growlers at the brewery before spending two hours floating down the river and enjoying the outdoors.

17. Take an outdoor adventure with friends and a good book with Outdoor Book Club, which hosts meet-up in various West Michigan cities.

11174814_668911219921573_2755623778657769664_n

Outdoor Book Club, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

18. Tour a Coast Guard Ship, dance in the streets of Grand Haven at the yearly street dance, and then settle in to enjoy the fireworks and musical fountain from the waterfront at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival each August.

19. Try your hand at the Sporting Clay course at Blendon Pines Gun Club in Zeeland and see how many clay pigeons you can hit with a shotgun over twelve different shooting stations.

20. View many of Michigan’s remote lighthouses aboard a multi-day boat cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star, based out of Charlevoix.

21. Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids and marvel at the 24-foot-tall bronze horse statue.

22. Visit the Headlands and the Dark Sky Discovery Trail in Emmet County, which is one of just 13 prestigious International Dark Sky Parks in the United States.

Dark-Sky-Mily-Way-1-no-sig-1024x1024

Emmet County International Dark Sky Park, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

23. Watch a sunset from the middle of Lake Michigan with nothing to obstruct your view on Beaver Island.

Courtney Sheffer considers herself a professional when it comes to exploring all West Michigan has to offer. As Marketing Director for the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA), Courtney is always on the lookout for new West Michigan experiences to share with visitors. Whether you live, work, or play in West Michigan, WMTA can help you discover something new that you’ll love!

Pure Michigan Road Trip: Relive Our Along the Way Commercial

Roadtrip-MapRecently, we debuted a Pure Michigan ad, titled ‘Along the Way’, with a new look and feel showcasing the fun around taking a road trip in the Great Lakes state.

The four actors whom starred in the commercial had such fun roadtripping around Pure Michigan they became great friends, and because there was so much great footage, we were able to make an ‘Along the Way’ part two! Below is a list of the destinations our famed travelers visited, and  the second installment of ‘Along the Way’.

Want more great road trip ideas? Check out our roadtripping page and stay tuned for part two of this blog series that will feature awesome destinations in the U.P.!

Harrisville (Harrisville State Park Campground) Harrisville State Park features camping, cabin rentals and day-use area nestled in a stand of pine and cedar trees along the sandy shores of Lake Huron. The park is within walking distance of the resort town of Harrisville. Established in 1921, it is one of Michigan’s oldest state parks and offers a two mile trek hiking trail as well as non-groomed cross-country trails and metal detecting area.

Harrisville State Park is perfect for the adventurous traveler

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Grimmer

Ossineke (Dinosaur Gardens) World renowned reproduction of over 25 prehistoric birds and dinosaurs on a 40 acre tract of land split by Devil River encompass Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke. Check out a brontosaurus that’s over 80 feet long, weighing over 60,000 pounds! Stay for a round of minigolf as you step back into prehistoric times.

Look out for dinosaurs in Ossineke!

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Grimmer

Mackinaw City/St. Ignace (Mackinac Bridge) The Mighty Mac unites Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere with 7,400 feet of roadway suspended in the air over the straits of Mackinac. Total length of the bridge, including its approaches, is approximately five miles.

Mackinac Island (Arch Rock) Experience the breathtaking views of the harbor, incredible sunsets under The Mighty Mac, over 80 miles of lush hiking and biking trails and crystal clear water. Mackinac Island is the ultimate place to unplug, relax and experience beauty the way nature intended.

Arch Rock is as famous as any landmark in Pure Michigan

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

 

Old Mission Peninsula (Haserot Beach and Old Mission General Store) The oldest permanent settlement in the Grand Traverse Area, this picturesque peninsula near the tip of was founded in the mid 1800’s by the Rev. Peter Dougherty as a mission to the Native Americans. Today it is a resort area, reminiscent of a New England town, with several well-preserved churches, homes, stores and other 19th century buildings that are still in use.

Our Pure Michigan travelers had a blast at every destination they visited

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Grimmer

Traverse City (Nicholas Farm) Combining breathtaking attractions with a rich blend of adventure and relaxation Traverse City is true north! Explore the incredible scenery at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Bike, paddle or hike your way to see the beautiful cherry blossoms. Take a wine or beer tour and be sure to save time for unique dining and shopping found throughout the region.

Honor (Platte River) Founded in 1895 as a thriving lumber hub, this small community in the center of Benzie County, offers lots of history, year-round adventure and comfort to all ages. Honor is located within 15 minutes access to golf courses, hiking trails, Betsie River, Lake Michigan, Big & Little Platte Lakes, Crystal Lake, and Upper & Lower Herring Lakes. The Platte River flows through town, offering wonderful fishing, canoe, kayak and tubing opportunities. In addition, Winter sports enthusiasts will enjoy the close proximity to cross country skiing and snowmobile trails.

The four adventure-seekers got a great tour of Northern Michigan during their journey

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Grimmer

Holland Pier (Big Red Lighthouse) Well-known for its Dutch history, Holland is historic yet hip. Browse downtown’s trendy boutiques and galleries or stroll the tree-shaded campus of Hope College. Attend concerts, theatrical performances and special events. Purchase farm fresh fruits, veggies, annuals and perennials at the Farmers Market. Hike Holland’s soaring Lake Michigan sand dunes or simply relax on our soft sandy beaches. Offing urban excitement and homespun simplicity, Holland is a sophisticated city wrapped up in small-town charm.

Holland's Big Red Lighthouse is an iconic landmark in West Michigan

The Big Red Lighthouse in Holland

Saugatuck (Oval Beach) One of USA Today’s “Best Summer Weekend Escape”. Known as “The Art Coast of Michigan”, artists enjoy the natural beauty of Saugatuck and Douglas with grassy dunes and white sand beaches. Unique shops, fine dining, exquisite lodging and special events lure visitors from far and wide, while at the same time, have maintained the charm of small-town rural America.

Their adventure proved to have perfect weather

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hoffman

 

How many of these Pure Michigan destinations have you visited? Share with us by commenting below!