Be a Tourist in Your Own Town: Unique Upper Peninsula Day Trips

Fresh air, fresh water and fresh memories are what Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is all about. If you’re a native Yooper, you know all of the beauty and uniqueness the U.P. has to offer. If you’ve ever been curious what north-of-the-mitten is all about, here’s a roundup of some in-state adventure every Michigander should have on their bucket list.

Are you hungry? Either way, you will be after hearing about - the food.

The U.P. boasts some of the best culinary hidden gems that Michigan has to offer, and we wanted to have a taste for ourselves. Here are just a few of the many unique eateries you can find in the Upper Peninsula:

The Ambassador
On January 1, 1965, the Ambassador Restaurant opened under new ownership. The new owners, the Rossi family, had transformed the space from a tap bar into a restaurant that specialized in pizza and sandwiches. In 1978, the Ambassador was expanded into the space next door, and the second dining room was added. To explain the history of the Ambassador and the unique murals that line the interior walls, the owners conducted research and wrote a poem detailing the story. The poem, entitled “Come Fill a Bumper,” has since been printed on the cover of the Ambassador menu.

The Library Restaurant and Brew Pub 
Library and Brew PubThe Library is not your ordinary restaurant. They don’t worship the frozen or torture it in frying oil until it’s crispy. They cherish fresh ingredients and never take them for granted. The Library’s goal is simply for you to “Taste Something Great” in every entrée, every salad, every appetizer. This U.P. experience mixes traditional foods with unique flair and twists. The award-winning microbrew is the favorite of many, and premier drinks, wines and beverages bring it all together with a smile.

Kaleva Café
In 1891, Daniel T. Pearce opened a small saloon. The latest offered a warm retreat for hard working miners to gather over a welcomed spot of ale and to exchange tales. Eventually the business exchanged hands, becoming known as John’s Saloon. The new owner proudly promised his guest the “best brands of wine and liquor always on hand”. In 1918, Henry Moilanen took over at 234 Quincy with the idea of opening a restaurant. However, he needed a name. A contest was held and the name “Kaleva” was chosen, a direct take-off from the “Kalevala” national Finnish epic poem. In May 2006, Frank and Sandra Beauchamp reopened the Kaleva Cafe after an extensive renovation. They strive to carry on the Kaleva tradition of good home-cooked food in a friendly atmosphere.

Jampot Bakery
The Jampot bakery is a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite, under the jurisdiction of The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago, and belonging to the Ukrainian Metropoly in the United States of America, which is in union with the Pope of Rome, supreme pastor of the universal Church. They embrace traditions of the Christian East while making delicious confections, cakes and preserves year round. In our skete at Jacob’s Falls, on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, we devote ourselves to a common life of prayer and work for the praise, love, and service of God and for the upbuilding of His Kingdom through the Arts.

The Mariner North
MarinerThe Mariner North holds a very large place as the hospitality center in the history of Copper Harbor. First established in the1920′s, it was called the Pontiac and was a thriving Inn / Restaurant / Bar as Copper Harbor launched its tourism era into a summer resort community with the shuttle service on the Copper Queen to Isle Royale National Park and the establishment of Fort Wilkins State Park. Over 40 years later, it changed hands and became known as the Keweenaw Inn North. The fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and the draw of Lake Superior made Copper Harbor a natural escape from the city confines. In 1977 The Keweenaw Inn again changed hands and renamed it “The Mariner North”. The early days of The Mariner involved the development of the snowmobile program to assist Copper Harbor in its goal as a year round tourism destination area.

Harbor Haus Restaurant
Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question at the Harbor Haus is “Can we have a table with a view?” Fortunately, that’s an easy request to fill as it’s situated right on the shore of Lake Superior. Through the large picture windows, each guest has a beautiful harbor view expanding onto the big lake. While dining, it’s not uncommon to see ore freighters in transit or small marine traffic and kayakers taking in the beautiful surroundings. All of this is framed by a patio adorned with flowers and trees, providing a German/Austrian flavor. The Harbor Haus offers a vast dining menu featuring fresh local fish, seafood, steaks and many more items, as well as Ahi flown in from Hawaii the day after it was “swimming.” Local berries and vegetables are utilized in the dishes when available.

Jamesen’s Fish Market
At Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery, freshly baked goods are highlighted through the use of local ingredients when possible.  The market offers fresh and smoked Lake Superior Trout and Whitefish.  Stop in for a great cup of coffee, as well!

Laurium Manor Inn
Laurium Manor Inn has been restored into an historic mansion hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1989. This mansion has 10 guestroom with private baths in its 13,000 square feet on four floors. A parlor, library, den, dining room, and third floor ballroom are all open for our guests to use and enjoy. Victorian Hall was purchased and restored into a bead & breakfast in 1993. Within its 7,000 square feet is eight guestrooms, each with its own private bathroom. The first floor library, music parlor and dining room are always open for visiting guests.

Paul’s Superior View Restaurant
Paul’s Superior View is committed to providing the best dining experience around. Paul’s menu features an eclectic mix of traditional favorites that is sure to satisfy any craving. Stop in & check out their nightly features, including: Friday Fish Fry & Saturday Angus Prime Rib. Pair your dinner with one of the daily drink specials in Porky’s Pub.

Joey’s Seafood & Grill
Joey’s is famous throughout the Copper Country and the Midwest, as well as the rest of the world, for their seafood… but the spectacular seafood is just the beginning! The menu includes steaks, chicken, Baby Back ribs, steak burgers, pasta, tacos and quesadillas. Joey’s is a must for all seafood lovers visiting the U.P.

Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant
The Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant has become a Houghton staple. The famous Finnish French Toast is known throughout the state and Midwest as a taste explosion for the mouth. Get it with fresh fruit and you’ll melt in your chair. Enjoy Suomi’s small town ambiance and see for yourself why Suomi has been doing breakfast successfully for many, many years.

Roy’s Pasties & Bakery
RoysRoy’s moved to their current location on Houghton’s waterfront in October of 2013 and never looked back.  They’d love for youto stop by, have a cup of coffee and a Danish, maybe some soup or a sandwich, enjoy the free Wi-Fi and be their guest!

Of course, filling your stomach isn’t the only thing to do in the U.P. When you’re looking to have an adventure in Michigan’s north, consider these thrilling and unique trips and tours.

Quincy Mine Tour
rideintomineThe Quincy Mine Tour offers three unique tours for all visitors: Surface Tour only, Surface Tour with Tram Ride, and Full Tour.All tours include a visit to our museum, a video-tour of the No. 2 Shaft-Rock House and a guided tour of the enormous and complex Nordberg steam-powered hoist engine and the building it is in. On the Full Tour, you will take a ride on the cog-rail tram car down the hill to the mine entrance and then ride by tractor-pulled wagon into the mine, seven levels underground. For a family friendly adventure, check out the Quincy Mine.

Adventure Mining Company Copper Mine Tour
While visiting the Copper Country, you’re invited to experience the best in underground mine tours: a tour through the historic Adventure Copper Mine. Walk through part or all of the tunnels on the first level or try your hand at rappelling with a rope and harness to the second level of the mine…the choice is yours! Whatever your vacation plans in the U.P. may be, be sure they include a stop by the Adventure Mining Company to boldly go where no underground mine tour has gone before!

Sea Kayaking  and Mountain Biking with the Keweenaw Adventure Company
Originally founded in 1843 during the great copper boom of the 1800’s, Copper Harbor has long held a maritime significance as the largest natural harbor in the northern Keweenaw Peninsula where ships have taken refuge from Lake Superior’s furious storms. Today the same crystal clear waters allow paddlers to see to depths of nearly 20 feet below, including sights of rocky shoals, reefs and even the remnants of several shipwrecks.  The Keweenaw is home to some of the oldest exposed rock in the world and was originally formed by ancient volcanoes.

KeweenawCoInitially receiving an IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) “Epic Ride” recognition in 2009, the Copper Harbor Mountain Bike Trails were designated as an IMBA  ( “Bronze Level” Ride Center in October of 2011.  This designation was trumped in 2012 with that of an IMBA “Silver Level” Ride Center, which currently ranks these trails among the top five in the world!   Points were scored on a variety and quality of gateway, cross-country, flow and gravity trails, in addition to being considered as a mountain bike friendly community, complete with a bike shop and a brew pub!

Copper Harbor Lighthouse Boat Tour
Whether traveler or Keweenaw resident, don’t miss a tour of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse.  This single tour encompasses a total lighthouse experience, including a ride in a boat similar to an early 20th century lighthouse launch.  Because lighthouses are built in treacherous waters, it took a versatile boat to ferry supplies to lightkeepers and their families.  The time-proven “double-ender” hull design and dimensions of the launch are identical to the early wooden boats of the United States Lighthouse Service which tended to the needs of the lightkeepers of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  You will arrive at Hayes Point just as the lightkeepers did over 150 years before you.

Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds
Surrounded by the silhouettes of the ancient Porcupine Mountains, the Lake of the Clouds is a blue gem amid the thick forests. The Lake of the Clouds is perhaps the most photographed feature in the Porcupine Mountains region. No matter what the season, it is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The Lake of the Clouds Scenic Area is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum 
MineralsLet’s be crystal-clear: the Seaman Mineral Museum is handsome, classy, and suitable—a fortune that houses a fortune. A hundred people gathered on a hot afternoon, across from the ATDC, and attested to a milestone more than a century in the making: a permanent home for the official Mineral Museum of Michigan. Appropriately, for a museum noted for its copper collection, the structure sits on an old mine shaft and the parking lot sits over a stope.

Do you know of any other unique eats or attractions in the Upper Peninsula? Tell us!

Two New Ways Boyne Mountain Offers Big Summer Adventure

Snow-capped hills have turned to lush hiking and biking trails, scenic golf views and more at Boyne Mountain Resort! Today, guest blogger Erin Ernst tells us about a few new ways to experience Boyne Mountain Resort this season.

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Summertime in northern Michigan is all about the allure of natural surroundings and if you like a bit of adventure with your time in the great outdoors, then Boyne Mountain Resort is the place for you!  In addition to plentiful activities like golfing, fishing, horseback trail rides, Zipline Adventures, beach fun, chairlift rides, disc golf, hiking, and paintball, you’ll also discover two new summer excursions – Kayak Adventures and guided mountain biking trips.

The resort recently partnered with Boyne River Adventures to offer guests convenient access to the Boyne River, located just a mile from the resort.  Roundtrip transportation and kayak rental with paddles and flotation jackets make this trip as easy as the breeze on the water.  Departures are offered daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Boyne Mountain’s Adventure Center.  Kayakers are first given an overview of the river’s landscape, and then launched for an enjoyable five-mile float on the prized river.

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

A moderate understanding of kayaking and paddling is best as some maneuvering (just enough to get your heart racing!) is necessary.  The river quickly rewards you for your efforts with a leisurely float for the second half of the trip before flowing into beautiful Lake Charlevoix.  The Boyne River is cherished for its high-quality fresh water that supports great biodiversity, and winds its way deep through the woods where the natural scenery is pristine.

At the end of the approximately two-hour trip, kayakers are picked up in Boyne City and transported back to Boyne Mountain Resort.  Each trip accommodates up to 10 guests.  Rates are $40 per person for a single kayak or $75 for a tandem kayak.

Summer visitors can now also explore Boyne Mountain Resort’s expansive network of mountain biking trails with a guide.  Based on your biking ability, a guide tours the most suitable trails during an hour and a half expedition with up to four guests.  Boyne Mountain boasts an impressive 32.5 miles of trails, including a paved loop with panoramic views of the Boyne Valley, or for more experienced riders, natural wide open two-tracks and technical single-tracks.  Bring your own bike, or rent a ride from Boyne Mountain.  Departures are available daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the cost is just $20 per person.

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

When you need some time away from the sun, adventure can also be found indoors at Avalanche Bay.  The mega indoor waterpark is the largest in Michigan, and its newest attraction has adventurists giddy with excitement.  Beginning in a launch capsule, The Big Couloir features a trap door that drops away and propels riders into an enclosed tunnel traveling at G-force speeds up to 38-feet per second round a 360-degree loop before finishing with a splash.  This ride is a pure adrenaline rush that will leave you wanting to ride it again and again!

So whichever adventure calls you, find it this summer at Boyne Mountain Resort.

For Kayak Adventure and guided mountain biking reservations, call 231.549.7256.  For more information on all of Boyne Mountain’s summertime fun, visit boynemountain.com.

Erin Ernst is the Director of Communications for BOYNE, owner and operator of Boyne Highlands Resort, Boyne Mountain Resort, The Inn at Bay Harbor – A Renaissance Golf Resort, Boyne Country Sports, and Boyne Realty.  She is a Michigan native who loves recreation and the outdoors, and has worked in the resort and tourism industry for over ten years.  She is also a board member with the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau and West Michigan Tourist Association.

Pure Michigan Fourth of July 2014 Activities Roundup

 Fourth of July fireworks, festivals and more have already started happening across Michigan, and many will be out and about celebrating the Fourth of July both before and after the big day! With so many festive events and plenty of Michigan campground space available, there’s still time to plan a great Independence Day adventure. Below is just a sampling of celebrations and quick weekend getaways you can still book!

For a complete listing of events in Michigan visit www.michigan.org

Fireworks4th of July Celebration | St. Ignace
Combining the nostalgic sentiment of a small-town celebration with the picturesque backdrop of Lake Huron and Mackinac Island makes the 4th of July in St. Ignace something special. Watch the parade at 1pm, enjoy Kiwanis Kid’s Games and a community picnic at 2pm, and watch the fireworks over Moran Bay at dusk. Let us show you patriotism, St. Ignace style!

Fourth of July Parade & Fireworks | Port Austin
One of the Thumb’s largest parades is hosted annually in beautiful Port Austin. Entertainment at Veteran’s Waterfront Park, and fireworks at dusk over the harbor will encompass a wonderful evening of red, white and blue fun on Independence Day.

4th of July Fireworks | Grand Haven
Grand Haven’s annual 4th of July Fireworks display lights up the night sky after the evening’s showing of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  Come see the sights and sounds of summer as you kick back and enjoy an exciting fireworks display.

Independence Day Concert | Saint Joseph
Join this joyous celebration of America’s birthday!  Complete with traditional patriotic songs, Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture and, of course, a spectacular fireworks show! This free concert will be at the Shadowland Pavilion at Silver Beach beginning at 9pm.

July 4th Fireworks Cruise | Muskegon
See the spectacular fireworks from the water with the best view in town on this fun cruise for the whole family! This unique cruise will take you on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan and includes an all American picnic buffet. $55 adults, $45 kids under 12. Service fee added. Call-ahead reservations required.

Star Spangled Fourth | Mackinac Island
Celebrate America’s Independence on Mackinac Island. Patriotic fun in oh so many ways … visit Fort Mackinac for the 38 Gun Salute, Soldier demonstrations, dancing, canon firing and more from one of the only two remaining all original Revolutionary War Forts in America. Then feast at the All American Picnic at Fort Mackinac catered by Grand Hotel. Mackinac Island’s Fire Department is the host to the Fun & Games at Windermere Point. There are excellent fireworks to be watched on the water or from the shoreline on the west end of Main Street to Grand Hotel. They start at dusk, which is usually between 9:30pm-10pm. Most bring blankets to stretch out on the shoreline, others bring folding chairs to watch from the school yard and guests of Grand Hotel may watch from the longest summer porch in the world.

4th of July Fireworks | Traverse City
Enjoy a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display beginning at dark with great viewing from anywhere along the West Bay shoreline in beautiful Traverse City.  The fireworks will be from 10 p.m. – 11 p.m. so make sure you show up early to get a good spot!

Light Up the Lake Fireworks | South Haven
Watch a spectacular fireworks display and listen to the Light Up The Lake soundtrack live on SuperHits 103.7 COSY-FM! The fireworks shoot off synchronized to the music and are set off from the pier at dusk. Find a cozy viewing location along the South Haven Lake Michigan shoreline on the beaches, the riverfront park located near the South Side Marina along the Black River, Kid’s Corner on Monroe Boulevard, or in a boat! Parade will be held on July 4 through downtown.

4th of July | Les Cheneaux
Enjoy the spectacular view of fireworks over Cedarville Bay from the Cedarville’s downtown waterfront park or the lawn of the Great Lakes Boat Building School on July 4. Earlier that day, a parade, kids games, hot dogs and burgers, Up in Smoke BBQ, races and contests, and more wind down into early evening with music on the bay by Dance Commander DJ and a Jersey Mud eating contest.

Appldore_IV MIORGBBQ Dinner Sail | Bay City
Set sail this Independence Day! Make sure you have your ticket and hop aboard the family friendly Appledore IV for a fun and relaxing evening of cruising along the Saginaw River and sailing in the Saginaw Bay. While on board, guests will enjoy a delicious and casual barbecue meal catered by a local restaurant.  The voyage departs from downtown Bay City, Wenonah Park and sails rain or shine.  Tickets are non-refundable.

Friday Night at the Museums | St. Ignace
From 7-9pm, these fun-filled evenings in July and August will have something for everyone! As you stroll along the streets in downtown St. Ignace on a Friday night you will see a variety of activities to watch and/or participate in. The Museum of Ojibwa Culture will have Native American drumming and singing and you can also enjoy music and storytelling at Fort de Buade Museum. Friday nights is in July and August.

Independence Fest | Clarkston
This is an all-day event from 11am-11pm filled with fun activities for the whole family. Activities include visiting a mermaid, an extreme zip line, kid’s games, inflatables, a craft show, live entertainment, and much more! After a great day of entertainment you can kick back, relax and watch the fireworks show starting at 10 p.m. Parking and shuttle fees.

Volkslaufe / The People’s Race 2014 | Frankenmuth
Head to Frankenmuth for a variety of races on Independence Day!  Race location is Heritage Park on Weiss

Thunder Bay Maritime Festival | Alpena
A spaghetti dinner, music and fireworks show will be on July 3rd. Bring the whole family to this free annual community event hosted by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Tour tall ships, research vessels and fishing boats docked along the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail. Enjoy live music on the main stage, kids games and crafts, see the small boat workshop, taste some local whitefish, explore the shipwreck century exhibits and more! Festivities start eachyear at 500 W. Fletcher Street following the 4th of July parade in downtown Alpena.

4th of July in Boyne City
Boyne City’s 4th of July Festival is always held on July 4th, regardless of the day of the week!  All events are held at Veterans Memorial Park on Lake Street unless otherwise noted. Make your way up to Boyne City for the annual parade and fireworks show!

As June comes to a close, so does National Camping Month. But don’t put away that tent just yet! Check out these great campgrounds that still have space for the Fourth of July weekend and beyond. 

Brighton-BishopLakeBeachPathBrighton Recreation Area
Consisting of nearly 5,000 acres of rolling woods and meadows interspersed with lakes, streams and marshes. There are several campgrounds, beaches and hiking and mountain bike trails. The majority of the area is open to hunting, fishing and most winter activities including snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Bishop Lake beach offers an ADA accessible path which will allow all of our visitor’s access to the lake for swimming and several of our new picnic areas. We have added a sand volleyball court and horse shoe pits. The park also offers canoe,kayak and paddle boat rentals. Bishop Lake boat launch now offers an ADA accessible EZ Dock launch. The park also features complete equestrian facilities, including a riding stable with rental horses, campground, staging area and 18 miles of bridle trails. Metal detecting area.

Palms Book State Park
Palms Book is a rewarding side trip for the vacationer touring the Upper Peninsula, for here can be seen one of Michigan’s alluring natural attractions — Kitch-iti-kipi, The Big Spring. Two hundred feet across, the 40-foot deep Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit. By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies. Ancient tree trunks, lime-encrusted branches and fat trout appear suspended in nothingness as they slip through crystal waters far below. Clouds of sand kept in constant motion by gushing waters create ever-changing shapes and forms, a challenge to the imagination of young and old alike.

Fayette Historic State Park
Fayette townsite is a restored iron smelting company town (1867-1891). Once a bustling industrial community, Fayette offers visitors the unmatched serenity of a Lake Michigan harbor, white cliffs and verdant forests. This well-preserved museum village recalls another time when it was a noisy, dirty company town with an immigrant population that shared daily hardships, joys and sorrows. Three miles of shoreline on Big Bay De Noc. Park amenities include: sixty-one semi-modern campsites, boat camping, fully furnished, cottage that sleeps up to ten people, picnicking, beach, playground, fishing, and boat launch. Five miles of hiking trails overlooking town from limestone cliffs. Groomed for cross country skiing, perfect for the beginner.

Hog Island Point

Photo courtesy of Chris Blake Photography

Muskallonge Lake State Park
159 site campground located between Muskallonge Lake and Lake Superior. Activities include swimming, boating, picnicking, agate & rock hunting on Lake Superior shoreline, camping, hunting and fishing. You can also do some wild berry picking while at the state park.

Newaygo State Park
Newaygo State Park is a 99-site rustic campground and day use area sitting atop 20-foot embankments overlooking the Hardy Dam Pond, a six-mile flooding of the Muskegon River. The campground noted for its large, private sites and scenic beauty with a 20-30 foot forested buffer between sites.

Ionia Recreation Area
Ionia Recreation Area offers you 149 campsites (100 modern and 49 rustic), 4,500 acres that offer a swimming beach, good fishing in Sessions Lake, camping, hunting, 3.5 miles of hiking trails looped within the park, nine miles designated for mountain bike trails, 15 miles of horse trails and a boat launch. We also have three designated trail loops for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling when there is four inches or more of snow. Additional amenities include a dog trail area and metal detecting area.

What do you have planned for the 4th of July in Michigan? Tag your Michigan fireworks photos with #PureMichigan on Twitter and Instagram.