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. Today, featured blogger Jesse Land from Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about eight cool things he did in the Eastern U.P. last summer to inspire your visit. 

Photo by Louis Peeples.

Photo by Louis Peeples.

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!

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)

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.

The Ultimate List of Upper Peninsula Wineries

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. shares his ultimate list of Upper Peninsula wineries.

10298784_10152849038958289_2327881022500686165_nDid you know that the Upper Peninsula currently has eight wineries? From Carousel Winery up in the Keweenaw to Threefold Vine Winery way down in Stephenson, U.P., wineries have been opening up (and sticking around) regularly over the past few years.

Following is a full list of all the wineries in the Upper Peninsula, as well as one bonus location I don’t want you to miss. But before we get started, here are a few impressive facts about Michigan’s wine industry I borrowed from the recent Four Fun Ways to Celebrate Michigan Wine Month blog post:

- Michigan wineries attract more than 2 million visitors annually
- Michigan’s wine, grape and grape juice products add nearly $790 million of economic value
- The industry accounts for more than 5,000 jobs statewide and produce a payroll of more than $190 million
- Michigan is ranked the fifth state in wine grape production in the nation and vineyard area has doubled in the last 10 years
- The wineries produce more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually – placing Michigan 13th in wine production

Yes my friends, Michigan is a serious player in the national wine industry. If you’re a wine lover, I’d highly suggest carving out a little time to visit a few of these great vineyards and tasting rooms on your next Upper Peninsula vacation.

Leigh’s Garden Winery
904 Ludington Street

Escanaba, MI 49829
(906) 553-7799

Located in a historic building in downtown Escanaba, Leigh’s tasting room makes a great stop when visiting the Escanaba area. Leigh also hosts a summer artist series with the work of local artists rotating through the summer.

Northern Sun Winery
983 10th Road
Bark River, MI 49807
(906) 399-9212

Not from from Leigh’s in Bark River, Michigan sits Dave and Susie Anthony’s estate winery. Northern Sun has been growing grapes for twelve years and their three and a half acre vineyard is home to about 3,000 vines. A fully equipped below ground cellar and Mediterranean style cottage tasting room round out this excellent winery.

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

Threefold Vine Winery
S232 Menominee St.
Stephenson, MI
(906) 753-6000

Formerly located on the Garden Peninsula, Threefold Vine Winery recently relocated to the town of Stephenson.  But don’t worry, they brought last fall’s grapes, apples and other fruit with them and won’t miss a beat. Andy, Jan and family try to positively impact the local community as well as U.P. viticulture, and I’d say they definitely succeed in those efforts! I can’t wait to get to their new tasting room in the historic Stephenson bank building.

Garden Bay Winery
321 E Superior
Munising, MI 49862
(906) 361-0318

When the golf course owned by Garden Bay Winery owners John and Gloria could no longer support itself, they repurposed the course by planting grapes and berries and began making wine in what used to be the club house. Known for their award winning fruit wines, the folks at Garden Bay will be opening a new tasting room this year in Cooks, which is just a few minutes away from Manistique.

Mackinac Trail Winery
103 W Lakeshore Dr.
Manistique, MI 49854
(906) 341-2303

Just fifteen minutes away from the new Garden Bay Winery location sits Mackinaw Trail Winery’s Manistique tasting room. With live music outside in the summer and world class sangria on hand, this cool little tasting room makes for a fun stop. And if you want to grab lunch while in Manistique, the excellent Upper Crust Deli is right across the river.

Algomah Acres Meadery
611 Plank Rd.
Greenland, MI 49929
(906) 883-3894

Thanks to the folks at Algomah Acres, I now know what mead is. And for those of you who are in the dark like I was, mead is simply wine made from honey. And it’s delicious. Located in a historic catholic church, Algomah Acres makes many different great beeswax products in addition to their mead.

Want to give mead a try? Stop in and see Algomah Acres during the Michigan Honey Festival in Frankenmouth on July 12th, where they’ll be handing out samples of their artisanal brews.

Photo courtesy of Carousel Winery

Photo courtesy of Carousel Winery

Carousel Winery
21 Trimoutain Avenue
South Range, MI 49963
(906) 487-9463

Located in the same small town as Keweenaw Brewing Company’s production facility, Carousel Winery actually allows customers to make their own wine! They say the process takes about one hour and then in six to eight weeks you can return for the final bottling. They even let you create a custom label. Talk about a cool gift idea.

St. Charles Winery
1104 West Washington St.
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 273-1109

As far as I’m aware, the St. Charles Winery in Marquette is the newest player in the Upper Peninsula wine scene. They’re so new, I haven’t had the chance to stop in yet. But according to a U.P. Second Wave article about them, they offer “wine tastings, samples, and bottle sales in-house, as well as private bookings, a gift shop and customer events.”

And if you’re looking for a place to stock up on a variety of Michigan made wine (or beer), check out the very cool Michigan Made Beer, Wine and More store in Marquette. They’ve got surprisingly cool shop full of great beer, wine and other products and make it easy to support all of the wineries listed above!

Have you been to any of these Upper Peninsula wineries? 

JesseLand21111Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P.

Great Views and Great Brews: Waterfall Week in the Upper Peninsula

“Views and Brews” is happening April 21st – 27th in Marquette, MI.  If you love Michigan waterfalls, craft beer, and scavenger hunts, then this a celebration you won’t want to miss!

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. tell us what to expect from Waterfall Week 2014. 

Photo by Habibi Photography

Morgan Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

Waterfall Week, otherwise known as “Views and Brews” is a newer Marquette area event that’s rapidly growing in popularity. Last year’s inaugural event successfully brought hundreds of locals and visitors out of their homes, into the woods, and subsequently into the Marquette area breweries to score a free pint glass.

This year’s event runs from April 21st to April 27th.

How Waterfall Week Works

Just about anyone 21 and over can participate in this fun event. All you need to do is visit a Marquette County waterfall, take a photo of yourself in front of the waterfall and then visit one of the four Marquette area breweries. You then show the bartender the photo, order a beer and you get to keep the special edition “Views and Brews” pint glass.

This year’s event will run much the same as last year’s, but with a couple notable differences – New beers, new prizes and a geocaching scavenger hunt.

Limited Edition Craft Beers

Each of the four Marquette County breweries has whipped up a special craft beer for waterfall week. If you’re a craft beer lover, take heed, this could very well be your only chance to sample one of these custom brews. It breaks down like this:

Ore Dock Brewing Co. – Dead River Drops Saison

Jasper Ridge Brewery and Restaurant – Warner Creek Wheat

Blackrocks Brewery - Yellow Dog Ginger Cream Ale

Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery – Black River Falls Cascadian Dark IIPA

All Ages Scavenger Hunt

This year a family friendly component has been added to waterfall week in the form of a geocaching scavenger hunt. Entry forms for the scavenger hunt can be picked up at the Marquette County Convention & Visitors Bureau located downtown at 337 West Washington St. Marquette, MI as well as participating breweries. The grand prize for the scavenger hunt is an overnight stay at any Marquette County hotel!

The Waterfalls

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Alder Falls – Photo by Habibi Photography

The Marquette area is well known for its waterfalls. In fact, Marquette county has more waterfalls than any other county in Michigan! They local visitor’s bureau even has a very useful waterfall map that I’d highly recommend you get. And the best part is it’s totally free.

Just call the Marquette Visitor’s Bureau at (906) 228-7749 and ask them to mail you their “waterfall map.” They call it the waterfall map but it’s also got a great list of beaches and scenic vistas, all of which have directions listed.

But in case you’re the handheld GPS type, here’s a list of some of the area’s more popular waterfalls. These are also the waterfalls included in the scavenger hunt.

1. Carp River – Morgan Creek Falls (46.505N 87.438W)

2. Carp River – Upper Falls (6.50293N 87.44811W)

3. The Dead River Falls – Forestville (46.56841N 87.44811W)

4. Black River Falls (46.23N 87.46W)

5. Little Garlic River Falls (46.4018N 87.34448W)

6. Warner Creek Falls (46.433N 87.599W)

7. Yellow Dog River 510 Falls (46.7311N 87.70W)

Photo by Habibi Photography

Photo by Habibi Photography

One final note: Bring snowshoes, or at least be prepared to hike through some snow to get to your target waterfall(s). You never know what the weather will be like in the Upper Peninsula and the way this winter has been there’s definitely a chance that a good amount of snow will remain at the end of April.

I know I’m looking forward to seeing the water flowing again. And sampling those new craft beers, too!

Have you visited a Marquette area waterfall? Tell us about your visit. 

JesseLand2111Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.