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.

  • Shannon Persky

    Thank you for this list. I just went to the falls 3 weeks ago. The lower falls hike in snow up to our waist was awesome. I wish I could take off the whole summer to explore around the whole UP. I know just 3 months would never be long enough. But sure would be a start. My next mission is the glass bottom boat. Pictured rocks was amazing. So much to do and sadly not enough time!!

  • DeLynn_D

    Shannon–You might enjoy renting a pontoon out of Munising and exploring the lake and Pictured Rocks that way. It is so much fun and the scenery is unbelievable!

  • Shannon Persky

    Thank you

  • Annette Lawrence

    I would love to go back to Black River Harbour, Bond Falls. Just to name a couple. Oh also to White Fish Point Bay. My son wants to see the bell of the”Fitz”.

  • Brenda B.

    The Big Spring, Kitch-iti-kipi up near Manistique. I have been there so many times and am fascinated every time I go. Also, Fayette State Park on the Garden Peninsula. Absolutely stunning views. The Porcupine Mountains, especially Lake of the Clouds. I could go on and on. I could spend more than a month up there trying to see everything. Love Marquette. The U.P is a hidden gem.

  • Henry D

    I am not familiar with Brown’s but Paradise is on M123 and not M28. I have Ben there a couple times this spring to Whitefish Point to see the ice and the freighters trying to get through it.

  • Robin S

    Try hiking to the Pictured Rocks shoreline! There is a nice parking lot. The trails are well marked. It only takes 1/2 hour to get there. The forest is beautiful! There are waterfalls, huge cliffs like on the shore, and when you get to the lake it is so pristine! Beautiful beach’s! We would take our kids, and picnic there. They would swim, wave at the boat tours as they passed. Great time, and very few people. Had the place to ourselves mostly.

  • Michael Parkinson

    Nothing beats a Clydes Hamburgers I love them and Fayette State Park

  • Brenda

    Oswalds bear ranch is nice just north of Newberry! All rescued animals! You can even get your pic taken with the Cubs! Also kayaking at northland outfitters in germfask has never disappointed!!!

  • Brenda

    Whitefish point and shipwreck museum are nice spots as well!

  • Kim S.

    Amazing ideas! Being an Iron Mountain native myself, I would love to see even more of your great ideas for our end of the UP!

  • Samantha

    My Husband and I made it to Crisp Point…it was a crazy adventure, but SO worth it! Amazingly beautiful!!!

  • Dennis Fulfer

    Don’t forget about the Deyoung Zoo in Wallace, you get to see big cats closeup and hold the baby animamils. The feed the big cats and will the you camera and the pictures of the cats that you would never get at the big name Zoo. The also interact will other animamils at the Zoo. We have been there numerous times and hold the baby. Even had one monkey pee on twice. ☺

  • Marjorie A MacDonald

    Rent Cabin at Kenbuck Resort near the Pine-Marten Trails and ride your horse through the most beautiful Hiawatha National Forest (could hike it also)

  • ruthie

    No trip to the U.P. would be complete without climbing Castle Rock in St. Ignace. It’s been in business for 80+ years. Also try some smoked fish from Manley’s Fish Market, also in St. Ignace.

  • Christopher Voigt

    Oswalds bear sanctuary ,rent a pontoon boat in Munising and navigate Grand Island,and visit the shipwreck museum at Whitefish point