A Little Known Upper Peninsula Fall Color Tour

The leaves are beginning to change in Pure Michigan. Today, guest blogger Jesse Land describes a fun fall color tour in the Upper Peninsula.

What if I told you there was a place in the Upper Peninsula where you could find art galleries, wineries, two of Michigan’s most unique state parks and gorgeous fall colors all in one day?

Well, you guessed it, this place exists and I’m going to layout a fun fall color tour that’ll let you hit it all.

Breakfast with a bang

Start your day in Escanaba with an early breakfast at Rosy’s Diner where Rosy herself serves up one of the area’s best breakfasts in this classic styled diner. And she’s a character!

See Kitch-iti-kipi

kitch-iti-kipi viewing raftAfter breakfast, hop on U.S. 2 East towards Manistique and make your way to Kitch-iti-kipi (aka “Big Spring”) in Palms Brook State Park. This crystal clear, forty foot deep natural spring is a must see. A large viewing platform allows you to float out over the spring, taking in the huge trout that congregate here. While the leaves are turning the drive out to Kitch-iti-kipi bursts with fall color so be sure to bring your camera!  



Off to see a ghost town

After enjoying the scenery around Kitch-iti-kipi, drive back to U.S. 2, head west for a few miles, then turn south onto M-183 which is a little known (but excellent) fall color drive. Stop in Garden to check out the Village Artisans Art Gallery (6367 State St. Garden, MI) where dozens of local artists have their work on display.


threefold vine winery

After taking in some art, continue on to Threefold Vine Winery and do a wine tasting in their converted barn. After that, stop into LaTullip Pottery and Tile Works (4677 L.L. Rd. Garden, MI) to see even more local fine art.

And finally, after touring a natural spring, two art galleries and a winery, pull into Fayette Historic State Park to enjoy this well preserved historic ghost town surrounded by fall color. Be sure to make the short hike to the overlook for an excellent view of the town, Snailshell Harbor and the surrounding limestone bluffs.

Lunch in a lighthouse

sherry's port barOkay, Sherry’s Port Bar (4424 L.L. Rd. Garden, MI) isn’t a real lighthouse, but this maritime themed family friendly restaurant/bar is a great spot to stop for lunch while touring the Garden Peninsula. They’ve got quality food every day and an all you can eat whitefish fish fry on Fridays.

Back to Escanaba

End your fall color touring for the day with a drive back to Escanba where you’ll find enough to fill the rest of your afternoon and then some! If you feel like hitting up another winery, visit the tasting room for Leigh’s Garden Winery downtown. If you’re looking for a bit of history, visit the Sand Point Lighthouse and adjacent Delta County Historical Society, which houses a cool museum full of items from Escanaba’s past. Or you could just relax on the beach for a while and take in Little Bay de Noc.

Spend the night in one of the Escanaba area’s excellent lodging options and you’ll be poised to visit any other area of the Upper Peninsula the next day!

This post was written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of the Delta County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Have you been to any of these places in the Upper Peninsula during the fall? Let us know how you enjoyed them! 

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 8

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7. This week, check out part seven, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

As is the case with several cities in Michigan, Escanaba’s name comes from Native American language. Escanaba is actually an Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian word meaning “flat rock.” The name stuck when European settlers arrived and began lumber operations there in the 1830s. The community was officially incorporated in 1863, when the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company built the first iron-ore dock on Lake Michigan.

Benton Harbor
Benton Harbor was founded on a swampy area bordered by the Paw Paw River, through which a canal was built, creating a harbor. It was originally called Brunson Harbor after Sterne Brunson, one of the city’s founders. However, in 1865 the name was changed to Benton Harbor to honor Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri Senator who helped Michigan achieve statehood. In 1869, Benton Harbor was organized as a village and in 1891 was incorporated as a city.

Hamtramck’s name has been a subject of confusion for several years, but it was actually named for Colonel John Francis Hamtramck. Col. Hamtramck was a French-Canadian soldier who fought for the Americans during the American War for Independence. He was at the surrender of Detroit from the British in 1796 and shortly afterwards built a home near the present entrance to the Belle Isle Bridge. When Wayne County was organized in the early 1900’s the area was formally named.

There aren’t many cities in Michigan that can claim their names were the result of a night of cards like Fenton can. The city was originally called Dibbleville in honor of Clark Dibble, who first settled the area. However, in 1837 William M. Fenton (a lawyer and land speculator) and Robert LeRoy (a land speculator) played a game of cards in which LeRoy lost, with Fenton getting to change the name. The consolation prize of the game, given to Robert LeRoy, was putting his name to LeRoy Street, the main route through the city. The game didn’t stop at one hand. The men continued on naming other streets, choosing names (like Adelaide and Elizabeth) in turn, according to the fall of the cards.

Michigan’s self-proclaimed smallest city (it’s actually 2nd smallest according to 2010 U.S. census data) was originally intended to be called “Homer” by its founders by George Gorie and George Carscallen, who set up a sawmill along the Rifle River in the mid-1860s. The town was first named Rifle River Mills, but Carscallen wanted to rename the town as Homer. However, he found a post office in another town with that name, so he simply dropped the leading H, producing the final name. Omer was incorporated as a city following the lumber boom of 1903.