Discover Escanaba: A Pure Michigan Itinerary
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc, Escanaba is a hidden gem set against the natural beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here you can find everything you need to create an unforgettable getaway, any time of the year.
There is a wide array of parks and trails for visitors to trek in Escanaba. With a variety of terrain and spectacular views—from the shimmering waters of the bays to the sloping, lush landscape of forests and fields—there’s something for everybody whether it be hiking, biking or riding an off-road vehicle (ORV). All trails are pet friendly in the Bays de Noc area as well, but make sure you still check the rules for each trail before starting off with four-legged friends.
Across the Little Bay de Noc on the Garden Peninsula is Fayette Historic State Park with more than 700 acres for outdoor adventures, as well as a chance to experience some of the Escanaba area’s rich history. After taking a hike, step back in time to explore the beautifully preserved historic townsite that showcases the area’s iron smelting history on Snail Shell Harbor.
After the sun sets, cast your gaze to the sky to marvel at a dazzling star show. The shores of Lake Michigan, peaceful campgrounds and just about everywhere in between provide the perfect setting for spectacular stargazing and, if you’re lucky, northern lights viewing.
Before you go, check the schedule at the Bark River International Raceway to catch exciting ORV races.
ADVENTURE ON THE WATER
Water is a part of life in Escanaba, and there’s plenty of shoreline, lakes and rivers to seek the perfect day on the beach or watersport adventure. Located along the shore downtown, Ludington Park has sandy beaches, a volleyball court, picnic pavilion and more. Just north of Escanaba on the coast of Little Bay de Noc you'll find Van Cleve Park and Gladstone Beach. With shallow waters and sandy shoreline, this is the perfect spot for spending a day enjoying the sun.
If you want to enjoy the water from shore, check out the two lighthouses in the area—the Sand Point Lighthouse in downtown Escanaba, and Peninsula Point Lighthouse located in Rapid River on the Stonington Peninsula. These lighthouses will give you a glimpse into the area’s history while soaking up some spectacular lake views.
Don’t miss out on a chance to relax on the area’s bays, lakes and rivers with some fantastic fishing. The waters of the Bays de Noc are famous for their walleye fishing, and for mid- to late-summer fishing cast a line for salmon. Starting in the spring, partake in catch and release fishing for bass. When winter arrives and the Bays de Noc freeze over, return for an unforgettable ice fishing experience and a chance to catch walleye, pike, yellow perch and more.
WHERE TO EAT
Escanaba is home to many delicious dining options for you to choose from that includes diners, restaurants and pubs. While in the UP, try some regional foods like pasties, a Cornish meat and vegetable pastry, at Dobber’s Pasties and Gram’s Pasties. Escanaba offers more than Yooper classics though, like at Crispigna's Restaurant that has served up cozy Italian classics like homemade thin-crust pizza and lasagna since 1972 in the heart of downtown.
The award-winning Swedish Pantry is one of the most eclectic restaurants you’ll ever walk into. It’s a gift shop, bakery, art gallery and eatery all rolled into one place that serves some of the best homemade, traditional Swedish food in the nation. Just a few minutes west on Lincoln Road, The Stonehouse is a family-owned, fine dining restaurant with a welcoming staff and a come-as-you-are atmosphere. If you want to have a fancy night out without getting all gussied up, The Stonehouse is your place.
Before you start your adventure, grab a coffee and a bite to eat. UP North Roast Coffee is the only coffee roaster in Delta County, and they roast coffee from all around the world. One of their popular brews, the Hunter’s Brew, is made to wake up the early-morning hunter. Or stop by Stone Coffee Cup and Stone’s Deli where scones are made fresh daily and visitors can find gluten-free options. If you are in a hurry, Jo 2 Go Coffee and Express Coffee are drive-thru coffee shops that serve UP North Roast.
CRAFT BEVERAGE SCENE
There’s also a great craft beverage selection in Escanaba. Upper Hand Brewery, a division of Bell’s Brewery, shows pride for their hometown in their UP-inspired craft beers from their Yooper Ale to their Escanaba Black Beer. If you’re craving a perfect brew and delicious meal to go with it, stop by Hereford & Hops Steakhouse and Brewpub. Here you can find award-winning craft beer, fresh-cut steaks from the neighboring butcher shop and vegan and vegetarian options at Hereford & Hops’ The Other Grill.
If you prefer wine, visit Leigh’s Garden Winery, Inc. located Downtown Escanaba in a historic building of over 130 years old. With more than twenty locally-made wines to choose from—including those with Upper Peninsula-inspired flavors—you’re sure to find a glass that satisfies your tastes. You can also drive to Northern Sun Winery in Bark River to try wine crafted from their 100% estate-grown grapes.
WHERE TO STAY
From peaceful lakeshore views to historic inns, there are a variety of different lodging options after a day of exploring Escanaba. If you are looking for more space on the shores of Lake Michigan, check out the cabins of Sandy Shores Resort. Their cottages are perfect for families looking to have a full kitchen, multiple beds and front-door beach access. The Terrace Bay Hotel, just north of Escanaba, also sits on the waterfront overlooking the picturesque Little Bay de Noc. Their newly-renovated rooms and spacious suites offer a luxurious experience—complete with sandy beaches and a newly-remodeled restaurant.
A short drive northeast of Escanaba is the historic Nahma Inn. Built in 1909, this cozy inn has a variety of amenities and the rooms are decorated with period-style furnishings. One of the rooms is said to be haunted by the spirit of Nell Fleming, or “Miss Nell.” Her spirit is known to move items, organize the kitchen, as well as being seen watching out of the second-floor window. Request a stay in “her room,” if you dare!
For more lodging options, visit visitescanaba.com/places-to-stay.
SHOPPING & DOWNTOWN
You can’t leave Escanaba without a stroll down Ludington Street to experience the classic downtown charm and explore a wide range of small shops. Stop by Sayklly’s Candies, which has been creating hand-crafted candies for over a century in downtown Escanaba. From their iconic Caramel Pecan Snappies to a ten-pound chocolate bar, Sayklly’s has something to satisfy any sweet tooth.
If you are looking for commemorative apparel to remember your time in Escanaba, stop by Treetop Threads and North Coast Apparel. These local screen printers make shirts perfect for remembering your visit. Help support local craft makers by visiting Village Artisans/Garden Gallery or the East Ludington Gallery, where you’ll find creative, one-of-a-kind gifts. Don’t forget to check out Yooper Designz for handcrafted furniture, decorations and more made from locally-sourced materials. Take a peek into the area's rich history, and find the perfect vintage item, at one of Escanaba's antique stores—such as the eclectic Orange Cat Antiques.
For those survivalists visiting Escanaba, check out Bark River Knives. Known for their high-quality products, this family-owned business combines modern and traditional methods to craft the finest cutting tools.
A FOUR-SEASON GETAWAY
When fall arrives, see Escanaba burst into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and golds with fall color tours and cool, autumnal hikes. For a snowy, winter getaway, try snowshoeing, winter biking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more on endless miles of groomed trails. You can also experience the unique excitement on the area’s frozen waters with Great Lakes ice racing, ice sports and fantastic ice fishing.
To learn more, visit visitescanaba.com.
For more travel ideas in the Escanaba area and Central Upper Peninsula, check out Hidden Gems in the Central Upper Peninsula: A Pure Michigan Guide. For information about accessible travel in Michigan, visit michigan.org/accessibility.
Please refer to property and attraction websites for updated hours and availability.