*Guest post by OBC intern Victoria
My parents were never considered the “outdoorsy” type. Our vacations consisted of Disney World, The Wisconsin Dells, beach towns down south, Jamaica, and relaxing on cruise ships for weeks at a time. Since going to college, I’ve realized many families are like this — so I wasn’t alone. With the “standard” vacations and time out of the Midwest, there was a huge part of Michigan that we were all missing: The Upper Peninsula.
For anyone who is unaware of what the Upper Peninsula is (like I was five years ago), we can jump into a mini geography lesson. Michigan consists of two major peninsulas — one that looks like a mitten, and another that is north of there. Typically the Upper Peninsula is forgotten about in trendy t-shirts or other memorabilia but it’s the main part of what makes this state so great.
With that being said, here are six places in the upper peninsula you need to drop everything and see as soon as possible.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Unfortunately, I wasn’t exposed to images of Pictured Rocks until college — I had no idea a place like this ever existed in Michigan. I finally made my first trip there summer of 2015 with a group of friends and later returned summer of 2016 to hike the whole shoreline. There are many things you can do in order to experience this natural beauty. There are kayak tours, sunset cruises, boat rentals, hikes and more. My preferred way of seeing the rocks is to hike the “Chapel” route. This hike is perfect for those who are getting their toes wet in the day-hike universe. I recommend bringing snacks, bug spray, sunscreen, long pants, shorts, and comfortable shoes. Regardless of how you choose to view this national park, it will leave you breathless.
Sugarloaf Mountain is one of my favorite places in the Upper Peninsula — once you make it to the top (the challenging part) you can see all the way to Lake Superior. Luckily, Sugarloaf is around twenty minutes outside of Marquette. So, after you’re done climbing up twenty flights of stairs you can enjoy a cold beer at Black Rocks Brewing Company or Ore Dock.
Fayette Historic Townsite
Fayette is an amazingly preserved historical landmark located in the southern region on the Garden peninsula. Fayette was once a community based on coal and iron manufacturing in the mid-1860’s until the 1890’s. The town was built right on the shore of Lake Michigan with large limestone cliffs surrounding it. There are many preserved houses and businesses that are free to roam. Fayette is great for anyone who loves a glimpse into Michigan’s historical past.
Marquette is easily one of my favorite cities in the state of Michigan. Marquette is your typical U.P. town — there are plenty of breweries, restaurants, shops, and sights to see (Sugarloaf Mountain as an example). Since Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University, there is always something happening around town. Usually it includes hammocking next to Lake Superior, jumping off Black Rocks, or kayaking around the shoreline — there’s always something exciting going on!
Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring)
The Big Spring is located just outside of Manistique, Michigan. Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. When you visit the spring you get on a wooden boat that brings you out into the middle so you are able to get a better view of the water gushing out of the fissures below. Every time I visit the Kitch-iti-kipi it never gets out! After visiting, I recommend grabbing dinner and a beer at The Big Spring Inn!
What did I miss? Leave your favorite UP activity in the comments below!
Jill Hinton Wolfe,
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