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Where are you vacationing this summer? If you haven’t considered spending a week up north, you might want to add it to your list of possibilities. We’re here to help you plan a fun trip with our favorite things to do in Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
Whether you’re a family of five, a retired couple, or a solo traveler, you’ll have plenty to do in this region of the country. Let’s dive in!
What Is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?
Two landmasses make up the state of Michigan. Also known as the U.P., the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac.
It borders Wisconsin to the southwest, Lake Superior to the north, and Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to the southeast.
Although the Upper Peninsula of Michigan contains about a third of the state’s land, less than 10% of the people live there.
What Is the Upper Peninsula Known For?
Because of its remoteness, the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, is known for its scenic beauty. Roads, housing subdivisions, and skyscrapers haven’t destroyed the natural wonders of this part of the country.
You’ll find cascading waterfalls and plenty of paddling and hiking opportunities to explore the U.P. or go wildlife viewing and birding.
It’s also an ideal location to view the Northern Lights during certain times of the year and enjoy stargazing the rest of the time. The region has little light pollution to hide the night sky.
Another popular activity is visiting the historic lighthouses that line the coast. The Upper Peninsula has over 40 picturesque lighthouses that draw tourists every year.
Is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Good for Camping?
If you’re looking for rustic, primitive camping, the U.P. is a great place to check out for your summer vacation or road trip. You can’t find this rugged beauty of this part of Michigan in many other states east of the Mississippi.
The thousands of inland lakes and the three Great Lakes provide beautiful camping spots to enjoy the weekend.
It’s important to note that campers need a Recreation Passport to camp in Michigan and its Upper Peninsula. Residents can get it for a discounted rate of $12 when they renew their license.
However, non-residents must pay $36. You can find out more about camping in the U.P. in our article “The Best Camping Spots in Upper Peninsula, Michigan.”
What Is the Best Month to Visit the Upper Peninsula Michigan?
If you want friendly weather, July and August will be the best months to visit the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. Because of its northern location, the U.P. will still have snow even into June. But if you like winter recreation, you might consider planning a trip for amazing scenery and activities in the other months.
Our 10 Favorite Things to Do in Upper Peninsula Michigan
The Upper Peninsula might be remote and rugged, but it’s full of entertaining attractions and recreational activities. Below we talk about our 10 favorite things to do in Upper Peninsula Michigan to help you plan your next trip.
1. Bike the M-185 on Mackinac Island
No vehicles are allowed on Mackinac Island. Cars have been banned since 1901. So you’ll find plenty of bikes and horse-drawn carriages on the streets. Lake Shore Boulevard, or State Highway M-185, goes around the island.
It’s fairly level and will take about an hour to travel the 8.2 miles. But make plans to stop and take in all of the sites of Mackinac Island.
2. Sip Wine at a Winery
We can’t choose just one winery to list here because there are so many in the U.P. Yooper Winery, Northern Sun Winery, and Mackinaw Trail Winery and Brewery are all highly rated and offer beautiful sceneries to enjoy wine tasting.
When done biking, hiking, or paddling the Upper Peninsula, relax for sunset and savor Michigan wine.
3. Take a Soo Locks Boat Tour
Another one of our favorite things to do in Upper Peninsula Michigan is book a Soo Locks Boat Tour. They have a rating of 4.7/5 stars on Google for a reason.
You can take tours daily, which include lighthouse cruises, fireworks cruises, sip and sail cruises, and classic tours. See freighters up close, view historic lighthouses on the Canadian and United States shorelines, or enjoy a special July 4th celebration.
4. Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Kids and adults may love the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which opens May 1 through October 31. The museum attracts nearly 100,000 visitors each season.
You’ll learn about the dangers of traveling along the Great Lakes and visit the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior, Whitefish Point Light Station. Artifacts and exhibits tell the stories of sailors who lost their lives traveling “Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast.”
5. Climb to the Top of Crisp Point Lighthouse
Although no longer operational, the Crisp Point Lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction in the U.P. for people willing to venture out to reach it. It wasn’t until recently that the lighthouse became accessible by road.
You’ll drive about 40 miles north from Newberry to the shores of Lake Superior. Traveling through Lake Superior State Forest, you can see the landscape’s captivating, rugged beauty.
The lighthouse only opens seasonally, and the road isn’t maintained in the winter, so plan your visit accordingly.
6. Hike the Piers Gorge Trail
The Piers Gorge Trail in Menominee River State Recreation Area is a 2.6-mile out-and-back trail open to hikers and bikers. It’s also dog-friendly as long as they remain on a leash.
It’s a moderate hike that offers beautiful views and peaceful scenery along the banks of the Menominee River.
Keep in Mind: Looking to visit Michigan in the fall instead? These are The Best Campgrounds for Fall Camping in Michigan!
7. Take a Boat Tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
From mid-May to mid-October, you can book a boat tour to view the stunning landscape of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
You’ll see huge sandstone walls, caves of various colors, beautiful scenic arches, and uniquely shaped rocks along this protected landscape. Check out Pictured Rocks Cruises for all the details.
8. Drive the Scenic Brockway Mountain Drive
Copper Harbor is located in the northernmost region of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. Brockway Mountain Drive is a 9.5-mile scenic drive through this area that’s a prime spot for birders who want to see the annual migration of birds of prey from mid-April to mid-June.
Designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area, Brockway Mountain Drive is the highest above-sea-level drive between the Rockies and the Alleghenies.
You can also check out our article “Is Copper Harbor, Michigan, Worth Visiting?” to learn more about this area of the U.P.
9. Visit Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Another of our favorite things to do in Upper Peninsula Michigan is visiting Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
All of the state parks in Michigan offer excellent locations for recreational activities and spectacular scenery, but we especially love this one. It actually made our list of state parks that are better than most national parks.
It has more than 90 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for backcountry and primitive camping. This is the largest Michigan state park, with 60,000 acres of protected land.
Popular attractions include the Summit Peak observation tower, Porcupine Mountains Winter Sports Complex, Lake of the Clouds, fall chairlift rides, and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Keep in Mind: Can You Carry a Golf Cart on the Back of a Camper? Let’s dive in and see!
10. Go Wildlife Viewing at Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park, located north of the U.P. in Lake Superior, has no roads within or leading to the park. Only ferries or seaplanes transport visitors from April to October.
Because this area has remained a true wilderness, it’s a great location to view moose, wolves, otters, hawks, bald eagles, and more wildlife.
Plan Your Next Trip With These Things to Do in Upper Peninsula Michigan
We could list 10 more of our favorite things to do in Upper Peninsula Michigan. From other state parks to bike trails to paddling adventures, you’ll have endless opportunities to explore the rugged and beautiful landscape.
Waterfalls, lakes, rivers, forests, and rocky shores make the scenery of the U.P. truly a spectacular place to visit.
If you’ve visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, what would you add to our list of things to do?