For families that love outdoor adventures, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is 16,452 square miles of paradise.
Colloquially called the U.P. (its residents, “Yoopers”), the peninsula spans three Great Lakes, a handful of state parks and miles upon miles of waterfalls, streams and hiking trails. Visit between August and April, and you’ll get a breathtaking view of the Northern Lights.
There’s plenty to do in Marquette, the U.P.’s biggest city, but don’t overlook the area’s smaller towns. The Au Sable Light Station in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the dozens of historic lighthouses dotting the peninsula — to access its amazing views, you walk a mile and a half across a beach-adjacent trail. Park ranger-led tours are just $5 per person (kids under six tag along for free).
From St. Ignace, you can take a ferry to Mackinac Island, a picturesque resort town near the western tip of Lake Huron. The island is vehicle-free (that’s part of the appeal), so visitors can explore it via tandem bike rental and horse-drawn carriage. There are gourmet fudge shops everywhere you turn — and many, like the ultra-popular Ryba’s, let you watch the confectioners make the sweet treats right in front of you. Be sure to stop by Fort Mackinac, which dates back to the 18th century, and hosts daily reenactments of life in a soldier's barracks during the Revolutionary war.
VISIT: Au Sable Light Station; Mackinac Island; Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum; Soo Locks Boat Tours
SEE: Tahquamenon Falls State Park; Miners Castle; Sand Point Beach
EAT: Kaleva Cafe; Donckers
DRINK: Northern Sun Winery; Blackrocks Brewery; Soo Brewing Company and 1668 Winery