Happy Mitten Monday Loves! I hope your weeks are off to a fabulous start. In the spirit of my Michigan Summer Bucket List I talked about last Monday, I thought I’d write about a fun weekend trip you can take to the U.P.!
I already talked about Mackinac Island (my favorite place in the U.P. !) a few weeks ago on my blog. You could seriously spend your entire weekend on the island if you wanted, but if you’re anything like me, you’d want to see what else the area has to offer. Lucky for you, there are a ton things near the island that can make for an memorable weekend.
If you’ve never been to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (fondly referred to as the U.P.) theres a few things you should know before you come. First, expect to see trees. SO. MANY. TREES. If you’re looking for the whole “surrounded by nature” experience, you’re going to find it here. Next, you will see some unique/weird/corny tourist stops, and you HAVE to check them out. Seriously. I mean, how many other chances in your life are you going to be able to go to a place called The Mystery Spot or get your picture taken with Paul Bunyan? Last, don’t be in a rush. If there is anything I’ve learned from all my trips to the U.P. it’s that people there know how to slow down, and enjoy life. We could learn something from them.
Now that’s out of the way… let’s move on to a weekend itinerary! I always recommend saving Mackinac Island for the end of your trip. Sorry, rest of the U.P., if you’re not Pictured Rocks or the Porcupine Mountains, anything else could be a bit of a let down compared to the adorable little island. So, stick with the old mentality of “saving the best for last”, and do the other things first… so that you can truly enjoy each and every moment of your adventure.
No trip to the U.P. is complete without crossing the Mighty Mac. I mean, how else are you supposed to get there? (Unless you’re coming from any other direction than south, I mean. HAHA) Before you cross, stop in one of the side parks to snap some pictures of the iconic Michigan structure. Take a moment to take it all in, because it truly is a work of art. One that people died making. (Seriously. My fourth grade teacher told us how people fell into the cement when they were building it and couldn’t be saved. Apparently, they are still in there. Whether this is true or not, I’m not sure, but I always silently pay my respects to them before I cross the bridge, just in case.)
Speaking of the Mighty Mac, crossing the bridge is such a cool experience, as long as you aren’t afraid of heights… or water! A lot of people have a hard time during the 5 mile journey across, especially if they don’t know what to expect. A few things you should know before crossing…
- There is a grate, and it will make a LOUD noise and it will be super rumbly. Try not to let this freak you out. You’re totally safe, I promise!
- If you don’t like heights, don’t look down. You’re up really high, over water, for a long ways. Try to sit on the “inside” (behind the driver) because you’ll be further away from the edge, and won’t be able to see how high up you are.
- If you are worried about driving, STAY OFF THE GRATE. You can avoid this by being on the outside lane. It will be less scary.
If you are truly too afraid to drive across the bridge, there is an assistance program. However, I say conquer your fears! It is such a BEAUTIFUL drive across. Try to forget that you’re on a massive bridge, and just enjoy the scenery 🙂
Once you’ve made it across, keep heading North to little town of Newberry. Here, you will find Oswald’s Bear Ranch! Have you ever wanted to feed a baby bear? This is where you do it. Seriously, I fed this little angel fruit loops and I LOVED HIM SO MUCH.
Try not to go in with any expectations of Oswald’s being like a zoo. It is literally in the owner’s back yard. However, it is such a cool experience.
After the bear ranch, find your hotel and check in. Chances are, you’ve already had a long day of traveling and are going to be getting hungry! For us, we drove an hour west to stay in Sault Ste. Marie. I highly, highly, highly recommend this. Not only is The Soo close to the other locations I’ll be mentioning, but it has nice hotels, a cute downtown area, and of course, the world famous Soo Locks.
My Grandpa LOVES the locks, so we spent quite a bit of time here before dinner one night. I’ll even admit, it was really cool! The locks are there because ships have to traverse a 21 foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. If you’re ever in the area, it is definitely something to see!
Looking for a place to grab some food in The Soo? My favorite is Antlers. Don’t get me wrong, the food is awesome, but the atmosphere is even better! However, just know, if you don’t like noise, this may not be the place for you.
Get up early the next morning because it’s time to head to Paradise! Literally. If you’re going to Tahquamenon Falls, you’re heading to Paradise, Michigan. (I’ve thought this was SO FUNNY ever since I was 5, and I still think it’s so funny. I know. I’m strange.) The falls themselves are beautiful. You can easily make it back to see them, because the walk way to the view point is paved. Since we were with my entire family, we didn’t explore much beyond the walkway, however there are some AMAZING hikes throughout the state part. I highly recommend spending your day hiking!
Now, if you’re anything like my family, you might get a little thirsty while you’re exploring the falls. Consider having lunch at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery! It’s literally right off the walk way, has gift shops attached to it, and has great food. Also, the craft beers are awesome!
We finished our day at Whitefish Point. Fair warning, this was not my favorite place we visited. Yes it is beautiful, yes the museums are probably really cool, but I found myself wishing we were hiking at Tahquamenon instead of looking at old ships. This is a great place, however, to stick your toes in Lake Superior if you’ve never had the chance! Fair warning… IT WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY. Brrrrrrrr.
After, we headed back towards The Soo for a pizza in party in Grandma’s room before doing our own things for the evening. The next morning, it was up early because we were heading to the island.
It was a perfect long weekend trip for me and my family. We had the best time! Now, you’ve got a few weeks left of sweet summertime in Michigan, go out there and make the most of it!
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