Upper Peninsula Activities for the Whole family

Amber and I on the Picture Rocks Cruise
Hubby and I moved to the upper peninsula Michigan from the west coast a couple of years ago to work on an investment house. Long story short, we’re still here, but hoping to return home soon. We have taken the time to explore the area though and have found many wonderful things with LOTS of history to do in the area.

This guest post ran over at Scribbit: A blog about Motherhood in Alaska awhile back and now I’m running it for my regular readers as we approach the summer months and all of these activities will be available.

Here in the Upper Peninsula, affectionately known as the UP to the locals. Locals are also known as Yoopers. The term Yooper is a form of North Central American English mostly spoken in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which gives the dialect its name (from “U.P.” for Upper Peninsula). The dialect is also found in many northern areas of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and largely in Northeast Wisconsin. Yooper differs from standard English primarily due to the linguistic background of settlers to the area. The majority of people living in the Upper Peninsula are of either Finnish, French Canadian, Flemish, Scandinavian, or German descent. Yooper is so massively influenced by these areas’ languages that speakers from other areas may have difficulty understanding it. The Yooper dialect is also influenced by the Finnish language making it similar in character to the so-called “Rayncher speek” of the Mesabi Iron Range in northeast Minnesota.

The story goes that neither Wisconsin nor Michigan wanted this frigid, yet beautifully forested, but otherwise barren piece of land that is actually attached to Wisconsin. Michigan inherited it by default. Shortly after that they discovered many mines that made the area into virtual boom towns. Lumber is the primary industry these days. There is talk of reopening many of the mines, especially the copper mines.

Mackinac Island is an island that covers 3.8 square miles in land area and belongs to the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was home to a Native American settlement before European exploration began in the 17th century. It served a strategic position amidst the commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade. This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. It was the scene of two battles during the War of 1812.

During the late 19th century, Mackinac Island became a popular tourist attraction and summering place. Much of the island has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration since and as a result, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is well known for its numerous cultural events; its wide variety of architectural styles, including the famous Victorian Grand Hotel; and its ban on almost all motor vehicles. More than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. While on the island you travel by bicycle, foot or horse drawn vehicles.

The Grand Hotel was constructed in the late 19th century and advertises itself as having the world’s largest porch. The Grand Hotel is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents have visited: Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford (raised in Michigan), George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton), inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain. The hotel served as the setting for the 1947, musical-comedy This Time for Keeps, starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams (after whom the Hotel’s swimming pool is named) and it served as a backdrop for the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Every October the hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the cult-classic.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior. It extends for 42 miles along the shore and covers 73,236 acres. The park offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline between Munising, Michigan and Grand Marais, Michigan, with natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes. Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles (24 km) of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs are up to 200 feet (60 m) above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles, among others. Near Munising visitors also can view Grand Island, most of which is included in the Grand Island National Recreation Area and is preserved separately. The U.S. Congress made Pictured Rocks the first officially-designated National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966.

Isle Royale National Park. Isle Royale, the largest island in Lake Superior, is over 45 miles in length and 9 miles wide at its widest point. The park is made of Isle Royale itself and multiple smaller islands, along with any submerged lands within 4.5 miles of the surrounding islands. Isle Royale National Park was established on April 3, 1940, was designated as a Wilderness Area in 1976, and was made an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. It is a relatively small national park at 894 square miles, with only 209 square miles above water. At the U.S.-Canada border, it will meet the borders of the future Canadian Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.

The park has two developed areas: Windigo, at the southwest end of the island which is a docking site for the ferries from Minnesota, with a campstore, showers, campsites, and a boat dock; and Rock Harbor on the south side of the northeast end which is a dock site for the ferries from Michigan, with a campstore, showers, restaurant, lodge, campsites, and a boat dock. Sleeping accommodations at the park are limited to the lodge at Rock Harbor and 36 designated wilderness campgrounds. Some campgrounds are accessible only by private boat; others in the interior are accessible only by trail or by canoe/kayak on the island lakes. The campsites vary in capacity. The only amenities at the campgrounds are pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire-rings at specific areas. Campfires are not permitted at most campgrounds; gas or alcohol camp stoves are recommended. Drinking and cooking water must be drawn from local water sources (Lake Superior and inland lakes) and filtered, treated, or boiled to avoid parasites. Hunting is not permitted, but fishing is, and edible berries (blueberries, thimbleberries) may be picked from the trail.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is located in Chippewa County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is on the northeastern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on Whitefish Point which forms the northern end of Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. Situated literally at the end of the road about 10 miles north of Paradise, Michigan, the museum is located on the site of Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the oldest active light on Lake Superior. The museum features artifacts retrieved from local shipwrecks, including the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, and utilizes part of the old Coast Guard facility. Whitefish Point is a popular spot for ship watchers, bird watchers and rock collectors.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a 46,179-acre (186.9 km²) state park in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the second largest of Michigan’s state parks. Bordering on Lake Superior, most of the park is located within Chippewa County, with the western section of the park extending into Luce County. The nearest town of any size is Paradise.

SPRING THAW AT Tahquamenon Falls State Park, U.P. Michigan

Tahquamenon Falls State Park follows the Tahquamenon River as it passes over Tahquamenon Falls and drains into Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior. The Tahquamenon Falls include a single 50-foot drop, the Upper Falls, plus the cascades and rapids collectively called the Lower Falls. During the late-spring runoff, the river drains as much as 50,000 gallons (200,000 liters) of water per second, making the upper falls the second most voluminous vertical waterfall east of the Mississippi River, after only Niagara Falls. The North Country Trail passes through the park. The water in this region contains large amounts of dissolved minerals, accounting for the golden-brown color of the water as it cascades over the falls. In winter, the ice that accumulates around and in the falls is often colored in shades of green and blue. Much of the park is undeveloped but it does have more than 22 miles (35 km) of hiking trails. Row boats and canoes are rented to use to approach the lower falls. The state parks are plentiful and gorgeous. Porcupine Mountains State Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Grand Island National Recreation Area are just a few of the other beautiful and wonderful family places to spend a weekend with hiking trails, vista points and a scrumptious picnic.

Pine Mountain ski jump in Iron Mountain is one of the largest artificial ski jumps in the world. The ski jump, built in 1938, has seen more competitive ski jumping than anywhere else in the U.S. An international competition takes place each February and provides a good excuse for a fun time tailgating even if windy conditions don’t permit skiers to jump. Skiers land mid-hill at 65 mph. It makes me nervous to even look at this ski jump. It is 176 feet tall and 380 feet long and it is SO close to the main road. The record jump is 459 feet long.

The U.P. is also home to the National Ski Hall of Fame. The U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum is located in the City of Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the birthplace of organized skiing in the United States. In 1905, the National Ski Association, today known as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, was formed in Ishpeming. It also includes a theater, gift shop, offices and storage space for archive material and collections as well as the Roland Palmedo Memorial Library, one of the largest research ski libraries in the United States is housed here. Roland Palmedo was a skisport builder and contributor for more than 50 years. He helped to organize the National Ski Patrol, the teacher certification program, and various early ski teams and clubs. He also edited two skiing books and developed one of the most extensive ski libraries in America. Following his death in 1977, his family donated his library to the National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum where it has become the nucleus for the Roland Palmedo Memorial Library.

1920-The Iron River “Rum Rebellion” February 20. Federal officers raided a home in Virgil Location, part of Iron River, without search warrant. A confrontation resulted between local law enforcement officers and Federal officers which attracted national attention and resulted in nearly 300 of illegal seizure being thrown out of court.

The Iron Mountain Mine in Vulcan, MI and the Iron Mountain Museum and Cornish Pump are great family activities full of history and fun.

These are just a few of the great family attractions. The best time to visit is summer and there are very few crowds!


this site is cool but your history is a little off. the upper peninsula came into michigan hands by way of ohio. ohio had possession of the beautiful land while michigan had control of toledo. they decided to trade.