Angela Avery's Blog

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Posted in Uncategorized by aavery on July 16, 2010

Lake Michigan

Do you often find yourself at work, drifting off, reminiscing about sandy beaches with white capped waves softly tripping over sand and rocks, falling onto the wet sandy shore line? Are you once again feeling the need to pay a much needed visit to spend time with nature and some of Michigan’s Great Lakes scenery?

Trying to decide what to do with a week’s vacation time can be a daunting decision. You know you want to go somewhere to get away from the daily hum-drum. You know you want a place where the buildings aren’t so tall and you cannot hear traffic unless you seek it out yourself, but only because you may have forgotten to pack the hot dog buns. Well, Northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a great way to get in touch with nature, feel Zen again and come back home with the feeling you really got away from it all.

The Upper Peninsula is known for its natural beauty, winding roads, extraordinary wildlife, large bodies of fresh water and never-ending, cascading waterfalls.

“My husband and I go to the UP often—Bruce, my husband, is an avid hunter and fly fisherman who enjoys the peace and quiet, great hunting and fishing in the rivers, streams and lakes up there are his personal paradise,” said Karen Dropiewski, nature lover, Oakland County resident and regular visitor of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “I, personally enjoy seeing the waterfalls and the quiet of just being near the water—that to me is real solitude,” said Karen. “I like to knit on the beach because it’s very relaxing—and it’s easy to find new hiking trails that are just off the beaten path every time I go back—when I am on those trails, I always see something new.”

With so many magnificent and scenic locations to experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you may find it difficult to select which cities and sights to focus on. Well, here are some things you can do in one week from the bridge and back again to make sure you get the most of your week’s vacation.

Northern Michigan is a nature lover’s haven. People travel the globe to visit wildlife in Hiawatha National Park, The powerful waterfalls of Tahquamenon Falls with the finest brewery on state park property in the nation, beaches in Paradise, Michigan and the light houses of White Fish Point. Don’t forget to visit Munising’s breathtaking pictured rocks as well as the strength and massive structure of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinac City.

Something you may find to be time consuming is creating a vacation itinerary. What if we removed that headache from the equation for you by telling you about some of the best spots to visit so you can relax, and instead spend most of your time relaxing with nature, rather than planning and searching? Let’s take a look at some things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Approaching the Upper Peninsula, you are bound to approach Mackinac City, Michigan. Before entering the bridge, you can instead hang a right into Colonial Fort Michilimackinac. This fort was not a military fort, but rather was owned by the French and served as a supply depot for traders in the Western Great Lakes region of Michigan. There are a few Mackinac Island fudge and salt water taffy makers on the street of Mackinac City. Grab a slice of decadent s’mores fudge or a bag of assorted taffy and enjoy it under the bridge at the fort. Pictures cannot do this scenery justice. The view of the “Mighty Mac” from this angle is phenomenal and a photographers dream.

After your visit here, its time to drive across the almighty Mackinac Bridge.

“The UP is my favorite place to go—there are so many relaxing places to visit and I always feel my soul has been replenished when I come home,” adds Karen Dropiewski with enthusiasm. “My husband and I visit many different places when we go, but I would have to say my favorite place is the Mackinac Bridge. I’ve loved the Mackinac Bridge since I was a child and later I found out we even share the same birthday.”

The Mackinac Bridge has a North and South tower and connects Mackinac City to St. Ignace. Over 4 million cars and 10 million people cross the bridge annually according to Bob Sweeney, Executive Secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority and Michigan Department of Transportation employee in St. Ignace, Michigan. “200,000 people cross the Mighty Mac every week,” said Bob. “Every year, thousands of people come specifically to see and drive across the Mackinac Bridge,” he adds.

Bob has lived in Chicago as well as in many other Southeastern cities in Michigan, but prefers his current residence in St. Ignace Michigan above them all. Bob embraces Northern Michigan and appreciates where he resides today. “The Straits area is an area where you leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind and take pause to enjoy the natural beauty and history of the area,” said Bob. “I enjoy hunting, but more for the commodore than the actual hunting experience—I occasionally fish but I am not really a fisherman, but the fishing here is great. The Straits area is a place where you feel safe having your kids ride their bikes to school and friends houses. All these things are what I enjoy about being up here—it’s a small-town community with a small-town feel that I have come to love.”

Many people travel from around the world to visit St. Ignace and Mackinac Island. Once you cross the bridge, you will discover you have entered St. Ignace. From this city’s shoreline on the beautiful Lake Huron, you are able to see Mackinac Island and can hop a ferry boat across Lake Huron to the Island from this town, but first, there is one more fun place you must visit before making the leap over to the island.

“There are a lot of stairs, so if you aren’t up for a little physical challenge, you might want to sit this one out at the bottom,” said Detroiter John Cao, first time visitor of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Castle Rock is a geological limestone stack that overlooks the beautiful treetops that carpet the Upper Peninsula and also the massive Lake Huron. From this point, there is much to see. After paying a fee of 50 cents, visitors can climb the outdoor, stony staircase 196 feet to the top.

“The sight is great from the top—it wasn’t over-crowded with visitors and the view was so much to take in,” adds John. Atop this giant rock is a platform for spectators to take photographs and to just absorb an arial view of nature. “As a photographer, I find this to be a great spot to get a birds-eye view of the UP’s trees and water,” said John.

After a couple hours are spent enjoying the natural stone beauty, our next stop will be Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island can be boarded directly from St. Ignace. There are three ferry services; Arnold, Shepler’s and Star Line ferries. Each one is unique with the ultimate goal being to transport you from St. Ignace to the island.

Once you arrive on the island, there are a few hotels to choose from. The most famous of all hotels on the island is the Grand Hotel. This hotel was named one of the top 100 hotels in the world. This hotel is a bit costly, but you will enjoy breakfast and a five course dinner each night of your stay. There are also many other choices for accommodations from bed and breakfasts to smaller motels.

Mackinac Island is known as the “all natural theme park of America.” You will not find roads with cars here, but instead will see horse and buggy, cyclists and pedestrians roaming the streets of the island, shopping, walking, jogging, fishing and exploring. There are roughly 500 friendly and engaging people who permanently reside on the island.

Once on the island, you will realize you have been set back to the early 1800’s. The buildings are Victorian and the streets are filled with bicycles and horses. Here, you will be able to enjoy the many splendors the island has to offer its guests. Little boutiques, an 8 mile bicycle track that circles the entire island, hugging the beaches of Lake Huron, festivals and an entire calendar of events with the Mackinac Lilac Festival being one of the top 100 festivals in the country.

Have lunch or dinner at one of many restaurants whose specialty is seafood, country chicken or apple pies. Step out, dig deep and really explore the many wonders of this phenomenal island.
After your stay on the island of Mackinac, you can head Northwest towards Munising, Michigan. Here, you will find giant sandstone cliffs and gorgeous white sandy beaches.

“Pictured Rocks National Park estimates about 350,000 visitors every year,” said John Madigan, manager of Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises. “The reason why I love my job so much is because I love to serve the people and make sure they had the best trip the state of Michigan could offer them.”

The Pictured Rocks is a natural wonder that is composed of sandstone that has been shaped due to ice, warmth and waves. “Most spectators say its the brilliant colors of the rocks they like most,” said John. “a lot of people tell me that it is the prettiest thing they have ever seen in Michigan.”

The boat cruise will travel an 18 mile route that lasts three hours, showing off the many different natural rock sculptures, sculpted by mother nature herself. The tour will have a commentary by your captain and you will leave well informed about this natural creation.

Also, there are many hiking trails to indulge in between the one and a half hour drive to Munising from the bridge. If you really enjoy hiking, make a few pit stops to hike through some of the trails of Hiawatha. It isn’t uncommon to come across a gray wolf or coyote. There are many spectacular birds, owls, deer, elk, moose and smaller animals within the unexpecting trails. Make sure you have your camera because you never know what could be lurking about in the brush.

One more stop to make on the way back. It will cost you about an extra half hour drive, but a drive well worth it.

Located in Chippewa County, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the city of Paradise is Tahquamenon Waterfalls, which are amber in color due to leaching of titanic acid from the cedar and hemlock swamps which feed into the river.

“I love Tahquamenon Falls—particularly in the spring. There is so much to see—especially if you have never been. I enjoy fishing for rainbow trout there when they are spawning,” says Bruce Dropiewski, Karen’s husband. “The trails are nicer now than they were years ago—they built long decks along the trails for easy hiking and sight seeing. Sometimes my wife and I will sit along the side of the river bank and just enjoy the sounds of nature—there is also a great restaurant there with a brewery to relax at after your hike,” added Bruce.

Don’t forget that when you are at the falls, you are only a 20 minute drive away from Lake Superior’s endless sandy beaches. If you find that you have more time, there are some breathtaking lighthouses there to see and a beautiful beach.

There are so many things to do in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We know how difficult it is to make the right choices and sacrifices when trying to decide on your perfect destination. Hopefully, we made it somewhat easier for you by giving you a small glimpse into some of the hottest spots North of the Mackinac Bridge.

You only have so many vacations in a year or less, so make it really count. Pack your things and escape the madness into an invigorating retreat. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a long deep breath waiting to be inhaled by you.


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ice Cream Makers said, on July 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    and October 31 Located at the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron converge, the St. Ice Cream Makers

  2. flightsrhodes said, on July 17, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    ahhhhhh very good, bookmarked 🙂 keep it up, JusyKassy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: