Spruce-and-pine forest and granite cliffs define much of these 16,000-plus square miles surrounded by lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior. Watch freighters navigate the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan’s oldest city, and experience it yourself on Soo Locks Boat Tours.
Hundreds of mounted creatures fill the walls at The Antlers, where you’ll find northern Michigan dishes like the Paul Bunyan burger and Soo Stew Canoes (gumbo or chili in a sourdough “canoe”).
An hour’s drive west, Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s copper-color water tumbles and crashes over a series of waterfalls and guided hikes lead to an abandoned bear’s den.
Owned by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, the 1923 Crews Quarters at Whitefish Point Light Station provide a restful stay (from $150).
After breakfast at the light station, explore the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which holds the bell recovered from the 1975 wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Your westward journey along the Lake Superior Circle Tour leads to Grand Marais and its smattering of shops, casual restaurants and places to stay. The West Bay Diner serves fish and chips, and burgers made with beef or buffalo.
Journey out to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, named for mineral stains on the rocks. (For a guided tour, contact Paddling Michigan.)
The journey stimulates an appetite for dinner; we suggest the beer-battered Lake Superior whitefish and microbrews at the Dunes Saloon.
Should you stay an extra night, check into one of the three guest rooms with private baths at the Agate Cross Bed and Breakfast (from $130).
Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association (800) 562-7134; uptravel.com
Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 338-7982; keweenaw.info
Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 647-2858; saultstemarie.com
Add a day
Continue exploring the UP in Marquette, the biggest city (population: 21,532) in the Upper Peninsula. A walkable downtown includes shopping, dining and the Landmark Inn (Amelia Earhart stayed in room 502). The reportedly haunted hotel has 62 rooms starting at $159. Italian dishes satisfy families at the elegant but reasonably priced Casa Calabria; you’ll find specialty steak-and-veggie pasties at Jean Kay’s Pasties. Three popular city beaches line the Lake Superior shore.
5 Great Places to Stop on the Keweenaw Peninsula
1 Keweenaw Adventure Company The Copper Harbor crew leads hikes, mountain bike jaunts and kayaking trips ranging from hours to overnights. (906) 289-4303; keweenawadventure.com
2 Fort Wilkins State Park Interpreters and displays in 14 whitewashed buildings re-create 1840s life at this restored outpost in Copper Harbor. (906) 289-4215; michigan.gov/historicfortwilkins
3 The Pines Resort A great breakfast spot with friendly servers and a cheery dining room in Copper Harbor gets visitors stoked for days outdoors. Try the omelets and French toast, and don’t be shy about coming back for lunch. (906) 289-4222; pinesresort.net
4 Harbor Haus Fine dining meets postcard-worthy Lake Superior views in Copper Harbor. The restaurant bills itself as German, but the ever-changing menu goes way beyond what you might expect to find. Visitors also can reserve a single luxury bed-and-breakfast suite run by the same owners. From $150. (906) 289-4502; harborhaus.com
5 Laurium Manor Inn An exquisite restoration has turned an Edwardian mansion into a luxurious place to stay in Laurium. Eighteen guest rooms, each with a private bath, fill this 13,000-square-foot property. From $125 during the summer. (906) 337-2549; laurium.info
Bring the Kids
Munising Bay Shipwreck Tours History lessons about Lake Superior’s stormy wrath take on sober meaning during two-hour tours from Grand Island. The boats have a glass viewing area so visitors can see the shipwrecks below. Learn how the lake’s 40-degree temps preserve the vessels, then snap great pictures of the East Channel Lighthouse. (906) 387-4477; shipwrecktours.com