A Guide for Students: Top Things to Do in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Picture of Top Things to do in Michigans Upper Peninsula

Michigan's Upper Peninsula, fondly known as the U.P., is a treasure trove of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. As a student, exploring the region not only offers an escape from academic rigors but also provides opportunities for personal growth, learning, and unforgettable memories.

Whether you're interested in hiking through pristine forests, discovering historical landmarks, or immersing yourself in the local arts scene, the U.P. has something to offer for every interest. If you're looking to share your experiences or insights, you might write a travel blog or even pay for assignment to be written professionally to capture the essence of your U.P. adventure.

Exploring Nature and Outdoor Activities

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a pristine paradise for nature enthusiasts, offering an array of outdoor activities set against a backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty. The region boasts several national and state parks, each with its unique charm and allure.

National and State Parks

One of the crown jewels of the Upper Peninsula is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Stretching over 40 miles along Lake Superior, it offers stunning views of multicolored sandstone cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and sand dunes. The park's diverse ecosystems make it a haven for wildlife observation and photography.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park, home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, is another must-visit. The park's landscape changes dramatically with the seasons, from lush greenery in the summer to vibrant fall colors and a winter wonderland, making it a year-round attraction.

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, affectionately known as "the Porkies," is a wilderness retreat that spans over 60,000 acres. It houses one of the largest old-growth hardwood forests in North America and offers panoramic views of Lake Superior.

Hiking, Camping, and Wildlife Observation

These parks provide countless opportunities for hiking, with trails ranging from short, leisurely walks to challenging hikes spanning several miles. They also offer well-maintained campsites for those who wish to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature overnight.

Wildlife enthusiasts will not be disappointed. The region is home to diverse fauna, including black bears, moose, white-tailed deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species. Early morning or dusk are the best times for wildlife spotting.

Winter Sports Opportunities

When winter blankets the Upper Peninsula with snow, the region transforms into a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. The area offers excellent conditions for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

Parks like the Porcupine Mountains feature groomed trails for cross-country skiing and downhill slopes for those seeking more adrenaline-fueled action. Snowmobiling is a popular pastime in the Upper Peninsula, with hundreds of miles of maintained trails offering scenic journeys through snow-laden forests and open fields.

Visiting Historical Sites and Museums

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is not just a natural paradise; it's also a treasure trove of historical sites and museums that narrate the fascinating tales of the region's past. These venues offer a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the area's rich cultural heritage.

Historical Sites

Fort Wilkins, located in Copper Harbor, is an excellently preserved military outpost and one of the major historical sites in the U.P. Built in 1844, it served as a deterrent during copper mining disputes. Today, visitors can explore the fort's 19 buildings, experience historical reenactments, and gain insights into military life during the mid-19th century.

Fayette Historic State Park, situated on the southern shore of the Upper Peninsula, offers another glimpse into the past. Once a bustling industrial community, the park now houses well-preserved structures, including historic buildings and iron-smelting furnaces. The blend of history and natural beauty makes it a must-visit destination.

Local Museums

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee tells the story of the U.P.'s iron industry, which had a profound influence on the region's development. Through exhibits showcasing artifacts, photographs, and audiovisual presentations, visitors can learn about the people, places, and technology associated with the iron industry from its inception in the 1840s. In contrast, the Marquette Maritime Museum focuses on the region's rich maritime history. Located near the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, the museum offers a wealth of information about Lake Superior shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the life of sailors, providing a comprehensive understanding of the area's nautical past.

Importance and Benefits of Visiting Historical Sites and Museums

Visiting these historical sites and museums has numerous benefits. They serve as living classrooms, offering educational experiences outside traditional learning environments. They foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the area's history, culture, and people. Furthermore, these visits can inspire curiosity, stimulate critical thinking, and provide a sense of connection to the past.

Enjoying Local Cuisine

Food is an integral part of any cultural experience, and the U.P. is no exception. Signature dishes like pasties—a hearty, meat-filled pastry—and fresh whitefish are must-tries for any student. Local restaurants and cafés like The Antlers in Sault Ste. Marie or Ambassador Restaurant in Houghton offers these and other regional delicacies, providing a delicious way to explore local culture.

Participating in Local Festivals and Events

Michigan's Upper Peninsula boasts a vibrant cultural calendar, with numerous festivals and events that showcase the region's rich heritage and community spirit. As a student, participating in these local happenings can significantly enrich your experience, providing opportunities for entertainment, learning, and community engagement.

Major Annual Events

One of the most anticipated events in the U.P. is the U.P. 200 dog sled race. Organized by the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association, this annual spectacle is an Iditarod qualifying race that attracts mushers from across the United States and Canada. The race trail covers over 240 miles of challenging terrain from Marquette to Grand Marais and back, offering thrilling moments for participants and spectators alike. In 2023, the race is scheduled to include a range of activities such as a raffle, silent auction, and a chili and hot dog feast.

In addition to the adrenaline-fueled U.P. 200, the Hiawatha Music Festival is another major annual event that draws large crowds. This festival celebrates traditional American music, featuring performances by local and national artists. It provides a platform for the preservation and advancement of traditional music and offers attendees a chance to immerse themselves in a unique musical experience.

Enriching the Student Experience

Attending these events offers students a break from academic routines and allows them to engage with the local community. They provide opportunities to learn about the region's traditions and history, fostering a deeper connection with the U.P.

For instance, following the U.P. 200 dog sled race can teach students about the sport's historical significance and the endurance and teamwork it requires. On the other hand, the Hiawatha Music Festival can expose students to various music genres and the cultural stories they tell. Moreover, these events offer a platform for social interaction, enabling students to meet people from diverse backgrounds and make new friends. They also present volunteering opportunities, allowing students to contribute to their community while gaining practical experience.


From exploring stunning natural landscapes and delving into rich history to savoring local cuisine and engaging with the community, there's no shortage of things to do in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As a student, embracing these opportunities not only enriches your college experience but also instills a deep-seated love for this remarkable region. So step out of the classroom, dive into these experiences, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Author: Rob Talley