Upper Peninsula of Michigan: 2020 Bucket List Revealed (2023)

Use this complete list of the Best Things to do in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to make the most of your trip in Northern Michigan.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is an adventurers paradise. From world class biking to some of the most pristine lake shore trails, the UP does not disappoint.

Here we will tackle some of the best Upper Peninsula attractions that you must experience when making a trip up north.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan Bucket List:

Sugarloaf Mountain

Mount Bohemia

Kitchitikipi

Eben Ice Caves

Chase Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula

Tahquamenon Falls

Pasties

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Isle Royale

Lake of the Clouds

Marquette

Canyon Falls/Sturgeon River Gorge

Munising

Mackinac Island

Cold Water Dips

Copper Harbor

Houghton

Waterfalls

Sault Ste. Marie

Northern Lights

Camping in the UP

Waterfall Tour

Upper Peninsula of MI Map

For someone looking for a visual representation of the yoop, have a look at this Upper Peninsula of MI map before or while you’re on your journey!

Upper Peninsula of Michigan: 2020 Bucket List Revealed (1)

To get yourself acquainted with the UP, there are three major areas you can use to familiarize yourself.

Western UP/Keweenaw – Anything really west of L’anse I would consider the western upper peninsula/Keweenaw. The Keweenaw stretches north up into Copper Harbor/Houghton and is a feast for the eyes

Central UP – The heart of the UP and where the majority of folks live like Marquette and Ishpeming. Some of the best things to do in the Upper Peninsula come from this region.

Eastern UP – Eastern UP includes the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie), Mackinac Island and anything really east of Newberry. Up for debate but that’s how i factor in the geography

When we are looking at the Upper Peninsula of MI Map, there are plenty of other areas that could be divided, but for visitors sake we will split it in three sections for now.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain is the quintessential hike in the Upper Peninsula. Located in Marquette, Sugar Loaf makes the list for its incredible Lake Superior views and easily accessible viewpoints.

This one is a can’t miss as it’s one of the best hikes in upper michigan

Mount Bohemia - The Upper Peninsula of Michigan Ski Heaven

Are you looking for the Best Midwest Ski Resort? If so, that is Mount Bohemia is the best place to ski in Michigan and the Midwest.

Mount Bohemia was recently ranked as a Top USA Ski Resort and with its close proximity to Lake Superior, a yearly receiver of heavy Lake Effect snow.

If you’ve been to the UP and have never visited the “eternal spring” plug in the coordinates and go as soon as possible. Kitchitikipi is a can’t miss spot in the Upper Peninsula.

It is one the most majestic springs in the world and if you visit in winter, you will be spoiled with lovely snow-topped trees and no crowds.

Eben Ice Caves

The Eben Ice Caves are an Upper Peninsula must-see attraction. The water freezes over and creates an impressive formation of ice caves that allow visitors to enter at their own risk.

Don’t think you’ll need microspikes for hiking in the caves? You definitely will!

Read about Crampons vs Microspikes here

Chase Fall Colors in the UP

Chasing fall colors is easily one of the best things to do in the Upper Peninsula!

Yoopers know it and so does the rest of the state. The fall colors in the Upper Peninsula are outstanding!

If you can, plan your northern Michigan trip around the fall season. You won’t be disapointed

Read:

Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Michigan's Best Waterfall

Upper Peninsula of Michigan: 2020 Bucket List Revealed (2)

Tahquamenon Falls are one of the best sets of Michigan waterfalls ! The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are extraordinary and the Lower Tahquamenon Falls are awesome as well!

For those looking for a challenging Michigan hike, make the trek from the lower to the upper or vice versa.

Pasties - A must try Yooper Meal

You have to have pasty if you’re visiting the UP. No trip or no bucket list is complete without a mention of an Upper Peninsula staple. Pasties are available at many roadside tourist attractions or featured on restaurant menus.

Ask around or ask me if you still need some assistance!

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Whether your sign up for a Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour, Pictured Rocks Cruise or do some hiking at Pictured Rocks, you will love your time here. I recommend summer as it’s ideal for a day on the lake.

However, aside from just seeing the Pictured Rocks from sea, the hiking and color transformations in fall are ridiculous to experience

Isle Royale - Michigan's Isolated National Park

Isle Royale is situated way, way, way up north. It’s so north and remote that its the least visited National Park in the Park System.

The beauty of the isolation is the fact that you probably won’t see a human all day but possibly more encounters with moose.

Boats depart from Copper Harbor and take close to 3 hours one way. Find the list of National Parks by state here

Lake of the Clouds Hike + Viewpoint

Lake of the Clouds might take the prize as the best viewpoint in the UP. Located in the Porcupine Wilderness State Park, Lake of the clouds is phenomenal year-round, but arguably best during fall. Don’t miss this one!

If you’re going in winter, be aware that the only way to the peak is via snowmobile or hiking. The roads are not plowed and each way is 6 miles.

Marquette - The Upper Peninsula's Largest City

For those planning an Upper Peninsula trip, make sure to include the Upper Peninsula’s largest city, Marquette!

From the aforementioned Sugarloaf Mountain to the multiple breweries in town, to the gorgeous Lake Superior Shoreline & top-ranked Midwest Biking, don’t miss out on this city.

Canyon Falls/Sturgeon River Gorge

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The Grand Canyon of the UP aka the Sturgeon River Gorge is a beauty! If you need that Grand Canyon appeal without the hassle of venturing to Arizona, give this scenic spot a go! Its not as grandeur as the Grand Canyon, but it surely will keep your camera clicking.

Pro Tip: Winter is arguably a better time to visit as the gorge creates stunning ice formations that photographers and families will love.

Munising

Munising is one of the Upper Peninsula’s more recognized cities. The city is the hub to Picture Rocks National Lakeshore alongside countless waterfalls just outside of the city.

Find some great coffee, books, and more at this Munising Cafe.

Pro Tip: For adventurous travelers, bike your way around Grand Island or hire a boat and explore the amazing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at your own speed. You won’t regret either

Mackinac Island - Michigan's Best Island

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Mackinac Island was rated as one of the top islands to visit in North America and for good reasons. The islands’ shores are some of the bluest you can find in the states, while the sunsets are some of the most dramatic you can find in Michigan.

No cars are allowed on the island which makes transportation limited to bikes and horse-drawn carriages!

Pro Tip: Bring a bike and bike the 9-mile exterior island trail to get a sense of how majestic this place is.

Cold Water Swimming in Lake Superior

Cold water swimming in Lake Superior is an unforgettable moment everyone should experience!

For the majority of you it will be in Summer, but for the hardcore, POLAR PLUNGE it! Lake Superior is by far the coldest of the lakes and it’s yearly average sits at 45F!

Be wary on when you swim, post rainstorm can cause sickness with runoff from streets into the lakes shores.

And if you weren’t aware, people surf the big lake when the swell is good. Learn all about Lake Superior Surfing now

Mountain Biking at Copper Harbor

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Are you a mountain biking fan? Copper Harbor is Michigan’s best mountain biking spot for sure. Copper Harbor is located in the top of the UP in the remote Keweenaw Peninsula.

Don’t skip this if you are a hardcore mountain biker. Riders will love the challenging single-track complemented by amazing views into the remote lands of the Upper Peninsula

Houghton

Houghton is the gateway city to the Keweenaw Peninsula and home to Michigan Tech University. Like Marquette, this is a college city with plenty of options for things to experience.

If you are on an Upper Peninsula Road Trip, it will likely be impossible as it’s a mandatory drive-through to visit some of the state’s best things to do! Don’t miss this city!

Waterfalls in The Upper Peninsula

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Waterfalls are one of the main reasons visit the Upper Peninsula! There are over 250+ of them so make sure you know where you are going so you can see the most!

Read my guide about visiting the best waterfalls in the UP today!

Sault St. Marie

The Eastern shores of the Upper Peninsula shouldn’t be overlooked, and that’s where you will find one of the most utilized boating channels in the United States.

These straits see boats making the journey all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa! If you love boats, this spot needs to be on your Upper Michigan attractions list now

Northern Lights

An unforgettable Upper Peninsula attraction is catching a glimpse of the northern lights! Because of our dark skies and brisk nights, Upper Michigan is a phenomenal place for their activity.

The Northern Lights are fully visible in Michigan’s lower peninsula but are on another level here in the UP.

Don’t go all the way to Europe when you can see them just as well here!

Camping In the Upper Peninsula

With so much room to roam, the UP is one of the best places you can camp in Michigan and the United States!

As mentioned above, you might just get lucky enough to see the northern lights or just an amazing sky of clouds because of low light polluted areas!

Book early to avoid crowds!

Take a Waterfall Tour!

The UP is home to almost every waterfall in Michigan, and there are some amazing ones you shouldn’t skip. Tahquamenon Falls (above) is an absolute must see as well as a trip to the western UP to see even more.

Follow my Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula post to learn all about them!

Best Upper Michigan Attractions

There are plenty of other things in the Upper Peninsula that could be listed but these are some of my favorites and must experience. Have you been to all of these or are you still working on crossing most of them off of your list?

Looking to base yourself somewhere strategic for your UP adventures?

I recommend Marquette because it’s centrally located and the city itself has some incredible attractions. Need some guidance on where to stay, eat, or drink while in Marquette?

  • Marquette Accommodations
  • Breweries in Marquette
  • Where to EAT in Marquette

FAQ's from the UP

When's the best time to visit the Upper Peninsula?

Summer by far is the best time to visit the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The others seasons are amazing but Summer is easily the most popular time for visitors to the Yoop

What is the most populated city in the UP?

Marquette is the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with roughly 20,000 full time residents.

What's the weather like in the UP?

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has a wildly changing weather environment with winters being intensely cold & summers being hot but pleasant.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan Road Trip Ideas

Marquette and the Upper Peninsula are surely going to capture your heart whether you visit in spring, summer, or winter.

For the folks who don’t like the cold, make your trip in the warmer months but for those who can embrace the bone-shattering temperatures, the Upper Peninsula is a must-visit in the winter

Thanks for reading and if you have any more that should be included on a Michigan Road Trip, please comment and I can add to the list! See you out there in the UP or somewhere else in this world.

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