Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (2023)

Ready for a road trip that is sure to impress? One that includes breathtaking views, easy drives through the untouched wilderness, random stops, and a whole lot of adventure? This is exactly what you need and I have the perfect Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary for a 5-day trip.

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Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (1)

Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary

The U.P, one-third of Michigan, is a BIG area and there is much to explore. It would take the better part of two weeks (or more) to get the entire U.P. done—unless you prefer to be driving most of your trip! So if you only have a week or less, it’s best to break it down into multiple trips.

This post will take you through the northern side of the U.P. and cover from Munising to Whitefish Point.
Couple things to note:
  • Day One starts in Munising, Michigan, and includes adventure starting in the morning/early afternoon. Depending on where you’re coming from, you may need a driving day on Day Zero!
  • Coming from the other side? Easy peasy, just reverse it!
  • Already have things you want to do? GREAT! Use this itinerary as a guide for more ideas.
  • This TRTL pillow is fantastic for road trips! It keeps your head and neck in the perfect position (unlike those squishy U-shaped ones!) Plus, super soft and adjustable.
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5-DAY Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary

Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (4)

DAY ONE: Munising, Michigan

Morning

Drive

The Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary starts off with what most road trips do—hopping in the car! Make your way through the Upper Peninsula and enjoy the views. This isn’t your average drive!

Get started as early as you can and plan to be in Munising before noon. This will ensure you have plenty of time to check a few Munising things off your list.

Waterfalls

You only have about 3,247 options. Okay, a little extreme. But seriously, scope out a waterfall or two on your way in and check them out! Great options right near Munising are Wagner Falls, Alger Falls, or Munising Falls.

This is a great guide that lays out all of the waterfalls to explore. Though I didn’t schedule these in, they are a perfect way to use any extra time throughout your road trip.

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Afternoon

Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise

This will be one of the highlights of your trip. Book your tickets in advance. Many days do sell out. Tickets are $38-45 and the views will blow you away. If there was ever a MUST DO, it’s the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise.

How long does it take? You’ll need to dedicate 3-4 hours for the cruise. Seating is first-come, first-serve and you can line up as early as an hour beforehand to get the best seat.

The cruise itself lasts about 2.5 hours. And there is also a great (super affordable!) gift shop to check out and buy souvenirs. For the full details, including which cruise to choose, check out Two Days in Munising, Michigan.

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Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (7)
Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (8)

Shops

After the cruise, spend some time strolling around downtown Munising. There are plenty of gift stores and art shops. And if shopping isn’t your thing, or you want to stay outdoors, find a different waterfall to chase from the guide above!

Night

Muldoon’s Pasties & Gifts

You have to eat a pasty while you’re on your Upper Peninsula road trip! Stop in Muldoon’s for one of the best. What’s a pasty, you ask? First off, order a “pas-tee,” not a “pae-stee.”

And what it is, is basically a chicken pot pie with a little variation. Homemade crust encloses beef (or chicken or vegetable) with potatoes, carrots, and rutabaga. It is a U.P. delicacy so eat one and tell your friends! And don’t forget the ketchup.

Note: there are two locations in Munising, less than a mile apart. The original is right off M-28., and the second location (same recipe, less busy) is on Elm Ave.

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Party, Beach, Chill

You’re on vacation! Enjoy your night wherever you’re staying, or else head to Sand Point Beach for sunset. Whatever you do, rest your legs. Another large day is ahead…

DAY TWO: Munising, Michigan

Morning

Breakfast—Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore

Stop in Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore, a cute coffee shop to get the day started. Grab a breakfast burrito, breakfast sandwich, one of their smoked whitefish bagels, and/or a latte.

Sip your coffee and browse the book options as you wait for your food. It’s a cute, quaint little shop—and who can pass that up?!

Note: it was really busy the day we were here so plan on a solid hour to be safe.

Miners Castle Overlook

Time to explore! Start with one of Munising’s most famous landmarks and a picture that’s worth a thousand words. Don’t miss this one. It doesn’t take much time and the view totally outweighs the effort to see it.

It’s about 15 minutes from downtown Munising. Take E. Munising Ave (H-28) for about 5 miles and take a left on Miners Castle Rd. Another 5 miles north and you’ll come up to the huge parking lot.

How long does it take? Once there, if you only check out the Upper Overlook (left picture), you’ll honestly be here for like 15 minutes. If you take about a half-mile hike to the Lower Outlook (right), it will be more like 45 minutes to an hour depending on how much time you spend taking in the views. Do both if you can!

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Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary: 5 Days - Little Blue Backpack (11)

Afternoon

Hike Chapel Basin Loop

Okay, I already said MUST DO in all caps and I feel like you can’t be throwing those out every time you enjoy something. But really, I LOVED this hike and strongly encourage you to give it a go.

One of my favorite hikes to date!

I’d aim to be here by NOON. Keep in mind that if you’re not here in the morning, the parking lot will be full and you’ll be parking farther down along the path.

What You’ll See: it’s a well-groomed trail that, 1.2 miles in. comes upon a big waterfall—Chapel Falls. This is a great stop and burst of energy but keep going. Just shy of 2 additional miles, you will come to one of the most interesting and breathtaking landmarks the U.P. has to offer—Chapel Rock. An overhanging rock above the turquoise blue waters with a tree coming out of it. Strange. Cool. Picturesque. Right near the rock is Chapel Beach, one of the most beautiful places to lay back and enjoy the day.

How long does it take? You’re going to need at least 3 hours to hit Chapel Falls, Rock, and Beach. And I would strongly recommend leaving more like 4-5 hours to include some time enjoying the sun, sand, and water. Speaking of water, don’t forget your own!

I am LOVING this water bottle right now. It keeps ice for an entire day (even the hot ones!) and it’s perfect for decorating with stickers from your travels.

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It’s 3.1 miles to your destination (beach), making it 6.2 miles round trip. The ground is, for the most part, flat so you can go at a pretty good pace. For more information, tips, and tricks, read Two Days in Munising, Michigan.

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Waterfall

Chapel Basin Loop can take up the whole day if you’d like! And I’d recommend it. But if you’re not a “stop and smell the roses type” and have some extra time, check out another waterfall in the area.

Miners Falls: This is a popular one that you can hit right after Miners Castle Overlook—swing in as you drive back out (south) on Miners Castle Rd. You will see a sign. Or else stop in on your way back to town after your Chapel Basin Loop hike.

Night

Eh! Burger

These first two days of the Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary are pretty packed. And this restaurant is quick, easy, and delicious after a couple of long days of exploring. Order at the counter and either find a table or take it to go! Burgers and Whitefish are both great options and do not miss out on the tots. (And they do serve alcohol…I’m sure you’re ready.)

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Not feeling burgers? If you want pizza, head to Pictured Rocks Pizza. Or hit Shooters Firehouse Brewpub for a bar scene to reward yourself with a couple of drinks.

DAY THREE: Grand Marais, Michigan

You could spend a lot more days in Munising, Michigan and not run out of places to see and good food to eat. But, this Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary is only 5 days long so we have to keep it moving. And next up is my favorite place of them all. A little lesser-known, but full of magic, somehow work Grand Marais, Michigan into your adventure—even as a quick stop!

Morning

Drive

The trek from Munising to Grand Marais, Michigan is one of the most lovely, relaxing drives you can make—forests, untouched land, and overlooks to stretch your legs and take in the views of Lake Superior.

Grab a quick breakfast in Munising (Bay Furnace Bagels is a good choice) and be on your way. TIP: Google Maps is going to suggest M-28/M-77 as the fastest route.

Adjust your map to make sure you drive on H-58 until you get there to stay on the lakeside. It is well worth an extra 4 minutes! The drive straight there takes an hour, but plan for it to take at least 2 hours with a couple of scenic stops.

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Au sable light station

About 12 miles from Grand Marais, you will get to Au Sable Point where there is a picturesque lighthouse. It is a 1.5-mile walk (3-mile roundtrip) to get to the lighthouse. We did skip this and there’s a lot of good beer in Grand Marais…so perhaps keep it moving. Up to you!

Log Slide

This was a pretty cool stop. And it’s short (quarter-mile walk)—unless you want to slide down the sand, which is going to result in an awesome story and about an hour of your time.

Originally, it was a chute that loggers used to move logs from the top of the dunes down to Lake Superior to be loaded onto boats for transport.No longer a thing but can be a place you’ll never forget. Maybe I’ll do it next time…

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Overlooks

When it comes to planning, let this drive happen as it may. There are overlooks and rest stops along the way. Stop when you want! You really can’t go wrong. Like I said, plan for it to be at least 2 hours.

And yes, I promise this picture is Michigan!

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Afternoon

Sable Falls

This is another spot that is going to give great views without a whole lot of effort! Only .5 miles (including 168 steps), this trail is good for all skill levels and can be done quickly. Stop here on your way into town.

How long does it take? You only need about 30 minutes unless you plan to wander around and explore.

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Agate Beach

One of my very favorite beaches. Anywhere! Make sure to stop here for a couple of afternoon hours and enjoy the sun and sand. Bring a couple of towels and/chairs, and take a walk down the beach. There are tons of beautiful rocks and if you’re lucky, you can find an agate.

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Grand Marais Shops

Pop into a couple of shops and grab souvenirs. Whether you want t-shirts, art, jewelry, smoked fish, fudge, outdoor gear, and/or antiques, the Grand Marais Lake Avenue block has you covered.

The Lakes Gift Shop was my favorite with tons of artwork, handcrafted mugs, and local jams and sauces. And a block and a half away, they own The World’s Smallest Gift Shop which is adorable and easy shopping!

Lake Superior Brewing Company

All right, your touristy things are checked off and it’s time for a beer. Head up from the beach to Lake Superior Brewing Company. They have a craft beer list, along with other choices, and outdoor seating. If you’re hungry, I’d go with their pizza.

Note: if you prefer breweries to bars, flip this with the next place and spend more time at the second. Make sure to check out both though!

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Night

Grand Marais Tavern

This was one of my favorite parts of Grand Marais, Michigan, and would certainly be my top recommendation on where to eat dinner. An awesome restaurant/bar with lake views, a modern-wood interior, great music playing, and some of the best whitefish I have ever had!

Grab dinner and get your party on! But don’t lose track of time. There is one more stop before the sun goes down…

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Agate Beach

Yep, adding it again because you cannot miss the sunset here. Google what time it’s going to go down so you can get here in time to relax and watch the sun melt behind the lake. It truly is incredible and I cannot recommend it enough. Bonus: stop at the Bayshore Market on your way back down and grab a beer or Whiteclaw.

For EVERYTHING you need to know, read One Day in Grand Marais, Michigan.

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DAY FOUR: Paradise, Michigan

The morning part of day four is flexible. I don’t want to jam-pack every day as there needs to be room for spontaneity! Find something random. Sleep in. You do you! But here are some suggestions.

Morning

Breakfast in GM

The sleepy town of Grand Marais doesn’t really get moving until around 11:00 AM-12:00 PM. The breakfast options are slim so don’t plan on a big meal. Grab some coffee and a small snack and there are great places to eat in Paradise!

[Boating]

If you have your own boat, make sure to get out on the water if it’s a calm day. It’s magical. Either plug it is where my first Agate Beach suggestion was, or save it for the morning of Day Four. Cruise around the bay and with any luck you’ll be able to hit the big Lake Superior waters to cruise around and find a nearly private beach somewhere.

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Drive

Time to make your way to Paradise—literally! Again, your Google Maps is going to give you the shortest way which is M-77 S to M-123 N. This is not along the lakeshore but that’s not as necessary in this case as it is from Munising to Grand Marais, so take your pick!

Once you get to Paradise, stop for a snack or light lunch if you need one. Try Paradise Pizza Factory or French Coast Cafe. From here, you have just 15 minutes to your next destination.

Afternoon

Whitefish Point

Head all the way up to the northernmost point on the east side of the Upper Peninsula. It is beautiful! And so cool to think about where you are on the map.

It is known as the graveyard of the Great Lakes because more vessels have been lost here than any other part of Lake Superior. Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point Lighthouse for all of the history and facts. They also have a cute gift shop.

The tourist traps are not what had me so in love with Whitefish Point though. The best part was walking to the beach and heading out to the very tip. It’s gorgeous to look out at the never-ending Lake Superior and there are a million rocks to hunt. If you make it up here, make sure to do this.

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Night

The Inn Gastropub and Restaurant

One of the most popular spots to eat in Paradise, Michigan. The Inn makes everything, down to the ketchup, in-house! If you want a fresh salad, sandwich, or burger, here is your spot.

DAY FIVE: Paradise, Michigan

Morning

Breakfast

Find somewhere to get a bite to eat and fuel up for a day at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Berry Patch Gifts, Bakery & Restaurant is a great option.

Afternoon

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

One of the U.P.’s most popular destinations, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is 52,000 acres stretching over 13 miles of wilderness.

Come to the park for calm and quiet or wet and wild – it’s up to you!Open year-round, the beauty of this place is always available. And the two main attractions, Lower and Upper Falls, make for a great experience.

It’s $9 for a park pass and you can either hike (about 9 miles round-trip) or drive (whew!) from Lower to Upper Falls. Think of Upper Falls as your typical hike with beautiful views. And think of Lower Falls as an adventure where you’re sure to get wet! You can’t miss swimming in the falls.

How long does it take? Plan to be here for 3 hours at the minimum. This can be an entire day if you’d like it to be! That said, as far as hiking goes, both Upper and Lower Falls can be less than a mile if you want to do them quick. The added time is for longer hikes and swimming—recommended!

For ALL of the details (I mean tons) then read A Day in Paradise, Michigan and you will be set.

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Brown Fisheries Fish House

For some of the freshest whitefish on the planet, the Fish House stop needs to be on your list. Caught that morning in the largest freshwater lake, this fish will not disappoint and is a true Upper Peninsula staple.

Stop in for a whitefish sandwich or platter. If you’re a seafood fan, I promise you will love it. (P.S. I have a full list: Where to Eat Whitefish in the Upper Peninsula.)

Note: due to COVID-19, this place is takeout only. Call (906-492-3901) when you get there and it only takes about 7 minutes. Seriously. Comes out piping hot, too!

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Night

Relax or Drive

Either stick around Paradise for another night or head back in the direction you came from. If you want to continue down the southern side, head to SaultSte. Marie. Or if you are going back east, make a stop in Newberry, Michigan.

Upper Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary

You will love a road trip through the U.P. I left this itinerary with some room for your own ideas and spontaneous adventure. Go with the flow—you are sure to have an excellent time. If you want more information on any of these areas, click here for all of my Upper Peninsula guides.

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