Do I have suggestions for a 5-day trip to Michigan’s UP? Yes, I do! I love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and pounce on every opportunity to promote it.
5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP
Very good friends recently asked for suggestions for a 4 or 5-day trip to Michigan’s UP. They wanted to go around the last week of September. They like casinos, Polish food, Bloody Mary’s, football, and have never been to either Marquette or Mackinaw Island. But please keep daily driving down to no more than 6 hours. With all this in mind, I started mapping out some UP fun.
Fun in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
- Day 1 (Friday) Tunnel of Trees, Legs Inn and cross the Mackinac Bridge into the UP
- Day 2 (Saturday) – From Curtis drive to Eagle River in the Keweenaw Peninsula
- Day 3 (Football Sunday) Ishpeming or Marquette (or both)
- Day 4 (Monday) – Drive East to the Mackinac Bridge
- Day 5 (Tuesday) Explore Mackinaw City and drive home.
I’ve added the casinos (dice icon) near the places we’ve recommended they explore to a Google Map.
Tunnel of Trees & Legs Inn
Friday Day 1 of the 5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP – Because they love Football and Bloody Mary’s, we recommend leaving on Friday so they can stop at Shelly’s Rainbow Bar in Ishpeming on Sunday for Football. I know right; an entire 5-Day Itinerary in Michigan’s UP around a football and Bloody Mary’s.
Drive down the Tunnel of Trees (M-119) starting in Good Hart and have lunch at Legs Inn. You could do this either at the start or the tail end of the trip. If you love Polish food, this restaurant is an absolute must. We did in 2016 and wrote it a review. It is still one of our most popular posts.
The first night stay at Chamberlin’s Old Forest Inn In Curtis, Michigan. You’ll need a reservation at Chamberlin’s for both a room and dinner. Breakfast is included in the room fee so it is an excellent deal. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday, which is why we put them at the start of your UP adventure. If you are lucky, they’ll have live music!
Saturday Day 2 of the 5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP – From Curtis drive to Eagle River in the Keweenaw Peninsula and stay at Fitzgerald’s Hotel. You’ll need reservations for dinner even if you have a room reservation for the night. It fills up fast and the food is awesome. If you are lucky, the Northern Lights may put on a show for you!
The rooms are almost in Lake Superior! As they say, it is priceless.
Stuff to keep you entertained coming or going to Eagle River:
Canyon Falls Michigan’s Grand Canyon is a short hike and worth the effort. The Canyon Falls trail along the Sturgeon River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been dubbed “Michigan’s Grand Canyon.” It is 15 miles south of L’Anse, Michigan on US 41. There is plenty of parking at the roadside park. Blue slashes along the trail mark the North Country Trail.
Hilltop Family Restaurant L’Anse – They sell sweet rolls that are as big as Angie’s head. We made a detour to purchase one during our 2017 UP Winter vacation. The sweet rolls are not only delicious but famous too.
Quincy Mine Tour
Just north of Hancock, Michigan in the heart of the Keweenaw Peninsula is the Quincy Mine Tour. Mining stopped over 70 years ago, but tours are available. During our 2017 Michigan Tour, Chuck convinced me it was time to slay my fears and journey nearly one mile into the side of a hill and explore a bit of history.
Stop in Calumet. At a minimum, have a drink at the Shute’s Saloon. It is next to the Calumet Theatre. It was built in 1895 during the copper mining boom and is a historical gem. It was a hit during our 2017 UP Winter Vacation.
If you’re hungry, have a bite to eat at the Red Jacket Brewing Company.
Cause I’m a history nut, I’ve got to share a few facts. The Red Jacket was Calumet’s original name and named for a Native American Chief. Another factoid, Woody Guthrie’s song, “1913 Massacre” is based on the Italian Hall Disaster. On Christmas Eve 1913, seventy-three people were killed when someone yelled “fire.” I’ve got more in our Keweenaw Peninsula Adventure post.
If you love reading books set in Michigan, I highly recommend “The Women of the Copper Country” by Mary Doria Russell. It is set in Calumet. It will change how you feel about Unions, Michigan, and Sisu. You may want to buy and listen to it on Audible during your trip across the UP. (Strongly recommend!)
Sunday Day 3 of the 5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP – Drive towards Marquette. Ishpeming is just a few miles west of Marquette, so you can stop there on your way to Marquette. Regardless of where you opt to spend the day, there are plenty of options. Here are a couple of suggestions.
Football and Bloody Marys at the Shelly’s Rainbow Bar in Ishpeming. Bloody Marys are only served Sunday after 12 pm and are less than 5 dollars. From what I hear, they are awesome. We have not experienced Shelly’s Bloody Marys. I need pictures and reviews pronto!
This may require an overnight stay at a local hotel. There are several hotel options in Ishpeming under $100 a night.
The most infamous room is the Lilac Room located on the 6th floor. The story goes that a librarian lost her husband to Lake Superior and died of a broken heart looking out from the sixth-floor window. Our friends Jeff and Angie were right next door and reported that one side of the room caused strange static on their cell phones. Cue the scary music! There is also mention of the North Star lounge having a ghost.
If you need food options we’ve many but we’ve narrowed it down to a couple for first timers. The Vierling in Marquette is a must. They make their own craft beer and the white fish is excellent.
Another option a bit further out of town is Foggy’s Bar and Restaurant in Christmas, Michigan. We stopped in 2014 during our Michigan Winter Vacation. It is perfect for pizza or white fish. It’s a fun place to watch a football game or play some pool.
If you’ve got 3-4 hours while in Marquette, then add a side trip to Big Bay to tour where part of Anatomy of a Murder was filmed. It is the 1959 film with Jimmy Stewart and was based on an actual murder of Maurice Chenoweth which took place in the Lumberjack Tavern. John Voelker, the lawyer who defended Coleman Peterson in the case, wrote a fictional book based on the trail which was later made into the movie. If you are interested in the story that leads to the book, read this great article over on crime story.
Monday Day 4 of the 5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP – Drive to Saint Ignace and/or Mackinaw City depends on your preference. We don’t have a recommendation for overnight accommodations, so send in your favorites. Here is the line up of stuff to do along the way.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
For years, the sign for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore whipped by our car window in a blur. In 2015 we slowed the car down long enough to explore. Stop, if it just for an hour. I promise you’ll thank me.
The Big Spring
There are several Native American legends about Kitch-iti-kipi, including this popular one.
The legend of Kitch-iti-kipi is said to be about a young chieftain whose girlfriend got the best of him. He told her he loved her far above the other dark-haired maidens dancing near his birch bark wigwam. Prove it, she insisted. As a test of his devotion, she declared that he must set sail in his canoe on the pool deep in the conifer swamp. He was to catch her from his canoe as she leaped from an overhanging bough. His canoe overturned in the icy waters and he drowned. It turns out that the maiden was back at the village laughing at his foolish quest. According to legend, the spring was named Kitch-iti-kipi in memory of the young chieftain who went to his death in the icy waters in an attempt to satisfy the vain caprice of his ladylove.
Mackinac Island or St. Ignace
Take the ferry to Mackinac Island and explore for a few hours or spend the night. If you opt to spend the day in St. Ignace here is a list of things to do we’ve not personally done, but we’d love to hear about them!
Mackinaw vs Mackinac!
I’m sure you’ve noticed both Mackinaw and Mackinac. They are pronounced the same. Blame the French and the English for the confusion. The French occupied the territory before the British, and spelled the name Mackinac but pronounced it Mackinaw. The British just spelled it the way it sounded, hence the two different spellings. Over time the city retained the “aw” spelling while the bridge and island clung to the “ac” spelling.
Tuesday Day 5 of the 5-Day Trip to Michigan’s UP – Explore Mackinaw City and drive home. We highly recommend exploring the fort and the lighthouse.
Tour Colonial Michilimackinac – It was the first stop on our 2017 Michigan Tour of Places we’ve always said we wanted to checkout or did and can’t remember. I think you could safely call it the 2017 Michigan Middle Age Tour.
Mackinac Point Lighthouse
The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse has two exhibits you shouldn’t miss, the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum and the Keepers’ Quarters. You can save a little money and greatly expand your value by purchasing a combo ticket. This gives you access to the lighthouse as well as Colonial Michilimackinac.
Paddle Hard Brewing
Stop at Paddle Hard Brewing on your way home. You’ll thank us. It is in Grayling, Michigan. You’ll be ready to stretch your legs and have some food.
There is a lot more to do in the UP. We’ve only scratched the surface in this itinerary. Amy Sherman has the Ultimate Road Trip Across the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Only in your state has the perfect itinerary for one week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
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