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Coastlines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

On the shores of Lake Superior at Presque Isle in Marquette, Michigan.

On the shores of Lake Superior at Presque Isle in Marquette, Michigan.

There is something to be said about living in Michigan. Its beauty is just stunning. There are areas that seem to be untouched while other areas are filled with the hustle and bustle of the big city. But one of the most amazing things about Michigan is that we are surrounded by the awe and beauty of the Great Lakes. No other state can claim this. There are many unbelievable places to view the beauty of the Great Lakes, some in Michigan and some in the other states that share a border with one of the lakes. Michigan has the longest shoreline coast of any state in the union with an amazing 2,147 miles of mainland coast. This is not including any of the large number of islands that you will find in any one of the Great Lakes.

Upper Michigan's Coasts

With all of the coastlines, Michigan has some of the most beautiful beaches around. Exploring the Great Lakes of Michigan is an experience not to be missed. I’ll share an amazing, almost secret beach with you that is along Lake Michigan. But for that, we must travel north, to the land of the Yoopers. If you are not familiar with the term Yooper, it will be one that you will hear often on your visit to the Upper Peninsula. This is the term that is used to refer to anyone who lives in the Upper Peninsula. So come along as we explore some of Michigan’s magnificent coastlines.

Roadside at the beach on Lake Michigan

Roadside at the beach on Lake Michigan

Running along the beach on Lake Michigan.

Running along the beach on Lake Michigan.

Playing in the sand.

Playing in the sand.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is probably most notable for its coast along the great city of Chicago. While I’m sure it is amazing to visit this bustling city with it beautiful coastline, there are some much more quaint places to enjoy this Great Lake. If you plan to cross the Mackinaw Bridge, be prepared that once you pass through the city of St.Ignace that is immediately after the bridge, you will be hard pressed to find anything that resembles a big city for many, many miles. So in that regard, be prepared with gas, snacks, and beverages. There are no stores or vendors that will sell you food, no place to buy souvenirs, it is truly a spot that entices you simply by its beauty. There are a few places along the way that have some lookout points with some rustic restrooms.

My favorite spot to enjoy the shores of Lake Michigan is along the southern coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We travel each summer to the UP (Upper Peninsula) to visit family. After crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, I always opt to take US 2. The scenery of traveling along Lake Michigan is absolutely breathtaking. You even forget that you are no longer able to get cell phone service! When we go, I also keep the suits, towels, buckets and shovels handy. If it is a sunny day, I suit up the kids and we pull off on the side of the road for a leg stretch and quick dip in the water. The absolute beauty of it all is that the water is shallow for as far out as the eye can see. Even though my kids always have their life jackets on, I have no worries about them going out too deep. You can even stop before the bridge in Mackinaw city for a couple of pasties and make it a picnic on the beach. If you have little ones, they will be sure to sleep after all of that fun in the sand, sun, and water.

Swimming in Lake Michigan

Shores of Lake Michigan

Getting There

Finding the spot is very easy. Once you cross the Mackinaw Bridge, you will follow I-75 for a very short period of time until you see the junction for US 2. You will take US 2 west and before you know it, you will see the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan. In the beginning, it will be grassy and you will not notice a place for you to stop. However, after about 15-20 miles you will see the shores open up. If it is a nice day, you will notice that cars are parked alongside of the road. This is your cue to pull over. Through the tall grasses you will find a beautiful sandy beach with a stretch of inviting water for as far as the eye can see.

Since there is no exact location to point to on a map, I reference a campsite that is within the relative area of this highway beach.

Lighthouse in Presque Isle Park.

Lighthouse in Presque Isle Park.

These are the ore docks where freighters load iron ore pellets and sail them down to Detroit.

These are the ore docks where freighters load iron ore pellets and sail them down to Detroit.

Grace, Olivia, and Alex playing at the fantastic Mattson Lower Harbor Park that is found along the shore of Lake Superior in downtown Marquette.

Grace, Olivia, and Alex playing at the fantastic Mattson Lower Harbor Park that is found along the shore of Lake Superior in downtown Marquette.

Lake Superior

We are now headed west toward the city of Marquette and the shores of Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes and is in fact the largest fresh water lake in the world when measured in surface area. There are many things to do along the shore. In addition to walking out to the lighthouse, one can also search for beach glass. We used to collect these as kids and challenge each other to see who could find the most. Watching the freighters as they sail into the harbor to load up their ore is another unique experience to have on this Lake Superior shoreline. You can dip your toes in the water, although be prepared because Lake Superior is the coldest of the Great Lakes. The northern proximity and the vastness of this lake does not allow the waters to warm much, even in the summer months.

If you want to view the beauty of Lake Superior from a slightly higher elevation, you can take a drive through the wooded area in Presque Isle Park. As you drive, you may see some deer or other wildlife. If you are exceptionally lucky, you may even see some of the albino deer that are know to inhabit the area. There are several places that you can pull over and look out onto Lake Superior or even walk along some paths and do some exploring. There are spots for you to fish at as well. One of the great catches in the whitefish. Presque Isle Park also has picnic areas, pavilions, playground areas, an ice cream shop and picnic areas with grills. It is a great place to explore and enjoy the sand and water or just watch the beauty of the freighters or other boats sailing on the lake.

Other Activities

There are also a lot of other activities to do along this shoreline. In Mattson Lower Harbor Park, there is a beautiful wooden playground that sits right next to the shore. It is a great way to spend some time and to allow the kids to burn off some energy. There are bathrooms adjacent to the playground and even a snack shop that sells ice cream! During the summer months, this area hosts many festivals and fairs such as the Seafood Festival, the International Festival, concerts, fireworks and more. In the wintertime, it hosts Winterfest and there is an outdoor skating rink. So check the local calendar to find out if there are any special events during your visit. Matteson Lower Harbor Park is located on Lakeshore Boulevard, just before Presque Isle Park.

Along Lake Shore Boulevard, there is also an opportunity for you to visit the Marquette Maritime Museum. The exhibits include the history of Marquette's Maritime History, Native American's birch bark canoes, Coast Guard information, information of Lake Superior shipwrecks, and much more. The cost to tour either the lighthouse or museum is $4.00 or $7.00 for both, children 12 and under are $3.00 for one or $5.00 for both. It is a hidden gem within the city of Marquette.

Non-water Activities

As you traveled to the shore, you drove through downtown Marquette. There are many unique and wonderful shops and restaurants to explore after you spend some time in the sand and water. If you enjoy shopping, this is a great place to shop for some fantastic finds that are unique to the Upper Peninsula and its Finish heritage.

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Getting There

Again, this area is hard to miss. If you follow the hills of downtown Marquette to the bottom where the shoreline is, you will travel along the shore on Lake Shore Boulevard. As you head toward the shoreline, you will drive right to the entrance of Presque Isle Park.

Although there are countless beaches in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, these are two the ones that we frequent the most often. They are gorgeous and family friendly. If you ever find yourself traveling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I highly recommend that you experience at least one of these beaches.


Liz Westwood from UK on May 09, 2018:

Great article, packed with information and quality photos. I especially enjoyed the video.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on February 24, 2012:

Thanks so much Pamela99. I just love the beauty of the Great Lakes as well. Those who have never had the opportunity to experience them in all their glory just don't know what they are missing. Thanks for the kiddie compliment too! They are co-adventurers!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 24, 2012:

I grew up in Ohio by Lake Erie and I love the beauty of the Great Lakes. Your pictures are awesome and your children adorable. I think this hub is very interesting with many good tips for great travel.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 23, 2011:

Tell your husband thanks Akirchner. Us Michiganders have to stick together! :) If you ever get back this way, I highly recommend visiting the UP. Thanks for your comment and support!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on July 22, 2011:

My hubby was hoping for yours because he is from this neck of the woods - but from me, too - congrats - awesome hub and great showing!!! Loved it and wish I could visit there sometime soon as I missed this part of Michigan having done my 'tour' in Detroit!

Sophie on July 22, 2011:

Awwww.... that is so sweet of you :) (((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 22, 2011:

Well if you ever make it Sofs, it would be a pleasure to have you as a guest in my home! I'm glad that you enjoyed the trip. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Sophie on July 21, 2011:

Great writing there Cara, hope to visit Michigan sometime.. lovely pictures too and thanks for taking me around in that virtual trip.. Thanks for sharing :)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 21, 2011:

It is a great vacation spot WannaBWriter. I hope that one day you are able to visit. Thanks for reading and commenting and congrats on your nomination.

Akirchner, thank you so much for your encouraging words. This is not an area that is thought of much when people think of Michigan but it is well worth the visit! I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

How cool Sarah! I would have loved to seen that. You will definitely have to do that with Violet, I'm sure she would love that. I think we will do that this summer too if we make it up there.

Aunt Liz, thanks for that addition. I hadn't thought of Mount Marquette. I will have to check it out this summer. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it!

Liz Laine on July 20, 2011:

Cara, that was a wonderful hub. Another great place to see Lake Superior from is the top of Mount Marquette. It's breath taking from up there. Thanks again for the great hub. Miss all you guys. Love ya.

Sarah Webster on July 20, 2011:

Thank you Cara for such a beautiful hub about the UP. I'm so lucky to live here! I actually watched a thunderstorm travel across Lake Superior this morning. The lightning striking the water was breath taking. I also remember picking up beach glass on Presque Isle. Haven't done that in a long time. I will have to take Violet on a beach glass treasure hunt! Voted up!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on July 20, 2011:

Incredible pictures and great writing. My Bob is from Michigan and always wanted to go to this part of Michigan. Thanks for the virtual trip~! Good luck in the contest!!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on July 20, 2011:

Looks like a lovely place to spend a week or two. I've not been to Michigan yet, but you've shown me what to do if I every get there.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 19, 2011:

You really should try to get up there Simone. I know that Alaska is considered the last frontier but there are parts of Michigan's upper peninsula that are virtually untouched as well.

What a wonderful thing to hear from someone who has stayed on the shores of a Great Lake. It's beauty really is breathtaking JL. Thanks so much for your comments. Hopefully it will encourage others to visit as well!

Jan Peterson from Sun City, AZ on July 18, 2011:

I stayed overnight at a hotel/cabin that sat at the edge of one of the Great lakes (can't remember which one) during a business trip and hated to have to check out! Beautiful part of our country for sure! Great hub!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 18, 2011:

Gyah! Ok, I am quickly falling in love with Michigan's Upper Peninsula. What a lovely place!

I'd definitely like to see Lake Superior someday and I love the idea of gazing at it from Presque Isle Park. Thanks for writing this Hub... now I really have to make a point of getting out there!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 17, 2011:

Thanks Mom, glad it was a nice memory for you too!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on July 16, 2011:

Cara-Like Aunt Danette said, it was a wonderful walk down memory lane. They are so adorable. Very nice write up-voted it up and across.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 16, 2011:

Thanks K9, if only I could make some money on those tour guides! :) I'm not sure if you know the story about how Michigan got the Upper Peninsula, but there was a war called the Toledo War. Michigan and Ohio were fighting over the strip of land where Toledo, Ohio is now and in the end, Ohio got Toledo and Michigan go the UP. Not really sure how that ended up being the settlement, but that's the history!

So glad the hub enticed you to come to Michigan. Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated!

Susan, the Great Lakes really are amazing. I appreciate your kind comments.

Aunt Danette, I know what you mean. It's amazing what you can do when you are a little younger! I'm glad I was able to help you relive some memories. We really do enjoy the drive each year, even if it is long! Thanks for reading.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on July 16, 2011:

You are very welcome Leighsue. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

It was my pleasure Gail to be your personal tour guide. Yes, my children are definitely not camera shy! Hope you can make it out this way one day. We'll have to swap spots! :)

Mackinaw Island is amazing Peggy. I hope that you are able to go one day. I appreciate you forwarding the hub on to people who would find it useful. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Danette Watt from Illinois on July 16, 2011:

so many memories of Michigan, the Great Lakes and most especially of driving up to see your mom (would you believe I'd get off work at 4, nap, drive all night, arrive around noon Sat, visit for a day and drive home in time to get to work on Mon? That's what you can do when you are 18, 19, 20 and when you miss your sister or your sister needs you!)

But anyway, I remember taking the 'scenic' US 2 and one time, a friend and I took a wrong turn (first time traveling up there) and ended up spending the night in Saulte ("soo") Ste. Marie on the US side.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane - I miss you guys!

Voted up and beautiful

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on July 16, 2011:

The Great Lakes are beautiful. Wonderful hub, I really enjoyed reading and seeing the cute little one's in the pictures.

Up Awesome and beautiful.

India Arnold from Northern, California on July 16, 2011:

The cutest tour guides ever are back at it again I see!When the states were being created, Michigan surely was dealt the best hand for lakes! You make me want to head out for your wonderful state. Super good use of maps and the hub layout is wonderful.

Another outstanding contribution Cara-- up, awesome and useful!



Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 16, 2011:

I'll be forwarding this link to a friend and her husband who will be going soon to Mackinaw Island on vacation...a place that I would love to visit someday. I saw more of Lake Superior when growing up. Your kids looked like they were really having fun. I remember the water as being pretty cold even in the summer. Voted up and useful. Thanks!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on July 16, 2011:

I've never been to Michigan or the Great Lakes but have always heard that they're stunning. Thanks so much for this personal tour. I loved the video of the kids in the lake. They seemed like they really enjoyed being in the "movie". Voted up.

Leighsue on July 16, 2011:

I have always heard Michigan shores is beautiful. Thanks for this hub.

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