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Escanaba Michigan: 21 Best Things to Do in 2023

Escanaba lighthouse -things to do in escanaba

21 Best Things to do in Escanaba Michigan

Looking for fun and unique things to do in Escanaba MI?

You’re in the right place. We’ve been making trips to Escanaba for years and think it’s a perfect summer trip idea for a vacation with family and friends. Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, it’s a picturesque town with some beautiful beaches.

Trust me, Escanaba is a highly underrated Michigan travel destination and whether you are visiting Escanaba in the summer or winter months, you’ll find something fun to do here.

If you’re planning your trip, you’ll want to read our guide to the best things to do in Escanaba, MI.

Why Plan a Road Trip to Escanaba MI

The Upper Peninsula is perfect for nature lovers. There’s plenty of camping space, hiking trails, fishing spots, and hunting grounds. On the Upper Peninsula’s southern coast, Escanaba sits as a beacon, drawing in travelers from all around to see the beauty the UP has to offer.

Explore plenty of trails and parks, learn about the local history, visit farmers’ markets, or just meet the locals at the brewery downtown. There’s no wrong way to explore Escanaba, but here are some of our favorite things to do.

Escanaba MI travel

See the Fall Colors at Hiawatha National Forest

It’s no secret that the best place to see all the beautiful colors of fall is in northern Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula. Escanaba is no exception to this. Much of the Upper Peninsula is covered by the Hiawatha National Forest, and a short drive out of Escanaba will put you in the heart of it, surrounded by thousands of trees, all showing off their spectacular colors as the weather gets colder.

Generally, the best time to see the fall colors is from late September to October, but the forest is beautiful all year round. For any Michigan nature lover, whenever the opportunity presents itself, it’s well worth a trip to Hiawatha National Forest.

Spend Family Time at Ludington Park

Ludington Park (not to be confused with Ludington State Park in the lower peninsula) in Escanaba stretches for about a mile along the Lake Michigan shore. Ride your bike along the path to discover the amenities available to you. Stop down at the beach for a swim or play a few games of tennis or volleyball on the courts.

For families with smaller children, the playground is always a hit since it was designed by kids, for kids. After a long day of fun and games at Ludington Park, visitors can use the picnic pavilion to have a rest or a snack before continuing their day. It’s located just west of the water plant.

escanaba sand point lighthouse

Explore Sand Point Lighthouse

There are more lighthouses in Michigan than any other state, so it’s no wonder that we are fascinated by them. Sand Point Lighthouse has sat right on Little Bay De Noc in Escanaba since its construction in 1867.

This historic lighthouse is fully restored and open to the public from Memorial Day to September 1st. Visitors can walk through the inside of the lighthouse to see what life might have been like for a lighthouse keeper in the 19th century. This historic site is maintained by the Delta County Historical Society.

Additionally, there is a US Coast Guard Museum on site for visitors to learn more about Escanaba’s maritime history. This includes information about artifacts from the wreckage of the steamer Nahant, which sank in 1897. This shallow wreckage is marked by a green buoy off the coast from the lighthouse and is a popular spot for adventurous divers to explore.

lighthouse - things to do in escanaba mi

More Things to do in Escanaba MI

Walk the Trail to Peninsula Point Lighthouse

At the end of Stonington Peninsula, separating Little and Big Bay De Noc, Peninsula Point Lighthouse has served as a beacon for sailors on Lake Michigan since 1865. Standing tall at 40 feet, this lighthouse is easily recognized by its square shape, as opposed to the traditional cylindrical light towers.

Follow the trail for about a mile to see geological and historical features along Big Bay De Noc, including markings of ancient lake levels. At the end of it all, climb the lighthouse for spectacular panoramic views of Lake Michigan.

fayette historical park- things to do in escanaba mi

Get Educated at Fayette Historic State Park

History buffs will love Fayette Historic State Park. This museum village revives a once bustling community that manufactured iron ore from 1867-1891. Costumed interpreters help to educate the public and provide a fun and immersive experience. Guests are welcome to enjoy a modern interactive visitor center, guided tours, and about 20 historic buildings. However, Fayette Historic State Park is more than its historical village.

There’s plenty of outdoor recreation to be had at this pet-friendly park, including hiking, swimming, picnics, and cross-country skiing in winter. Fayette Historical State Park is open year-round, but the historic townsite is only open from May to October. There is no entry fee, either, but visitors must have a Michigan State Park Pass.

Uputt Family Fun Center
2805 N Lincoln Rd, Escanaba, MI 49829

You’ll find everything from black-light indoor mini golf and an arcade to pizza and hot dogs at this family fun center.

Michigan Beer Festivals

Grab a Pint at Upper Hand Brewery
3525 Airport Rd, Escanaba, MI 49829

Escanaba is the place Upper Hand Brewery calls home. This brewery was founded by Larry Bell as a division of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, one of Michigan’s oldest and most celebrated breweries. Upper Hand Brewery is very involved with the community, often hosting events in Escanaba for community members to enjoy.

While it is a division of Bell’s, Upper Hand stands apart in its mission to provide the UP with quality beer that celebrates all the things that make the Upper Peninsula special. Beers like the UPA, Deer Camp, Yooper Ale, and Trek Light help to solidify their image as the iconic UP brewery.

Try Hand-Dipped Chocolates at Saykllys Confectionery
1304 Ludington St, Escanaba, MI 49829

A candy store featuring homemade chocolates is a rare thing, and this popular candy store has been delighting those with a sweet tooth for three generations. Don’t miss the chance to stop in and try some fresh saltwater taffy or a chocolate caramel-pecan “Snappie.”

Go Wine Tasting at Leigh’s Garden Winery
904 Ludington St, Escanaba, MI 49829

Since 1884, 904 Ludington Street has served Escanaba in many different ways. This building has hosted appliance repair shops, electricians, grocers, clothiers, pubs, nightclubs, and more, but today Leigh’s Garden Winery calls the venue home.

Leigh’s Garden Winery supplies high-quality wines to the town of Escanaba with a relaxing space to enjoy them in. These wines are made with cold-weather grapes and other northern fruits grown in the state, creating a uniquely Michigan variety of wines.

Visit William Bonifas Fine Arts Center
700 1st Ave S, Escanaba, MI 49829

The Bonifas Art Center in the city of Escanaba is a true cultural gem, featuring both permanent and special art exhibits. The Bonifas Art Gallery features the works of local artists, and artist workshops and classes are offered as well. The art museum is a don’t-miss in Escanaba.

Pick Fresh Strawberries at Pellegrinis Strawberry Farm
2702 16.5 Rd, Escanaba, MI 49829

If you visit Escanaba in early July, you’ll want to stop at this popular strawberry farm to pick some fresh strawberries. Ever had a fresh-picked Michigan berry? They taste completely different from the store-bought kind, and you’ll be amazed at the deep flavor.

things to do in escanaba mi

Learn About the Local History at Garden Peninsula Historical Museum

Housed in a former one-room schoolhouse, the Garden Peninsula Historical Museum puts a lot of love and care into the preservation and restoration of local history for the enjoyment of its visitors.

See how historic clothing and tools shaped the way of life on the Garden Peninsula. Learn about daily life as a historical Yooper, including information about the logging industry, fishing, and the education of the residents.

Have Fun at the Upper Peninsula State Fair

Since its debut on September 14, 1928, the Upper Peninsula State Fair has been the largest fair in the UP. Every third week of August about 80,000 people flock to Escanaba to enjoy plenty of midway entertainment, fair food, raffles, and more.

Check out the antique car show or see fast cars zoom down the track at UP International Raceway. See who won the blue ribbon at the horse and livestock show and maybe pet a few barnyard animals. At the end of it all don’t forget to watch the fireworks for the perfect night to cap off your fair experience.

Catch a Movie at Willow Creek Cinema

One of the biggest movie theaters in the western Upper Peninsula, you’ll find eight movie screens featuring the latest from Hollywood here.

monarch butterflies- escanaba michigan

Be Amazed by the Monarch Butterfly Migration

We all know and love Monarch Butterflies for their striking colors and graceful movements, but Monarchs are more unique than you might think. Like birds, Monarch Butterflies have migration patterns. During the warm months, they live and breed in the north, but then as the weather gets cold they migrate south, as far as Mexico City, nearly 2,000 miles away.

This migration occurs around late Summer to early Fall, and during this time Delta County becomes the Monarch Butterfly Capital of Michigan. During this time, you can see thousands of Monarchs in the Cedar Trees of Stonington Peninsula, especially around dawn and sunset. Don’t miss this magical opportunity to see this phenomenon for yourself.

Escanaba Public Library
400 Ludington St, Escanaba, MI 49829

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1976, this picturesque library was built in 1903 with money from Andrew Carnegie. It’s a vital part of the community, providing books and streaming services for area residents and visitors, too.

things to do in escanaba mi

Things to Do Near Escanaba

Pioneer Trail Park
6822 U.S. Rte 2, Gladstone, MI 49837

Pioneer Trail Park is a 73-acre park fronted by US Highway 2, 41, and M35 and along the Escanaba River. You’ll find several picnic and playground areas, large and small pavilions, and a boat launch.

Wells Sports Complex
Wells, MI 49894

This ice skating rink provides hours of family fun and is one of the top Great Lakes ice skating rinks.

Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula Guide

Great Day Trips from Escanaba MI

If you are visiting the Escanaba area for a length of time and are looking for some great places to see in the Upper Peninsula, head for Wagner Falls and Munising Falls, both very scenic UP waterfalls worth exploring. Sault Ste. Marie, located in the Upper Peninsula is a top.
Ann Arbor

See the Sites on Haymeadow Falls Trail

Near River Rapid, just outside Escanaba, you can find the beautiful and lightly trafficked Haymeadow Falls Trail that stretches for about 1.4 miles. As the name suggests, this trail features a small waterfall called Haymeadow Falls, which fills the forest with the sound of the running water.

This dog-friendly trail is accessible for people of all hiking skill levels and doesn’t take too long to complete, making it great for both new hikers looking for somewhere to start and experienced hikers who want a chill trek. The trail is open year-round, but it’s best to go from March to October since the pathways are not groomed during the wintertime.

Try Ice Fishing at Rapid River

Situated on the northern end of the Little Bay de Noc between the mouths of the Tacoosh and Rapid rivers with the mouth of the Whitefish River just to the east, Rapid River is a popular spot for ice fishing in the winter months.

It’s also a good day trip if you’re vacationing in the Pictured Rocks or visiting the Eben Ice Caves in the Munising area during winter.

What is Escanaba known for?

Escanaba Michigan, located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, is known for it’s beautiful Great Lakes beaches, pretty lightouses, Fayette Historic State Park, William Bonifas Fine Arts Center and more. In the late summer and fall, it is also a resting point for miratory Monarch butterflies as they travel south for the winter.

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About the Author-

Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland. She later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school. She is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.