Best Things to Do in Marquette MI
Travel Marquette: Explore the Top Lake Superior
Looking for the best things to do in Marquette MI?
We’re going to give you the best things to do in Marquette. straight: you can watch as many videos and read as many articles about visiting Marquette as you like, but the true Marquette can only be fully realized firsthand. It’s just THAT beautiful, and we love it. Let us fuel that burning wanderlust for an pure Michigan experience and give you everything you need for an amazing trip to Marquette Michigan.
Marquette’s endless possibilities can be overwhelming: if you’re planning to “travel Marquette”, you’ll want to make sure you have a thorough bucket list of all of the things to do and see in this vibrant city on the shores of Lake Superior. Fortunately, we know this state like the back of our hand. Before you dive in, we can help you dip your toes into Marquette’s waters and activities.
We like to think of Marquette as the perfect blend of city life and outdoor recreation.
This unique blend makes Marquette perfect for any type of vacation. Day trip? Definitely! Weekend getaway? Without a doubt. From restaurants and gift shops of downtown Marquette’s bustling Front Street, to the must-visit beaches of McCarty’s Cove to the vast and scenic Noquemanon Trail Network, Marquette has something for everyone. Whatever you want out of your journey, Marquette has it, so let us help you start planning your next trip.
Explore Marquette, MI
Set along a stunning stretch of Lake Superior coastline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the fast-growing city of Marquette has become a popular travel destination for visitors from around the country. As the county seat of Marquette county, it’s a a busy working city set in an amazing natural playground, with endless parks, beaches, trails, and mountains waiting for you to explore.
Marquette’s charms can be found year around, too. As a stop on a fall color tour come September, the striking reds and yellows contrasted with the deep blue of Lake Superior is an unforgettable sight.
This northern Michigan spot has fully embraced its title as “the third snowiest location in the United States” (according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and is an excellent location for a winter vacation or getaway as well. Fat Tire biking, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are only some of the activities you can enjoy on your visit.
Read on to discover our favorite things to do in Marquette, MI.
Outdoor Adventures in Marquette MI
Presque Isle Park
Presque Isle Park, affectionately referred to as just Presque Isle, is a 323-acre oval peninsula that reaches out into the lake’s waters and provides a stunning view of the lake and the plethora of activities and opportunities within the park itself. Inside Presque Isle Park, you will find hiking trails and bike trails for our cyclist readers.
See our article on Black Rocks for a bit more on the famous cliffs within Presque Isle.
Sugarloaf Mountain is something we strongly suggest you visit. While the thought of mountain climbing may sound intimidating, reaching the top of Sugarloaf is easy. The trail is about a 15-minute hike and is well worth the effort. The viewing deck gives you a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and one of the best sights of Lake Superior you will ever see. We strongly recommend going at sunset.
Iron Ore Heritage Trail
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a 47-mile long trail dedicated to a pleasing hiking/cycling experience for dedicated hikers and cyclists. While the trail may seem like it is only for the more experienced hikers and cyclists, the trail has options for beginners. In the winter, Iron Ore Heritage Trail transforms into one of the best locations for cross-country skiing in the state.
Dead River Falls
We’ve found that Dead River and Dead River Falls provide the perfect atmosphere for a day trip. Dead River Falls and the surrounding woods offer more hiking trails and scenic views. The water is safe to swim in and can be the perfect spot to cool off, but don’t get too close to the falls or cliff’s edge because it is potentially dangerous. Dead River Falls includes several separate falls along the river and are in varying sizes. Hiking here provides one of the best waterfall experiences in Marquette.
If you happen to be in Marquette during the winter and are a fan of winter sports, Marquette Mountain Ski & Bike Area is your best option. The Mountain has ski runs for every skill level and does offer lessons for those who want to learn. If you think the mountain is only open for winter activity, think again. Marquette Mountain is home to many bike and hiking trails as well as a few volleyball courts, but our favorite feature is the ski lift, open year-round, that takes you up for a view of the mountain.
Marquette MI Beaches
Marquette is set on Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. The size of Lake Superior is oceanic: You can look out and barely see any land. This closeness gives Marquette a unique, coastal feel and produces one of the best beach experiences in Michigan. Here are a few of our favorite beaches in the area:
Ellwood A. Mattson Lower Harbor Park
The Ellwood A. Mattson Lower Harbor Park, or lower harbor to the locals, is a beachfront park that is a short walk from Downtown Marquette, perfect for a planned or spontaneous trip to the beach during your day in the town. The Lower Harbor park is a great spot to get a full view of the famous ore dock.
This popular family-friendly beach just steps away from downtown Marquette is a must-see on any visit to the Marquette area. This supervised and sandy beach offers many amenities including restroom, picnic tables and it’s also ADA-accessible.
Tourist Park Beach
If you are a camper and want easy access to a beach, park, and hiking trails, Tourist Park is the perfect spot for you. Tourist Park is close to all your outdoor adventure needs. If you plan accordingly, you may be able to experience one of Marquette’s many music festivals, as Tourist Park is the site of the annual Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival.
Explore Downtown Marquette, MI
Marquette, more specifically Downtown Marquette, shows its appreciation for the wilderness surrounding the city in a lot of ways. The flourishing Marquette arts scene is heavily inspired by nature, and the restaurants offer the same passion. Marquette covers all the bases with art museums like the DeVos Art Museum and performing arts theaters like the Lake Superior Theatre.
Marquette has a rich history, which is what made it the city it is today. Many museums in Marquette document and inform the public of its history. Marquette has museums for many different interests and age levels, so a day of museum hopping with the family is easy. Don’t miss these must-see Marquette museums:
DeVos Art Museum
Located on Northern Michigan University’s campus, this small gallery hosts a wide range of art. The permanent collection offers photography, local and regional art, and illustrations. The rotating exhibits are always unique and pull from a wide range of influences and styles. Recently, the “Explorations In Wood” exhibit showcases the use of wood in art. While you are on campus, check out the famous superior dome, which is an architectural work of art. The superior dome is the world’s largest wooden dome and is a staggering sight.
Open since 1965, Shiras Planetarium is the only planetarium in Marquette. The planetarium offers many themed light shows that are both educational and entertaining. If you are in Marquette and are looking for a rainy day activity that does not involve getting wet, Shiras Planetarium is a safe bet.
Lakenenland Sculpture Park
For a mix of outdoor and art activities, Lakenenland Sculpture Park is the perfect blend of the two. Here is where you can experience raw, locally made art. Founded in 2003 by local artist and construction worker Tom Lakenen, the park features 80 sculptures, dubbed “junkyard art,” made from repurposed scrap metal.
Marquette Maritime Museum
For the history buffs out there looking for a bit of information on the maritime history of Marquette and Lake Superior, the Marquette Maritime Museum is the best option. The exhibits examine the history of iron ore shipping in Marquette as well as shipwrecks. The museum has a close relationship with the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and offers tours. The Marquette Harbor Light is an active lighthouse.
Marquette Regional History Center
To get an idea of how Marquette started and experience all the factors that shaped the city into what you see today, there is only one Museum to give all the information you need: The Marquette Regional History Center.
Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
For a more relaxed museum designed for a younger audience, try the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum of Marquette has hands-on exhibits that explore a wide variety of topics, including The Fantastic Forest exhibit, which has an interactive woodland playscape for the kids to crawl around, without the mess of scrambling around the actual forests. Our favorite exhibit is the Creature Kingdom; this one-of-a-kind exhibit features a touch tank where everyone can have an up-close encounter with select reptiles.
Breweries and Restaurants in Marquette: Where to Eat and Drink
While not on the same level as Grand Rapids, Marquette has a few worthwhile breweries to visit. Each adds its own flair to the local brew-scene and stands out as part of Michigan’s growing list of breweries.
If you are looking for a local brewery with some history, The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery is a restaurant and brewery with roots dating back hundreds of years. This restaurant and brewpub offer a diverse menu with an emphasis on seafood. Our favorite item is the Whitefish Bites which are pieces of freshly caught whitefish fried in homemade beer batter. The beer selection is small, but the quality is impressive; we recommend the Honey Wheat Ale.
Perhaps Marquette’s most famous brewery, Blackrocks Brewery, is the perfect spot to refresh after a long day of hiking. The large selection of housemade beers may be overwhelming at first, but just know that whichever you choose is a good choice. Blackrocks Brewery does not serve food. However, food may be ordered or brought to the brewery to personalize your experience.
Although Marquette is famous for its cold winters, the weather does ease up and achieve warmer temperatures. One of the best ways to cool off on a hot Marquette day, aside from visiting the beach, is to get ice cream from Jilbert Dairy. This hidden Marquette treasure is one of the best places to get homemade ice cream in the U.P., and while you can’t go wrong with the classic vanilla or chocolate, we recommend the Mackinac Island Fudge flavor.
Visit these Spots Just Outside Marquette…
Marquette is a beautiful city and has a lot to offer, but the Upper Peninsula has many attractions that you should not miss. Many opportunities for adventure and memories are near Marquette, and if you don’t mind a short drive, you can visit some exceptional places while you stay in Marquette.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Most of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is in Munising, Michigan, and is about an hour from Marquette. Describing this bit of land with words like amazing or awe-inspiring would be an injustice; there are no words to describe Pictured Rocks that give you a true sense of its beauty.
The name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the 15-mile strip of colored sandstone cliffs.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has many beaches from which you can see the Pictured Rocks, but the boat tours are among the best options to get a close view.
Da Yoopers Tourist Trap
Just about 30 minutes from Marquette in Ishpeming, Michigan, is a small tourist attraction with a big attitude. This kitschy little stop has all the amenities one could hope for in a roadside attraction: free bathrooms, taxidermy deer, and the world’s largest working chainsaw.
Now that you have an idea of what Marquette has to offer, you can start thinking about your trip. You can use this quick guide as a reference when planning for a weekend getaway, but if you want to learn more about what Marquette has to offer, you can visit our in-depth Marquette guide.
About the Author
Patrick Crowley is a Content Manager with My Michigan Beach. A graduate of Oakland University with a degree in Cinema Studies, he is currently finishing a second in creative writing. Two of his greatest passions are film and the outdoors. When he is not watching movies, you can find him exploring the outdoors. He is delighted to be writing about the great state of Michigan and its many natural wonders.
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