Have you driven the 142-mile long stretch of U.S. 2 from the Mackinac Bridge to Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula? It’s long, right? And if you’ve driven this stretch, you also know that the only decent size town along the way is Manistique.
I’ve driven through Manistique around 127 times so far in my life. And until recently I’m ashamed to say it was very much just a spot for me to stretch my legs and get gas as I trekked between the central Upper Peninsula and somewhere below the bridge (mostly college at CMU).
Well, no more. I’ve recently been given a tour of the area by a local expert and have “seen the light.” Manistique has some cool stuff going on, so lets get to it.
Kitch-iti-Kippi – the “Big Spring”
Maybe you’ve visited Kitch-iti-kippi, but my first ever trip to this super popular tourist attraction was this last September. The crystal clear, forty foot deep natural spring is packed with gigantic trout. And as you gaze down at the fish from the hand operated observation raft, sand erupts from the bottom as fresh water pours upward from the spring at a rate of about 10,000 gallons a minute. Located in Palms Brook State Park (a few miles out of town), this is a must see.
The Mackinac Trail Winery
One of the Mackinac Trail Winery’s three tasting rooms (the others are in Mackinac City and Petoskey) happens to be in Manistique. This cool little shack sits on the Manistique River and serves as a venue for live music during the summer months. Sip some wine, take in a little music and gaze out at the water. Life is good.
The Upper Crust Café Bakery and Deli
Situated directly across the river from Mackinac Trail is one of the best lunch spots in the entire Upper Peninsula. The Upper Crust Deli serves up “super fresh sandwiches, hearty soups and homemade desserts” as well as good coffee and free Wi-Fi. How I wish I knew about this place on my many road trips back and forth to CMU! Well, at least I know about it now. And so do you!
The Mustard Seed
I am not a woman, but you might be, which drives me to visit places like The Mustard Seed (so I can tell you about them). This is one of those shops that “has everything.” From local artwork and books to cards, decorations and much more. If you’re the type that likes to “look around,” the Mustard Seed is worth a stop.
The Water Tower
Right in the heart of Manistique is a nearly hundred-year-old brick water tower that tops out at 137 feet and six inches high. It’s damn big for a brick structure and pretty impressive to see. During the summer, months the building is open for exploration. If nothing else, it makes for a cool photo op.
Down by the Boardwalk
And last but certainly not least, one of the highlights of Manistique is the 1.83 mile long boardwalk that offers it’s users a fishing pier, access to the east breakwater light, a picnic spot and plenty of beautiful views as you stroll along Lake Michigan. After lunch, before wine and music, or just to stretch your legs along that 142 mile stretch of U.S. 2, the Manistique boardwalk is always lovely.
So, now you know a little about Manistique. And you heard it straight from the desk of a Yooper who took it for granted for too long. Don’t be like me. Give this little town a stop on your next trip through the Upper Peninsula. It just might surprise you.
Jesse Land, Contributing Writer