Looking to explore Drummond Island? Start planning your trip here as we share the best things to do on Drummond Island MI, including where to eat, stay, and play!
Boasting the second-longest coastline in the United States, it’s not surprising that Michigan is home to hundreds of islands. While many people instantly recognize the names of the most famous islands, such as Mackinac Island or Belle Isle, there are plenty of local people and visitors alike who are not aware of one of the most rustic and charming islands in the state.
Drummond Island is located off the coast of the Upper Peninsula in the waters of Lake Huron. Despite being the seventh-largest lake island in the entire world (the fifth-largest island in the contiguous US), it’s a relatively well-kept secret in the Great Lakes state.
About Drummond Island MI
Drummond Island may be one of the largest freshwater islands in the country, but it is home to a small number of people who live on the island year-round. This community has a population of just more than 1,000 residents, all of whom enjoy the sense of camaraderie that comes from making a home on this rugged and rustic terrain.
When visitors arrive on Drummond Island, they enjoy a welcoming atmosphere and have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local lifestyle.
With more than 150 miles of shoreline on Lake Huron as well as dozens of inland lakes, Drummond Island is a naturalist’s dream come true. Those who travel to this island often find themselves hiking along scenic trails, skipping rocks on the beach, and enjoying quiet sunrises over the glittering waters of the lake.
- It was named after a Canadian: Gordon Drummond.
- Drummond Island has 34 inland lakes (on an island of only 249 square miles).
- It’s totally awesome year-round.
History of Drummond Island
The first people to call Drummond Island home were the indigenous people, and they occupied the land for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. In fact, there are Native American artifacts that have been found on Drummond Island dating as far back as 200 B.C.
It is estimated the European settlers arrived sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century, but the modern history of Drummond Island truly began during the War of 1812. At the time, the island was occupied by the British, and it was the last remaining British Outpost in the country. The United States did not officially occupy the island until 1828.
The local people who lived on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries were able to prosper as a result of the logging industry. There was a large population of Finnish settlers who lived on the island during this time, many of whom relocated to the island on Homestead Grants. Today, the history of the island is preserved at the Drummond Island Historical Museum.
Local Life on Drummond Island
With so few residents calling this island home, it’s not surprising that the local people on Drummond Island are a tight-knit community. Most people who live on Drummond Island work in the tourism industry or are employed by the Caramuse Dolomite Quarry.
Young students attend school on the island until 6th grade, and after that, they are bussed from Drummond Township to the mainland in order to finish their education.
Drummond Island offers small-town charm and unimaginably beautiful views, which has encouraged people to settle down, establish roots and make this place their home.
How to Get to Drummond Island
One of the most important things to know before you visit Drummond Island is how to get to this destination.
You just take M-134 to DeTour Village on the east coast of the UP, hop on (with your car) one of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority (EUPTA) ferries: the SS Drummond Islander, the SS Drummond Islander III, or the SS Drummond Islander IV, and you’re there.Nathan Smathers
The island is accessible year-round, and there are many transportation options available to you, such as:
- Car Ferry Service — Ferry service is available to Drummond Island throughout the entire year. The Drummond Island Ferry requires you to drive your vehicle right on board, and park your car while you enjoy the 15-minute trip across the St. Mary’s River. Rates vary based on the type of vehicle that you are bringing onto the island.
- Airplane — Drummond Island Airport is located in the center of the island. It is possible to book a short airplane ride to the island in the event that you do not want to use the car ferry service.
- Marina — Local marinas have storage and rental options for those who want to travel to Drummond Island by personal watercraft.
- Ice Bridge — If the winter weather conditions are right, an ice bridge forms from Drummond Island over to the coast of Ontario. This bridge is primarily used by snowmobilers who want to traverse the trails and go exploring throughout the winter months. Anyone interested in crossing the ice bridge does so at their own risk and should check the conditions before attempting to cross it.
Drummond Island, however remote it might be, is definitely worth the visit! Those who are searching for unparalleled natural beauty and a sense of peace and privacy will love having the ability to escape to this northern island destination.
Things to Do on Drummond Island
Drummond Island is known for being a relaxing destination that is preferred among those who love to embark on outdoor adventures. The locals say that the island operates on “Island Time,” so you should expect to be flexible and agile when planning your Drummond Island trip.
Often referred to as “Michigan’s Ultimate Playground,” the options for things to do on Drummond Island, our country’s second-largest freshwater island, are seemingly endless:
- over 40 miles of full-size ORV trails (and winner of the 2010 BF Goodrich Outstanding Trail Award),
- scuba diving and snorkeling,
- cross-country skiing,
- dog sled races,
- and even access to Canada via the ice bridge.
These are just a few of the things to do on Drummond Island!
Visit the Drummond Island Fossil Ledges
Known to many as the Salt Water Fossils, the Drummond Island Fossil Ledges are one of the most magnificent natural wonders on the island, and a place that many visitors long to see for themselves.
Located on the northern shore of the island, these fossil ledges can be difficult to reach — so you should only plan to visit if you are comfortable with off-roading and traversing on some bumpy trails — however, it’s well worth the effort.
Formed over thousands of years, the ledges are comprised of the fossilized remains of a former saltwater coral reef. It’s one of the most unique natural spots not only on the island but also throughout the entire state of Michigan.
As a result, tourists should be very careful when they visit in order to protect the integrity of the fossilized ledges. There are many reminders to take only pictures, rather than souvenir fossils, in hopes of keeping this space available to people for years to come.
Search and Shop for Drummond Island Puddingstones
Perhaps the most famous stone hunting activity in Michigan is searching for Petoskey stones, but on Drummond Island, there’s another stone that takes center stage. Puddingstones — officially known as Jasper Conglomerate — are beautiful stones that have been forming in the region for quite literally billions of years.
With a cream facade and speckles of bright red on the face of the rocks, these are some of the most breathtaking stones in northern Michigan.
If you are hoping to search for puddingstones yourself, you can simply walk along the shores of Lake Huron all around Drummond Island, or you can sift through the forest floors in hopes of finding one. They come in a variety of sizes — some as small as a coin, and others so large that you could never move them on your own.
In addition, you can find puddingstone jewelry and other souvenirs in most of the shops on Drummond Island, ensuring that you will always have a piece of the island to keep with you.
Hunt for Michigan Morel Mushrooms
Mushrooming is a beloved pastime in Michigan, and springtime visitors to Drummond Island will find that the conditions are often right for finding those elusive morel mushrooms. Coveted by those who love to cook and favored by those who enjoy a burst of flavor with their meal, these mushrooms are one of the few remaining agricultural treasures that can only be hunted and not farmed.
If you want to go mushroom hunting on Drummond Island, you will want to arrive in the late spring months when the thaw has begun, but the warm temperatures have not arrived for good.
Corned Beef Junction is one of the best places on the island to find morels, but it is important to go with an experienced morel hunter — there are mushrooms that appear similar to morels that will make you sick if you consume them. Most locals will tell you that morel hunting is a Mother’s Day tradition on the island.
Fish for Smelt, Perch, and More
Not only is Drummond Island surrounded by the cool, refreshing waters of Lake Huron, but there also are hundreds of island lakes located on the island, making it one of the best places for fishing throughout the entire year.
The fishing season begins in earnest on April 1, when the smelt run begins. The smelt will start their spawning season as soon as spring arrives, and before long, these tiny silver fish are swimming wildly throughout the creeks and streams on the island.
The main difference between fishing for smelt and fishing for other types of fish on Drummond Island is that the best smelt fishing takes place at night when the stars are out. This makes it a unique and exciting experience, even for the locals who enjoy it year after year.
Throughout the rest of the year, you will find that there are many species of fish to catch, including perch, northern pike and walleye. This relaxing yet competitive activity has long been a staple of community life on Drummond Island.
Go Off-Roading on the Endless Miles of Trails
Many people think of the Upper Peninsula as the best place to go off-roading in Michigan, but the fact of the matter is, Drummond Island is the top destination for those who love to bounce along on their ATV.
This spacious island boasts more than 60 miles of ATV trails as well as 40 miles of ORV trails, all of which are marked, making it easy for drivers of all skill levels to navigate. It is the largest closed-loop trail system in the state of Michigan!
With winding trails and twisting turns, the trails are fun to maneuver, and they all wind through some of the most scenic areas of the island, providing hours of off-road adventures.
Spend a Day at the Drummond Island Historical Museum
Drummond Island has a rich and storied past, and there’s no better place to discover this places history than the Drummond Island Historical Museum. The historical museum is a seasonal attraction that is open seven days per week between late May and mid-October.
Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to make a donation if they are able in order to support the work that the historians are doing at the museum.
When you visit on a summer afternoon, you will find that there are many exhibits to discover inside the historic property. The museum showcases artifacts from the indigenous people who first called Drummond Island home as well as items that highlight how the settlers lived their lives on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s an interesting and engaging attraction for people of all ages.
Sail on a Tall Ship
The Drummond Island Tall Ship Company is the only tour company of its kind on the island, offering visitors the opportunity to sail aboard a majestic tall ship. With three ships in its fleet, this tour company allows people to experience what life is like on the waters of the Great Lakes. If you are not interested in booking a tall ship sailing excursion, you may find that you can tour the schooners when they are docked at the harbor.
Visit the Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge
Located on its own island in the Potagannissing Bay off the coast of Drummond Island, the Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge is a must-do if you love to be surrounded by nature. This natural wildlife preserve is free to visit, and is home to 15 different species of mammals as well as more than 100 bird species.
An untouched morsel of natural perfection, Harbor Island is comprised of a variety of habitats: marshes, sandy beaches, and even old-growth oak forests.
The 695-acre refuge is “boots only.” There are no motorized vehicles allowed and you cannot stay on the island. It is only open to the public during daylight hours. You can however camp on neighboring Mare and Cedar islands, provided you have a state camping permit (readily available at the Drummond Island Tourism Office).
Whether you have a few minutes or an entire day, you will find that there’s fun to be had at this natural preserve. The most popular activities at the wildlife refuge include bird watching, morel hunting, photographing wildlife, playing on the beach or hiking along the rustic terrain on the island.
And although not exactly an activity, another attractive facet of this natural playground is Drummond Island’s rich history. There are 17 shipwrecks to be explored, some dating back to the 19th century.
More Things to Do Near Drummond Island
Located off the coast of the eastern Upper Peninsula, Drummond Island is conveniently located near some of the top attractions in this region. You may find that you want to add some of these activities and attractions to your itinerary after you have finished exploring the island:
Seek Privacy and Solace at Crisp Point Lighthouse
The Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of the most remote lighthouses in Michigan. You can discover it on the shores of Lake Superior at the end of a gravel road that is only open seasonally. It takes several hours to drive to Crisp Point Lighthouse, but it’s a worthwhile extension of your trip to Drummond Island.
Experience the Natural Beauty of Tahquamenon Falls
After you have visited the majestic Crisp Point Lighthouse, you can continue your tour through the Upper Peninsula at the Tahquamenon Falls. Whether you plan to hike to the Upper Falls, Lower Falls or both, you will not regret taking the time to experience of the most iconic natural attractions in the entire state of Michigan.
Look to the Skies at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Nearby Tahquamenon Falls and Crisp Point Lighthouse, you will find the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Located at the tip of the Upper Peninsula in Paradise, Michigan, this isolated point is a migratory highway for hundreds of bird species.
No matter what time of year it is, you will find that it’s easy to spend hours watching the birds fly through the sky. The surprise lies in not knowing which type of bird you will see soaring overhead next.
Lodging on Drummond Island
Despite the fact that it’s largely considered to be a rustic destination, Drummond Island is home to a surprising number of lodging options. Some accommodations that you may consider booking on Drummond Island include:
Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center
Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center is the largest and perhaps the most well-known place to stay on the island. It is a four-season resort that provides visitors with an unmatched experience during their stay on Drummond Island.
At this resort, you can choose from a lodge-themed hotel room or a private cabin. No matter which type of accommodation you select at this resort, you will have access to more than 2,000 acres of land to explore. The resort also has several dining options and a championship golf course on its property.
Drummond Island Hotel
The Drummond Island Hotel is another popular place to stay on the island. This locally-owned hotel is operated by a family of Drummond Island residents who can give you expert insight into the best things to do on the island. They also love to share the hidden gems that other travelers may not discover.
It is a year-round hotel that is located in the center of the island. In addition to having 10 rooms available at the hotel, there also are vacation properties that you can rent through them that are nearby.
Campgrounds on Drummond Island
Camping is one of the most popular activities on Drummond Island, as many visitors come to the island in order to surround themselves with the peace and tranquility of the island’s forests and lake shores. There are many campgrounds to choose from on Drummond Island, including:
- The campground at Drummond Island State Park.
- The Wa-Wen Resort and Campground.
- Trailhead Bar, Restaurant and Campground.
- H&H Resort and Campground.
Whether you prefer tent camping or RV camping, you will find that there’s a campground on the island that offers everything you need to make the most out of your Drummond Island adventure.
Dining on Drummond Island
Most of the restaurants on Drummond Island are locally-owned, ensuring that visitors are able to enjoy an authentic experience during their stay. Some of the best Drummond Island restaurants include:
Bayside Restaurant and Lounge
Bayside Restaurant and Lounge has the distinction of being the only restaurant on the island that offers al fresco dining with waterfront views. Located on the grounds of the Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center, this restaurant is known as one of the best places for fine dining on the island.
Its indoor dining space has a cozy lodge appeal with touches of elegance around every corner, and its outdoor patio offers picturesque views of the lake and forests. Its menu is created from fresh, local ingredients, and diners are able to enjoy daily specials that feature the best flavors of the season.
Esther’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine
The Upper Peninsula is usually known for its pasties, fresh fish and hearty Midwestern dishes. But when you stay on Drummond Island, you also can enjoy delicious and authentic Mexican food.
Esther’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine is a local restaurant that is owned and operated by a woman who was born in Mexico and who has made her home on the island.
The front porch is easy to spot — the rainbow umbrellas that decorate the tables make this a fun and festive place to dine. The menu consists of Mexican dishes that are based on family recipes that were passed down through the generations.
Bear Track Inn and Restaurant
If you want to know where the locals dine on Drummond Island, then head straight to the Bear Track Inn and Restaurant for a nourishing breakfast meal or a hearty lunch. This restaurant is the unofficial gathering place for locals, particularly before they head out for a day on the ATV trails or before a big hunt.
Its home-like atmosphere and welcoming appeal combined with its all-American menu make this one of the best restaurants on the island.
Start Planning Your Visit to Drummond Island MI
Drummond Island is a dream come true for people who love to camp or surround themselves with wilderness. As a relatively undiscovered vacation destination, it’s the perfect place to go if you want to get away from it all and find yourself again in the Michigan beauty that surrounds you.
This secluded Upper Peninsula island offers things to see and do for travelers of all interests and ages, making now the best time to book your getaway to this far-off corner of the state.