Travel plans give me anxiety. That’s probably why most of our big family travel plans are last minute. Like our recent adventure that included spending most of a day at Presque Isle Park in Marquette Michigan (home of the famous Black Rocks).
It was a trip that almost didn’t happen — we were going to explore Ludington (another Michigan town on our bucket list) and cruise Lake Michigan on the SS Badger. But, a last-minute change had us traveling through the Upper Peninsula instead.
We wanted to explore a town in the UP that we hadn’t previously visited (we’ve recently spent time in the Eastern UP, as well as popular destinations along its southern shores). And with the help of a few travel planning articles on Awesome Mitten, we decided to enjoy a couple of days in Marquette County.
Unlike some family vacations we’ve taken in the past, we really didn’t want to fill this particular trip with attractions and activities. We were looking for a space to relax and connect as a family.
- Instead of booking a hotel in Marquette, we chose a VRBO in nearby Negaunee.
- Rather than pack the days with things to do in Marquette, we picked one destination to explore at our leisure.
Exploring Presque Isle Park
The one attraction we chose to explore in the Marquette area was Presque Isle Park.
Presque Isle Park is a popular recreational area located on a forested peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior in Marquette Michigan. The park covers an area of 323 acres and is known for its stunning views of Lake Superior, sandstone cliffs, hiking trails, and recreational activities.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bald eagles, and white-tailed deer. Visitors can explore the park’s central forest on miles of hiking trails, which offer scenic views of the lake and surrounding landscape. Also, the park has picnic areas, playgrounds, and a beach where visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports.
One of the most popular attractions in Presque Isle Park is the Black Rocks, a series of cliffs that are popular with cliff jumpers. The park also has a lighthouse, which was built in 1931 and is open for tours during the summer months.
Presque Isle Park is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and it has been named one of the top family-friendly places to fish and boat in the United States by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. It is a beautiful and unique natural area that offers something for everyone to enjoy.
I vaguely remembered visiting this park as a young child — it’s where I learned to skip rocks. And if I know anything about my family, I know they love to skip rocks — so it made sense to go back to where it all began.
Skipping Rocks at Sunset Point
The first thing we discovered after turning onto Peter White Drive was that there was no fee to enter the park! The City of Marquette owns and maintains the park, and it’s free to visit.
Not being familiar with the area, we decided to take a drive around the “island” (as it’s referred to by locals). We missed the turnoff for the Black Rocks parking area on our first pass, so we parked at the next turnoff — Sunset Point.
The kids made quick work of scaling the rocks to get down to the water’s edge, and it wasn’t long before we were standing shin-deep in the cold water of Lake Superior, skipping rocks to our hearts’ content.
Hiking to Black Rocks
After skipping rocks, the kids were ready to explore. We left the vehicle where it was parked and wandered down a trail toward where we had seen the parking area for Black Rocks. It didn’t take long to find the iconic geological formations.
Had it not been past time for lunch, we would have likely spent hours on Black Rocks. It was not only a peaceful setting, but the kids also found lots to explore and enjoyed climbing onto the various jetties and peaks.
The oldest wanted to cliff jump as I’d told her that it was a popular place to do so, but as the air temperature was only in the upper 60s that day and nobody else was jumping, I declined to let her do so.
If we’d planned ahead, we would have brought a picnic lunch to enjoy at the park as we saw several other families doing. Since we didn’t, we headed back into Marquette for a bite to eat.
Walking on the Breakwall
After lunch, we headed back to the park (it was just that awesome!) and explored some more. We walked the breakwall toward the lighthouse (I wouldn’t let the kids climb all the way out on the rocks) and skipped more rocks on the shoreline nearby.
Then, we drove the loop around the peninsula… a few times. It was just so pretty that we kept driving around and around!
Enjoying a Sweet Treat
Before we left the park and headed back to our rental for the night, we had to stop at the Island Ice Cream Store for some Jilbert’s Dairy ice cream. After all, it’s not a true family vacation in Michigan without some Michigan-made ice cream!
The youngest three all opted for a true Michigan classic flavor — Superman ice cream — while the oldest ordered Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream.
Wishing We Could Stay
Needless to say, if we lived in Marquette County, we’d be at Presque Isle Park frequently. We didn’t even explore a fraction of the 323 acres, missing the miles of biking and hiking trails, a bog walk, fishing opportunities, sandy beaches, playgrounds, and more!
I can definitely see why this park is so popular with the locals and students at Northern Michigan University.
Did You Know?
Here are 10 fun facts about Presque Isle Park in Marquette Michigan:
- Presque Isle Park is a 323-acre forested peninsula that extends into Lake Superior.
- The park was inhabited by Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century.
- Presque Isle Park is one of the most visited sites in Marquette County.
- The park’s east end sits high atop sandstone cliffs carving in and out of the peninsula.
- The park offers visitors unmatched views of Lake Superior.
- Miles of hiking trails stretch through Presque Isle’s central forest.
- The park is home to the Black Rocks, a popular spot for cliff jumping.
- The park has a lighthouse that was built in 1931.
- The park is a popular spot for picnics and family gatherings.
- Presque Isle Park was named one of the top 100 Family Friendly Places to Fish and Boat in the U.S. by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.
More to Explore in Marquette Michigan
While we enjoyed the downtime and free family fun, it was bittersweet to have a family vacation in Marquette that missed most of the tourist destinations in the area.
We’ll definitely have to plan another adventure in the Upper Peninsula soon!