This Michigan bucket list item is brought to you by Freshwater Vacation Rentals.
Whether you need a break from the mundane or the hustle and bustle, a historic 1800s cedar log cabin can do the trick. Stay on Republic Island – located on a 2-acre private island on the Michigamme River near Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s the perfect summer destination in Michigan if you like rustic getaways.
Getting to the Republic Island Retreat
Since the retreat is on an island, you’ll need a spirit of adventure as a boat is the only way to reach it. You can park your vehicle along River Road, but parking in the off-road parking spot is recommended in case a logging truck passes by. From there, follow the path to the boat that you’ll use to cross the river.
There will be one of three boats available. If it’s the flat-bottom boat or old town canoe, you’ll need to row across. In some cases though, a simple pontoon with a basic electric motor is available. (The pontoon won’t be available if the water level is not high enough to allow the boat to operate safely in the rocky Michigamme River. It functions more like a floating barge than your typical pontoon.)
With the likelihood that you’ll have to row to Republic Island, you’ll need some upper body strength, so bring your brawn! Honestly, though, the journey is only 300 feet and takes just about five minutes to row. Once you reach the floating docks, be aware that the ground is uneven. You may want to bring boots in case the ground is muddy on the shore.
Republic Island Space & Amenities
Inside the Republic Island cabin, the first thing that you’ll notice is the rustic decor and high-beam ceilings. The cabin is 1,100 square feet and can comfortably accommodate up to four people. Trying to squeeze more people in takes away from the quiet, private experience. Bringing your dog, though, is perfectly acceptable as long as you clean up after it and bring something for it to sleep on.
Speaking of sleeping arrangements, there’s are three furnished bedrooms. Basic sheets, pillowcases, and pillows are ready for you when you arrive. The cabin has one bathroom with a standing, log-walled shower, and heated floors. Despite being a rustic property, it has a normal sink and toilet. Towels are provided, but it never hurts to bring extra, as you have no idea what adventures you might find!
In the living room, you’ll find a 40-inch smart TV with cable/satellite service and DVD and VHS players. The most prominent feature, however, is the natural cobblestone fireplace, for which firewood is provided.
The cabin kitchen is equipped with all the standard appliances that you would need. Standard kitchenware and utensils are in the cupboards as well. You can get food supplies at the small store in Republic about 15 minutes away. For a larger selection, Ishpeming (about 30 minutes away) has a full-size grocery store.
Along with cooking in the kitchen, there’s a charcoal grill and an electric grill on the property that you’re free to use. Republic Island even has a patio with chairs, a picnic table, and a fire pit. If you prefer to avoid the mosquitoes, you can spend time on the screened-in porch instead. On the other hand, you could read a book or take a nap in the hammock.
Like with a lot of other places in the Upper Peninsula, there isn’t very good cellphone service on Republic Island. However, you can use the landline telephone and Wi-Fi.
Activities to Do at Republic Island
The island is a great place for bird watching, canoeing on the river, and observing the wildflowers. Although it doesn’t have a traditional sandy beach and the river bottom is muddy, you can go swimming. Otherwise, you could visit the sandy beach area about 2 miles into town.
Aside from that, the island is one of the best places for fishing. Most people catch smallmouth bass, pike, perch, and walleye. Additionally, areas along the upper Michigamme River are decent for trout fishing. Fishing poles aren’t always available on the island, so it’s recommended that you bring your own. You can get a fishing license online or at Peter’s True Value in Republic.
Places to Visit Near Republic Island
There are several places to visit within one-hour driving distance of Republic Island. In Champion, Van Riper State Park has 1.5 miles of Lake Michigamme waterfront and 1.5 miles of Peshekee River waterfront. The park offers biking, hiking, paddle-boating, fishing, swimming, and more.
In Ishpeming, Da Yoopers Tourist Trap offers a truly unique shopping experience. Because of its one-of-a-kind items and rarities, readers of Lake Superior Magazine have voted it the best Michigan gift shop. It has the largest collection of Yooper Innovations as well.
If you decide to visit Marquette, you’ll find many more things to do. You could hike several trails on the Noquemanon Trail Network, for example. Another idea is touring the Marquette Maritime Museum & Lighthouse. The museum building was built in 1891 in Richardsonian Romanesque style.
Then there’s Presque Isle Park, where you could spend the entire day. The 323-acre peninsula is known nationwide for its beauty and features trails and the Peter White Drive scenic road. At the tip, Black Rocks is a popular spot for cliff jumping into Lake Superior. Other park features include:
- picnic areas
- a lookout point and Sunset Point
- a gazebo
- a bog walk
- a pavilion
- Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light
Where to Eat While You’re Out and About
While exploring Marquette County, you can stop for a picnic or grab a bite at one of the many delicious restaurants. In Ishpeming, Ralph’s Italian Delicatessen serves some of the best hot and cold sandwiches, as well as pizza and Italian dinner plates.
Or, you could get legendary brick-oven pizza at Congress Pizzas. If you’re more in the mood for burgers, Jackson’s Pit Bar and Gourmet Grill makes the best around and has the largest craft beer tap system in the Upper Peninsula.
By the time you venture into Marquette, you might need a caffeine boost, which you can get at Java Bay. Alongside specialty espresso drinks, coffees, and smoothies, the menu includes deli sandwiches and the best grilled breakfast burrito.
For burgers, you can’t do better than The Burger Bus food truck, which announces on its website where it will be parked each day. To satisfy a craving for different flavors, check out the massive menu at Lagniappe, which features Cajun, Creole, barbecue, and Southern cuisine.
While you’re in Marquette, there are a couple of amazing spots to get something sweet. Yoop-Phoria has 24 flavors of frozen yogurt with tons of cold and dry toppings and specialty creations. For handcrafted chocolates, caramels, and candies, go to Donckers. You can get a gift basket to take with you.
Photos of Republic Island