The first time I went to Marquette, Michigan, it was a happy mistake. A friend was getting married just outside of Munising, and luckily, a camping spot became available in Marquette, just a short drive from her reception. We quickly booked the spot, not knowing the paradise that was waiting for us.
We pulled into our spot late at night after the wedding concluded, eager to explore the next day. The next morning, we headed into town for breakfast, knowing that our best approach to getting to know the area was to ask the locals what we needed to see.
I made a list of what we were told, and away we went. We checked off as much as we could, each recommendation building our awe for this historic town.
The memories from that first weekend spent in Marquette still echo in my mind with astounding beauty and the feeling of being home. I don’t know how to explain the magic that lies in that location- it’s something everyone should experience for themselves.
There is endless hiking, beautiful shorelines, mouth-watering breweries, unique shops to visit, an exceptional food truck scene, and top-ranked mountain biking trails. There is literally something for everyone- and each season offers something exciting.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Since that first trip five years ago, we have gone back countless times, always exploring further and farther. Most of the time, we camp, but we have also explored unique rentals- our favorite being a tiny cabin with a hot tub on a homestead property!
After my most recent trip, someone asked me to write down my perfect long weekend itinerary in Marquette. Here is what I came up with! This itinerary is geared towards the summer- although many of these can be done year-round with a few adjustments!
Marquette Itinerary Day One
Rippling River Resort
First thing first- we check into our campsite at Rippling River Resort! Rippling River has grown to become our summer favorite- we stay in the Benson Loop that connects directly to the Kids Grom Mountain Bike Trail.
A few bonuses of camping here are the pool and hot tub for our use (a huge win for the kids!), clean bathrooms and showers, and a cute common area by the river, complete with a camp store that serves drinks and pizza.
Dead River Falls
We drive the short distance to the Dead River Falls trailhead, anxious to catch sight of these breathtaking waterfalls. The trail is not lengthy- about a half mile to the first set of falls. We can hear the thunder of the water before reaching them- music to our ears.
Once you reach the first falls, you can meander the trail up to countless waterfalls above. Eventually, you dead-end at the top, with a view of a little lake that makes for a great place to take a dip!
Along the trail, there are countless places to sit and snack, simply taking in the grandeur of this hidden paradise. We love coming here to unwind from our day of travel- a perfect start to our weekend!
After our hike, we head into town for some dinner and brews! I am a big fan of craft beer, and Blackrocks serves some of the best. The outdoor area is a win, and typically we catch some great live music on their stage during the summer.
The brewery always has at least one food truck, sometimes more. You can check their webpage for the current schedule of food trucks! We have had some of the best pizza, burgers, and tacos here from some of their options.
After some dancing, drinking, and grubbing, we head back to camp.
Kids Grom Trail (Rippling River Resort)
We end the day at camp, taking a sunset ride around the Kids Grom Trail. The loop is 1 mile, with a section for intermediate riders that you can add on for an additional half mile. This is the perfect place to warm up your mountain biking skills and get kids on a bike.
The Grom Trail also connects to a mini pump track for kids- an awesome way to allow them to get their energy out before bed and have some fun while doing it! Afterward, we roast smores over the campfire and give thanks for our first day here.
Marquette Itinerary Day Two
We wake early with the sun, eager to explore. We choose to fuel up for our day by stopping into one of our all-time favorite breakfast stops- Cafe Bodega. They offer homemade, locally sourced items that will not only fill your belly but also blow your mind.
The biscuits and gravy are some of the best we’ve ever had (and that’s saying a lot), but the breakfast quesadilla is also not to be missed. The coffee is rich, the juice is fresh, and the food is delicious.
Every inch of Bodega has local art and rings with community pride (i.e. the Why Marquette? Campaign!).
One of the tougher routes in the area, the hike up Hogsback Mountain is absolutely worth it. I’d recommend the north trail option for parking and approach. Clocking in at just under 4 miles, the trail winds you through rocky terrain, over footbridges, and climbs through a forested path before leading to a rock scramble to the summit.
Our kids have hiked this year after year, loving every inch. It’s a challenging course, but the 360 views from the peak will leave you breathless. At the pinnacle, take in this panorama of Lake Superior, downtown, and the beautiful landscape of the forest below.
After our difficult hike, we are ready to cool off and relax! Almost directly across the street from the Hogsback Mountain trailhead is the parking lot for Wetmore Landing. You will walk a short distance from the parking lot to reach this gorgeous stretch of shoreline along Lake Superior.
After taking some time to dip into the water, search for rocks, and skip some stones, we embark along the easy Shoreline trail. Our kids love this hike- there are rock outcroppings to step onto, hidden alcoves to explore, and staircases that take you up to the views above.
You can meander this trail for just a short hike before turning around, but I’d recommend you follow it all the way to the lookout at Little Presque Isle. If you do this whole stretch, you’ll get another 3.5 miles in for the day.
We usually pack a picnic or snacks, and take a break at the Little Presque Isle lookout, watching the peaceful water and unparalleled beauty.
Phil’s 550 Store
After our hikes, we’ve earned some ice cream! Phil’s 550 Store is close to these trails, making it a perfect stop on the way back to town. You can also grab a growler filled with fresh craft beer or shop around for some fun mementos.
As we meander back into town, we stop at the historic Iron Ore Docks! The first time I saw these, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Ore Docks are huge, rising above Lake Superior. It’s fun to read about the docks- how they served Marquette’s mining industry and created this landmark town.
Our last stop of the day is dinner! The Delft Bistro is such a unique restaurant.
The menu is mouth-watering- with options for all! I could survive on their appetizers alone, but don’t miss features such as their falafel, ribs, or halibut! While you are dining, old films play on the walls, making it a fun stop for kids.
After dinner, we head back to camp for a quick swim in the hot tub and hit the sack!
Marquette Itinerary Day Three
Morgan Creek Loop Mountain Bike Trail
The Noquemanon trail system has something for everyone! This is an 8.2-mile track, with an intermediate ranking. Along this loop, you will see waterfalls, bike along a rushing river, and climb to treetop views.
It’s a fun and flowy ride, with sections that are entirely downhill and will have you whooping for more!
After our ride, we stop in town at this historic establishment. Togo’s has been serving up some of the best sandwiches for 57 years! The subs are huge, with options ranging from traditional turkey to hot Italian. The bread is soft, the fillings piled high, and you can’t go wrong with what you choose!
We take our sub sandwiches to go for a picnic lunch at our next stop.
Presque Isle Park & the Famous Black Rocks
We’ve all seen the epic photos of Marquette, and Presque Isle Park is where many of those shots are taken. This park overlooks Lake Superior- you can easily fill a whole afternoon with the different stops along the peninsula.
Peter White Drive is one way and a perfect drive. There are pull-offs to catch the views, and different parking areas for the numerous famous spots. You can hike here along the Presque Isle Park Loop (a 2.3-mile walk), and you can also bike through the park.
Our favorite place here is in the infamous Black Rocks! We bring our Togo Sandwiches out to the rocky outcropping, meandering in and out of hidden coves and throwing rocks into Lake Superior. The best part (if you dare)- jumping off the cliffs into the water below!
If jumping isn’t your thing, you can also watch others flip off the side! Either way, it will leave your senses breathless with the beauty. After you have your fill, you can continue the drive past Sunset Beach, or make a stop at the Nature Center before exiting.
Ore Dock Brewery
Our choice for this evening is the casual Ore Dock Brewing Company. Upon entering, you can feel the rich history that lives between these walls. Their beer is off-the-charts good, and you can enjoy live music most weekends on their stage upstairs.
They usually have a food truck, or you can order from a restaurant of your choice to have delivered. The bartenders can always give you a good recommendation for both beer and food and as a bonus, their merchandise is a perfect souvenir for your trip!
After this final stop, we head back to camp to walk by the river and play some games before bed!
Marquette Itinerary Day Four
Since this is our final day, we opt for the quick, but gorgeous hike to end our trip. It’s close to Hogsback but offers up-close views of Lake Superior.
The trail is a quick 1.4-mile roundtrip hike, taking about 15 minutes to reach the top. There is a historic stone monument at the top, with many viewing platforms and rock formations to scramble on.
After our quick hike, we go to town one last time for brunch and candy for the road! Donckers offers a traditional diner-like experience for breakfast – flapjacks, breakfast burritos, and omelets being some of our favorites.
It’s connected to an old-fashioned soda shop, where you can finish your meal with ice cream or a phosphate soda, picking up a few homemade candy and chocolate bags for your travel home. We love poking around their shop where they carry mugs, outdoor gear, and unique gifts.
Kids Grom Trail (Rippling River)
As we pack up camp and check out, we ride the Grom trail one last time! Rippling River is hard to leave- the kids always begging for one more ride or swim! It really is the perfect place to stay for our travel.
If camping isn’t your thing, they do offer cabins too! As we drive away from camp, we have full hearts and memories that fill our adventure box.
Plan Your Next Adventure in Marquette
Marquette offers countless opportunities to get outside and explore! In the winter, you can add skiing, fat tire biking, and snowshoeing to the list! There are many other options for your trip in addition to what I’ve mentioned above- if waterfalls are your thing, there are many more nearby!
You can also grab a pasty, thrift shop to your heart’s delight, visit the Children’s Museum, poke around downtown for art, or hit up the two other breweries that exist here (Beam & Barrel, and Drifa Brewing). Hiking and biking abound- all with the outdoors being a central focus in this historic town.
This town has become our go-to vacation spot, in all seasons of the year! Being a part of a community that values exploration and encourages you to slow down for a few days is extraordinary.
Whatever you choose to do while you visit Marquette, I can guarantee you your visit here will be worth it.