Michigan Bucket List: Best Stops On A Winter UP Road Trip

Michigan Bucket List: Best Stops On A Winter UP Road Trip

Originally published February 25th, 2015.

With bitter cold and whipping winds, sometimes it seems like a winter road trip is impossible in Michigan – especially in the Upper Peninsula. However, winter is actually the perfect time to go explore something out of the ordinary. If you’re not sure where to start, no worries! Here is a guide to help you figure out where you might want to stop to get some beautiful photos for your instagram or delicious food in the U.P. during the cold winter months!

Stop #1: The Mighty Mac

Picture opportunities in the winter at the Mackinaw Bridge are one-of-a-kind. The ice gives the option of venturing out further than normal to capture the perfect angle of the state’s most iconic landmark.

Stop #2: Epoufette Bay View Restaurant

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Epoufette Bay View restaurant in the winter. Photo courtesy of Epoufette Bay View Facebook page

About 30 miles west of the bridge along U.S. 2 is the small town, Epoufette. The town has a small diner that provides stunning views from a high bluff above Lake Michigan. Enjoy the view with a nice cup of coffee in the restaurant designed to feel just like the family cabin.

Stop #3: Munising Falls

As I’m sure you can tell from the name, these glorious falls are located in Munising. The water of the falls freezes completely solid during the winter, creating a large ice column! On a trip the he falls I was able to walk directly up to the would-be-flowing water and casually rest against it. It’s a great photo op and a way to see nature from a different perspective.

Stop #4: Grand Island Ice Caves

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Courtesy of Shalee Blackmer

I recommend that you put on all the layers you can find and strap on the snow boots for this one. It requires a bit of ice-hiking across Lake Superior, but the caves are completely awe-inspiring. The massive icicles tower stories above the lake and visitors are able to weave in and out of tunnels and caves for over half-a-mile.

Stop #5: Sydney’s Shark Bay Bar: Bar and Restaurant

After your stop at the falls head over to Sydney’s Shark Bay Bar for some great family dining. Located in Munising, I must say, this place has fantastic food and environment; not even a blizzard can shut this kitchen down! At Sydney’s they offer full breakfast, lunch and dinner. The most notable item on the menu is their fresh Lake Superior whitefish. Yum!

Stop #6: Eben Ice Caves

UP Winter Road Trip - The Awesome Mitten
Eben ice caves in the winter. Photo courtesy of Life in the Northwoods

Located in between Munising and Marquette off of U.S. 94, there are more impressive ice caves. Not as big as Grand Island, but more enclosed that gives the feeling of an actual cave. Be sure you are stocked up on fuel before heading out, the last thing anyone wants is to run out of gas in an area with no reception and no gas stations!

Final Stop: Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain overlooking Marquette and Lake Superior cannot be missed! The hike is great even in the winter and gives a stunning 360 degree view of Pure Michigan beauty.

This entire trip can be done in one weekend no matter where you are located in the state (I traveled from Lansing). The scenes are beautiful and it will leave you wondering why you haven’t explored more of Michigan this time of year, I promise. Also, please don’t think that it’s too late to get your explorations started this winter because Grand Island’s ice caves just became accessible by crossing Lake Superior a couple weeks ago. The best time to explore is the beginning of March, so grab your friends, family, or pets and take off for an unforgettable weekend to experience the breathtaking Upper Peninsula while it’s still coated with a blanket of snow. You’ll regret missing out once summer comes along!

Where are your favorite places to explore in the UP during the winter?