In the summer months, a lot of people make the trek to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island and/or cross the Mackinac Bridge to enjoy some outdoor adventures in the Upper Peninsula. In between those frequented routes sits the quaint town of St. Ignace.
The small-town serves as the gateway between Michigan’s two peninsulas positioned just across the bridge in the U.P. When roadtripping or vacationing in the area, I always make sure to experience some of the eats, sights, activities and natural beauty that St. Ignace has to offer.
The Heart of St. Ignace
Before walking through the town, I head to Java Joe’s Café, at any time of the day, to grab some of their many, many, many breakfast food options. Here, I enjoy the colorful décor, murals and numerous cookie jars as I try some French Toast covered in whipped cream and apples, with some peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes dusted with powdered sugar alongside.
I highly recommend grabbing a coffee as you shop at The Pavillion where I tend to enjoy some fudge at the next store, Mudrick’s Fudge Kitchen. Walking through Father Marquette Mission Park, this is my opportunity to learn some history and then head across the street and hang out on Kiwanis Beach. Alongside that side of the street is where the Huron Boardwalk expands the length of downtown and is part of the St. Ignace Historical Walking Tour. I was intrigued by beautiful Lake Huron views of harbors and various ferry docks, where travelers could grab a boat to Mackinac Island. On the opposite end of the boardwalk and downtown, I recommend walking up to the six-foot tall Chief Wawatam wooden statue and over to the Wawatam Lighthouse, which is a recent addition that was first lit in 2006.
Parks and the Mackinac Bridge
Heading south and then west on S. State Street and out of downtown, I found several places to view the Mighty Mac, the vast Great Lakes waters and lots of Michigan natural beauty. As approached I-75, it was a great opportunity to turn off into Straits State Park. There is an observation point to capture the bridge up-top in-between and beyond the greenery. Lovers of the outdoors can make this their home base, as there are numerous camping and hiking options with a rocky beach along Lake Huron.
As I continued heading west past the interstate and onto U.S. Route 2, almost immediately I turned left onto Boulevard Drive and into Bridge View Park. The bridge became front-and-center! This was when I chose to get my feet wet as I was now alongside Lake Michigan and on the other side of the Straights of Mackinac.
Pro tip: It’s a great spot to have a picnic, while watching the sun rise or set. For great photos, head a couple miles further to the west to the Bridge View Scenic Turnout for additional bridge viewing opportunities.
Road Tripping Out of Town
Since traveling roads is my thing, I chose to continue west on the open road and out-of-town along U.S. Route 2 which runs the entire southern end of the Upper Peninsula. Here, I started seeing one sign after another boasting “The Mystery Spot”. Fun, fun, fun was advertised as well as lots of ???, which draws in many curious travelers. Known as Michigan’s most unusual tourist attraction, it offers the visitor tours where you can decide for yourself if what you are seeing is an optical illusion. Zip-lines, mazes, putt putt and lots of fun for kids can also be found on the grounds.
As I drove further west, now about twelve miles from the bridge, in the blink of eye the forest scenery exited and Lake Michigan shoreline took over. Beachfront, sand dunes, and brush as far as my eyes could see straight ahead. If you park anywhere on either side of the road and find one of the narrow paths to get to the water, it is an escape from everything. There are no facilities or amenities, so it will be just you and the Great Lakes waters. I recommend driving back and forth along this stretch of highway with the windows down!
View more of the sights and scenery you can expect to see when roadtripping just across the Mackinac Bridge as well as in-and-around St. Ignace.