If you’re looking for adventure this spring in Michigan, there’s no better place to find it than in the Upper Peninsula. The season can be slow to arrive so far north. But when it does, it’s majestic, and there’s always plenty of spring things to do in the Upper Peninsula.
Especially if you love the outdoors, the Upper Peninsula could be your personal wonderland this spring. With that in mind, here are some springtime activities that you won’t want to miss.
Visit Isle Royale
North of the Keweenaw Peninsula and in Lake Superior is Isle Royale National Park. If you take a ferry to get here, you’ll have a paradise to explore.
For much of the year, the wildlife on Isle Royale roams unhindered. But the park is open to humans from April to October, offering opportunities for paddling, backpacking, and hiking. If you get to Isle Royale this spring, chances are good you’ll see lots of wildlife, including moose and wolves.
Explore Mines and Caves
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has a rich history of mining copper, and many of the mines have become tourist attractions. On these tours, you can see as much or as little of the mines as you want.
The Keweenaw Peninsula, in the northwestern-most part of the Upper Peninsula, is home to many of these old mines and allows visitors to see where tons of iron and copper were once extracted by miners.
The Adventure Mining Company, for example, offers three different tours, from a few different rooms to several levels down into the mine. The longer tour includes an underground lunch.
Quincy Mine Properties also offers year-round tours of a rich part of Michigan history that you won’t soon forget. The tour includes a half-mile underground tour, a museum, and a chance to see various cogs of the mining operation, such as a shaft house, rail tram, and steam hoist.
TLC famously sang, “don’t go chasin’ waterfalls,” but the Upper Peninsula is home to dozens of great waterfalls that are worth visiting. In fact, there are more than 150 named waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, and hearing and seeing the rush of water over rocks never gets old.
Tahquamenon Falls in the Spring
There are many enchanting waterfalls to see, but Tahquamenon Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise should be at the top of your list. It’s one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and more than 50,000 gallons of water drop each second from the Upper Falls to the Lower Falls.
The Upper Falls is 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide, and it’s known for its root beer-like color. The Lower Falls is 4 miles downstream and split into two halves, each more than 100 feet wide and 22 feet tall.
Pictured Rocks Waterfalls in the Spring
You’ll also find waterfalls clustered near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising. Visitors centers near Pictured Rocks have maps of nearly a dozen Munising falls, including Sable Falls, Spray Falls, and Wagner Falls.
Whether you stay on the east side, go to the most northern point, or travel coast to coast from east to west, you’re never far from a waterfall in the Upper Peninsula.
Take a Ride Through the Soo Locks
Another great springtime activity in the Upper Peninsula is heading to Sault Ste Marie to see the Soo Locks. On an average day, at least a dozen boats pass through the locks, and you get to see them up close. When one boat goes through, you don’t have to wait long for another to come along.
If you really want an up-close-and-personal experience, though, you can take a 90-minute tour through the Soo Locks to see what the ships experience when they come through. The seasonal tours reopen in mid-May after a winter break!
Experience Mackinac Island in Spring
No trip to the Upper Peninsula is complete without going to Mackinac Island. It’s accessible from either of Michigan’s peninsulas, but taking a ferry from St. Ignace is a popular choice among visitors.
There are so many spring things to do on Mackinac Island, and you can enjoy it without all the crowds! From the minute you set foot on the island, you’ll be enchanted by the sights, sounds, and smells.
The island famously doesn’t allow cars, but you can walk, rent a bike, or take a carriage ride to get around.
You’ll want to visit Fort Mackinac, a former military post on the island that has been fully restored. There are 14 different buildings with a variety of exhibits and costumed living history interpreters to give you a sense of what life was like in older times.
Butterfly House and Insect World
If you love nature, visit the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World. It’s actually one of two spots where you can walk among butterflies on the island.
The living museum houses butterflies native to four continents. Plus, you get an identification chart with admission, so you can identify the butterflies that you see.
Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac Island State Park is another great stop to make and covers more than 80 percent of the island.
Throughout, you’ll find the 146-foot tall natural limestone formation called Arch Rock and a 75-foot limestone stack known as Sugar Loaf. There’s even a natural cave dubbed Skull Cave and several freshwater springs, such as Dwightwood Springs.
Of course, no trip to Mackinac Island is complete without sampling (and buying) the famous Mackinac Island fudge. There are several renowned fudge makers on the island, offering a variety of delicious flavors.
If you really have a sweet tooth, you can buy freshly made popcorn and saltwater taffy too.
Eat a Michigan Pasty
The recipe is simple — a filling of beef, potato, and onion (and sometimes rutabaga) baked in a flaky crust. But this dish, known as a pasty, is the ultimate food for satisfying cravings in the Upper Peninsula.
Just about any restaurant you visit in the Upper Peninsula serves pasties, and locals will tell you that their favorite spots serve the absolute best pasties in Michigan.
Pasties are delicious any time of the year, but if you’re visiting the Upper Peninsula in spring, you have to try one!
Attend an Upper Peninsula Spring Festival
Even though it’s not yet tourist season in the Upper Peninsula, there are several great Michigan spring festivals that you can attend.
International Migratory Bird Festival
The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to a variety of bird habitats and hosts the annual International Migratory Bird Festival. It includes a series of activities and events during the annual migration period in April and May.
Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon
If you’re still trying to squeeze out a few more drops of winter fun, the Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon near Calumet is a great way to do it. It has several events, including a 50-kilometer skiathon and classic and freestyle races. Participants of all ages are welcome, and it’s a great way to end the ski season.
Mardi Gras Madness
If you’re really looking to get into the festival spirit, Mount Bohemia in Mohawk hosts Mardi Gras Madness every March. This event features live music, bead handouts, a pie-eating contest, a limbo contest, and a costume party.
Visit the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
If you’re on the hunt for kid-friendly activities in the spring, then you must add Marquette’s Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum to your bucket list.
The museum was built for kids aged 1-13, but it’s still accessible to anyone who visits.
The museum offers a variety of programs and special performances to stimulate youth development but does so in ways that also reflect the area’s heritage and culture.
Some of the museum’s exhibits include The Human Body, which also kiddos to climb inside a larger-than-life body and learn about its different parts. Another fun one is Where’s Your Water, which helps kids understand where wastewater goes.
This is a great place for kids to learn and have fun while they do it and it’s open every day but Monday.
Visit Lake of the Clouds
If you love incredible and social media-worthy views, you won’t find any better than the Lake of the Clouds, located in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Located amid a thick forest, the Lake of the Clouds is usually accessed by visitors by an overlook, but it can also be reached by several of the park’s trails.
Either way, it’s breathtaking once you see it for yourself.
If you’re a fisherman, you can also try your luck fishing in the Lake of the Clouds, especially for bass. Fishing in the lake is catch-and-release only and shore fishing or angling in waders are popular fishing methods here.
Go Bird Spotting in the Upper Peninsula
People love seeing the return of birds to Michigan skies in the spring and the Upper Peninsula has many great spots to see them.
One hotspot in the U.P. is at Whitefish Point in Paradise. Here, the birds follow the curving shoreline of the peninsula as it extends out into the mighty Lake Superior.
Visitors can join in seasonal bird counts or come to watch the nightly owl banding held in the spring.
No matter if you’re looking to see a specific species or you just love bird watching in general, make plans to get to Whitefish Point this spring.
Just make sure to bring your binoculars with you.
Spend a Day in the Les Cheneaux Islands
Mackinac Island gets plenty of love from Michiganders in the spring and summer, but did you know there’s a group of 36 islands in the U.P.?
This grouping is known as the Les Cheneaux Islands and they’re located northeast of Mackinac Island and a little more than half an hour from the Mackinac Bridge.
These islands offer something for everyone.
If you love being on the water, there are lots of great bays to kayak and sail through. If you love camping, several of the islands have camps and resorts for tent camping.
If you love lighthouses, you’re in luck too. Shepler’s Ferry offers a Lighthouse Cruise, beginning in late spring that takes visitors around the islands to see six awesome Lake Huron lighthouses.
Explore an Upper Peninsula Ghost Town
There’s something eerie, yet intriguing about visiting ghost towns and they aren’t all located in the Old West.
In the Upper Peninsula, curious travelers can visit Fayette Historic State Park, located in Delta County. The park features the historic town, five miles of trails, a campground, and even a beach and a harbor.
The former company town has been shut down since the late 180s, but the buildings here are in good shape and have been standing for more than 150 years.
This is a fantastic way to spend a spring afternoon, and you can even spend some time on the water when you’re done soaking up all the history.
More Spring Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula
One of the great things about springtime in the Upper Peninsula is that you get the best of all worlds when it comes to weather. If you like snow, you can still do some late-season skiing while temperatures warm up. If you like warmer weather, then there’s plenty to explore once the snow melts.
Even for residents who live here, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an untapped paradise. If you’re looking for a new adventure this spring, it can be the ultimate springtime playground.
Whether you’re sampling pasties and fudge, touring mines, or getting a breathtaking view of natural wonders, there’s no telling how much fun you’ll have and how many lasting memories you’ll make while experiencing the best spring things to do in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.