As the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, Marquette Michigan rests on the scenic shoreline of Lake Superior. It’s a popular vacation spot in Michigan because it has a variety of outdoor and indoor attractions — forested mountains, waterfalls, sandy beaches, museums, a hockey rink, and more. On top of that, the city hosts many fun events and festivals and has a ton of local restaurants and lodging options.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan so that you can plan your next visit.
Marquette Michigan Spring Things to Do
Marquette Multi-Use Path
Walking along the Lake Superior shoreline is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan during the spring. The Multi-Use Path is a paved network that stretches for more than 17 miles.
From Presque Isle in the north to wooded paths in the south, it passes through some of Marquette’s most scenic and historic areas. You can access the trail via Founders Landing Park, Mattson Park, Presque Isle Park, Shiras Park, and South Beach Park. It even connects to the Noquemanon Trail Network’s South Trails.
If you or your kids like to bicycle race or jump off ramps, head to Marquette BMX. It has dirt and paved tracks and several ramps. Best of all, every track is different and varies in length, size, and obstacle arrangement.
The bike park was rated one of the Top 10 in the East by the American Bicycle Association. Whether you’re an expert jumping over obstacles or your young children are learning to ride, this BMX park has something for everyone.
Golf & Disc Golf
At the Kaufman Sports Complex, you can play the Powder Mill disc golf course, which has 18 holes (baskets) that sit 120 to 525 feet from the tees. The course is located amid rock outcroppings and forested ridges, and it rests on the Dead River.
If you prefer traditional golf, Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course is about a 10-minute drive southeast of downtown Marquette. The 18-hole course was designed by professional golfer Don Childs. It’s affordable to rent any balls and clubs that you need, and carts are available too.
Like a scene out of a movie, you can see Marquette Harbor Lighthouse from the small beach at McCarty’s Cove. You can swim from the sandy Lake Superior shoreline — where the water is slightly warmer than at other beaches on the lake — to the lagoon and rock islands.
Summer is the best time to go because there’s a lifeguard on duty. Along the beach are volleyball nets, benches, a picnic area, and a playground.
Presque Isle Park
Visiting Presque Isle Park is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan during the summer because of everything that it offers. It features a few pebble beaches where you can swim when the waters are calm. You can launch canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards from these beaches as well.
A unique feature in the park, Black Rocks is an ancient rock formation that’s about 1.7 billion years old. Standing 20 to 30 feet above the surface of Lake Superior, it’s a spot where many locals and visitors go cliff jumping.
Presque Isle Park has a 2-mile loop — Peter White Dr. — that closes to vehicle traffic at certain times of the day so that visitors can bike and walk the park without worry. You can learn about plants and wildlife on the interpretive signs of the Bog Walk and Nature Trail.
On top of these activities, you can climb The Pinnacle, a rock formation situated just beyond the observation deck.
Little Presque Isle
Worth the 15-mile drive, Little Presque Isle is northwest of downtown Marquette. With heavily timbered forests, rugged cliffs, and sandy beaches, the locals consider it a crown jewel of Lake Superior.
Because of that, the peninsula offers hiking, swimming, and wildlife viewing in a single place. You have the opportunity to watch the Northern Lights at night, and the sky is clearer than some other places because it’s away from the city lights.
Marquette Michigan Fall Things to Do
While Sugarloaf Mountain is a fantastic attraction any time of year, the colors of fall amplify the view of Marquette and the surrounding area. There are a few routes that you can take to the three observation platforms at the 470-foot summit. In fact, the natural area consists of 3,200 feet of trails and stairways.
Most people follow the moderate 1.2-mile loop that’s well marked, but you can take a more challenging route if you’re more adventurous. Just hiking up the mountain takes you through a gorgeous canopy of changing leaves.
At the top, each platform gives you a different view of the trees, city, and Lake Superior below, as well as Hogback Mountain. A stone obelisk stands at the summit too, commemorating the life of Boy Scout scoutmaster Bartlett King who died during WWI.
Offering one of the most strenuous hikes in the Marquette area, follow the 5-mile trail up Hogback Mountain. After Sugarloaf Mountain, it’s the second most popular summit in Marquette County and rests in the middle of a dense trail network.
It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the trek through mature hemlocks of blazing color. At the top, you get a scenic view of the rugged trees and blue waters below.
Noquemanon Trail Network’s North Trails
Aside from the mountain hiking trails, trekking the North Trails of the NTN is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan. In 2014, the NTN was designated an International Mountain Bicycling Association Ride Center.
It features more than 30 miles of nonmotorized paths that are perfect for dirt biking. Surrounded by colorful leaves, the trails run along the Dead River and stretch west to the Forestville Trailhead.
Watch a Hockey Game
Ice skating is a popular winter activity, and the Northern Michigan University Wildcats do a lot of that from October through February. The hockey team plays at the Berry Events Center, which opened in 1999 and hosted the 2009 ISU World Cup Short Track Speedskating events.
The energy and fast pace of the games are exhilarating, and you can get tickets to watch one of the matches.
If you’ve seen the Winter Olympics, you’ve probably watched luge sleds rocket down icy tubes. These are artificial luge (Kunstbahn) tracks, but you have the chance to sled down a natural luge (Naturbahn) track at the Upper Peninsula Luge Club.
Half-mile Lucy Hill is the only one of its kind in the nation, so it’s where a lot of athletes train before they compete in European competitions.
You can experience the bottom part of the luge track for yourself using some of the club’s braking shoes, helmets, and sleds. Those who are less adventurous and just want to spectate can do so by a bonfire while drinking hot chocolate.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Marquette County is full of skiing and snowboarding trails, and Marquette Mountain Resort is a fantastic spot. It has 330 acres, a 1,357-foot elevation, a 600-foot vertical drop, and 25 ski trails.
The North Trails of the NTN are another option, where the Noquemanon Ski Trail is accessible via the Tourist Park Trailhead. For more than 30 miles of groomed cross country ski trails, head to Forestville Campground, which has rental equipment.
Marquette Michigan Things to Do With Kids
Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
When it comes to finding something fun for your children to do indoors, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan. It gives kids the chance to interact with unique exhibits that were designed by other children and their families in special workshops.
The museum was built to address the development of young children aged 1 to 13 years, offering educational and cultural programs every day. Another special aspect of this museum is that it’s proud to repurpose items, including building supplies, carpets, furniture, and toys.
Are your children interested in the cosmos? Take them to the Shiras Planetarium so that they can learn about the planets and stars through a fun show. The planetarium has been teaching visitors about astronomy since 1965.
On the weekends, you have the opportunity to see a laser light show or attend holiday-themed events and special entertainment. These are all great options if you think that it’s too cold for your kids to play outside.
Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides
Horse-drawn carriage rides are exciting during spring, summer, and fall. However, a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the snow is a completely different experience and particularly thrilling for children. Sleighman offers private, 1-hour rides for up to six people and uses two Norwegian fjord horses to pull the sleighs.
On the other hand, you can schedule group rides for up to 50 people, which includes continuous rides, tobogganing, and a bonfire. The company even hosts 3-hour parties that include the use of its 30-by-40 heated building.
Lakenenland Sculpture Park
For a free excursion into a unique art scene, head to Lakenenland Sculpture Park. Entertaining for the whole family (including four-legged family members), the park is home to the work of artist Tom Lakenen.
It features more than 100 sculptures that he made from scrap iron over the course of five years.
The Sculpture Trail winds through the 37 acres of woods and is lined by all of these colorful, whimsical artworks. Also, the park has a bog walk, playground, picnic area, two entertainment stages, and a huge pavilion.
Michigan Iron Industry Museum
Among the many free attractions, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan. It overlooks the Carp River and is the site of the first iron forge in the region.
Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, the museum rests amid the forest gorges of Marquette Iron Range. You can take a 1 to 2-hour tour of the temporary and permanent exhibits, as well as interpretive trails.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
To learn about the history and people behind the advancements in skiing and snowboarding, visit the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. It’s located in Ishpeming, which is the birthplace of organized skiing and only about 20 minutes from downtown Marquette.
The museum celebrates and honors the athletes, pioneers, and visionaries behind these winter sports. Although visiting is only free for children under 12 years old, admission is only $5 for adults.
Marquette Michigan Events & Festivals
Noquemanon Ski Marathon
An event that consists of various races in late January, the Noquemanon Ski Marathon is considered “deceptively tough” and “never dull.” It’s one of the biggest point-to-point ski marathons in the country and a premier remote skiing experience.
The trail has a range of rolling hills, flat lake crossings, demanding climbs, and downhill slopes. Skiers are surrounded by rugged wilderness as they traverse the trail.
Festival of the Angry Bear
As the snow and ice melt every April, the Ore Dock Brewing Company hosts the Festival of the Angry Bear on Spring Street. The event is inspired by European beer festivals and showcases delicious food from local restaurants, barrel-aged beer, and live music on two stages.
The real star of the show, though, is the Flanders Brown ale — the Angry Bear — a Belgian sour that comes out of hibernation. A woodland creature costume contest is part of the festival too.
Marquette Fourth of July Fireworks
During the summer, one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan is to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. They’re launched from the Lower Harbor Ore Dock, and you can enjoy the display from Mattson Lower Harbor Park on the shore of Lake Superior.
The weekend includes Food Fest, which features live music, several local food vendors, a beer tent, a street parade, a boat parade, and activities for kids.
With a wide-ranging, made-from-scratch menu, Portside Inn has been serving locals and visitors since 1983. Focusing on quality food, the restaurant has a casual, pub-style atmosphere.
The menu includes fresh seafood, fire-grilled burgers, pasta, and stacked sandwiches. However, the breadsticks and pizza are famously delightful.
Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery
Known for its authentic Louisiana culinary classics, Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery was established in 2006. The chef has more than four decades of experience in the food industry and cooks with spices to imbue his dishes with flavor instead of heat.
All of the menu items are made from scratch, including barbecue, Cajun, and Creole dishes. The only thing that the restaurant brings in is the ice cream.
Serving made-from-scratch sweets since 1896, Donckers is a Marquette staple that opened a restaurant on its second floor in 2008. It makes homestyle breakfasts and lunches, including pancakes, omelets, gluten-free burgers and sandwiches, mac and cheese, and more.
You can grab some chocolates, retro candies, and other sweet treats in the downstairs shop before you leave. You can also get Jilbert Dairy and The Chocolate Shoppe ice creams.
The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery
Eating at The Vierling is one of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan. A centerpiece of downtown, this historic restaurant was established more than a century ago and serves an array of seafood, homemade soups, and desserts.
It opened the Marquette Harbor Brewery in 1995 with a 5-BBL system, making it one of the first brewpubs in the state. You can enjoy one of its fine ales or lagers, which are produced in small batches.
With a charming ambience, Blackrocks Brewery is located in a residence-turned-brewery among other businesses and homes. Some of its popular brews include 51K IPA, Mykiss IPA, and Grand Rabbits, but it also brews seasonal blends, lagers, and a barrel-aged beer.
All of these are produced either on site or at the brewer’s separate 20-BBL production site. In the summer, you can enjoy your brew of choice on the wraparound patio.
Ore Dock Brewing Company
Established by beer enthusiasts Andrea and Wes Pernsteiner in 2012, Ore Dock Brewing Company brings craft beer and the community together. They use local ingredients to make traditional beers and added Breakwater Seltzer to the menu so that its patrons have a gluten-free drink.
Some favorites among the locals include Fresh Coast, the Porter, Saison, Bum’s Beach Wheat, and Reclamation IPA.
Superior Stay Hotel
A boutique hotel located next to the Northern Michigan University campus, Superior Stay Hotel is fairly new to Marquette. The guest rooms have a modern design and feature hardwood floors, fine linens, and luxury toiletries.
It’s only a 5-minute drive from downtown and within walking distance of a few cafes, restaurants, breweries, and shops.
Since 1930, Landmark Inn has been welcoming guests in downtown Marquette. This boutique inn has an old-world European charm and a AAA Diamond rating. It has hosted celebrities like Amelia Earhart, The Rolling Stones, and Louis Armstrong.
Every room and suite is decorated with opulent furnishing and decor. Several shops, theaters, and restaurants are within walking distance.
Located just north of the Forestville Trailhead, the Forestville Campground offers a more rustic lodging option. It has 18 sites positioned close together around a circular drive, which are suitable for tents, small pop-up trailers, and van-style campers.
Most of the sites have picnic tables, while all of the sites have fire pits. Since this is a rustic campground, there are no shower facilities or electrical hookups, and only pit toilets are available.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Things to Do in Marquette Michigan
What county is Marquette MI in?
Marquette is located in Marquette County and is the county seat. The county is the largest in Michigan by land area and the most populous in the UP. Also, it’s renowned for its rich heritage, unrivaled beauty, and friendly people.
What is Marquette MI known for?
Marquette is known for being a major Lake Superior port and for its involvement in the iron mining and shipping industries. In fact, more than 22% of the country’s iron is mined from the Marquette Iron Range every year. You can learn more about this history at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum. Also, the city is home to Northern Michigan University and an Olympic training site. You can get a taste of Olympic luge training at the Upper Peninsula Luge Club.
How far is Marquette MI from me?
If you want to experience some of the best things to do in Marquette Michigan, you may only have a short drive. The city is about 25 minutes from Ishpeming, 45 minutes from Munising, and just over 1 hour from Escanaba. The drive is longer from other big cities and towns — about 2 hours from Houghton, about 2.5 hours from St. Ignace, and 3 hours from Sault Ste. Marie.
Are there romantic things to do in Marquette, MI?
Marquette has several romantic things to do. One of these is ice skating, which you can do at the Lakeview Arena, a 72,000-square-foot multi-use community center with an outdoor rink. A second option is visiting Little Presque Isle to observe the Northern Lights. Third, you could have a fancy night at Zephyr Wine Bar + Cafe, which has a long wine list and serves homemade desserts.
What are the best things to do in downtown Marquette, MI?
One of the best things that you can do in downtown Marquette is go shopping. The numerous small businesses sell a little bit of everything. You can also peruse the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market where a variety of vendors set up shop.
The History of Marquette Michigan
Early 17th-century French missionaries and early 19th-century trappers inhabited the land around Marquette. However, the area didn’t start developing until 1844 when Jacob Houghton and William Burt found iron deposits to the west near Teal Lake. The following year, the first organized mining company was formed in the region — Jackson Mining Company.
When Marquette Iron Company was formed in 1849, the village of New Worcester was established. The name was changed to Marquette the next year in honor of Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary who explored the region.
The Cleveland Iron Mining Company succeeded the Marquette Iron Company and mapped the village in 1854. By 1859, Marquette was incorporated as a village, and by 1871, it was incorporated as a city.
Iron Ore Mining
Railways linked Marquette to several mines during the 1850s, and the area became a top shipping center in the UP. The Cleveland Iron Mining Company built the first ore pocket dock in 1859, and the economy soared, attracting more than 1,600 residents by 1862.
Today, Marquette still ships hematite and enriched iron ore pellets from nearby plants and mines. In 2005, about 7.9 million gross tons of iron ore pellets passed through Presque Isle Harbor.
A Vacation Destination
The late 19th century was the height of the iron mining industry, but it was also when Marquette became a summer haven. Passenger steamships brought visitors to the city via Lake Superior, filling the hotels and resorts.
The Cold War
During the Cold War, K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base was located south of Marquette and a vital Air Force installation. It housed a fighter interceptor squadron, KC-135 tankers, and B-52H bombers. After it closed in 1995, it became Sawyer International Airport and continues to serve the area.