Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is often described as a magical, mythical wonderland where waterfalls can be discovered around every turn and ocean-sized waves define the rocky shorelines.
That description couldn’t be more true for Munising Michigan, a small city that is famously located next to the breathtaking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
As a year-round destination, there are fun things to do in Munising MI throughout every season. This guide will provide everything you need to know about planning the best getaway to this Upper Peninsula city.
About Munising Michigan
Munising may be a small city in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but it has a big heart and bursts with life throughout the year. Many visitors come to seek solace in the beauty and comfort of this part of the state.
The city is most famous for being located near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but some other famous attractions in and around Munising include the Hiawatha National Forest and the Grand Island National Recreation Area.
Some travelers mistakenly overlook Munising Michigan — it’s just 40 miles from Marquette, which is the largest and most prominent destination in the Upper Peninsula — but the effort it takes to get to this tiny city is well worth it. You won’t regret it, especially when you see the sparkling sunset over Munising Bay.
Munising Michigan History
Until the 19th century, the area now known as Munising was the home of Native Americans. The Ojibwe Tribe lived in the area and referred to it as “Minisiing,” a word that means “island in the lake” to reference the large island that rose out of the waters of the bay.
During the early decades of the 19th century, the Munising Iron Company purchased the land, and the first European settlers began to inhabit the area. As a result, the Ojibwe Tribe relocated, and the town that would eventually become Munising was established.
The settlement was recognized in earnest by 1868 when the first Post Office was built here. Around the same time, the iron company failed, and the people who lived there struggled to make ends meet.
By the turn of the 20th century, however, the village was officially incorporated and there was a population of about 500 thriving residents. Their commitment to Munising allowed it to become a city in 1915, and before they knew it, Munising was a boom town of sorts.
The lumber industry has long defined life in Munising, but today, many people work across various sectors to contribute to the city’s economy. Generally, tourism plays a major role in modern-day life here.
Weather in Munising Michigan
Munising enjoys the same weather patterns as the rest of the Upper Peninsula — which means that summers are short and sweet, and winters are long and snow-drenched.
Spring arrives late each year, usually by early May, and summer days are warm, while the nights are cool. By late September, the leaves have typically fallen, and winter settles in. It’s not uncommon to have snowfall and freezing temperatures from October through April in Munising.
Munising Michigan Outdoor Things to Do
No matter the time of year, it’s always a good time to surround yourself with the great outdoors. Outdoor recreational activities are some of the most popular things to do in Munising MI, and the activities and excursions are suitable for any interest, age, and ability.
Enjoy the Riptide Ride
The Riptide Ride is one of the most famous — and popular — boat tours in Munising. It combines the thrill of adventure with the beauty of the scenic landscape, making it a favorite among first-time visitors and locals who have long called this place home.
When you book a journey on the Riptide Ride, you will enjoy throttling out onto Munising Bay and along the coast of Lake Superior at record-breaking speeds.
It’s a 90-minute excursion, and along the way, you will stop to see the Pictured Rocks, a couple of lighthouses, and some of the most magical waterfalls along the coast of the Upper Peninsula. The tour encompasses about 25 miles of coastline, and if you are lucky, you may see a few bald eagles.
Embark on a Pictured Rocks Cruise
Pictured Rocks Cruises has been offering shoreline tours of the unbelievably beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for more than 50 years.
Today, visitors from across the country come to Munising between late May and mid-October to enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the coast of the Upper Peninsula.
This classic outdoor experience will take you past some of the most famous sights in the area, including Miners Castle, East Channel Lighthouse, Grand Island, Caves of All Colors, Lovers Leap, and more. If you only have time to do one thing in Munising, make it this boat tour.
Rent a Snowmobile
Winters in Munising are notoriously long, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid spending time outside. In fact, the snowy season is one of the best times of year to get out and explore Munising.
Munising is connected to other towns in the Upper Peninsula through a series of extensive snowmobile trails, many of which wind through the gorgeous Hiawatha National Forest.
If you have some experience and are up for an adventure, consider renting a snowmobile and experiencing what life is like on the trails on a cold, snowy day.
Take a Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour
On the surface, the sparkling waters of Munising Bay and the majestic waves of Lake Superior look mysterious and beautiful — but below those icy waters is a graveyard.
This is one of the most dangerous stretches of the Great Lakes to traverse, and over many years, dozens of ships have floundered in the waters.
To see the preserved remains of these ships and hear the stories of their ghastly shipwrecks, consider embarking on an excursion with Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours.
Its unique vessels cruise over some of the most notorious shipwrecks in the Munising area, giving you an opportunity to glance at the wreckage below the water while hearing the tales of the ships, their crew members, and what has been found on the boats since the shipwrecks were discovered.
Visit Munising Falls
Munising Falls is one of the most commonly visited waterfalls in Munising and Alger County, largely because it is unique in its formation and incredibly easy to access. The falls can be discovered after you walk along a paved, quarter-mile trail, making it a fun excursion for people of all ages and abilities.
Along this trail, you will see the bubbling Munising Creek, as well as the sleek walls of a sandstone canyon. Once you reach the waterfall, you can enjoy the 50-foot cascade from where you stand, or you can climb up a set of stairs to get a different vantage point.
In the summer, the crushing falls are refreshing and captivating. In the winter, the ice formations that develop along the side of the waterfall look like something from another planet. No matter the time of year, this waterfall is worth a visit.
Hike Through Hiawatha National Forest
Munising is situated in the heart of the Hiawatha National Forest, which means that it is located near some of the best hiking trails that the Upper Peninsula has to offer.
During the spring and summer, you can discover waterfalls, creeks, springs, and more, as well as witness an abundance of wildlife in their natural habitats. The fall colors are particularly beautiful in the forest, and winter ushers in an entirely new experience for those who are willing to brave the elements.
Kayak Along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Kayaking and paddling are some of the most popular activities in Munising, largely because there is nothing quite like seeing the grandeur of the Pictured Rocks from the confines of your own vessel.
However, kayaking in this part of Lake Superior can be risky, so it’s important to embark on guided kayaking tours of the Pictured Rocks. Experienced tour guides will know how to verify whether the conditions are right and will be there to ensure that you are safe and secure throughout the journey.
Indoor Things to Do in Munising MI
For the most part, Munising is an outdoor recreation paradise, but there are a few indoor attractions to explore in the city if you happen to be there on a rainy day. If you are looking to stay comfortable inside, consider these things to do in Munising.
Shop & Dine in Downtown Munising
If you aren’t up for a rugged outdoor adventure, consider spending your day shopping and dining in Munising’s downtown area.
The historic downtown is home to a plethora of souvenir shops, boutiques, and art galleries, giving you plenty of indoor spaces to explore. In addition, some of the most flavorful and authentic restaurants in the city are just steps away.
Visit the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center
The historic building anchoring downtown Munising is known as the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center. This indoor museum provides information about the community’s past, the industry that has defined the area, and the people who have long called it home.
When you visit the interpretive center, you can embark on a self-guided tour that allows you to delve into the exhibits that interest you the most.
The museum is open daily and is the perfect activity at the beginning of your trip to Munising because it can give you insight into everything there is to see in the area.
Learn a Little History at the Alger County Heritage Center
Another popular museum in downtown Munising is the Alger County Heritage Center. This museum is open seasonally during the peak summer travel months, and it invites guests to come in and learn a little more about the county’s past.
For nearly 30 years, volunteers in the community have been working to preserve artifacts from the past and provide the local community, as well as travelers from afar, with valuable information about the county.
Munising Michigan Restaurants for Every Occasion
As you are out and about exploring the rugged terrain that defines the shorelines of Munising, you are likely going to work up an appetite.
Fortunately, there is a vast range of dining options in the city, including intimate restaurants perfect for romantic evenings and casual restaurants that welcome parties of all ages and sizes.
Casual & Family Restaurants in Munising
Munising has long been a family-friendly destination, which is why it has no shortage of casual restaurants that serve quick bites. Here are some of the top casual restaurants in Munising:
Miners Pasty Kitchen
The pasty is the most iconic dish in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so no trip to Munising is complete without one.
One of the best places to get this meat-filled pastry delight is Miners Pasty Kitchen in downtown Munising. On any given day, you can grab one of its fresh-made pasties and enjoy it on site.
If you are searching for a fun, down-home Upper Peninsula atmosphere and a plate of delicious food, look no further than the Dogpatch Restaurant. This local eatery is a legend in its own right, serving some of the best seafood and steaks in the Upper Peninsula.
Main Street Pizza
Main Street Pizza is an unassuming pizza joint in the heart of Munising, so it would be easy to pass it by. But, you won’t regret stopping in and enjoying a fresh, hot pizza in their down-to-earth setting. It’s the perfect place to bring the kids after a day of exploring hiking trails.
Munising Fine Dining Restaurants
The best fine dining restaurant in Munising is easily Tracey’s at Roam Inn. In fact, many would say it is the single-most romantic restaurant in the city and the best place to go if you are celebrating a special occasion.
Of course, it’s not so fancy that you can’t stop in on any given day, making it one of the most appealing places in Munising.
Tracey’s describes itself as the restaurant to go to when you are looking for craft Upper Peninsula plates, which means that it has added touches of sophistication and culture to some traditional Upper Peninsula staples.
Coffee & Ice Cream Shops in Munising
When you are in search of a quick pick-me-up during your Munising vacation, you will want to know where to find the best coffee and ice cream spots in the city. With several locally-owned options to choose from, you may have a hard time deciding where to stop first.
Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore
This local treasure can be found in historic downtown Munising. In addition to being the premier local bookstore in the community, Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore serves some of the most delicious coffee and treats.
Gallery Coffee Company
For a tried-and-true couture coffeehouse experience, look no further than Gallery Coffee Company.
Located in an 8,000-square-foot space in downtown Munising, this coffee company is self-described as a roasting cafe. Here, you can sip on a cup of fresh-roasted coffee while enjoying the unique atmosphere.
Miners Pasties and Ice Cream
Another of the best places to grab a fresh pasty happens to be the best place to enjoy a scoop of ice cream in Munising.
Nothing says “Northern Michigan vacation” better than an ice cream cone at the end of a long day on the shores of Munising Bay. Miners Pasties and Ice Cream has something for every tastebud at any time.
Munising Breweries & Wineries
Whether you prefer to sip beer or wine, you will find your favorite beverage in Munising. Here are the tasting rooms that you can stop by.
East Channel Brewing Company
For a true taste of Munising, consider grabbing one of the brews that are handcrafted at East Channel Brewing Company. The beers are seasonal, but you might find a stout, IPA, or hefeweizen.
During the summer, you are sure to be able to grab a slice of wood-fired pizza, which is made at the brewery by The Cooking Carberry’s in the beer garden.
ByGeorge Brewing Company
Founded by Michigan natives, ByGeorge Brewing Company has a wide range of craft beers — from blonde and pale ales to lagers and stouts. You can get hard seltzers, ciders, and wines too. You’ll find the brewery next to Driftwood Deli.
Upper Peninsula Inspired
The Upper Peninsula Inspired tasting room and gift shop can be found in downtown Munising, offering a wide selection of wines and beer.
It even has a full liquor selection and sells a variety of Upper Peninsula-made items — chocolates, jams, maple syrups, honey, sauces, cheeses, pretzels, shirts, jewelry, glassware, and more.
Related: BEST Upper Peninsula Breweries
Hotels in Munising Michigan & Other Lodging
With so much to see and numerous things to do in Munising MI, you will want to settle in and stay a while. These lodging options will allow you to enjoy your own home away from home in the heart of this spectacular Upper Peninsula city.
Local Hotels in Munising
The best way to get the true flavor of Munising is to stay in a locally owned and operated hotel.
One of the top local hotels in Munising is the Pictured Rocks Inn & Suites, which is conveniently located in downtown Munising. At this hotel, you can access the best that the city has to offer while staying in one of the most charming properties around.
Another hotel to consider is the North Star Hotel – Pictured Rocks, which is known for its luxurious amenities and central location.
Munising Vacation Rentals
Vacation rentals are abundant in Munising, allowing you to carve out a space of your own during your time in the city.
Whether you are looking for a classic Michigan cottage or a downtown home within walking distance of the best restaurants, you are sure to find a vacation rental that suits your lifestyle and budget in Munising.
Campgrounds in Munising
Nearly everyone will tell you that Munising is the kind of place that you go to enjoy the great outdoors, so camping is one of the best lodging options to consider in this city.
There are private campgrounds that offer inland lake access, as well as campsites located within the Hiawatha National Forest, allowing you to select the camping experience that you prefer.
Other Attractions Near Munising Michigan
Munising is located near some of the best attractions in the Upper Peninsula. Here are some of the things that you can do nearby.
Visit the Au Train Falls
Au Train Falls is located just outside of the perimeter of Munising and is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the area. Featuring 40-foot drops, it’s hard not to be in awe of the water cascading over the rocks. To see the best possible flow, consider visiting during the spring thaw.
Take a Day Trip to the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum located in Marquette Michigan, which is about 40 miles from Munising. This is a perfect excursion for families with young children who are visiting Munising.
Embark on a Day Trip to Escanaba
At the other end of the Hiawatha National Forest, you can discover another famous Upper Peninsula town — Escanaba. It only takes about an hour or so to drive to Escanaba from Munising, and it will add another facet to your Upper Peninsula itinerary.
Discover More Things to Do in Munising MI
Families have long found Munising to be the right place for all-season vacations, while couples seeking privacy, solace, and romance will not be disappointed.
For those searching for natural beauty and endless wonder, Munising is the ideal destination. With so much to do, you can easily customize your itinerary and create an experience that perfectly suits your style.