Michigan Travel Guide

Michigan Vacation Getaway

When you are considering a Michigan Vacation Getaway the choices are almost endless.  There is so much to see and do in the state that you can take your pick of whether you want to be in the city or want to explore the upper regions of the state on the Upper Peninsula.

If you choose to go to the Upper Peninsula you will be able to visit Michigan Tech and see the minerals that have come to make this location one of the most respected museums of minerals in the United States.  Here there are displays of not only the minerals and gemstones found in Michigan but covering even the far reaching areas of the former Soviet Union. 

The college was founded in 1885 as the Michigan Mining School.  It was established to train mining engineers to operate the local copper mines where the majority of the copper for the United States was mined.  When the mines closed down in the late 20′s the college realigned their focus onto a larger area of engineering needs.  Today the college is known as Michigan Technological University which offers more than 120 degree programs.  (although 55% of all enrollment at the college are there for engineering degrees.)

Among the things that are now offered at the college are Ski and Snowboard School, working with the Ski Patrol on Mont Ripley and cross-country skiing in the beautiful forest lands surrounding the college.  This area receives over 200 inches of snow during the winter which allows for winter activities nearly 1/3 of the year on the peninsula.

There are a number of lighthouses you can visit while on a Michigan vacation getaway.  Mendota Lighthouse just outside of Gete Grise was built in 1870 on Mendota Point to guide ships into Lac La Belle through the Mendota Ship Canal.  That lighthouse is gone but its replacement was built in 1895 and abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1960 but it is still being used as a private residence.  The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is accessible Memorial Day through mid October and is located at the east point of the Harbor entrance.  The lighthouse is now a part of the Fort Wilkins State Park Complex.  Being built in1866 is is a stately reminder of what was needed to guide the ships.  To reach the Copper Harbor Lighthouse you need to go by boat on a tour from the Copper Harbor marina.

Another lighthouse in the Copper Harbor area is the Gull Rock Lighthouse which is located west of Manitour Island off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  It came into operation in 1867 and the last known resident keeper left in 1897.  This lighthouse is abandoned and in poor condition due to its exposure to the elements and is only accessible by boat.  The Manitou Island Lighthouse was built in 1850 on the island at the eastern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  The iron skeletal light tower, the oldest on the Great Lakes, was constructed in 1861.  This lighthouse too is only accessible by boat.

If you choose to start your lighthouse tour in Eagle Harbor you will be able to visit the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse which is open from early June through mid-October.  It is located at the west end of Eagle Harbor.  The present brick structure was built in 1871 and is now part of the Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Light Station Museum Complex and is open to the public for tours.

On to Eagle River and the Eagle River Lighthouse which is located at the south bend of the Eagle River.  This lighthouse went into operation in 1854 and ended its service in 1908.  This lighthouse is now a private residence too, as is the Mendota Lighthouse.

In Hancock you can visit the site of the Portage Lake Upper Entry Light.  This light (not a lighthouse…just the light) is located at the end of the breakwall at McLain State Park, 9 miles north of Hancock on M-203.  It stands 50′ square in a steel tower and was built in 1950.

Going to Jacobsville you can visit the Portage Lake Lower Entry Light site.  The 31′ octagonal steel tower with automated light is located at the end of the long breakwall on the White City (east) side of the Portage River.  It was built in 1920.

Gratiot River County Park is also a place you may want to visit with its 100 acres and 4,000′ of Lake Superior shoreline it is a wonderful place to just kick back and relax.  It is open to the public every day of the year, free of charge.  You can reach the park via Gratiot River Road which is a graded county road.  You can take US highway 41 to Allouez and turn onto Bumbletown Rd. (at the BP station) for 1 mile then continue straight onto Gratiot River Road and go for 4.6 miles to the park.

Keweenaw is the premier location in the lower 48 states of the United States of America for viewing the Aurora Borealis.  The arrays of northern lights are often visible because of the latitude and lack of light pollution and of course, the Lake Superior background.

The fall colors in this area of the state are just fabulous.  There are tours that can be taken to see the different regions of the peninsula from the last week in September to the third week in October.  Although not well known this area will thrill you with the colors and enjoyable villages and towns that you can visit while taking a tour.  The mix of sugar maples, birch and oaks of the northern forests give off a stunning array of colors to enjoy

While you are in Calumet you may want to stop in at the Calumet Theater and take one of their tours.  The tours during the summer are guided tours and offered Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Tours limited on days of performances.  Self-Guided tours are during the summer season too and available Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.  During the remainder of the year they are available during regular Box Office Hours only.  You can call 906-337-2610 for more information.

The Keweenaw Heritage Center is housed in the historic St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church and works to preserve and interpret the culture and heritage of the Copper County through exhibits, educational programs and the rehabilitation of a National Historic Landmark..

Calumet also has the Norwegian Lutheran Church which was built in 1898 on the corner of 7th and Elm.  It is currently going through a renovation and hopefully will be restored to its pristine beauty soon.

Also in Calumet is the Upper Peninsula Firefighter’s Memorial Museum which is open June through September on a daily basis from noon to 3.  It is located at 327 Sixth St. in Calumet.  It is housed in the historic Red Jacket Fire Station and features memorabilia and exhibits spanning almost a century of firefighting history of the region.  This is a Heritage Site of the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

Located just north of US 41, approximately 4 miles north of Phoenix is a ghost town for you to visit.  The town was a booming mining town during the days when the copper mines were in full swing around 1854 but the population went from 1,300 in 1887 to 100 in 1905 and now is just good for tours.  The self guided walking tour map is available at the Historic Society’s visitor center on site.  The Visitor Center  is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. early June to mid-October.  The village is going through a refurbishment of some of the homes by the Historical Society which acquired 38 acres of the old Central site in 1996.  Each year on the last Sunday in July at the old Methodist Episcopal Church is a Central Reunion where descendants of Central mining families gather to visit and remember the days gone by.  The church was erected in 1968, with a distinctive battlement tower reflecting the Cornish ancestry of many Central families.  It closed in 1903 but is reopened on each Reunion Sunday for a service.  Several miner’s homes still stand on the site and are being restored and a Visitors Center provided interpretive exhibits not only about the mine but about the families too.

In Chassell there is the Chassell Heritage Center which houses a museum and the Friends of Fashion.  The Friends of Fashion is an educational arm of the Chassell Historical Organization, Inc. and presents historical fashion shows annually.  They also mount new exhibits showcasing vintage clothing every two years.

This area is filled with forests, lakes and streams with campgrounds scattered throughout as well as more traditional lodging facilities.  You will find a wonderful Michigan Vacation Getaway while visiting the UP in Michigan.