As September ushers summer into fall, the Upper Peninsula has both seasons covered for Northern Michigan vacation and event ideas. From Marquette to Munising, beachside fireworks to Oktoberfest fun to fall foliage, here are 10 memorable ways to play in the U.P.
Linger outdoors longer in summer-loving St. Ignace. Fireworks shimmer over Moran Bay the first two Saturdays of the month. Cedar Hill Lodge helps stoke the summer vibe too, heating the pool to 88 degrees and keeping nights outdoor-worthy with bonfires under the stars. stignace.com.
Sip wine at Northern Sun Winery near Escanaba, where friends and visitors are (occasionally) welcome to help with harvest. Thursday to Sunday sample wines made by this leader in cold-climate varietals. Follow with dinner at Crispignas (authentic gnocchi Parmesan or chicken saltimbocca); the wine and food traditions of local Italians inspired the award-winning winery. visitescanaba.com; northernsunwinery.com.
Join a lakeside fall fest at Van Riper State Park, 17 miles west of Ishpeming, on the shores of Lake Michigamme. On September 25–27, fall colors are often at peak and locals get a month-early jump on Halloween with the Monster Mash dance, the haunted hike, a costume contest and trick-or-treating. 906.339.4461.
Paddle at sunrise via stand-up paddleboard or kayak, when the water’s still warm. Guides at Mackinac Island’s Great Turtle Kayak Tours lead you out in the Straits to see a buoy that rings like church bells and a view of Arch Rock rising high above. A September deal at the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa adds a food and beverage bonus ($50 for two-night stays) to rooms starting at $130 this month. mackinackayak.com; lilactree.com.
Raise a stein to the storied Oktoberfest tradition in faraway Munich while celebrating in not-so-far-away Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Soo’s one-day version on September 26 serves up beer and German food as well as beer-barrel races, a craft market and polka classes. saultstemarie.com.
Spot beavers, maybe a hooded merganser and other wildlife while experts lead you to a perfect photo spot at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Take the guided morning tour September 4 or 18. www.fws.gov/refuge/seney/.
Cruise to true wilderness on Isle Royale. In September, fellow travelers have mostly left the isle, but the moose remain. Ferries run all month, and you’ll score reduced rates at Rock Harbor Lodge rooms and cabins after September 11. rockharborlodge.com.
Blues, biking and beer mix this month in Marquette. 1) The September 4–6 Blues Fest. 2) Free Friday night performances on the Lake Superior shoreline at Mattson Park. 3) Brew tour on September’s first two Wednesdays—shuttles pick you up at your hotel. 4) Biking’s good anytime: The most scenic stretch of the 47-mile Iron Ore Heritage Trail runs along Marquette’s shoreline. travelmarquettemichigan.com.
Hike near Michigan’s largest waterfalls —rootbeer-colored Tahquemenon—and enjoy one of the state’s prettiest fall color destinations. U.P. culture’s part of the deal the weekend of September 26, when you can take in both the logging museum’s lumberjack breakfast and a fiddlers’ jamboree. Round out the weekend with a horseback ride through the brilliant forest: Wildridge Riding Stables, near the lower falls. 906.492.3213, newberrytourism.com.
Go big with your fall color trip by heading to the Porcupine Mountains, with 60,000 acres of trees (and a gazillion leaves), including one of the best stands of virgin hardwoods in North America. Bonus: 35-plus miles of Lake Superior shore. Gas up, pack the snacks, and try this 150-mile color tour that takes in the most famous vista—Lake of the Clouds—and multiple waterfalls. westernup.com.