Rocks, Water, Beer, Mountains: Traveling Marquette, Michigan

If you’re looking for a great meal and craft beer paired with unparalleled outdoor views, Marquette, Michigan, is the weekend destination for you.

Traveling from Traverse City to Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, door to campground, is roughly 5 hours. Less with liberal recognition of speed limits. The drive is remote but filled with views of Lake Michigan, the Mackinac Bridge, Hiawatha National Forest and Lake Superior.

Marquette Lodging

Arriving in Marquette, Michigan, lodging options are plentiful. The historic Landmark Inn, located downtown, offers history and boutique hotel charm (rooms starting at $179/night). Camping, on the other hand, offers secluded, serene views away from the city. Tourist Park Campground is located off Sugarloaf Road, adjacent to Northern Michigan University. Rates for tent sites are $18/day, sites with electric and water are $30/day. The campground offers multiple bath houses and access to WIFI. The property also has several hiking trails and beach access. Take a dip, or drop in a kayak on Marquette’s Dead River.

Marquette Outdoor Adventures

Marquette, Michigan isn’t brimming with tourists due to its isolation in the great white north, but the former mining metropolis holds immeasurable scenery, hiking, and beaches. In fact, USA Today readers named Marquette the best small town for adventure.

One can’t-miss hike is Sugarloaf Mountain. From downtown, head northwest about six miles on CR 550. You’ll see several signs directing you to the trailhead and a sign by the parking lot. The mountain offers two routes—easy and hard—each requiring care as rocks and tree roots jut out of the ground. The easy trail contains a less intense grade, but both routes include a series of wooden stairs bringing you to the viewing area. Reaching the summit, you’ll be rewarded with mesmerizing views of Lake Superior, Marquette, Presque Isle Park and Hogback Mountain.

For a more challenging excursion, Hogback Mountain forces climbers to take a series of narrow, twisted trails through woodlands, rock fields and swampy areas. The last half mile of the climb is straight up and strenuous, with a nearly 90-degree ascent that requires four points of contact. To get there from Marquette, drive five miles northwest on CR 550. Pick up the trail in the northwest end of the Wetmore Pond Parking Area. There will be trail markers and signs for Hogback along the way.

If you prefer water to rocks and mountains, pass by Hogback and Sugarloaf, and further along CR 550 you’ll find Little Presque Isle. The area is home to birch and pine forests, multiple hiking trails and gorgeous Lake Superior beachfront. The park requires a Michigan recreation passport for entry ($16 if purchased at state parks). Overnight camping is not permitted. You can, however, rent rustic, one-room cabins at adjacent Little Presque Isle Forest Recreation Area for $70 per night. Water is provided by an outdoor pump, but the isle doesn’t have electricity. It’s worth noting if you’re traveling with a furry companion, pets are welcome at Sugarloaf, Hogback and Little Presque Isle Park, but they are not allowed in the park cabins.

If you’re happier within city limits, Little Presque Isle’s big sister, Presque Isle, is located closer to downtown Marquette and offers Lake Superior beaches, a scenic drive, biking/walking trails, a nature center and cliff jumping off a local spot known as Black Rocks (volcanic rocks that are more than a billion years old)!

Marquette REstaurants & Breweries

All that activity will surely work up an appetite and in Marquette, Michigan, you’re not without options. For breakfast check out Babycakes Muffin Company on Washington Street serving made-from-scratch breakfast items with vegan and gluten-free options. For more savory fare, try Third Street Bagel located conveniently on Third Street. Pick up a freshly made bagel or try one of their many delicious bagel sandwiches. A fan favorite is the Gourmet Breakfast Bagel with two scrambled eggs, tomato, red onion and feta. For lunch, try a pizza from Main Street Pizza, then walk south a few blocks to BlackRocks Brewery where you can enjoy your pie with a craft brew. We suggest 51k IPA, Honey Lavender American Wheat Ale or Coconut Brown.

While we’re on the craft beer theme, head to The Vierling later in the evening for dinner. The restaurant serves plates of Lake Superior whitefish and BBQ Cajun ribs. The historic eatery has been a staple in the city for more than a century. It was given a facelift in 1985 and became one of Michigan’s first brewpub’s in 1995 with a five-barrel microbrewery system.

Whether you’re hiking, paddling or eating your way through your next vacation, be sure to include Marquette, Michigan on your travel list.


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula