A newly imagined crop of cozy lodges, historic hotels and snug cabins on the Keweenaw is the perfect reason to head north. Way north. Whether you’re a foodie, newlywed or on the hunt for the perfect family trip, here are 5 can’t-miss lodging spots at the top of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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When you pull into Calumet, located on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, the history—and onetime wealth—is striking. The massive sandstone buildings with arched windows and intricate details are a visual reminder of a long-ago era of serious prosperity. While this northernmost stretch of Michigan not far from the 47th parallel was once a bustling hub of mining commerce, that all dried up in the years following the Great Depression.

“Copper Country,” as the region is known today, has been relatively sleepy in the century since. Over the decades, the Keweenaw has become known for its recreation—a place to mountain bike 1.1-billion-year-old basalt cliffs, chase waterfalls, enjoy birding at Estivant Pines, take in a Lake Superior sunset from Great Sand Bay, hop the ferry to Isle Royale National Park, and otherwise get off the grid in a location where it’s easier to find a Yooperlite than a cell signal.

In the last few years, however, the energy in the Keweenaw is shifting. The recent addition of five refreshed lodging options signals a new dawn for Keweenaw tourism—one that is steeped in history, holds deep respect for the region’s sheer beauty and will make you want to head north stat. Whether you’re an empty nester visiting your grown kiddo at Michigan Tech, an avid cyclist looking to careen down a world-class mountain-biking center, a family craving summer vacation memories, a couple wanting to unplug, or even a foodie who knows there’s far more to the U.P. than pasties alone, here are five noteworthy hotspots to rest your head.

The Vault Hotel in Houghton | Perfect Stay for Empty Nesters

Parents with students at Michigan Tech already know Houghton’s a sweet place to stay awhile. But even if your kids have flown elsewhere, this charming city on the Portage Canal makes a great getaway for folks looking to escape and reconnect.

Make your home base The Vault Hotel on Houghton’s main drag, Shelden Avenue. The stately sandstone building was originally built as Houghton National Bank in 1887, during the heyday of Copper Country’s mining boom, and remained a bank for more than a century until reopening as a boutique hotel in 2019. Following an extensive renovation, the 17-room property is at once historic and modern.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

The lobby is home to vintage safety deposit boxes and the original teller windows that once witnessed the transactions of the copper boom’s wealthiest players. Rooms have been outfitted with memory foam beds, soaking tubs, full wet bars (each with a coffee press), geometric wallpaper and lush jewel-toned window treatments. Those who really want to steep themselves in the region’s bygone era of glitz and glamour should book the first-floor “Vault Room,” which houses the bank’s massive 130-year-old vault, now a sitting room. Be sure to make time for a cocktail in the property’s subterranean speakeasy. The space is open only to hotel guests and features a rescued mining-era piano and a bar topped in copper pennies.

The Vault Hotel, 600 Shelden Ave., Houghton; The Vault Hotel Website; peak-season rooms from $289.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

OUT AND ABOUT IN HOUGHTON | Grab lunch at Milly’s, which is just across the Portage Canal in Hancock and offers Detroit-style pizza with gorgeous, inventive flavor combinations. Think: burrata cheese, house-made kale pesto and smoked salmon from Native-owned and nationally celebrated Peterson’s Fish Market. Work off lunch by heading to Portage Paddle Sports to rent paddleboards, which are the perfect way to see Houghton from the water.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo Caption: After a day spent viewing Houghton by paddleboard, sidle up to the penny-topped bar at The Vault Hotel’s guests-only speakeasy before retreating to one of 17 luxurious rooms, one of which features an original bank vault, now a sitting space.

Fitzgerald’s Hotel in Eagle River | The Ultimate Upper Peninsula Foodie Stay

For years, foodies have flocked to Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant in the sleepy hamlet of Eagle River (population 112) for some of the best site-smoked barbecue, whiskey cocktails and sunsets in Northern Michigan. But now this dining destination boasts six fully remodeled, 520-square-foot rooms. Owner Mike LaMotte, who took over the family motel from his parents in 2007, spent Covid time wisely, using lockdown as an opportunity to convert the 12 original 1950s motel rooms into modern, well-appointed suites.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Leather couches from Article, Leesa beds, West Elm side tables and “a metric ton of pillows,” as LaMotte jokes, are now available a stone’s throw—literally—from Lake Superior. Check in to your room, wander up and down Eagle River beach while you wait for your table at “the Fitz,” as it’s known, and order as much whiskey as you want knowing that a Pendleton blanket and morning room service are just a few footsteps away.

Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Restaurant, 5033 Front St., Eagle River; Fitzgerald’s Website; peak-season rooms from $270.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

OUT AND ABOUT IN EAGLE RIVER & CALUMET: If your long drive to Michigan’s northernmost peninsula calls for a pick-me-up before checking into your room, stop just shy of Eagle River in Calumet for a cold-brew coffee at Keweenaw Coffee Works. Wander the brick streets and take in St. Anne’s church, the Calumet Theatre, the historic Calumet Village Fire Station and other turn-of-the-last-century structures that are a stunning reminder of the region’s prosperous mining era. After an indulgent night at the Fitz, burn off those calories with any of the Keweenaw’s monster hikes. One of our favorites is the Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Bare Bluff, which is located off Smith Fisheries Road near Lac La Belle. Be sure to wear good footwear—there is a terrific scramble on the far side.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo Caption: Don’t miss Keweenaw Coffee Works in historic Calumet before checking in at “The Fitz”, one of the best restaurants in the Upper Peninsula and now also home to 12 stunning suites overlooking the rugged expanse of Lake Superior.

Fresh Coast Cabins in Eagle Harbor | The Ultimate Lovebirds Getaway

Lynn and Jason Makela met while students at Michigan Tech. After time in Seattle and Corvallis, Oregon, they are back in their old stomping grounds as husband and wife. The Copper Country sweethearts are rescuing Lakeshore Drive’s old Eagle River Lodge, a collection of nine cottages on a western-facing stretch of Lake Superior, and bringing them back to life as Fresh Coast Cabins—the most design-savvy rental cabins we’ve seen in Michigan. While each cabin has its own distinct personality, they are all inspired by Jason’s Scandinavian roots.“We wanted everything to feel like you walked into someone’s living room instead of a hotel,” says Lynn of the property’s carefully curated but still woodsy style.

We love Cabin 9 for couples. This unit has everything you need for a romantic weekend away—a cozy queen-sized bed that’s covered in a Sunday Citizen duvet and throw from the Lake Superior Woolen Company, a rustic-chic kitchen, a freestanding midcentury modern fireplace, and a private patio with twinkle lights and front-row views of Lake Superior’s basalt coves.

Fresh Coast Cabins, 13051 M-26, Eagle Harbor; Fresh Coast Cabins Website; peak-season cabins from $145.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo by Aaron Peterson

OUT AND ABOUT ON THE KEWEENAW: Start at least one day watching the sunrise from the Point Isabelle stretch of Bete Grise Preserve—a protected area of dune swell wetlands and Lake Superior shoreline that is one of the most undiscovered parts of the county. Couples should also rent a tandem kayak from Keweenaw Adventure Company, a Copper Harbor outfit that offers a variety of guided paddles. For experienced kayakers, we suggest paddling along the southern edge of Keweenaw Point past sea caves and arches to Montreal Falls, a remote waterfall that is best viewed from the water. Back in Copper Harbor hit The Genny—a vintage general store that carries bottlings from Gitchee Gummee Ciderworks. The Hancock cider house is using foraged, wild apples to craft dry cider, perfect for pairing with a Lake Superior sunset under those twinkle lights.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo Caption: Montreal Falls is one of the most remote waterfalls in Copper Country and is especially beautiful from the water. Rent a tandem kayak and commit a day to this 15-mile out-and-back paddle.

Camper Cabins at Trails End Campground in Copper Harbor | The Adventurer Getaway

While much of Northern Michigan is home to fertile farmland, the Keweenaw is beloved by mountain bikers for its steep volcanic cliffs and more than 100 miles of single track, especially the trails at the top of Brockway Mountain Drive. Trails End Campground, located at the foot of this famed cycling route, is a great spot for bikers to pitch their tents … or not.

Tents are one piece of gear you can now leave behind thanks to seven new glamping cabins that were recently built onsite, with an additional seven in the works. The insulated cabins were built using Keweenaw cedar and remain primitive, with no plumbing or running water, but each are outfitted with BYO-linen bunks, an indoor dining table and chairs, solar-powered charging stations, a wood stove with as many logs as you want to burn through and plenty of hooks to hang all the gear you crammed into your car. Outside, guests will find a covered porch with chairs, picnic table and fire pit—the perfect place to swap stories from a day on the trails.

Trails End Campground, 14203 M-26, Copper Harbor; Trails End Website; 6-person camper cabins from $100.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

OUT AND ABOUT IN HANCOCK: As you cross over the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Hancock to finish your journey north toward Trails End, stock up on groceries and other campsite supplies at the Keweenaw Coop, one of the best cooperative grocers in Northern Michigan. After a day careening down Brockway Mountain’s intermediate Flow Trail or experts-only The Edge, swap your padded shorts for a pair of pants and hit reset on the rocks at Horseshoe Harbor before heading to Harbor Haus, a German-themed institution. Skip the formal dining room and ask for a seat at the bar, where you can watch kayakers paddle out to Porters Island for sunset while you sip from an impressive list of dunkels and doppelbocks. You’ve earned it.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo by Aaron Peterson

Photo Caption: The modern, thoughtfully constructed camper cabins at Trails End Campground are located less than a half-mile from Brockway Mountain Drive, a world-class destination for avid mountain bikers who journey north for the region’s steep basalt cliffs.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor | The Family-Friendly Getaway

Families have been making the pilgrimage to Keweenaw Mountain Lodge since the 1930s, when this now-institution was built as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). In many ways the property—which is today listed on the national register of historic places—hasn’t changed since. The main lodge remains one of the most beautiful log cabins we know, and the destination, long beloved by golfers, should stay on any regional bucket list for nine holes of golf.

The historically protected cabins are stuck in time—with, for now, the same fixtures and finishes you remember from when you were a kid. That said, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge changed hands in 2018, when private owners purchased it at auction from the county. “The mission was really noble, with FDR’s New Deal and the WPA,” says owner John Mueller, who compares the vibe to that of the national parks, like “a mini scale of a Yellowstone or Yosemite lodge, or Timberline out in Oregon,” he says.

Inspired by the property’s history and with an eye on its future, Mueller has made several improvements in the years since. Among them, there is now a trail system on “the back nine,” a section of the golf course that was never finished. The trails (which double as Nordic terrain in the winter) fill a longstanding void for beginner mountain bikers and kids. Just this spring, Mueller acquired additional acreage, bringing the property’s total size up to 560 acres with some 15 miles of trails. Couple this with refreshed common spaces in the main lodge and the property’s commitment to becoming an International Dark Sky Park for stargazing, and it might be high time to introduce the kids to the type of cabin your parents took you to.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, 14252 US-41, Copper Harbor; Keweenaw Mountain Lodge Website; cabins from $250.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

OUT AND ABOUT IN COPPER HARBOR: While it’s tempting to remain onsite, families should carve out at least one day to explore. Start by taking your little people to Lake Linden for Swedish pancakes at Lindell’s (906.296.8083), an old soda fountain. Stop by the famed Jampot on your way back north and pick up some jars of thimbleberry jam made by Byzantine Catholic monks at Poorrock Abbey. Save time to wander the kid-friendly trails throughout the monastery. While you are there, don’t miss Jacob’s Falls. Its roadside location makes it one of the easiest Keweenaw waterfalls to spot.

Photo by Aaron Peterson

What to Know Before You Go to Keweenaw Peninsula

This northernmost stretch of Michigan is truly remote, with spotty WiFi and—in many places—nonexistent cell phone signal. We recommend packing a printed copy of this story in your duffel and mapping the selections you wish to visit in advance.

Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and travel writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Saveur, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and filmmaker based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. See more at aaronpeterson.studio

Photo(s) by Aaron Peterson