In Traverse Northern Michigan magazine we took you inside 8 under-the-radar adventure towns to consider calling home. With one of the wildest housing markets in recent memory, hear from local real estate experts on where buyers can still find relative affordability and a stellar home base for outdoor adventures. Here, we explore Munising in the Upper Peninsula. Check out all 8 towns when you order a copy of our May issue.

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Munising has been dubbed the “Moab of the Midwest,” and although it doesn’t have two National Parks like the famed outdoor lifestyle town of southern Utah, it does boast rocks and biking ops for days, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore plus Grand Island National Recreation Area. Hiawatha National Forest and Escanaba State Forest surround the town. Plus, with an average of more than 200 inches of snow and 330 miles of groomed trails, Munising is the snowmobile capital of the Midwest.

Explore Munising’s Great Outdoors

The reason people come is simple: water. Alger County has more than 100 miles of public Lake Superior shoreline—including Grand Island—plus, it’s home to 30 rivers, 51 lakes and 17 spectacular waterfalls. Whether you want to hike for an hour or a week, you can find trails at Pictured Rocks. Come summer, Alger County becomes a bikers’ paradise (you can take the ferry over to Grand Island and make a day of the 20-mile loop around the island). In winter, dog sledding abounds, as does Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. And Munising has been hosting the annual Michigan Ice Fest since 1990, making it the longest-running ice-climbing festival in the country. The one thing you can enjoy any time of the year? The night sky. With no light pollution, you just might see the Aurora Borealis while gazing north across Lake Superior.

Photo by Allison Jarrell

How to Get on the Water in Munising

Maybe the best gear here is another’s wisdom. To experience paddling on Lake Superior in a safe and guided environment, book a tour with one of the local kayak companies. They will give you a good introduction to what paddling the “Gitche Gumee” is all about. (The Chippewa people named Lake Superior “Gitche Gumee” or “Ojibwe Gichigami,” which translates to The Ojibwe’s Great Sea.)

Munising Neighborhood Finds

Fun takes fuel, and you’ll find great places to eat in Munising. Try the “Yooper on a Hot Tin Roof ” skillet at Earl E. Byrds, or roam on over to Tracey’s restaurant at the Roam Inn for entrees like rice bowls, curry and noodles. To quench your thirst, try the frothy beers on tap at ByGeorge Brewing Co. with names like “Rusty Toboggan” and “Walking with Giants.”

Munising Real Estate Real Talk

Frida Waara | Realtor, GRI ABR COR ACP SRES, with REMAX 1st Realty in Marquette | Frida’s Website

Real Talk Median Home Price in Town: $143,750

What’s Next for Munising: “It has woods and waters, but not many year-round residents. Out of Michigan’s eighty-three counties, Alger ranks third from the bottom with just 1.9 people
per square mile. But it’s a town that is coming forward in a big way. Munising has been a tourist destination for over a century, but keeping up with the demand has been tough. They have quite the balancing act between the number of folks who are coming to visit and still maintaining a serene surrounding.”

Who’s Buying: “Many folks come here to be ‘out of town’—but they may also be buying where there is no electricity or natural gas. They will likely have a well and septic. I live half the week off-grid and it’s very doable with solar from May 1 to October 1. But be ready with a backup system when the ‘dark ages’ come. For us, it’s propane generators, but heat pumps are becoming popular, too. I also let buyers know that they may not need to buy eighty acres or more. Our ‘camp’ in the U.P. is only on eight acres, but it adjoins sixteen sections of the Hiawatha National Forest. That means I can ski, bike and hike for thirty-two miles and never cross a paved road. It’s glorious to have so much LAND that you don’t have to buy!”

Why Live Here: “It’s back to the same reason people are coming here: water. As the planet and its people suffer more from fire and lack of water, places like Munising become more valuable. Just remember, snow is water at a different temperature.”

Meet Your Dream Munising House

303 W. Onota St., Munising, 1,050 sq. ft. | $155,000

This snug three-bedroom, one-bath cottage packs a lot of cute for the buck, including hardwood floors and perennial flowerbeds. The location is the perfect mix of in-town bustle and peaceful U.P. vibes—it’s just a block from downtown, a four-block stroll to the marina, and backs up into the vast forested acreage that wraps around Munising.

E3220 and E3218 State Highway M-28, AuTrain, 10,462 sq. ft. | $4,900,000

This showpiece is not your everyday listing, but it’s definitely a way to highlight the best of Alger County. This seven-bedroom, seven-bath home with a three-car garage is a “once in a lifetime” property with panoramas of Au Train and Grand islands, protected by the cove and serenity of Shelter Bay. This beauty sits 50 feet above the world’s largest body of freshwater by area on the planet—Lake Superior.