Northern Lights – Upper Peninsula Adventure
This is a full day of sightseeing, so you will want to rise and shine early. Stop in at one of the local coffee shops or restaurants for breakfast (to go). Take I-75 north across the Mackinac Bridge to M-123 north to Tahquamenon Falls, approximately 55 miles. The park is a hikers paradise with 25 miles of forest trails that wind through its 40,000 acres of wilderness.
You will find two sets of falls. The Lower Falls is a series of smaller waterfalls cascading around an island, a 45-minute excursion. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, with a drop of 50 feet and width of 200 feet. You will need 1 1/2 to 2 hours to experience the majesty of the Upper Falls and still have time to visit the shopping area.
If you were off to a late start and it's lunchtime, stop in at the new microbrewery, The Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub At Camp 33, located at the Upper Falls. We are told by General Manager, Lark Carlyle Ludlow, the Beer Battered Shrimp is a favorite.
After lunch follow the shoreline north to Whitefish Point, (approximately 11 miles north of Paradise) and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. (Allow 11/2 hours for this part of the journey). Throughout the museum and theatre, visitors will see maritime legends come to life. Artifacts and exhibits tell stories of sailors and ships that braved the waters of Superior and those who were lost to its menacing waves.
The theatre tells the tale of the most famous shipwreck of the Great Lakes, the Edmund Fitzgerald. This is an original short film on the history of the infamous ship, its crew, and the raising of the bell. This truly is one of the greatest "little" museums in the State.
Return south and continue driving south through Paradise. Ten miles down the road will be the Curley Lewis Memorial Hwy. Turn left here. The road follows the lakeshore all the way to Bay Mills. Enjoy wide sandy beaches at any number of public access sites or tour Iroquois Point Lighthouse, (approximately 20 minutes from the turning point). In the village of Bay Mills you can enjoy casino gaming at the Bay Mills Casino. From Bay Mills it is a short 20 miles to Saulte Ste Marie. Continue heading east until the road comes to a "T" at M-129. Turn left and you will be in "The Soo" in 5 minutes.
Your next destination is the Soo Locks Park. M-129 becomes Ashmun Street. Follow Ashmun Street to Portage and turn left on Portage. The Soo Locks Park consists of an information center with many exhibits detailing the history of the Soo Locks. There is also a movie theater that shows a film of the history and construction of the locks system as well as a viewing platform where you can get a birds eye view of the freighters passing through, at arms length. For an informational experience take a Soo Locks Boat Tour. Ride through the locks with Lake Freighters and ocean vessels. The tour is approximately two hours in length. The narrators will explain the history and operation of the locks, including information on passing ships. Other Saulte Ste. Marie attractions; Soo Locks Tour Train Depot, Brady Park, River of History Museum, Tower of History, S. S. Valley Camp, & Kewadin Casino.
Has all that sightseeing, hiking and driving worked up an appetite for dinner? Favorite area restaurants include, the infamous Antlers Restaurant, the renowned Freighters Restaurant, located at the Ojibway Hotel, or if you are stopping at the Kewadin Casino enjoy dinner and refreshments at the Dreamakers Restaurant.
Time to set south on I-75 back to Mackinaw City. You are only 45 minutes away from a relaxing night stay at your lodging establishment or campground. Rest up… tomorrow is another day!