Michigan's Upper Peninsula -
Our family has visited the Eastern and Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The first time we traveled to the U.P. was in 2013. We decided to have our honeymoon vacation with the kids in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Our girls had a blast! Since there are many dog-friendly hotels, cabins, and attractions, we decided to bring our pitbull with us.
We traveled along the west side of Michigan's lower peninsula so that we could visit attractions on the way up.
Even though the tours give narrated tours, it's a great idea to read up on all of the fun and historical facts before going to these wonderful areas. I believe that it makes for a much more interesting trip. The websites that I've linked to provide many facts and information if you choose to visit Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Many of the tours sell tickets online because they do sell out.
We visited the Castle Farms and grounds in Charlevoix. It was fun to see that there were several halls preparing for weddings later in the day.
This castle was built in 1918 and started out as a dairy farm. It then turned into a Rock n' Roll venue which includes famous artists such as Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Def Leppard and more.
They have 2 types of tours, self-guided and guided tours. We chose to do the self-guided tour of Castle Farms.
We spent several hours at Castle Farms. There is so much beauty to see. The photo opportunities are priceless. They have a duck and fish feeding pond with a gazebo and swing, which we all enjoyed. Our girls loved the giant outdoor chess set. The fountain and endless gardens were stunning.
After the castle, we made our way to the hotel in Gaylord, MI for the night. Just around the corner from the hotel was a great Mexican restaurant, called El Rancho Mexican Restaurant. It's in a strip mall, but don't let that deter you. Some of the BEST food that we've found while traveling have been in strip malls. The brightly colored, carved wooden chairs and booths are beautiful!
We got an early start to the day and made our way to the Mackinaw Bridge. We made sure to stop for fudge and pictures by the bridge.
My husband has been to the upper peninsula many times while growing up. For myself and our girls, it was our first time. My husband didn't grow up going on any of the tours. I was really excited about them and couldn't wait for the experience. He wasn't too excited about doing "touristy" type things until he did them. He couldn't believe how much he missed out on as a kid. He was shocked at how much he didn't experience all of those times that he vacationed with his family.
Soo Locks Boat Tour
Our first tour on our vacation was the Soo Locks. We did the Soo Locks Boat Tour. They have free kennels for your
pet. They are a top 5 Michigan Attraction that has been offering exciting tours through the Soo Locks for over 83 years. Our girls we able to touch the Soo Locks wall!
After the Soo Locks, we had lunch at The Antlers restaurant. They have over 200 mounts in the restaurant, which made for a pretty interesting atmosphere. I guess the restaurant is haunted and was even featured on A&E Biography channel.
It was time to make our way to the cabin that we rented for the week. This was the first time that we rented from www.homeaway.com and we were thrilled. We rented a cabin in Lake AuTrain since it seemed central to everything that we wanted to see and do. The cabin was cozy but spacious. It had a loft that the girls loved! We enjoyed making breakfast and packing lunches before heading out for the day. I loved using www.homewaway.com, so much that I've used them for a trip to Disney World and for our second trip to the U.P.
On our first morning, waking up in the cabin, we decided to go do the Glass Bottom Boat Shipwreck Tours.
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours
Our girls, 6 and 7 at the time, loved this tour. The tour was 2 hours long and covers 9 miles. Some of the shipwrecks are as deep as 45 feet down, but the water is so clear that everything can still be seen.
We saw a Captains wheel, a toilet (which the girls giggled about), and the wrecks of many ships. There are remains of an 8,000-year-old tree near the Herman Hettler ship!
Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley
Michigan Adventure by Rail and River
This tour was 6 1/2 hours long! That sounds ridiculously long and exhausting, but it wasn't! We brought our dog with us, since dogs are allowed on the trip. He enjoyed everything!
The tour starts out with a 5 1/2 mile long train ride through the forest where we actually saw a mother black bear and her cubs! We also saw many types of birds. There are also, wolves and moose that can be seen. The train ride was about 35 minutes each way.
After the train ride, we hopped on board the riverboat which took us for a 21-mile cruise on the Tahquamenon River to the Tahquamenon Falls. The river cruise was relaxing and breathtaking. There were Pictured rock features that gave us a glimpse of what was to come later in the week! It was a great time to grab a snack on board, feed our dog and enjoy the view. We went in July and it was advised that we bring warm jackets. We're so glad that we did because it did get chilly. The riverboat ride was about 2 hours each way.
When we arrived at Tahquamenon Falls, we enjoyed a 5/8 of a mile nature hike to a private viewing area of Tahquamenon Falls! It was beautiful! I can still hear the sound of the falls. We had 1 hour and 15 minutes to enjoy the falls and to snap some pictures.
The boat and train ride back was just as relaxing. To be honest, I dreaded this tour because I thought I would be exhausted beyond belief and I was shocked to experience the opposite. I felt refreshed and grateful for such an amazing experience with my family.
During 2 of our vacation days, we rented a pontoon for a few hours to do some fishing on Lake AuTrain. We really didn't catch much, but the view of the Eagles and trees all around us was picture perfect. The time went by so very fast and we had to return the pontoon.
Pictured Rocks Cruises
The Pictured Rocks formations are over 440 million years old! Some of the bedrock is 180 ft high above Lake Superior!
We purposely saved the best for last, Pictured Rocks Cruises. Don't get me wrong, the other tours were fabulous, but I was worried about doing Pictured Rocks first and then being disappointed with the rest of the trip. Looking back, I'm not sure that's even possible.
We did the Spray Falls Tour since it includes everything that the Classic Tour offers, but it also takes you to the Spray Falls. This tour is 15 minutes shorter because it's on a different boat called a Catamaran.
We saw the East Channel Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1868! We also saw Grand Island, Miner's Castle, Painted Coves, Caves of all Colors, Lover's Leap, Rainbow Cave, Indian Head, Gull Rookery, Grand Portal, Battleship Rocks, Flower Vase, Indian Drum, Chapel Cove, Chapel Rock and Spray Falls. The whole Pictured Rocks tour lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes.
My husband saw Pictured Rocks from the road when he was younger. His mind was blown by how close we saw Pictured Rocks. The Pictured Rocks Cruises boat literally drove into a Pictured Rocks cave called Chapel Cove that was tight on all sides and then reversed and scraped the boat a touch in the process. We had no idea that was part of the tour. It was amazing!
We purchased our tickets online because they sell out fast.
Planning a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula?
For any of our trips, I always research with Trip Advisor. They come through for me all the time! I've found countless top rated restaurants and exciting things to do, whether it's in my own city or thousands of miles from home.
I can't recommend Home Away enough. I will never stay in a hotel if I have an opportunity for a Home Away property. It's so nice to go "home" after a long day of fun to a place that is fully stocked with all of the comforts of home. We have saved so much money in food and the prices of the homes that we've stayed at are either comparable or cheaper than hotels.
If you're planning a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I hope that I've helped you out a bit. Enjoy your memory making trip of a lifetime!
No compensation was received for this trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It was our own family paid trip.
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