michigan travel tip: visit the upper peninsula

Oh, hey guys. Long time no talk! I took a break from blogging last week after what I’m fondly going to think of as my “Italy series,” but I’m back babydolls! This post about my home state will be the first in a series of stateside posts—starting with Michigan, then on to my long weekend in Nashville, and then my weeklong sojourn to Hawaii back in March/April of this year.

I was just idly scrolling through Facebook posts one day—as one is wont to do—when I came across an ad for a guided kayaking trip around the Pictured Rocks in Michigan’s upper peninsula, and I could not believe the pictures were of Michigan because it was so freaking beautiful.

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Not to speak ill of my home state, but it’s easy, when you live in southeast Michigan, to forget that Michigan can be really beautiful. There’s not a whole lot to see where I live, but northern Michigan is insane—the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Traverse City, where the dune grass makes you feel like you’re in the Outer Banks and the ocean legit looks like the Caribbean; charming Mackinac Island, where your only modes of transport are horses, bicycles, and your two dancing sticks (otherwise known as legs); and the UP (upper peninsula), where we were.

Our first stop on the way to our adorable little cabin in Grand Marais was to Tahquamenon Fallslargely known for being the “largest waterfall east of the Mississippi” (according to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park website) and for its unique rust color, which it gets from the tannins found in the cedar swamps that drain into the river.

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The park is actually dog-friendly, too, which we appreciated since we had our pups in tow!

There’s also a restaurant in the park, which is actually supposed to be pretty good. Because we had our dogs, though, we weren’t able to eat at that particular establishment. But there are plenty of other choices for quick food, along with plentiful outdoor seating. We grabbed some tacos from one of the stands and soft-serve ice cream cones from another.

We stayed at the Hilltop Cabins in Grand Marais for two nights (also pet-friendly and with a lovely hilltop view). Our room was clean and had all of the basic necessities. (This was a low-maintenance trip for us, so we weren’t too particular about amenities.) Breakfast is included, but we didn’t eat there either morning; on the first, we were up and out too early, and on the second, we checked out this sweet retro diner that had scrumptious apple cinnamon pancakes.

 

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Hilltop Cabins & Motel, Grand Marais

 

Just a heads-up: There are not a plethora of places to eat in Grand Marais. We ended up eating both nights at the Lake Superior Brewing Company; the first night, it was because it came recommended; the second night, it was because it was the only place open for dinner after 8 p.m., but that’s okay—we weren’t really there UP’s delicacies anyway!

On our second day in the UP, we were up bright and early (as previously mentioned) because we were going to kayak around the Pictured Rocks, which was why we’d ventured to the UP in the first place—and it did not disappoint!

Pictured Rocks Kayaking motors you out to your starting point and then launches your kayak into the water right off the back of the boat. Once your group is out on the water, you follow your guide, hugging the coastline, taking in rocks painted by various chemical reactions; your guide explains which metals create which colors and weaves tales about the more famous rock formations.

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We were up there over Labor Day weekend and it was a little chilly, but with the sun beating down on us, it was a perfect day. There’s quite a bit of hiking you can do up in Munising, too, but if you want to see the Pictured Rocks, the best way to do it has got to be by water. There are a few different kayaking companies operating out of Munising and several motor-boat tours as well. It was clear that seeing the Pictured Rocks is “the thing to do” up there, and it’s easy to see why!

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We ended the day with a quick jaunt to Log Slide Overlook, which truly did offer some amazing views of the water (there’s a reason it’s rated the #1 thing to do in Grand Marais at TripAdvisor), and we were going to see the Au Sable Light Station, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a hike from the park to the lighthouse, and alas, dogs were not allowed, so we are saving that for next time! Instead, we took our pups and sat on this charming pebble beach and watched the sun slowly inch its way toward the horizon. #PureMichigan indeed!

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