15 Family Friendly Things To Do In Munising, Michigan
Munising may be a small town with around 2,300 residents, but in the summer the area feels much busier as thousands of visitors head to the Alger County seat to take in the sights and sounds of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Being located on the shore of Lake Superior and at the west end of Pictured Rocks makes visiting Munising one of the most-visited cities in the Upper Peninsula. Easy access from M-28 also makes this an easy trip from other attractions like Marquette to the west and Sault Ste. Marie to the east. We’ve been visiting this area regularly since 1993, and decided to share our picks for 15 family-friendly things to do when you visit Munising.
Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises – Back in February we featured a post showcasing some of the great views that can be found on the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise. These cruises are incredibly well-run and do a great job of passing by all of the well-known rock formations along the shoreline. The towering limestone cliffs at Pictured Rocks are so picturesque they are often used in state tourism materials, and this cruise is one of the best ways to see them. An added bonus is that an afternoon cruise each day goes a bit longer and head all the way out to Spray Falls or a sunset cruise leaves in the evening and provides some amazing photo opportunities. Head over to www.picturedrocks.com for departure times, fees, and more information.
Riptide Ride – A rather new addition to the area’s boating options, the Riptide Ride has proven to be very popular with visitors. This jet boat travels around Grand Island and gets visitors up close to two lighthouses, scenic cliffs and rock formations, waterfalls and possibly even some bald eagles. This is a shorter ride than the other options and one of the best ways to see Grand Island. The boat also moves a bit faster than the other cruises and is capable of 360-degree spins. Check out information on departure times and ticket info at http://riptideride.com/.
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours – Each of the three cruise options in Munising brings a unique specialty, and this glass bottom shipwreck tour does a great job in showing off the sights of Grand Island while also demonstrating how harsh and unforgiving Lake Superior can be as it visits several historic shipwrecks. Up-close views of the East Channel Lighthouse and the wreckage of ships like the Herman H. Hettler (1926) keep this cruise exciting for visitors of all ages. More information at: http://shipwrecktours.com/.
Munising Falls – One of the easiest waterfalls to get to in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising Falls is located just east of downtown and is reached by a short hike. Follow the signs to turn onto Washington St. and to the large parking area. A small interpretive center and restrooms are located on site, and the trail is handicap accessible. Munising Creek plummets 50 feet here, and since water flow can vary quite a bit the best times to visit are in the spring or after a heavy rainfall. Stairs off to either side of the main trail lead up to viewing platforms higher up, visitors are encouraged to stay behind the fences and not go under the waterfall.
Horseshoe Falls – Located at 602 Bell Ave., Horseshoe Falls is unique among the waterfalls in Munising as it is the only one an entry fee is required for. A gift shop, trout pond, informative signs and a picturesque waterfall await visitors here, and while the fee may seem a bit steep at least this waterfall is still accessible to the public and not fenced off on private property. Kids will enjoy feeding the fish, and the gift shop also sells ice cream. Check out http://www.uppermichiganwaterfalls.com/ for dates and hours of operation as well as current fees.
Wagner Falls – This state scenic site is located south on M-94 near its intersection with M-28, and is a great spot to relax and take in the scenic drops on Wagner Creek. The trail is short, smooth and well-maintained, and a viewing platform provides a great place for photographs. A great forested setting and consistent water flow makes this a great stop in any season.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Headquarters – For help in planning your visit to any of the locations in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, be sure to stop in at the park headquarters on M-28. Maps, trail information and backcountry camping permits are a few of the things you can track down here, and other brochures highlight places of interest in the region and across the state.
Miners Beach – The most popular and easiest beach to get to in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is Miners Beach, a great stretch of sandy shore located where the Miners River empties into Lake Superior. At times when it’s too cold to swim in the big lake, the water in the river can often be a warmer alternative. Miles of cliffs can be seen to the east, and this is also a popular point of entry for sea kayakers. If you spend a decent amount of time here, chances are you’ll see a Pictured Rocks Cruise boat pass by and maybe get a glimpse of some of the park’s wildlife as well.
Miners Falls – The Miners River plunges more than 40 feet over an outcropping of sandstone rock, making it one of the tallest and most powerful falls in the park. Reached by a 1.2-mile round trip hike, these falls and near picturesque Miner’s Beach and the always popular Miner’s Castle rock formation. Follow H-58 east from Munising, then follow H-13 north and follow signs for Miners Falls to the parking area. Trail is mostly flat, wide and smooth.
Miners Castle – One of the most iconic rock formations in the state, Miners Castle is also one of the most-visited locations in Munising. There were once two stacks here but rockfall in 2006 left it in its present state. A short trip east on H-58 leads to the road that will take you to Miners Castle, Miners Falls and Miners Beach and if you’re only going to visit a few Pictured Rocks sites while in town, this should be at the top of your list. A short trail is paved and leads to a handicap accessible viewing platform, while another trail leads right up to the formation itself.
Tannery Falls/Memorial Falls – These two waterfalls are among the best “hidden gems” in town. The path to Tannery Falls begins just off of H-58 near Washington St., and while the hike does have a few steep spots this is a must-visit for the nature lover as you will like have the place to yourself. Memorial Falls can be reached from the same trail or from a trailhead off of Nestor St. These falls both feature drops of more than 20 feet into horseshoe-shaped rock bowls. Many thanks to the Michigan Nature Association for keeping these waterfalls open to the public and maintaining the trails.
Munising Range Lights – These two lights were established in 1908, and share a white exterior paint scheme with red trim. The front range light is located at M-28 and Hemlock St. and it stands 58 feet tall. The rear range light (pictured) is 38 feet tall but sits on higher ground two blocks to the south of the front range. Both of these historic lights are accessible to the public, and restoration plans are currently in the works.
Camp at Munising Tourist Park Campground – Few places in Munising boast the stunning sunsets that this campground offers, with its lengthy stretch of sandy beach on Lake Superior. The tent sites are situated just a few hundred feet from the beach on the soft sand, providing a rustic feel with the modern comforts of wi-fi and showers. The bathrooms and showers are a bit on the outdated side of things, but the views and friendly people make up for that. Head over to https://munisingtouristpark.com/reservations/ to pick out a site.
Restaurants – Sydney’s, Dogpatch and Muldoon’s are favorites of both locals and travelers, while places like Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore and Shooters Firehouse Brewpub are newer but already doing a great job of attracting a steady customer base. For ice cream in the summer, check out Dairy Queen or The Frozen Flamingo.
Shopping – Unique Michigan gifts can be found at Das Gift Haus (on M-28), The Gift Station (Cedar St.) as well as inside many of the businesses mentioned above. Muldoon’s, Dogpatch, Riptide Ride, Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises and Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours all offer a decent selection of gifts in their shopping areas.
Check out our previous coverage of Munising, Alger County and Pictured Rocks: