21 Things to See and Do in Marquette, Michigan
Marquette is the most populated city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with more than 21,000 residents, and its location on the shore of Lake Superior has made it an important port for centuries. It is a city with a rich history that includes Father Jacques Marquette and Bishop Frederic Baraga, and while it continues to pay homage to its rich history Marquette has evolved into a four-season paradise for outdoor recreation and a center for education and business. The campus of Northern Michigan University, several of the Upper Peninsula’s best breweries, multiple museums, miles of trails for biking, skiing, and biking, and scenic Lake Superior shoreline continue to draw visitors here and we hope our list of 21 Things to See and Do in Marquette, Michigan will give you more to explore once you get there.
Presque Isle Park – This is far and away Marquette’s most popular park, as its more than 300 acres offer excellent opportunities for hiking, swimming, picnics, nature observation, and more. Walk out to the lighthouse on the breakwater and watch freighters head to the ore docks, or drive/bike the paved road around the island and watch for deer and other wildlife. This area is especially beautiful in the fall, when the trees add an amazing splash of color to the landscape.
Lakeshore Blvd. north of the Dead River
Ore Docks/Freighters – The ore docks at Presque Isle are still an important stop for Great Lakes freighters. Railroad cars load iron ore onto large ships at this “pocket dock,” and there are multiple spots for up-close observation. Frequent visitors include the Kaye E. Barker, Hon. James L. Oberstar, Herbert C. Jackson, Michipicoten and James L. Kuber.
Lakeshore Blvd. north of Hawley St. at Presque Isle Park
Sugarloaf Mountain – Amazing views of Marquette can be found from the top of this nearly 1,000 foot mountain north of town. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to reach the top, with two trail options: easy and difficult. This is a must-stop in the fall as color fills the landscape. In addition to being able to see Marquette and the harbor, you will also be able to see Hogback Mountain, the road leading to Big Bay, and miles of Lake Superior shoreline.
CR-550 roughly six miles north of the NMU campus
Lakenenland – When it comes to roadside attractions, this free and family-friendly stop east of Marquette is one of the best around. Local resident Tom Lakenen has created scrap iron sculptures of dinosaurs, alligators, pigs, aliens and more. We put up a full photo gallery from our visit in the summer of 2015, and recently posted about how you can help keep this attraction open.
Blackrocks Brewery – Since opening in 2010, Blackrocks has quickly established itself as one of the top breweries in the Upper Peninsula. You can now find cans of their popular 51K IPA, Grand Rabbits Cream Ale, and Coconut Brown across most of the state. Their pub is a yellow house on the corner of N. 3rd St. and E. Michigan St., and it features live music most nights.
424 N. 3rd St.
Ore Dock Brewing Co. – Located in a remodeled downtown building that is more than 100 years old, Ore Dock Brewing has found quite a bit of success in a few short years in Marquette. The old ore dock that they draw their name from is just down the hill, and brews like Dead River Drops (Saison) pay tribute to the local area. Popcorn is available and live music is frequently offered. We recommend the Bum’s Beach Wheat and the Porter, which are also available in bottles at the brewery and local stores.
114 W. Spring St.
Maritime Museum – Visitors will enjoy learning about the history of the Marquette, Big Bay, and Stannard Rock Lighthouses at the Marquette Maritime Museum. Other exhibits give information on the wrecks of the Henry B. Smith and the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. This is also the place to stop if you’re interested in a tour of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, offered once a day during the summer when staffing allows.
300 Lakeshore Blvd.
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse – This red lighthouse is one of the icons of Marquette’s Lake Superior shoreline, and it has helped guide freighters to the ore docks since 1853. The structure itself is 40 feet tall but has a focal height of more than 70 feet due to the rocky outcropping it sits on. Great views come from the water or McCarty’s Cove beach, and tours are offered through the Marquette Maritime Museum.
Superior Dome – On the campus of Northern Michigan University this 8,000 seat dome stands out. It is the World’s Largest Wooden Dome, with more than 700 Douglas fir beams used in construction. The Superior Dome mainly hosts NMU football, but is also set up to accommodate soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, track, and tennis.
1401 Presque Isle
Jilbert Dairy – The Jilbert Dairy Farm Store is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and makes for a great spot to grab ice cream and sit down for a break while traveling. It’s also a great spot for a photo op with one of the cow statues.
200 Meeske Ave.
The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery – This building has been an integral part of downtown Marquette for more than a hundred years. The restaurant features an extensive menu that includes fresh whitefish, steak, burgers, salad, sandwiches and more. The brewery has been operating since 1995, and it produces great ales and lagers. Few places in town boast the atmosphere of the Vierling and its historically restored interior, and the views of the harbor are an incredible addition to a fine meal.
119 S. Front St.
Downtown – Marquette’s downtown is full of beautiful, historic buildings and a wide variety of shopping and dining opportunities. Babycakes Muffin Company, Donckers, Dead River Coffee Shop, and Elizabeth’s Chop House are among the best bets for food and Getz’s will appeal to shoppers. Make sure to stop by the Marquette County Courthouse on S. Third St., to see the stunning building that served as the setting for the courtroom scenes in the 1959 Jimmy Stewart film Anatomy of a Murder.
Father Jacques Marquette Statue – A 20 foot tall statue honoring the man the city and county are named after stands on a hill with great views of the harbor. A Michigan historical marker on site tells more of Marquette’s life: “Serving as Priests, explorers, cartographers, linguists, farmers, scientists and chroniclers, Jesuit missionaries introduced Christianity to the Great Lakes region. Among them was Father Jacques Marquette, Born in Laon, France, he came to Quebec in September 1666. In 1671 he and Chippewa Indians who had been forced east by the Sioux established St. Ignace mission at the Straits of Mackinac. From there Marquette and Louis Jolliet set out on their voyage to the Mississippi River in the spring of 1673. Ill before the journey began, Marquette died on the return trip, on May 18, 1675. Indians from St. Ignace later brought Marquette’s remains to a chapel on the site where they were rediscovered in 1877 by Father Edward Jacker.”
501 S. Front St.
Dead River Falls – The Dead River makes several large drops west of Marquette, and a steep but rewarding hiking trail provides access. Dead River Falls is worth the trip, and usually less crowded than attractions in town. This is a beautiful, scenic stop that is never very busy. Reany Falls can be reached from the same parking area.
Morgan Creek Falls – Morgan Creek makes a sudden 20-foot drop here just before it joins with the Carp River, in a wild and scenic setting. Recent improvements have made it easier to get down to the creek here for great views of this small but stunning waterfall. Morgan Creek Falls is one of Marquette’s hidden gem waterfalls, and the Carp River Falls can be reached from the same trail.
Marquette Mtn. Rd. west of CR-553
Marquette Tourist Park – We’ve enjoyed staying at this campground several times due to its location close to both downtown and the lakeshore. The city of Marquette describes it accurately: “fronting the Dead River, the nicely wooded 40 acre park provides visitors with a clean, pleasant and convenient place to camp in the immediate Marquette area. There are approximately 20 acres of campground space with 110 camping sites.”
2145 Sugarloaf Ave
Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum – This museum was designed by kids with a focus on hands-on exhibits and excellent learning opportunities. Aviation, weather, health, science, nature and more are featured prominently and there are some small animals on hand as well. Find out more on their Facebook page.
123 W. Baraga Ave.
Biking – In addition to the fabulous City Multi-Use Path that runs from the lower harbor to Presque Isle Park, Marquette also offers some of the best mountain biking trails in the state. The Noquemanon Trails south section is near the Marquette Mountain ski area and features challenging terrain. Find some favorite courses and more info at: http://www.travelmarquettemichigan.com/category/recreation/biking/.
Beaches – McCarty’s Cove (pictured) is a favorite of locals and out-of-town visitors with its beautiful sand beach and cool Lake Superior water, and it offers great views of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. South Beach Park features a swimming area that is handicap accessible and a playground that is popular with children. There are also beaches at the Tourist Park, Presque Isle Park, and at Little Presque Isle. Find out more at: http://www.mqtcty.org/parks-and-beaches.php.
Hudson’s Classic Grill & Bar – With friendly service, great food, and reasonable prices, Hudson’s is a great stop for lunch or dinner. It is located on US-41 within walking distance of several local hotels, and features classic American comfort food in a laid-back and nostalgic atmosphere. Stay up to date with Hudson’s on their Facebook page, which features specials, events, and more. You can also check out the menu at: http://hudsonsmarquette.com/.
2433 US Hwy 41 W.
Bishop Frederic Baraga Sites – We recently put together a list of Michigan sites that are part of the history of Bishop Frederic Baraga, a missionary known as the “snowshoe priest.” In Marquette those sites include the St. Peter Cathedral (311 W. Baraga Ave.) where Baraga’s remains are interred and the Baraga House at 615 S. Fourth St.