Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan: 10 Awesome Things For Families and Kids
As Michigan’s oldest city Sault Ste. Marie is full of historical attractions. As one of the bigger cities in the Upper Peninsula it also boasts plenty of modern convenience. This combination makes it an ideal location for vacation in all seasons, as visitors come to see the world-famous Soo Locks and other attractions. We’ve spent a great deal of time in Sault Ste. Marie over the years, beginning when we were young children and continuing on into adulthood and bringing our own children. Here is our list of 10 Awesome Things for Families and Kids when visiting Sault Ste, Marie, Michigan:
Soo Locks Boat Tours – There’s no better way to experience the Soo Locks than by taking a boat trip through them. We strongly recommend Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours out of the two options in town, as we had some major issues with Original Soo Locks Boat Tours canceling a trip on us at the extreme last minute. Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours offers a trip of around two hours, passing through the Canadian locks and the Soo Locks while passengers learn all about the history of the area. You’ll see all of the Sault Ste. Marie landmarks from the water and even have the chance to pass close by one of the Great Lakes freighters as you navigate the river.
Lockside Mini Golf – Play a round of mini golf while watching the giant freighters pass through the Soo Locks just a few hundred feet away! The 18 holes here offer fun and some challenges but are perfect for a family outing.
Tower of History – Take in the view of Sault Ste. Marie from more than 200 feet in the air! The Tower of History whisks visitors to the 27th floor in an elevator to an enclosed viewing platform with panoramic views of the city. Those who wish can climb two more flights of stairs for open-air views. This is one of our top spots to visit in the fall or when freighter traffic on the river is heavy.
Rotary Park – The kids’ fishing pond here offers hours of fun for those under 16, and younger kids will love the playground. This is the closest you can get to passing freighter traffic without barriers in the way, and there’s usually plenty of birds to watch in the water or air. A kayak launch provides access to the river for paddlers.
Museum Ship Valley Camp – Tour a former Great Lakes freighter and check out the amazing views from its deck at the Museum Ship Valley Camp. Inside the ship you will find exhibits about shipping history and shipwrecks, aquariums full of Great Lakes fish, and a look at what life was like working on a ship hauling iron ore and coal in the mid-1900s.
Soo Locks Park – At Soo Locks Park visitors can watch freighters pass through the locks from a viewing platform. The visitor center posts upcoming vessel passage times and offers interactive exhibits. Artifacts and informational signs are spread throughout the well-kept grounds and a fountain in the eastern half of the park is a family favorite.
Downtown Shopping – On Portage Ave. across from the Soo Locks the shopping options are plentiful, whether you’re looking for that perfect souvenir or some tasty treats. Some of our favorites include The Mole Hole, Fudge du Locke, Great Lakes Gifts, and Das Gift Haus.
LSSU Center for Freshwater Research and Education – Opened in 2022, the Center for Freshwater Research and Education welcome center offers a hands-on look at the Great Lakes and how they affect us and we affect them. The highlight here is the sturgeon touch tank, where visitors can meet the two sturgeon that live here and see what it feels like to “pet” one of Michigan’s most elusive residents. The CFRE is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays.
River of History Museum – Learn the story of the St. Mary’s River from its earliest residents to the construction of the Soo Locks to present day. Exhibits tell the story of the First People, the French fur traders, John Johnston, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, General Hugh Brady, Governor Chase Osborn, and more.
Water Street Historic Block – Next to the Museum Ship Valley Camp are some of the oldest buildings in Michigan. Learn even more about history as you visit Elmwood (Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s office), the Baraga House, the John Johnston House, and the Kemp Coal Dock Office. Continue west to Brady Park and learn about the fort that once stood here beside the river.
And even though that’s 10 things, we’ll add in one more by saying you should make sure to check out the local food options. Whether it’s dining at the uniquely decorated Antlers, grabbing a burger at Clyde’s or the West Pier Drive-In, or enjoying the amazing view at Lockview there is a food option here for everyone!